Chandlery May 2006 Issue

Finally, an LED Light with Some Warmth

The Sensibulb’s LED crystals are mounted in a patented heat sink.

Ordinary LED lights aren’t the miracle light some developers had promised. Yes, they’re amp misers, and well-made bulbs (actually clusters of LEDs) should last many thousands of hours, but the harsh light lacks the warmth of incandescent. These cluster LEDs make excellent courtesy lights. They also work for reading, so long as you keep the page close under the tightly focused beam. Try mounting one above a saloon table and you may as well be dining under a flashlight.

At the Miami Boat Show, we came across an LED light like no other we’d seen. The Sensibulb, made by Sailor’s Solution, incorporates LEDs that produce a consistent, warm, golden light, that, although not quite as intense as a 10-watt halogen bulb, will make a much more suitable replacement bulb for common bell-type or dome interior lights than the usual LED cluster.

We replaced a common halogen dome light in the V-berth of our test boats with the Sensibulb, and noticed that although the berth was not quite as bright as it was with the halogen bulb, the softer Sensibulb produced ample light to illuminate the berth. We could easily read Practical Sailor (strangely, there was no paper glare), even when we were 10 feet away and at an angle of about 90 degrees from the light’s center. The light, which incorporates a heat sink, was warm, but produced far less heat than the halogen bulb. The light is dimmable, which drastically cuts the amp usage. We measured .18 amps (as opposed to 1.5 amps for our halogen bulb) undimmed, and dimmed down to candle-light, it drew just .03 amps.

The basic Sensibulb costs $40 and fits a standard G-4 halogen socket, or, with an adaptor ($2), a bayonet socket. For bell-type reading lights, you’ll need a mounting bracket ($4). Installation is simple: Fit the Sensibulb’s two wire terminals in where the G-4 bulb’s barbs went (polarity doesn’t matter), stick the Sensibulb in place with its adhesive backing strip, and flip the switch. Wires for a dimmer are built in, and for an additional $20 you can add a micro-controller to add dimming capability to a light that doesn’t have it.

Two kinds of reading lights and a two-color nav station light bulbs and fixture are available for between $130-$140. If you really want to get fancy, you can wire in a $40 wireless controller, which can be used to operate just about any device on the boat from about 75 feet away. (Wish we had one of these when we wired a switch at the companionway for our spreader lights.)

The makers say the Sensibulb will last 50,000 hours. If we’re still around when ours burns out, we’ll let you know.

Contact - Sailor’s Solutions, 631/754-1945,

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