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Visual Signals - Light Sources

Courtesy of Vega Industries

Incandescent light sources, such as tungsten halogen and metal halide lamps have been used for decades in Aid-to-Navigation lights. However, light emitting diodes (LEDs) are being used in an increasing number of lighthouses and buoys.

The visual signalling section within R&RNAV, on behalf of the GLAs, constantly monitors light source development in an effort to improve the performance and efficiency of marine Aid-to-Navigation signal lights.

Incandescent Lamps

Smaller halogen incandescent lamps are still used, especially for flashing lights.

Metal Halide Lamp

This is a mercury vapour discharge lamp with added metal halides to improve the 'whiteness' of the light. These lamps are typically used for lighting large factories and for stadium floodlighting. They are very energy efficient but cannot be switched on and off quickly.

LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes)

These are very efficient producers of coloured light and are used to replace flashing incandescent lamps with filters. White LEDs are now becoming as efficient as metal halide lamps. Arrays of LEDs are commonly used in marine signal lights such as buoy beacons and large arrays are increasingly being used for medium range lights in lighthouses and lightvessels.