More light, less power

This article was written by Rusty Lewis of the Archimedes and originally appeared on his blog.

Archimedes came to us with flu­o­res­cent over­head light­ing. The fix­tures are about 12 inches long and built into recesses in the ceil­ing. Each fix­ture holds one ten watt tube. Sadly, they don’t pro­duce much light. In fact, a pre­vi­ous owner went so far as to line the insides of the recesses with alu­minum foil in the hope that would reflect a bit more light. I don’t think that was ter­ri­bly effec­tive. The tubes just don’t put out much light.


We have seven of these fix­tures. Four in the main salon, one in the aft state­room, and one in each head.


Com­ing from sail­boats and hav­ing no gen­er­a­tor (but plenty of bat­ter­ies) we are always look­ing for ways to decrease our power usage. And we really need more light.

I found the answer at a boat show a while ago – Lunasea LED light bars. They are the same length as the flu­o­res­cent strips and sim­ple to install. Take out the old fix­ture, screw in the new one and wire it up. The whole process can be com­pleted in under five min­utes. We had seven light fix­tures to change so the project went pretty fast.

The light bars come in sev­eral col­ors. We chose warm white. The LED’s are housed in a strong alu­minum hous­ing. The entire light bar con­sumes only 5 watts of power and puts out the light equiv­a­lent of a 40 watt bulb. Nice.


Instal­la­tion requires screw­ing in two small brack­ets and snap­ping the light bar into the brack­ets. The screws are included. In our case, the wiring is ter­mi­nated in the recess with screw ter­mi­nals. Con­nect­ing the power was easy.

It is tempt­ing to shorten the wire and remove the switch. DON’T DO IT. The switch con­tains crit­i­cal cir­cuitry. The light bar will not work with­out it.


We added a red bar along with the warm white bar in a few of the fix­tures for night use. I looked for a switch that would allow us to switch between white and red, but couldn’t find any­thing that would work. We opted to just use the on/off but­tons that came with the lights. It’s a bit less con­ve­nient to take the cover off, turn one bar off and the other on, but we won’t be using the red light all that often.


The Lunasea light bars list for $39.99. We found them at a boat show in the Svendsen’s Boat Works booth. The boat show spe­cial price was around $25 each. The reg­u­lar “street” price seems to be in the $30–32 range. Fish­eries Sup­ply lists them now also. At the time of this post, The price at Fish­eries Sup­ply is $32.76. We used ten white and red light bars in the seven fix­tures. The total cost was around $250.

The improve­ment in light quan­tity and qual­ity is sig­nif­i­cant. It was an easy project and we are very happy with the result.

One more project off the list …

2 thoughts on “More light, less power

  1. Ken Bowles

    I wonder how these would hold up in the engine room. Seems like a great way to replace the original incandescent fixtures and get extra light in just the right spots with minimum bulk.

  2. Rusty Post author

    I think they would be fine. There are no moving parts. The frame is aluminum. I think you would need a few of them though. Four to six to give good coverage with proper light. Judicious placement would minimize that number. That option might be a bit expensive at $30 or so a light. On Archimedes, we have two four foot dual fluorescent light fixtures. They produce great light, but of course are AC and may not be the best choice currently available.

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