Anchor lights – buy with caution.

If you are in the market for an LED anchor light, the type you hang in the rigging, not a fixed masthead type, there is a possibility of confusion and disappointment if you don’t read and interpret the retailer’s description. I’m not suggesting there is a conspiracy to defraud, just that you need to be sure what it is you’re buying.

For instance, there are two similar looking anchor lights available at UK chandlers. One is the US supplied Davis Mega Utility Light and the other is a similar light supplied by AAA in Taiwan. They are both plastic bodied lights with a good quality Fresnel lens. The Mega Light has a grey body, the AAA light is all black.

Until recently neither light was available from the manufacturer with an LED cluster. Both lights come with two incandescent bulbs, a standard bulb and a bulb that has lower light intensity but consumes less power; you can decide which option to fit depending on circumstances. Suppliers claim an operating life of 5,000 hours for these incandescent bulbs, and that the lower power bulb is OK for 2nm visibility.

Several years ago the Taiwanese light became available from various suppliers with a retro-fitted LED cluster. (Salty John was one such supplier but we don’t make them any longer). Just recently the Davis light has become available with an LED cluster. I have not seen the LED version for sale in the UK yet but the Davis website shows it.

The LED version of both lights has very lower power draw and long life – the LEDs last up to 50,000 hours. 

But the incandescent light versions are also available and these are described as low draw, or low power and also long life and extended life lights – the sort of jargon we’ve come to associate with LED lights.

So, unless they are specifically described as LED lights they almost certainly are not!

Prices range from about £20 to £65 at the main chandlers. But price is an unreliable indicator of which version you’re getting – you can pay £20 or £50 for an incandescent version, or £27 up to £65 for an LED version. 

Best deal? Buy a £20 Taiwanese light, fit it with a 9xLED Super Bright cluster, run a strip of silicone tape around the body-to-lens joint, and put a blob of silicone inside the cable gland. You’ll have a waterproof LED light that meets code for visible distance and will last 15 years or more of continuous anchoring.