Efficient lighting for 24V systems

"Thank you Mr Edison. That will be all"

Across yachts, narrowboats and caravans, and, indeed, almost all off-grid power systems, lighting is one of the biggest power drains from batteries. As such, it is crucial to ensure that your lighting is as energy efficient as possible. Of course, it goes without saying that you'll want to accomplish this without compromising light levels and making interiors dark and miserable!

Since the days when the paraffin lamp headed out of fashion, lighting has almost always been provided by incandescent filament bulbs. Filament bulbs do undeniably give a pleasant, warm light. However, "warmth" is also the filament bulbs big problem - typically, 80% or more of the energy going into the bulb is wasted producing heat rather than useful illumination. More modern halogen bulbs operate at a higher filament temperature, increasing their efficiency. However, most of the electricity is still simply wasted, so they don't offer all that much improvement on the filament bulb.

Fluorescent lights are enormously better at converting electricity into useful light, and we'd recommend them in almost all situations. A number of makes of fluorescent light are available in 24 volt versions, and you're bound to find one that suits the style of the space you are hoping to light. Our online store stocks Labcraft lights, which are very good value and come in a variety of styles.

LED lights are the new kids on the block. It's best not to believe all the hype surrounding them though. In fact, they are normally a bit less efficient than fluorescent lights, so for most applications it's not worth rushing out and changing over. They are also still expensive in sizes which provide enough illumination to be useful for general lighting.

These lights do have some specialist uses though. Most LED units have tightly focused beams, so can make excellent 'spots' to light up a particular area. Moreover, should you need a coloured light, appropriate LED lamps are going to be far superior, in terms off energy efficiency, to the alternative coloured filter over a fluorescent or halogen lamp. Navigation lights on yachts are thus an ideal use for LED units.

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