A couple years ago I replaced my cabin lights with LED bulbs and I have been very happy with the results, but even with the new brighter cabin lights there just was not a lot of light reaching into the v-berth. This became most apparent when my Dad came out and we went out on the boat for a 4 day trip last summer. His vision isn’t quite as good as it used to be, and he could hardly see anything after dark in the v-berth, even when all the cabin lights were on, and he had to resort to a flashlight to be able to find anything.

I started looking at options for adding an additional light in the v-berth and realized that my options were pretty limited due to the headliner design, and the inability to run wiring up there.  I considered a stick on battery powered light but just didn’t really like that idea very much.   My next thought was a side mount as I can get wires along the side of the v-berth, but some testing showed that would not be a very good place for lighting, with too many places getting shadowed, even if I installed a light on both the port and starboard sides.

Walking through West Marine for ideas one rainy morning this spring I spotted these brand new LED accent lights that were being put on the shelf for the first time. They have a nice stainless steel bezel, and are only 1″ across. I’m sure that the picture below is going to show up larger than actual size.

1" LED Accent Light

1" LED Accent Light

I was intrigued by these small LED lights and did a little research on them. I found that they are actually the Exuma – Courtesy / Accent Light’s made by Lumitec Lighting, with a West Marine brand on them.  Initially I didn’t expect much light from such a small fixture, but after looking through their website I realized the little light is probably about the same amount of light as my 90 lumen Coleman tactical LED flashlight, just without the focusing mirror.

Light Comparison

Light Comparison

The size of this light opened up a whole new mounting possibility, the fiberglass flange that comes down around the compression post to make room for some wiring to come through the deck around the mast, and I already had a piece of twine pulled through the conduit to there, left from when I ran the wires for the spreader lights.

I did some testing with my Coleman tactical LED flashlight to see how well it lit up the v-berth and made a couple educated guesses based on that and the light output pattern published by Lumitec, that a single bulb would probably be enough to illuminate the v-berth enough for an average person to comfortably read a book by. With that decided I went back and bought the light and started looking for a switch to operate it from.

I couldn’t find any switch that I liked at West Marine so I started looking through Defender, eventually I found one that looked good from the pictures, and ordered it immediately (it was discontinued, and the last one in stock, and 3 days before the Defender Spring Warehouse sale started). Unfortunately when it arrived it was a little larger than I had expected, but I made it work anyway.

Switch

Switch

You can see from the above picture that the flange around the compression post is angled down slightly, making for a perfect angle to focus the center of the light in the middle of the v-berth.

Light installed in front of compression post

Light installed in front of compression post

Finally I wired the switch to the new electrical panel on the cabin lights circuit to complete the installation. The switch is positioned to the side as that is the easiest position to reach it from in the main cabin, and also the larger than anticipated switch would not have sat flat anywhere else.

Switch and Light Installed

Switch and Light Installed

The light output on the headliner looks exactly like the light in the comparison photo Lumitec published, and it does a good job illuminating the v-berth. It’s not as bright as the main cabin lights, but it performs very well, and as expected, there is enough light to comfortably read a book by now.

V-Berth Light Output Pattern

V-Berth Light Output Pattern

 

The next picture doesn’t represent the light output very well, largely because the cell phone camera doesn’t properly white balance in this type of lighting, but there is actually a healthy amount of light filling the v-berth. Allot of the light actually reflects off the headliner giving a nice diffused light source, and not as harsh of a directional light as one would expect from what is essentially a flashlight pointing forward.

V-Berth Light Output

V-Berth Light Output

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