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Are LED Tunnel Lights Really Necessary


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10 minutes ago, Keeping Up said:

I have an old-fashioned foglamp, carefully angled slightly downwards. I have had people say to me "I can see that your light isn't lighting up the roof of the tunnel so it must be set too low".

I think I might reply "I am not steering along the roof".

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Hire boats we used in the 1970's had lights with dual-filament sealed beam car headlamps mounted upside-down and  switches that allowed use of either the main beam or "dipped" upwards towards the ceiling:  that's progress for you.

 

 I remember an item in a canal magazine at the time enthusiastically approving the practice of upward dipping, as it eliminated dazzle by reflection from the water. 

Edited by Ronaldo47
Typos, clarification
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5 minutes ago, Ronaldo47 said:

Hire boats we used in the 1970's had lights with dual-filament sealed beam car headlamps mounted upside-down and  switches that allowed use of either the main beam or "dipped" upwards towards the ceiling:  that's progress for you.  I remember an item in a canal magazine at the time approving the practice of upward dipping, as it eliminated dazzle by reflection from the water. 

I knew one or two who had that arrangement as well

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As far as I can see the only advantage of using an LED tunnel light is that they use less power than an incandescent bulb.

 

But the tunnel light is only going to be used when the engine is running (isn't it?) so what is their point?

 

Besides, the quality of light produced by LEDs is just 'orrible, IMHO.

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There would be a point if you have an electric boat, but otherwise I agree. It's not as if you spend hours in a canal tunnel under normal circumstances. Night-time travel is a different situation, but I don't suppose many private owners travel after dark, and conditions of hire usually prohibit it for hired boats.

 

The only time I can recall the use of a headlight without running the engine was when a group of us had hired a couple of boats and were moored up a considerable distance along the tow path from the nearest pub. It was pitch-black, the tow path was overgrown,  and as the boats were pointing the right way, the first one back turned on the headlight on the first boat to illuminate the tow path for the rest of us. 

Edited by Ronaldo47
Further thoughts, typo.
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4 hours ago, Ronaldo47 said:

Hire boats we used in the 1970's had lights with dual-filament sealed beam car headlamps mounted upside-down and  switches that allowed use of either the main beam or "dipped" upwards towards the ceiling:  that's progress for you.

 

Mine is a square  upside down tractor headlamp, haven't bothered with the main beam just the upward dip.

Mind you, there are no tunnels on the waterways where we use the boat. 0

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A few years ago whilst travelling south through the Blisworth tunnel I was blinded by a light about 7 or 8 hundred yards from the far end of the tunnel, my night vision destroyed I moved over to starboard and slowed down. Crawling along at tick over I couldn’t understand why the oncoming boat wasn’t getting nearer, until I exited the tunnel to find it was a Stoke Bruern trip boat illuminating the tunnel for the benefit of people who have never seen a hole in the ground.

I was not impressed.

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28 minutes ago, Bewildered said:

A few years ago whilst travelling south through the Blisworth tunnel I was blinded by a light about 7 or 8 hundred yards from the far end of the tunnel, my night vision destroyed I moved over to starboard and slowed down. Crawling along at tick over I couldn’t understand why the oncoming boat wasn’t getting nearer, until I exited the tunnel to find it was a Stoke Bruern trip boat illuminating the tunnel for the benefit of people who have never seen a hole in the ground.

I was not impressed.

Same experience. Getting closer they seemed to have several 500W floodlights mounted to front and sides. The operator complained about my lack of politeness in not responding to his cheery greeting. 

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The type of bulb/lamp etc is probably irrelevant. It is how you use it that is more important.  It is the same on the roads. I am sure most people have encountered cars parked on the wrong side of the road with headlights on? 

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On 23/10/2020 at 17:26, Tracy D'arth said:

Some of us have deteriorated eye sight. In poor lighting conditions I cannot judge sideways distances as I have triple vision. Yes, I have 72 watts of LED tunnel lights. They point starboard and up. If there is another boat coming I can turn them off but its not easy to see then.

 

There is no regulation about tunnel lights except that you have to have one so unfortunately us selfish boaters with LED lights or the idiots with vintage searchlights or massive brass car headlights can do what the heck we want. Could I suggest you try what I do and use a pair of sunglasses on such an occasion that your eyes will not adjust correctly in bright light?

 

Or maybe an automatic welding mask?

