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LED bulbs for <20m Navigation Lights


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My boat is fitted with the larger <20m Nav lights with BAY15D 25w 12v filament bulbs.

I think there's been a few discussions on here in the past about LED replacements, but I think they were about interior lighting, not Nav lights, (though I may be wrong :) )

I'm having difficulty in identifying the correct types, especially from cheaper sources, like Ebay, via China.

I originally thought it would simply be the BAY15D base cap with an all-round placement of LEDs, with 5w of LEDs giving the same light output as 25w filament. I'm now reading things like the port light requires red LEDs, and the other LED arrangements are different, depending on whether they are "all round", or starboard, stern, masthead, etc.

The specialist marine suppliers list bulbs specifically to replace standard <20m filament bulb Nav lights with LEDs, but they charge around £15 a bulb, whereas the vast range of Chinese LED bulbs on Ebay are around a £1 each, plus very cheap postage.

Has anyone converted their bulb lights to LED using cheap LED bulbs ? (not the smaller festoon type).

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They are available in white too, the red / green tricolour etc are designed along with a clear lens type nav light for better visible range. Frankly I don’t see the value on a motorboat (riding light apart) as the motor is running and providing a charge when they are in use, a cruising yacht is a different matter of course. If you do decide to get some from the split links then you need at least 30 LED for somewhere like the broads but I would try for 60 if I were to fit either for myself or a customer

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Thanks for the very quick reply.

I hear what you're saying, but it's just that with 4 of them on, the filament ones are drawing 100watts, or 8 amps, which I'd rather have charging my battery with my single engine, (plus the thought that they're maybe much less likely to blow in use ?)

I was wondering if the red LEDs were for use with a clear lens, as you say.

My simple thoughts were that as long as the bulb was approximately the same shape and size, and gave out the same lumens, then it would be a simple substitution, one bulb fitting all of the lamps (port/stbd,stern,masthead).

How about these, on Ebay for £4.19 each, including postage ? (only a £ more than from China...)

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/T25-BAY15D-1157-W ... 3f09ebcebb


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They look to be adequate, as you say one other advantage is they tend to last longer, as they are post free why not get just one and put it in your anchor light to see how you get on, best check that your nav lamps have offset pins before you order.

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Good point about the offset pins.

I've just checked my Aqua Signal lamps, and that's now complicated matters a bit more. :cry:

They definitely have offset pins, and the two contacts in the base. The internal wiring of the lamps is with the voltage applied to the two base pins, and nothing to the ring.

I tried a spare car 21/5w bulb with the same base configuration, and each filament was wired to one of the base connections and the common ring. When I applied 12 volts to the two pins, only one of the filaments lit, and less bright than either, because the current was flowing through both the 21w and the 5w filaments in series.

Now I'm wondering if the bulb I was looking at in my link ( http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/T25-BAY15D-1157-W ... 3f09ebcebb ) are wired as dual intensity (equivalent to 21/5w) , or whether they are wired as one"element", through the two base pins ?

As it said "stop/tail" bulb, I guess it will be wired as dual intensity, so no good for my Nav lights.

So I need an offset two pin "BAY15D" bulb wired internally with just one filament. I'm starting to get the sinking feeling that they're going to cost me about 15 quid each.... :cry:

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  • 4 weeks later...

I thought I'd better close my post on this in case anyone else had similar problems trying to find economically priced LED replacements.

I've now found the right ones at the cheapest cost, much lower than chandlers and UK mail order boating supplies.

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll? ... K:MEWNX:IT

This is a set of three (red, green and white) from http://www.searolf.com/page2.html , a UK based company.

I also bought another white, so that I can now replace them all, port, starboard, steaming and sternlight. They're the "BAY15D" base configuration, with two contacts underneath, and offset pins, so are a direct replacement for most <20 metre 12v navigation lights.

There were plenty of cheaper BAY15D leds on ebay from China, but they were wired as stop/tail light bulbs, using each base contact and the ring for dual level lighting, so they wouldn't have worked in Navigation Lights.

The set of 4 with postage came out at £44, whereas the Chandlers charge around that much for each bulb !

Each LED bulb consumes an eight of an amp, so all four use just half an amp, compared with 7 amps draw for the standard 21 watt filament bulbs. I know that motor cruisers can handle that sort of current easily, but it's still a bonus to get the aux battery charged quicker.

The other advantage is the 100,000 hour life, and the much less chance of one suddenly going out (maybe even un-noticed)... :shock:


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Thanks for that, a useful source, I just hope the intensity will get through the coloured lenses OK and you don't wind up having to change them for clear, which is how most nav lights with coloured bulbs are configured when bought OEM. I would love to see the outcome as I could save my customers some real money here if they get through the lenes.

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I must admit, I did wonder about that Anatares, not being sure about the physics of red light through red lenses and green through green would be.

During my web searching however, there were a number of encouraging comments like this one "I have used Searolf coloured LED's for two years now and they are really,really bright and are a good red and green colour in Aquasignal coloured lens housings, the stern white is particularly bright. Only downside is a little condensation in the housings as there is no heat to disperse it. Soon evaporates even with a weak bit of winter day sun." on sites like the YBW forum at http://www.ybw.com/forums/archive/index ... 66740.html.

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