Replacing filament bulbs with white LEDs in tricolour navigational lights could result in vessels not being insured, the Cruising Association (CA) has warned.

Coloured light fittings designed to use filament bulbs are not suitable for LEDs, claim the CA’s Regulation and Technical Services team (RATS), and therefore in the event of an incident could invalidate insurance.

White LEDs do not emit the wavelengths required to correctly illuminate the red and green sectors, and, as a result the colours observed are totally outside of the IMO specifications.

In addition, a tungsten filament bulb has a single vertical wire as the light source, whereas LEDs emit light path angles greater than the permitted 2 degree cut-off limit between tricolour sectors. A boat’s heading will therefore be unclear to another vessel over a significant arc, and, the merging beams will give strange colours as they overlap.

This issue does not affect navigation light fittings designed to take LED bulbs.

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The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has issued a Guidance Note highlighting these problems, and a warning not to use LED white replacement bulbs in equipment designed for filament bulb use.

Visitors to the Southampton Boat Show can find the Cruising Association team at stand J102 for more advice and information. Plus the chance to win a charter holiday in Croatia.