Superyacht illuminations: The use of light on board
Last updated: 27/01/2017
Ongoing investment in R and D and increasing advancements in technology mean marine lighting can now be considered as inventive and exclusive as the furnishings and interior on board. From striking underwater lights to bespoke light art pieces; you may never look at lighting in the same way again.
Enjoy the beauty of the ocean, even when the sun goes down
There are few things more majestic than an illuminated superyacht against the night sky. Penetrating up to 20 meters in clear water, underwater lights not only make a superyacht stand out in the marina, but also give life to a private nighttime aquarium.
It is common for larger superyachts to favour metal halide lights over LEDs, for maximum penetration though the water. For a full breakdown, read our article on the best underwater lights. Peter Urquhart of Underwater Lights Ltd said, "As a designer and manufacturer of both types of underwater lights the metal halide can still reliably out perform the LED so owners still have a choice. For the LED lights we concentrate our designs on the light fixture's optics and thermal dynamics to remove the heat from the LED to achieve a reliable and efficient LED light."
As well as an extension of the yacht’s personality, underwater lighting is carefully selected to ensure the best performance in a diversity of waters.
Underwater light colours - lighting up the ocean
- Enhancing the natural beauty of your surroundings, white lights are best used in Caribbean and tropical waters and creates a classic look in a crystal clear ocean.
- Sailing in brackish, fresh or darker water? Use green lights to retain the truest colour of the underwater lights.
- Blue lights penetrate further into the water thanks to being close on the UV spectrum. The blue colour of underwater lighting also stimulates phosphorescence in the water, resulting in a glistening and magical display.
With the latest advancements in marine light technology, yachts are no longer confined to one fixed colour. OceanLED explained, “Through the yacht’s on-board system, or wirelessly via third party devices such as an iPad or iPhone, underwater lights can be programmed to change with the beat of on-board music, strobe to attract fish, or even change colour with the time of day.”
James Tupper, marketing manager at BGB Sils also explained, “Yacht lighting has many luxury features commonly found in home-lighting systems, such as RGB-W colour changing bright LEDs. These can be fully controllable via an app on your tablet, mobile or watch device. The lights can be programmed into the boats on-board Wi-Fi system and be controlled anywhere in the world.”
Interior yacht lighting: go bespoke
Thomas Mika of Inspirit Solutions discussed, “LED technology has given rise to a completely new generation of lights: ones that are compact, fuel-efficient and durable. LED lights, which originally had a cold reception despite their qualities, today match the sensational values known with bulbs or halogen lights. But the eye wants more. New technology should also light the way toward new design ideas.”
Thomas Mika continued, “Lighting technology per se is but one part of the quality of a light and, ultimately illumination. The appropriate shape, as well as a properly functional and atmospheric light distribution are factors that are just as decisive: In other words, everything that we as humans see with our eyes, which we consider as consistent and pleasant (or not). To speak in terms of traditional images: lamps and attractive lampshades determine our perception, not the light bulb behind it."
Marine Light Corp explained, “Superyachts are seen as the ultimate expression of luxury and freedom. Owners don't expect to compromise when it comes to the detail and design features of their most prized possession.”
Three top tips for lighting installations
Pidge Scales from Lumotics gives these three top tips when planning the installation of yacht lighting.
- Avoid whole strings of lights failing over the loss of a single LED by installing failsafe modules that allow the current to bypass individual fittings.
- Standalone drivers for LEDs (that ensure smooth, flicker-free operation) avoid the problems of overheating that can occur with the built-in equivalents.
- It’s often worth installing control units with more channels than you initially need as it makes any later expansion much easier and cheaper.
For further information, read our full guide on underwater yacht light mounting options.
Be prepared to go green
Soon, energy efficient lamps won’t only be the most environmental choice, they’ll be the only choice.
Pidge from Lumotics warned, “Plan now for the phasing out of standard halogen bulbs by 2016. Ensure that your next installations are LED or other energy-efficient fittings.”
With the global focus on energy-efficiency and the drive to reduce our carbon footprint, Governments around the world have passed measures to phase out the uneconomical incandescent and halogen bulbs, in favour of more environmentally friendly lighting alternatives such as LED and CFL.
According to the Energy Saving Trust, “Energy saving light bulbs use up to 80 percent less electricity than a standard light bulb but generate just as much light.”
Apart from the environmental advantages, OceanLED highlighted some of the other advantages of switching from halogen bulbs to LEDs.
- LEDs can last up to 80,000 hours and slowly lose their light output, whereas halogen bulbs last between 2,000 and 6,000 hours and ‘pop’ off when their lifespan is complete.
- The LEDs longer lifespan also means that lights will need to be changed less.
- LEDs contain no harmful or toxic substances. They present a much safer option, as they are less likely to burn or cause fires.
- Underwater LED lights are consistent in their light output and colour temperature, resulting in a consistent glow from the underwater lighting. It is not possible to colour match this exactly with conventional bulbs.
In recent years, LED technology has revolutionised yacht lighting as we know it, lighting the way to an unlimited array of bespoke and state-of-the-art concepts.