Please select your home edition
Highfield Boats - Power - LEADERBOARD

Light your ride: Illumination 101

by Lyman-Morse Boatbuilding 31 Jan 2020 03:51 PST
Light your ride and power management © Lyman-Morse Boatbuilding

Lighting sets the stage. A new generation of low-cost, low-power, weather-proof marine light fixtures and control devices is bathing decks, cabins and even hidden lockers, in beautiful movie-set quality lighting.

"Lighting has evolved into one of the highest priorities of our clients," says Doug Zurn, of Zurn Yacht Design, the Marblehead, Massachusetts-based marine design and engineering firm. "It's right up there with performance and timeless good looks."

In fact, navigation lights, deck floodlights, cockpit courtesy lights, submersible lights, interior accent lights and even those for stand-up paddleboards have led to a four-fold increase in the number fixtures found onboard. It is now common for a vessel, like the Lyman-Morse Hood 57, the 67-foot Lyman-Morse power cruiser Mad Max, or the 65-foot daysailer Anna to have more than 75 fixtures distributed throughout the vessel.

That's dramatically more lights per-foot than the average home.

LED: Lighting letters that matter

The history of lights afloat follows the history of lights on land: Tallow, wax, and animal fuels powered navigation and deck lighting into the 19th century. Fossil fuels and incandescent bulbs lit boats into the 20th. But today, it is light emitting diodes, or LEDs, that illuminate most vessels.

LEDs are cheaper and more durable than standard fixtures. They don't rely on thin electrically charged metallic filaments to make light. Instead, LEDs glow by fooling electrons into hopping gracefully across small chemical imbalances engineered into the molecular surface of a family of semiconductors called diodes. When diodes are tied to drivers, transformers, and control networks, they can emit light in all the possible colors of the rainbow with minimal lost heat. Marine LEDs are simply fixtures made to be impervious to the wind, dust, and water.

"LEDs have absolutely transformed the expectations of what can be seen and done onboard a boat," says Kinder Woodcock, northeast sales manager for Imtra, the New Bedford, Massachusetts-based marine parts wholesaler, who has sold and serviced marine lighting for decades. "Customers now expect full functionality in all areas of a boat. From the engine room, to the cockpit, and into the head."

Nothing but LEDs

Analysts expect the market for near-magical light emitting diodes to grow by a blistering 11 percent annually through the next decade. Innovation is expected to start in Europe, then flow to the American market.

But LED's exciting growth has introduced some new players and is changing how light layouts are discussed and specified. Established marine lighting makers like Aspect LED and Hella Marine are facing upstarts like Black Oak and Dr. LED. Both are offering interactive online resources to drive sales. Lumishore's submersible lighting configurator, Hella Marine's Lighting Designer app, and a new generation of lighting previsualization tools open up and make the conversations between boat designers, owners, and builders easier.

"Internally we make sure the lighting layout is balanced in the interior overhead panels and that they are placed appropriately for the obvious task," says Lance Buchanan, a project manager at Lyman-Morse who managed lighting for new builds like Mad Max, Peregrine and new Lyman-Morse Hood 57.

Builders caution that without careful oversight LEDs can cause issues: Poorly installed LEDs can cause radio interference; they can carry a directional polarity that reduces effectiveness. There is also a growing set of international regulations and U.S. Coast Guard rules that make lighting more complex. Some harbors are even banning some lighting, particularly for fishing.

Light without lamps

The LED wave on boats is only beginning to break: LEDs can glow more golden as they dim to emulate traditional lamps. Smartphones now remotely control lights. Ultrathin and flexible OLED lighting will make many fixtures disappear. Boats are emerging as ideal platforms for sustainable lighting by harnessing ambient light, through the emerging science of spatial lighting autonomy. (Perhaps, a topic for another day.)

Fairly soon, the best-lit boats may be notable for having no noticeable lighting fixtures at all.

Related Articles

Under construction: Hood 35 LM Hull #1
Hood 35 hits the sweet spot of C.W. Hood Yacht's powerboat acumen The Hood 35 by Lyman-Morse hits the sweet spot of C.W. Hood Yacht's powerboat acumen. Pulling in the best elements of the firm's successful mid-sized powerboats, the Hood 35 LM Express Cruiser takes the express cruiser genre to another level Posted on 28 Dec 2020
Just launched! Hood 57 LM
Developed in a collaboration with C.W. Hood Yachts and Stephens Waring Yacht Design Lyman-Morse took an innovative approach to the construction of the new Hood 57 LM custom motor yacht being developed in a collaboration with C.W. Hood Yachts and Stephens Waring Yacht Design. Posted on 27 Dec 2020
Bow Thrusters: Yay or Nay?
Bow thrusters, like politics, drive intense debate Bow thrusters, like politics, drive intense debate. Some boat owners argue that a lateral port or starboard nudge is indispensable when docking. Posted on 2 Apr 2020
The science of soundproofing
Noise control is a growing expertise here at Lyman-Morse An unheralded generation of marine acoustic engineers are taming the once punishing din of boat engines and generators. Today's marine "sound proofers" are using complex acoustical physics to reduce, reflect, or control noise on a boat. Posted on 2 Mar 2020
Genny up to power up
How big is big enough? Boats used to be so simple. The engine powered the boat. Its pistons turned the propeller. Its alternator charged the batteries and ran the radio, running lights, and some low-key interior lighting. The engine warmed water, albeit to tepidness. Posted on 1 Feb 2020
See how the new Hood 57 is taking shape
Express cruisers are the crossover, sport-utility vehicles of boats Express cruisers are the crossover, sport-utility vehicles of boats. They must be fast enough to impress. Seaworthy enough to explore. Flexible enough from which to swim, dive, or fish. Posted on 1 Dec 2019
Managing Shipboard Power: Lessons in Load Shedding
Toby Teele & Damien Kent design and build the brains and nervous systems for boats Toby Teele and Damien Kent design and build the brains and nervous systems for boats. They are Lyman-Morse's masters of the suddenly ubiquitous emerging technology in marine engineering called process logic controllers, or PLCs. Posted on 3 Jun 2019
Ties that bind: Keeping Sea Chase IV in the family
It's always a bittersweet moment when an old flame shows up It's always a bittersweet moment when an old flame shows up. And so it was, a couple of months back, when the glamorous Sea Chase IV came in for a major refit. Posted on 1 Jun 2019
Giving Even Keel an electronics backbone
Let us introduce you to Mike Gaulin, one of the crew with the magic marine electronics hands As we all know, running a boat requires managing the complex forces of wind, current, and energy, and managing the electronics network that keeps them all in check takes a deft touch indeed. Posted on 2 Apr 2019
A bold approach to wood-composite boat building
Crane and the team are mid-way through the construction Lyman-Morse Composites Manager Steve Crane believes that the next revolution in composite boat construction will be about building both aspects of a boat's hull – the outside and the inside – at the same time. Posted on 31 Mar 2019
Highfield Boats - Power - FOOTERSea Sure 2020 - SHOCK-WBV - FOOTERMaritimo 2019 Footer