“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

Cutting Our Power Usage – LEDs


We did a quick upgrade last night.  Following the examples from the Skelton Crew and Wright Away, we final converted our cabin lights to LEDs.  Between these two cruisers-in-the-works a lot of the research had been done for us.  The real choice comes down to the type of light with warm white, cool white and natural light being the most common that people use for cabin lights.  The warm white is the “softest” color of the three and the cool white is the brightest but can be a little harsh.  The natural light is in the middle.

We ordered through M4, following the lead of Skelton Crew.  The prices were great and they have free shipping.  I ordered on Monday and received the bulbs on Wednesday.  Can’t beat that.  We got 5 natural light and 5 cool white.  The initial thought was we wanted the brighter light for the 3 main cabin lights and for some reading lights.

Natural Light LED (left) and Cool White LED (right)

Natural Light LED (left) and Cool White LED (right)

The actual work of putting them in was harder than I thought it would be.  With the back pin style you can’t see the pins and the pin holes so you have to do it by feel.  And taking out an LED required a knife blade or something thing like that because there was nothing to grab. Once installed my Bride did not like the Cool White.  It was too bright and harsh for the main cabin lights.  The Natural Light was nice though.  I liked right off but it took a little time for my Bride to decide it was OK.  Here are some shots, not that great but I think they show some of the difference.

Incandescent Bulb

Incandescent Bulb

Cool White LED

Natural Light LED

Natural Light LED

Cool White LED

So in the end, the 5 lights we use the most got the Natural Light LEDs.  The Cool White went into other lights that only get used occasionally.

From a power management perspective, we used approximately 17-25 Ah per day to 1.4-2 Ah per day for under $100.  For some perspective, a typical 100 watt solar panel is rated for 5.6 amps per hour of charging.  You won’t get that because panels are not 100% efficient.  So maybe you get 4.5 amps per hour or a little less on average.  So this could save about 3 hours of a 100 watt panel per day.

Another really nice side benefit is the reduced heat.  I was reading when we went to bed last night with the new LEDs.  When I reached up to turn off the light it was noticeably cooler in the area of the light fixture.

6 thoughts on “Cutting Our Power Usage – LEDs

  1. I’m glad you like the M4 products, great quality and a great price! And you’re right, you don’t really notice how much heat is being put out by incandescent bulbs until you pop in these little babies. Plus it’s nice not to have to run around turning lights on/off trying to not waste power. Looks good!

  2. Way to go and there’s no going back. Personally I went with warm whites. Led strips are also pretty neat hidden under overhangs eg over a book case. You should also look into getting leds for an anchor light and for nav lights. Now, if someone could design a led fridge…….

    • I did put an LED anchor light bulb in three years ago when we had the mast down for some other work. But I did something wrong and it doesn’t work. I ordered a new LED anchor light but need to send someone up the mast to change it. Hopefully that will get done soon. In the meantime I plan to continue using a LED lantern as my anchor light. Shhhh don’t tell the Coasties.

      I like the strip LEDs. I have some really cheap solar powered ones on the bimini which does give some nice light for hanging out in the cockpit. I have been thinking of adding some more so that we have light to read and other things.

  3. ebay is great for the led strip lights, just added white and red on Sea Raven, now we can unlock the door at night! We even installed a couple of led spots that point into the water for coral and fish gazing at nights.

    • i’ll have to check out ebay. I have been thinking of adding some strip lights for lighting in the cockpit too.

      Thanks for the tip.

      How are things on the Raven? You’ve been quiet since leaving Mexico.


      • its hard to get internet in French Polynesia, that and I needed a break from all things boat – other than living on one anyways! I have a few posts on the go, so should have something new up soon!
        Looks like things are coming together for you guys now!

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