"Carmanah LED Beacon... A Big AtoN Advance Wrapped in a Small Package"

Delaware River & Bay Lighthouse Foundation

Model 701 on buoy in Rehoboth Bay
A Carmanah Model 701 LED beacon attached to a buoy in Rohoboth Bay.

Beacons for our 21st century lighted aids to navigation will never rival the sparkling beauty of the classical lens but they sure do spawn intrigue and sport fascinating digital technology. The old saying, "good things come in small packages," might aptly describe the latest advancement in LED optics created for the United States Coast Guard by Carmanah Technologies, British Columbia, Canada.

Though the days of solar powered aids utilizing the 100 year-old technology of incandescent lighting have long been numbered, even recent LED (light emitting diode) advances could not shake the need for traditional external solar components - until now. Whereas current solar arrangements utilizing a 12-volt incandescent lighting system must be equipped with an external battery, solar panel and cable connections not to mention internal components such as lamps, lampchanger and flasher mechanism, the new 700 Series of Carmanah LEDs eliminates this cumbersome arrangement.

Model 702
The optic, battery & solar panels are all-inclusive in the Carmanah 700 Series.

The Carmanah 700 Series LEDs are a compact, durable and self-contained optic designed to operate flawlessly once installed, with no additional servicing or maintenance necessary for approximately 5 years before battery replacement is required. In addition, the LED optic has a life span of up to 100,000 hours or eleven years. By deploying one 12-lb self-contained Carmanah LED, Coast Guard servicing personnel eliminate the arduous task of having to hoist heavy 75-lb photovoltaic batteries, solar panels and fragile light source components up tall light towers and across rough terrain where many lighted aids are established.

The standard 155-mm red, green, and white acrylic optics that recreational boaters are accustomed to seeing on many buoys, piers and light towers will slowly be phased out as time moves forward and replaced by optics such as the Carmanah 700 Series LEDs. Though technological advances in lighted aids to navigation won't stop here, it is fascinating to watch the non-stop progression of improving our nation's guiding lights. Even the definition of automation as we know it in the world of AtoN seems inadequate to describe how lighted aids are advancing to achieve previously unheard of capabilities.

Deploying Carmanah 700 Series on buoy
(L to R) MK2 Rich Wasilius, BM1 Jeremy McConnell, & SN Chad Stevenson use an infrared remote control to program the Carmanah LED light.

Two factors that stand out most in the latest LEDs manufactured by Carmanah. One, the optic's reliability is nearly impeccable and two, the LED being a compact, all-inclusive unit versus its predecessors with all their external components, is a 21st century AtoN marvel that is best described with one word - wow!

Carmanah LED Facts...

  • The Carmanah 700 Series is currently the only LED-based marine lights approved by the U.S. Coast Guard for use in the U.S. Aids to Navigation System
  • Distance of visibility up to 3 miles
  • Over 200 programmable flash patterns
  • Completely self-contained and sealed against environmental conditions
  • Quick, non-technical installation
  • An infrared programming device in the form of a remote control can change the flash pattern, intensity level, activate / deactivate and check battery level for current capacity
  • Replaceable battery packs
  • The Carmanah LED will charge under nearly all weather conditions
  • The Carmanah LED Model 701 weighs 11.5 pounds and the Model 702 weighs 17 pounds
  • The Carmanah LED Model 701 can operate under a full charge for up to 300 hours and the Model 702 can operate under a full charge for up to 600 hours.

FN Greg Panas holding with Model 701 on buoy Senior Chief Dennis Dever holding Model 702
FN Greg Panas holds up a buoy with a Carmanah Model 701 LED light. Senior Chief Dennis Dever holds a Carmanah Model 702 LED light.

The article and all photos were reproduced with the permission of the author, Mr. Bob Trapani, Jr. of the Delaware River & Bay Lighthouse Foundation. Visit www.delawarebaylights.com for more information.