a red or green lens. The LED lights used
red or green LEDs behind a clear lens.
Additionally, LED light is focused into a
beam, which most likely enhances the
Overall, the Navilight 360 was our
top performer, with the Attwood a close
second. That said, it’s hard to say that the
differences between LED lights and incandescent lights are dramatic enough to merit
a wholesale replacement of your current
lights. The exceptions would be if you have
limited electrical availability and power
draw is a concern, or your navigation lights
are in a location such that it would be difficult to change the bulbs.
Testing on a well lit waterway gives different results than what could be expected
on the open ocean. Nav lights will be visible far in excess of legal requirements on
a clear but otherwise ink-black night. Our
observers had great difficulty distinguishing the navigation lights from background
lights at the farther ranges, which made us
wonder if it’s even necessary to have lights
be visible as far as two miles.
This question was answered rather
quickly when another vessel was seen
approaching at a relatively high speed. In
this situation, there were only seconds to
determine that it was a boat, and in which
direction the boat was headed. Having
lights visible from farther ranges can give
the extra time needed to determine if a
dangerous situation exists.
Glare was another concern. The glare
from nav lights can greatly reduce your
vision at night, so we looked at types of
light to see which produced the least glare,
and which hurt night vision least. Our boat
drivers tended to prefer the LED lights,
which makes sense as LED lights produce
light in a focused beam.
Placement of the lights also had an
impact, and is described in detail along with
more information about the Foundation
test and results at www.BoatUS.com/
This nonprofit 501(c)( 3) organization is
devoted to generating ideas and projects
that keep boaters safer, and our environment protected. The Foundation is independently funded by donations from organizations and individuals, and by grants.
The Truth Is In The Numbers…
We compared incandescent and
LED lights by measuring their
actual current consumption at
12. 6 volts DC. LEDs are more
visible and four times more
efficient than incandescent.
1,955 milliamps for a
25-watt incandescent bulb
240 milliamps for an
A light meter, used in a darkened room,
records brightness in foot candles (Fc).