 

 

I'm probably misunderstanding this, I have LED lighting at my postal address which are 9W bulbs giving 800 lumens which, I am told, is the equivalent of the old 40W bulbs. Are your LED's of 72 watts power or are they the equivalent of 72 watts (say about 18W). If the former I'd imagine you'd almost give someone coming the the other way a suntan!!😎

On 24/10/2020 at 22:15, Keeping Up said:

I have an old-fashioned foglamp, carefully angled slightly downwards. I have had people say to me "I can see that your light isn't lighting up the roof of the tunnel so it must be set too low".

If your light is pointing downwards, surely it is going to reflect off the water, giving oncoming boats the 'benefit' of two lights shining towards them.

On 24/10/2020 at 22:26, Jerra said:

I think I might reply "I am not steering along the roof".

Oddly enough, 'steering along the roof' is exactly what I now do. My tunnel light is pointed towards the roof, and lights up a square patch on the tunnel roof that I steer to keep in the centre  (other than when passing oncoming boats, obviously). By doing this it helps to steer the tunnels with kinks in them (Barnton, Saltersford,Braunston) a whole lot better since you can immediately see when the light is starting to move down the tunnel wall to one side or the other and correct accordingly.

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9 hours ago, Wanderer Vagabond said:

Oddly enough, 'steering along the roof' is exactly what I now do. My tunnel light is pointed towards the roof, and lights up a square patch on the tunnel roof that I steer to keep in the centre  (other than when passing oncoming boats, obviously). By doing this it helps to steer the tunnels with kinks in them (Barnton, Saltersford,Braunston) a whole lot better since you can immediately see when the light is starting to move down the tunnel wall to one side or the other and correct accordingly.

I find I use the roof quite a bit as well but I am afraid I wouldn't have been able to resist a reply to any comment about where I chose to aim my light unless somehow it had got pointed straight forward and then I would have said sorry.

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9 hours ago, Wanderer Vagabond said:

I'm probably misunderstanding this, I have LED lighting at my postal address which are 9W bulbs giving 800 lumens which, I am told, is the equivalent of the old 40W bulbs. Are your LED's of 72 watts power or are they the equivalent of 72 watts (say about 18W). If the former I'd imagine you'd almost give someone coming the the other way a suntan!!😎

If your light is pointing downwards, surely it is going to reflect off the water, giving oncoming boats the 'benefit' of two lights shining towards them.

Oddly enough, 'steering along the roof' is exactly what I now do. My tunnel light is pointed towards the roof, and lights up a square patch on the tunnel roof that I steer to keep in the centre  (other than when passing oncoming boats, obviously). By doing this it helps to steer the tunnels with kinks in them (Barnton, Saltersford,Braunston) a whole lot better since you can immediately see when the light is starting to move down the tunnel wall to one side or the other and correct accordingly.

72 watts of LED equivalent to 320 watts of incandecent. by your reckoning. I do have a screen over them to diffuse the light.

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9 hours ago, Wanderer Vagabond said:

If your light is pointing downwards, surely it is going to reflect off the water, giving oncoming boats the 'benefit' of two lights shining towards them.

Except that neither is actually shining towards them. The flat beam points downwards, illuminating the edges of the tunnel at the waterline but sending no significant light towards the oncoming steerer, and is then reflected back upwards to illuminate a ring around the tunnel roof about 30ft in front of the boat.

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1 minute ago, Keeping Up said:

Except that neither is actually shining towards them. The flat beam points downwards, illuminating the edges of the tunnel at the waterline but sending no significant light towards the oncoming steerer, and is then reflected back upwards to illuminate a ring around the tunnel roof about 30ft in front of the boat.

This is how I have mine too.  The reflection creates a very diffused light, which won't dazzle anyone, but I get to see a clear view of the tunnel sides.

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3 hours ago, Keeping Up said:

Except that neither is actually shining towards them. The flat beam points downwards, illuminating the edges of the tunnel at the waterline but sending no significant light towards the oncoming steerer, and is then reflected back upwards to illuminate a ring around the tunnel roof about 30ft in front of the boat.

By reflecting back up about 30 feet in front of your boat (half a boat length) would that not be directed towards the oncoming boater's eyes just at the time you are finally aligning to pass one another in the tunnel? I've set my lights from what I've seen to be the most comfortable for me from other boats coming in the opposite direction, lights angled downwards always seem to dazzle, mainly from the water reflection.

