One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to add value to a boat is by changing the lighting. But there are different levels of refits in terms of complexity, notes Kinder Woodcock, a lighting specialist at IMTRA, who has overseen hundreds of lighting projects for many types of yachts and sailboats. “Some are overhauls, while others are dress-ups,” he says. “Depending on the project, there are simple ways to transform an interior. Anyone with minimal experience can replace an older halogen fixture with a more modern LED.”
IMTRA’s own manufactured LED brands, as well as Frensch, Prebit, Macris and Lumishore brands, cover the entire lighting spectrum from interior to engine room. Woodcock notes that fixtures have evolved from utilitarian pieces to provide illumination to designer level of specificity. “The fixtures have become so beautiful and modern that they’re now specified with the same level of aesthetic considerations as the furniture and artwork,” he says. “Manufacturers like Prebit produce ‘families’ of fixtures so that reading, table, and chart lights can be grouped together.”
Replacing older reading lights with a new fixture can instantly change the interior feel. “Reading lights are the ones that people notice right away,” says Woodcock. “It’s usually just a matter of replacing the existing fixture with an LED light of similar size and footprint. Reading lights typically have built-in switches (and dimmers), so no extra wires need to be run nor modules added. Overhead or wall-mounted lights could involve a higher level of difficulty. That’s when you can get into a little more technical stuff, especially if there’s a dimmer,” says Woodcock. “Anyone doing a DIY needs to make sure dimmer systems are compatible and whether or not extra control wires need to be run.”
Placing LED lights into a new location on your boat is a project best suited for a highly experienced DIY boater since it involves creating a new circuit or adding wire to an existing one – always a challenge in an environment where empty spaces and room to work is an exception rather than the norm. “But even then, you could get a pro to prepare the wiring for you,” he says. “Then you could tackle choosing & physically installing the fixtures on your own.” Both the aesthetics and shapes for light fixtures have kept pace with the latest LED technologies. The Prebit brand, for instance, uses modern styling, high-quality materials and beautiful finishes for its line of reading lights and wall-mounted lights. “Much of the Prebit line has contemporary designs that really update the boat,” says Woodcock. “Many models also have modern conveniences like integrated dimmers and bi-color LEDs.”
Another German manufacturer that Imtra represents is Frensch. Frensch uses smart technology to make its utility and chart lights more user friendly. Its “touch” activated F-4 LED chart light, for instance, works as a typical white light, but its red bulb works for nighttime cruising. Thanks to its photo-sensor, the red bulb can be programmed to activate at dusk and turn off at daylight. “The bulk of the Frensch line are surface-mounted linear and utility-room lights,” notes Woodcock. “They’re easy to use in a refit since they’re surface-mounted. You don’t need to cut holes into anything.”
“IMTRA’s IS-Series LED Utility lights, manufactured by Macris, combine a “super-flat” profile and wide-angle beam pattern making them ideal for low ceilings found in engine compartments,” says Woodcock. “The company also launched a new series of cockpit/deck lights called the Alpha LED Lightbar that is ideal for refits of existing halogens. It really lights up the cockpit.”
Another fast-growing refit trend is underwater lights. Lumishore makes some of the most highly advanced systems, including easy to install surface-mounted systems. “Surface-mounted lights are perfect for refits since there is no through-hull installation,” says Woodcock. “There’s a small hole for the wires. The entire fixture, including driver & LEDs are self-contained in a low-profile water-tight housing which is mounted to the hull exterior.”
Lumishore’s underwater LED systems have a thermal rollback feature that automatically reduces the amount of current if the lights are exposed to air for any length of time. “The color-changing models provide unprecedented color control and ease of installation without the networking hassles. Simply connect the plug-and-play wiring system to your DC power source, plug in your lights along with your Lumi-Switch, and installation is complete! The dash mount display controls six Preset Colors, Color Cycle, & Fixed Strobe. They can even ‘dance’ with the music from your boat’s stereo,” says Woodcock.
The good news for DIYers is that the refit revolution shows no signs of slowing down. “LED lights have set new standards,“ says Woodcock. “LEDs provide the same amount of light for 15 percent of the power draw, and they’re brighter than equivalent halogens.”
For more information, please visit http://www.imtra.com/lighting.htm.