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Heat, light and nearly smoke

Burnt Bulb An RYA member nearly goes up in smoke due to a too high a wattage bulb.

We recently bought a new boat – not new new but new to us – six years old in fact.

When we had brought her over to the Island [Guernsey] and got over the “wow” factor, we began to have a detailed look round: what needs shifting, where we can stow the parrot etc.

During the course of this we noticed that the central light of the three down-lights in the cockpit was rather discoloured.

The light fittings were IP65 rated which means they are seriously watertight and as a result pretty airtight too; made of plastic and rated for a 10 watt 12 volt incandescent bulb.

The fitting was opened up and it was seen that the discolouration was caused by overheating. The interior of the fitting was partially melted and extensively charred – it had probably been extremely close to combustion.

The moral of the tale

The bulb fitted was a 20 watt quartz halogen: the result inevitable. The moral of the tale is never ever put a higher wattage bulb than is written on the case in a light fitting – particularly a watertight plastic one.

As a result of this discovery, we have gone over to all LED interior lighting – same fittings, different “bulbs”.

The battery load, all lights on, is down by over 10 amps; none of the fittings even get warm now and the quoted life is seriously longer than the incandescent bulbs.

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