3 hours ago, doratheexplorer said:

This is how I have mine too.  The reflection creates a very diffused light, which won't dazzle anyone, but I get to see a clear view of the tunnel sides.

I have to say you have some serious firepower in your lamps,if my maths is anywhere near right that would be something like 6000 lumens😎. The last time I had that sort of firepower on the boat was passing through Standedge Tunnel where the chaperone comes on board with a couple of portable floodlights.

 

Out of curiosity, is your boat a widebeam? I can see the obvious need to view the tunnel sides with that, but with a narrow boat I try to keep to the centre of the tunnel (using the light pointed at the roof to achieve that), except when passing oncoming boats I rarely seem to have the need to look along the tunnel sides.

 

Another poster commented how he has his fairly bright light hidden from view of oncoming boats by being partially behind the cratch, I would have thought that creates another problem for other boats in a tunnel. If you look into the tunnel and see a reasonable white light approaching you can make an educated guess that the boat is coming towards you. If all you see is an illuminated tunnel roof in the distance without seeing any obvious light source, is it a boat going away from you and someone has a floodlight on the stern? or is it a boat coming towards you with a 'hidden' light? who knows.

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22 minutes ago, Wanderer Vagabond said:

By reflecting back up about 30 feet in front of your boat (half a boat length) would that not be directed towards the oncoming boater's eyes just at the time you are finally aligning to pass one another in the tunnel?

No, at 30ft in front of my boat the beam is at the tunnel roof height. The steerer passes through the beam at about 20-25ft in front of me, by which time the majority of his boat has already passed the front of mine.

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The equivalent tungsten wattage figures for mains LED bulbs are not applicable to low voltage tungsten bulbs. I do not have figures to hand, but, for tungsten filament bulbs, the lower the voltage, the higher the light output for the same wattage. Thus a 110V 40W bulb will be brighter than a 240V 40W bulb, and a 12V 40W bulb brighter still. The shorter, fatter,  filaments of low voltage bulbs produce more light than the longer, thinner filaments of higher voltage bulbs of the same wattage. 

 

Not that low voltage tungsten bulbs are anything like as efficient as LEDs, but the efficiency gain of LEDs relative to a low voltage tungsten filament bulb is lower than that of a mains voltage bulb of the same wattage.

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In answer to the original question No they are not necessary, I have passed hundreds of boat in tunnels and have never met a LED tunnel light that did not blind me, I also admit to twice colliding, due to being blinded and bouncing off the wall in an attempt to keep out of the way. I have had a few badly pointed halogen lights but never anywhere near as bad as LED light dazzling, worst was a searchlight type pointed down the reflection from the water was bad as you couldn't shade it out and see where you were.

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On 23/10/2020 at 21:32, David Mack said:

The stated aim of the Boat Safety Scheme is to make sure boats are safe, not for the occupants of that boat, but for others around them.  So it would be entirely consistent for the BSS to specify the maximum power of tunnel lamps and the beam pattern. Any that are too bright and/or pointing in teh wrong direction would result in a BSS fail.

Wouldn't stop the plokers who remove non-compliant stuff for the examination and put it back afterwards, but might damp down sales of the damn things.

Interesting point as my tunnel light was on a bracket so could be adjusted before entering tunnel . It was quite a small but adequate little oblong light and more than adequate shining slightly at the 'roof' of the tunnel.

I do understand those with eye challenges but mine are getting on and I found oncoming excessively bright lights required my hand to block them. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

The answer is clearly: No, it is not necessary. One can use any kind of lighting technology for a tunnel light. I was amused at the choice of location of this thread - perhaps we need a new subforum, Rhetorically Asked Questions?

 

I have a halogen tunnel light, and with all my cabin lights on it's just about adequate in tunnels. However it draws quite a current to achieve "just about adequate". I don't go through enough tunnels for it to be a concern, but I think what may be lost on some of the posters here is that for some boaters a tunnel light doubles as a headlight in the dark...

 

I know night cruising is a bit of a controversial issue. As a liveaboard continuous cruiser with a remote day job, I do sometimes need - or heck, I'll admit it, WANT - to boat at or after sunset. I have been moaned at twice for it, which - carefully crawling past at tickover, at 6pm, with my hospital silencer meaning there is very little noise - I think is most uncalled-for.

