LED Fluorescent Replacement

After our weekend where we drained the battery, we have become more conscious of our power consumption. Now to be fair, we really caused the issue by overusing the TV when not connected to power, and not realizing that the solar panels were not generating any power as the weather was rainy and overcast.

I decided to look into replacement tubes for the fluorescent fixtures, not only because they draw considerably less power, but they also are available in different colour temperatures. The tubes in the Alto are the common bright white temperature. This produces a light that we find is too bright, and harsh to look at. We have found over the years that we sort of avoid turning them on, relying on little AA battery powered lamps we picked up from Lee Valley. The newer versions of the Alto now use LED lights, with 12 volt applications, this is the way to go.

There are lots of options out there to find LED fluorescents, with just as many quality options. I settled on a company called Marinebeam (www.marinebeam.com). Their web site was very informative, with tons of technical details that really explained how these tubes work, and the best components to use. They are on the pricey side, but for our long term use of the Alto, it will be good value. We purchased the warm white 12" tubes and waited for them to arrive.

Installation was pretty easy, although the fixture needed to be rewired to take the existing ballast out of the circuit. This was as easy as identifying the wires, using the provided instructions from Marinebeam, snipping out the ballast, and reconnecting the power feeds to both ends of the tubes. Probably a 10 minute job for each fixture. 

As I have said before here in this blog, before tackling any sort of modification or maintenance job, you need to have a good understanding of what is involved, and your own knowledge and comfort level with doing the work yourself. If in doubt, get it done at your dealer.

The bulbs work great. They are bright and give off a very pleasing light. It is quite noticeable how different the light is. The harsh brightness is gone, replaced by a pleasing warm glow. Really amazing the difference this can make. The front fixtures have 2 tubes inside, but we have found that in this area, 1 tube gives off just the right amount of light. This has turned out to be an excellent modification. 
the little ballast that was yanked out
lots of little LED's all in a row
these photos above show the colour of the fluorescents
fluorescent on the left, LED on the right.
notice the different colour
LED light, much warmer, notice the overall colour


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