I've seen the light - Imtra Gibraltar PowerLED

For a sailboat from the late 1980's, we think s/v Bearly-A-Wake still shows and performs very well. This is partly due to the builder (Catalina Yachts) choosing mostly quality fittings, and largely due to regular maintenance and upgrades. One of the original fittings that still functions just fine, but actually is showing some age is the plastic light fixture in the head. The plastic casing is turning yellow and the incandescent bulbs inside are the last remaining non-LEDs in the cabin. Time for an upgrade!

Out with the old...

I recently removed the old plastic fixture and replaced it with Imtra's Gilbraltar PowerLED dome light. I chose the warm white with red bi-color model, so it has an on/off toggle that can switch between white light and red for times when we'll want to keep our night vision intact. Also note, this fixture has double gaskets for splash protection, so you could potentially install one in the cockpit too. Hopefully those gaskets will never get tested in our head, but you never know what's flying about when you go below in snotty weather.

The first thing I noticed when removing the Gibraltar from the packaging is the polished stainless bezel and solid glass frosted lens that give this fixture a heft that's lacking in the all-plastic fixture I replaced. It looks both classy and durable, but time will have to tell.

...In with the new.

Are your pupils dilated?

Installation was simple. Just use the paper template provided by Imtra to choose an appropriate mounting location and drill the two 3/8" clearance holes for the casing nuts, splice the red and black lead wires to the feeds, and secure the fixture with the three provided screws. This particular model is flush mounted (except for the clearance holes) and comes with a soft rubber/foam gasket to help create a seal. In addition to the red positive lead and black negative lead, there is also a white (+) dimmer lead and a grey (-) dimmer lead. Since I won't be using mine on a dimmer, I didn't connect these two wires, but the option is there for those want to be able to dim the light.

I'm very happy with the new, clean look and the brighter (equal to 25W halogen) lighting in the head. I'm also pleased to now feature a cabin with all LED lighting, which will hopefully save us power and maintenance. So is there a downside to this upgrade? Only if you're on a tight budget because the Gibraltar will set you back $229 USD, though a similar G4 halogen model is available for $79 USD. Kind of makes you wish these fixtures came standard from the factory.

Want more info about these fixtures? Practical Sailor recently bestowed an Editor's Choice award to the Gibraltar PowerLED (May/June 2014).

For the specs nerds:
Warm white (2850K) / Red Bi-Color
Power Consumption: 5.5W
Voltage: 10-30VDC
Dimmer Interface: Pulse Width Modulation
Dimmensions: Trim ring = 6.5" diameter, Height = 1.42"

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