Friday, November 30, 2012

My LED Trick
By Michael

Three identical lights sharing
a power source. From left to
right: no tape, three layers of
tape, one layer of tape.
When I first wrote about our lighting debacle, I got a lot of good advice. I’ve since looked at a million lights online, emailed a million folks for more info, bought and returned a couple lights, and replaced a bunch of wiring aboard Del Viento. But except for two new reading lights, we are still at the same place we started with respect to lighting, albeit more informed.
We want LED lights to replace our amp-hogging 22-watt circular fluorescents throughout the cabin. LED lights are recently available that offer a warm white light, nearly the same color as incandescents. This color is measured in degrees Kelvin and this measurement should be available from the LED light manufacturer. I want something in the 2700 range. This is hard to find and with LED lights, you tend to get what you pay for. Five years from now, this won’t be a problem, but we want pleasing, efficient light now.

So I’ve been playing around with LED lights and I discovered something. I don’t know how useful it is, or whether it will diminish the life of the bulb, or cause a fire, but that is all beside the point.
If you wrap an LED light with Teflon tape—just regular white Teflon tape—it seems to warm the color of the light and doesn’t seem to dramatically diminish output. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

Bare bulb
Three wraps of tape


  1. Curious which picture shows the bunny closest to true color when the bunny is viewed in natural light. Rather than wrapping (I hadn't even thought about wrapping them), how about putting a piece of screen material in front?

    1. Good question, it would have been best to feature a picture of the bunny in the sunlight (rare here in Victoria this time of year). But in my mind, the most pleasing light (candles, incadescents)don't reflect a color that is much warmer than true. In my opinion, many white LED bulbs produce a white light that is too sterile, and bluer than true. I am trying to get something warmer, and warmer than true--without the energy costs of traditional lights. Michael

  2. I would be careful. Raising the temperature of an LED can shorten its life sometimes drastically. I don't know how much wrapping in tape raises the temperature, but it can't be good.

    1. It is important that LEDs dissipate their heat, and I don't know how well Teflon tape does at dissipating heat--you definitely don't want to insulate these bulbs (kind of an antiquated term now that LEDs introduce a radically different form factor). But too, wrapping them was just a short-term short cut here for the sake of experimenting. There may certainly be a better way to use the material to achieve desired results. Michael

  3. I love these lights:

    Imtra does a ton of R&D and their "warm white" LEDs are a pleasing color which is consistent across all of our Imtra lights.

    Like the previous poster said, I don't think that I would wrap the lights, but I've come across several cruisers who have successfully warmed up the white LED light by using gel filters (typically used in photography and stage lighting).

    1. I love them too, Imtra is quality (at a cost). But the only light they offer that is close to large enough for us (to accomodate the 10-inch round teak pad mounts we have to live with unless we want to redo the entire headliner) are the Mia lights. These are 7.8-inches in diameter and must be special ordered from Cabin Denmark (through Imtra). They are nice, but over $300 each and take 2 months to ship and are non-returnable. I would try the gel filters, but we have struggled to find any round lights (even 110-volt fixtures from light stores) that we like and that are not so expensive that it would be worth it to rip out the guts and replace with LED components. I think we have found a solution for us, but that is for a later post... Michael

    2. Good luck!! I totally get not wanting one project to lead into another!

  4. Wrapping the LED light with tape is a pretty good trick, particularly if you want to change the lighting effect of the LED light. With bare light, you can see the true colors of the bunny. But with three wraps of tape, the color changed quite a bit. If you want to highlight the color of the bunny, I think using the bare light would be enough.


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