Monday, October 21, 2013

Staring at the Sun

We have written in the past about our use of LED bulbs, and our desire to eventually upgrade all of our bulbs to LEDs.  We started by replacing the majority of our remaining (Sea Gem's prior owners had already installed LEDs in most of the major fixtures) halogen bulbs.  For the most part, the LEDs have been slightly less bright than the halogen bulbs they replaced, but they use significantly less electricity and, just as importantly in a small space, generate significantly less heat than halogen bulbs.

In addition to the halogen fixtures, Sea Gem also has several fluorescent fixtures that use 12" fluorescent tubes.  These are fairly bright, but they of course give off that irritating, flickering, unnaturally-white light, and they are nowhere near as energy efficient as an LED.  The fluorescent fixture that we use the most is in our head (bathroom), and so that is the fixture that we planned to upgrade to LEDs first.

Because our head was underlit, I figured that we would not only convert the fluorescent tube to an LED tube, but we would also replace the single-tube fixture to a double-tube fixture.  Based on our experience with the halogen-to-LED swap, I figured we'd lose some brightness with the LED tube, and switching to two tubes would compensate for that and also, hopefully, brighten up the head a bit.

And so we removed the existing fixture (which, it turns out, is date-stamped April 1986 on the back and was thus original equipment with the boat) and installed a spare, two-tube fluorescent fixture we had lying around.

The Original
Because LED tubes do not require complex circuity like a fluorescent tube, we had to make some wiring changes to the fixture.  Nothing too complicated or time-consuming.  Then, in went the new LED tubes, I flipped the switch to test, and...

Blinded by the Light
I was seeing spots for minutes.  The LED tubes are WAY brighter than the fluorescent tubes.  Way, way brighter.  On the plus side, we can now see much better for shaving, make-up, etc.  And, the light doesn't generate as much heat or require as much electricity, even with the two tubes.  On the negative side, however, our head is so well-lit now that every speck of dirt that was previously unnoticed was suddenly illuminated.   We spent half the morning scrubbing the master head to perfection.  Plus, even though we can now see every corner of the room better than ever before, we now have to be careful not to look at one area that was never as issue--at the lighting fixture.

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