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About a year ago I wrote about using some inexpensive LED strip lights to improve the lighting in our shop and nav station That post, Cheap Boat Tricks (but will they last) featured Some very inexpensive but non waterproof lights like these : [amazon template=thumbnail&asin=B00HSF64JG]
After a year of usage I can report that the lights work okay but their durability is lacking. In the shop area, I had segments fail after a leak developed nearby. Since the LED lights are not protected in any way I guess it was inevitable that physical abuse of one sort or another would be their undoing. Having said that the Nav station lights continue to work well and at around eight dollars for five meters of light it is a great value.
However, late last year, a co-worker turned me on to some similar lights but with twice as many LEDs per meter inside a silicone sleeve with an adhesive backing. At thirty dollars for 5 meters, they are also nearly four times the cost. Check them out here: [amazon template=thumbnail&asin=B00CMX2KGK]
I had been warned that the adhesive backing on these lights was not sufficient to mount them upside down so I also bought the adhesive foam tape that is quite a bit stronger than the stock tape. In fact it is labled as a 3M product and looks like the same stuff used to mount our portlight covers. You can check that product out here: [amazon template=thumbnail&asin=B00PKI7IBG]
Using these new lights I replaced the shop lights and also installed them in the galley and salon. The galley was sorely in need of additional lighting and I was hopeful that the silcone cover and strong adhesive would work well in an area with heat and moisture. After two weeks of use, we have been very impressed with the quality and durability of the lights, but let’s give it another year. Here are some before and after photos. I took these without the flash, on a tripod to try and capture the differences more accurately.
One of the advantages of the new silicone cover is that it helps to diffuse the individual LED lights, providing a more even lighting. That is an issue at the nav station where at certain angles it looks like lasers are shooting down on the desk.
The salon lights are less utilitarian but still nice. I mounted them as uplights to provide general illumination. We have reading lamps on either side of the settee, so these just add a bit of warmth to the area.
In addition to the lights and extra tape, I knew I would need some switches for these new locations. Amazon helpfully (out of the goodness of their hearts, I’m sure) recommended these handy dimmer switches. I bought two and they have been great. Here is a link to them:
I didn’t really think I wanted a dimmer function on these lights, but in the galley and salon this is a nice feature. The switches come with jacks that can be used with the lights but I just cut them off and soldered the wires to my DC system. Also, you will probably want to pick up some extra LED strip connectors. Soldering a wire directly to those strip lights is pretty hard and these connectors make it easy to create a wire pigtail from the strip light. You can also use these to run multiple sets of lights or run the lights around a difficult corner.
Those three projects used all but eighteen inches of the lighting I bought but we are already thinking up new places to install these lights. Eventually, I will probably replace the Nav station lights and I think it might be handy to have a separate strip of red LEDs in that area. Also the lighting in the aft head, over the mirror needs help. Hopefully all of this effort to replace and install LED lighting will make our batteries happy. If my batteries are happy, then I’m happy.