Housings and optics are critical components to overall performance. Optics direct the light so it doesn’t simply disappear into the depths. Lumitec’s John Kujawa says they use a “very flat and wide angle so we throw
light left and right rather than up and down.” At right is Imtra’s above-water PowerLED, which illustrates
how LEDs may be ‘buried’ inside a fixture, reducing the raw lumen output.
Courtesy Lumitec (left) and Imtra
fact sheet is on the horizon but it does help to be informed. “People come to see us at boat shows
and they’re already talking lumens,” says Chevalier. “So they’re aware that they should be looking
for something like that although I’m not sure they really know what it all means.”
Myers agrees: “The trade has become much more educated over the past few years. There’s
more awareness about the quality of materials, beam angles and housing design although true
comparisons are still a bit of a mystery.” Lumishore lists both raw lumens and fixture lumens on
their data sheets, brochures and website product pages.
Chevalier knows that lumens and light aren’t controversial just under water. “An above waterline light with more lumens doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a better product, but it does mean more
questions should be asked when comparing two like-products,” he says of the lights that are used
in exterior and interior LED lighting. At least lumen readings are more applicable in lights that
are used in air rather than water.
The bottom line
As a dealer, if you’re considering stocking and selling lights, you’ll need to understand your
customers’ needs and budgets, and how to explain to a boater why one light is a better choice
for their application than another. And now, you know just enough to be dangerous.
The good news is that today’s lights are versatile. They combine a wide halo with punch for
distance, allowing dealers to carry fewer SKUs for better inventory management and all lights
seem to be scaling up-market with more lumens offered per dollar. For now, check to see what
“kind” of lumens are listed on the packaging and what the beam angles are and you’ll be half way
to making the right decision even when a lumen isn’t a lumen.
So, is it still important to measure lumens? Yes. Does that lead to machinations, vocabulary
problems and possibly lumen lies? Yes. Is there one hard way to address all the issues? Not at this
time but the frustration in the industry seems to be creating some pressure to have manufacturers
voluntarily police themselves by creating standards and submitting to comprehensive third-party
testing. Stay tuned.
“The bottom line on lumens and light,” says Deheer, “is that it’s what you do with it that
counts.” And isn’t that the case with just about everything in life? MEJ
About the author
Zuzana Prochazka is a freelance writer and photographer who contributes regularly to over a dozen sail and
power boating magazines and Web publications. A USCG 100 Ton Master, Zuzana has cruised, chartered and
captained flotillas in many parts of the world and serves as an international presenter on charter destinations
and technical topics. She is the Chair of the New Product Awards Committee for the National Marine Manufacturers Association, which judges innovative boats and gear, and a nine-year member of the board of Boating
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