 

Thing is my halogen tunnel light is definitely inadequate as a headlight and I'm looking at purchasing some bright LEDs that will be better for night cruising. For energy efficiency and longevity reasons I'd not consider any other technology for lighting, but I think perhaps I should keep my headlight as the "dipped" version so when passing boats I can extinguish the LEDs.

 

I was also thinking of adding navigation lights just to make it easier for other night cruisers to see what we were doing. I gather that the COLREGs are pretty complex but I have seen plenty of narrowboats with a red and green light stuck on the side of the boat which must make it much easier to judge width when passing (I realise that this is not what the are for, but on the canals this is perhaps more important than being able to judge how they are manoeuvering. In a tunnel I think blocking the white stern light is probably a practical if not strictly correct thing to do.

 

I really am trying to be sensitive to other waterway users (yes even cyclists) and so I would love some recommendations for bright LED headlights (either dippable or switchable to halogen) and basic navigation lights.

Edited by ivan&alice
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31 minutes ago, ivan&alice said:

The answer is clearly: No, it is not necessary. One can use any kind of lighting technology for a tunnel light. I was amused at the choice of location of this thread - perhaps we need a new subforum, Rhetorically Asked Questions?

 

I have a halogen tunnel light, and with all my cabin lights on it's just about adequate in tunnels. However it draws quite a current to achieve "just about adequate". I don't go through enough tunnels for it to be a concern, but I think what may be lost on some of the posters here is that for some boaters a tunnel light doubles as a headlight in the dark...

 

I know night cruising is a bit of a controversial issue. As a liveaboard continuous cruiser with a remote day job, I do sometimes need - or heck, I'll admit it, WANT - to boat at or after sunset. I have been moaned at twice for it, which - carefully crawling past at tickover, at 6pm, with my hospital silencer meaning there is very little noise - I think is most uncalled-for.

 

Thing is my halogen tunnel light is definitely inadequate as a headlight and I'm looking at purchasing some bright LEDs that will be better for night cruising. For energy efficiency and longevity reasons I'd not consider any other technology for lighting, but I think perhaps I should keep my headlight as the "dipped" version so when passing boats I can extinguish the LEDs.

 

I was also thinking of adding navigation lights just to make it easier for other night cruisers to see what we were doing. I gather that the COLREGs are pretty complex but I have seen plenty of narrowboats with a red and green light stuck on the side of the boat which must make it much easier to judge width when passing (I realise that this is not what the are for, but on the canals this is perhaps more important than being able to judge how they are manoeuvering. In a tunnel I think blocking the white stern light is probably a practical if not strictly correct thing to do.

 

I really am trying to be sensitive to other waterway users (yes even cyclists) and so I would love some recommendations for bright LED headlights (either dippable or switchable to halogen) and basic navigation lights.

Don't you have your engine running when your head light is on with the alternator supplying the power.

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21 minutes ago, ivan&alice said:

 

 

I have a halogen tunnel light, and with all my cabin lights on it's just about adequate in tunnels. However it draws quite a current to achieve "just about adequate".

 

Your halogen tunnel light, typically 55w, will draw something like 5 amps. If your alternator can't cope with that, you really ought not be cruising in the daylight, let alone the dark!

Quote

 

I was also thinking of adding navigation lights just to make it easier for other night cruisers to see what we were doing. I 

They won't be visible behind your proposed LED headlights but, even if they were, Navigation Lights allow sailors to judge the course of other vessels: the only thing you're doing on a canal when making way is coming towards or going away. The blinding loss of their night vision and the pain their retinas will tell other boaters of the former and an overwhelming feeling of relief will tell them you're going away. If there are going to be occasions in your cruising when COLREGS apply, fit some, but not for the purposes above and not mixed with powerful LED headlights.

 

Unless you have a battery powered boat, there is no energy saving justification for LED headlights lights when cruising, either in a tunnel or in the dark. If it's high power illumination you want, there may be a selfish case to make, but it's one which will find little sympathy among competent, considerate boaters, I'd have thought.

 

You asked for recommendations for bright LED headlights, so here's mine: do something else with the money. ;)

 

 

 

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From my experience of cruising at night, a super-bright headlight isn't needed once your eyes are dark-adapted, anything bright enough to work as a tunnel light will work just fine as a headlight  -- but you might want to alter the aim. It's not like a car where you're zooming into the darkness at 70mph and need to see clearly a hundred yards ahead...

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