Tuesday, May 22, 2012

By Michael

Eleanor left on a plane for D.C. this
morning, to visit friends and for the
experience. It was a surreal seeing
my child off as an unaccompanied
minor for the first time. Now it is just
Frances and I holding down the fort.
Lighting aboard Del Viento is poor. General lighting comes from the six original fluorescent fixtures on the cabin overhead, circa 1978. They emit a good amount of light, but it is fluorescent light. And while these bright overhead lights are great for cleaning, they are no longer appealing come dinner time—and they cannot be dimmed. And don’t get me started on the power draw, about two amps a piece. When we have just half of these guys burning, they consume more power than the refrigerator.
So I attacked the problem, sacrificing a forward light that stopped working last month.
At IKEA, I bought a nice looking, 120V, ceiling light fixture. Once home, I confirmed it’s aesthetic suitability and then headed back out again, this time to an electronics store. The resident LED expert happened to be working that day, so I learned what I could from him and bought what I needed.
Back aboard, I ripped the 120V socket and guts out of the IKEA light. Using mounting tape, I attached the three LEDs I bought, pig-tailed their wires in the back, and attached them to the hot 12-volt wires hanging from the ceiling. Wow, were these things bright!
I screwed the fixture into the ceiling, again temporarily connected the wires, and replaced the glass shade.
I hadn’t installed even the switch or the potentiometer for dimming this thing and already I could see it was all wrong. The quality of this light sucked: colder than ice. It made the output from the fluorescent lights resemble the little glowing cottage windows in a Thomas Kinkade painting.
I’ve lost the first round, but I am not finished. I’m hopeful that if I find a yellow tape or film, I can color the light so that it is incandescent-appearing. I am drawn by the promise of affordable, dimmable, bright, all-around ceiling lights that are pleasing and consume very little power.
Stay tuned.

Here is what we want to replace: 22W circular fluorescent
bulbs in a 10-inch-diameter, RV-styled fixture.

Unfortunately, it wasn't just the light that didn't work in this
experiment, but I couldn't mount the fixture close enough to
the overhead to make it attractive. Also, I don't know what
I was thinking, but the glass shade supported by dinky plastic
clips wasn't the best idea. I need to find something else.

The lighting thing is really just a distraction from the dozens
of other projects I am completing now. Among them is the
windlass gypsy. After emailing back and forth with the tech
folks at Imtra (Lofrans), we think the pockets on this
bronze gypsy are worn, the cause of our recurring
and dangerous chain jumping problem.


  1. Have you looked at Alpenglow (google them). We love their lights- flourescents, but super-warm and almost no power draw. Two settings (or three, you can add a red) for dinner ambiance too! They make LED reading lights too, which are great.

  2. We can't wait to see Eleanor. I told Caden tonight that she was on the plane, and he's jonesing for Thursday! Meant to ask: Where's Frances? Is she in Thailand with Windy?

  3. Michael,

    We have replaced all of our interior lights with drop-in LED bulbs from superbriteleds.com with great success. When you order them just be sure to order the warm white color not the cool white color and you will get light that exactly mimics incandescent light without the heat and power draw.

    S/V Kintala

  4. Amazon has everything my friend - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005FQ7HQY/ref=noref?ie=UTF8&s=hi&psc=1
    you just need to stay still so you can receive it. Good luck with this one!

  5. Oh - and please don't show a picture of your daughter boarding an airplane with the word FAIL! right next to her picture. You almost gave me a heart attack!

  6. We love our Imtra LED light fixtures. Although they are not cheap, they are well made, have a nice, diffused light and warm color, are dimmable, and the fixtures look nice. And they draw almost nothing. You get what you pay for and we think this has been probably the most useful upgrade we've done to our boat.

  7. Daniel FreysingerJune 20, 2012 at 11:13 PM

    Just passing through and thought I would drop my two cents about your lighting situation. LED's are nice but way over priced and better suited to task lighting than they are area lighting. A simple solution is an incandescent fixture with one or several medium bases. You can then purchase self ballasted compact fluorescents in the 3500 kelvin range of color. They are very similar to incandescent color. If you use a two or three lamp fixture with 9 or 11 watt lamps you can switch the lamp holders independently and get multiple levels of brightness. The fixture is cheap, the lamps are cheap and if you decide to go LED you can use medium base LED lamps. With so many self-ballasted lamps available, I would shy away from fixtures requiring ballasts.

    After writing this I realized that I don't know if you are using 120v or 12v. I guess it would help if I knew something about boats. :)

    Anyway, enjoyed reading your blog. Happy travels.


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