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Old 08-04-2017, 11:23 AM   #1
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LEDs causing VHF interference

It's been mentioned before here but several years passed by before we discovered the LED lights we installed affected our VHF radios. First I found that after initial contact on channel 16, I could not continue the longer distance communication on channel 9. Hmmmm. But the definitive diagnosis occurred when we discovered the previously poor reception of the weather station improved dramatically after we had switched off the LED lights. I suspect the biggest concern is with longer distance reception. It's also possible that channels are not all affected equally.

So, it's worth checking to see if your LEDs are a concern, even if you think they are not. We will probably live with it for now, as we typically cruise during the day and we can just ensure the lights are switched off.

Jim
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Old 08-04-2017, 11:36 AM   #2
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It is the drivers that cause the interference, not the actual LEDs. A different brand of lights might not affect your VHF reception as much or at all. Better lights have filters to reduce or eliminate this interference. A local high school kid with electronics as a hobby could devise a filter for you.

Two of my LED cabin lights caused interference on the TV low band (7-13) reception. I installed a small capacitor in each fixture and this reduced the problem significantly. A more sophisticated filter would have eliminated the problem. Or, a different brand of lights.

You are experiencing interference from "constant current" drivers. These work by measuring the average current through the LEDs and turning the power on and off at a very high frequency so the average current through the LEDs is within the safe current.
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Old 08-04-2017, 01:00 PM   #3
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There is a ton of cheap import LED controllers causing issues for various radio services. Look for both a FCC and CE mark on the device when shopping. At least this claims to have met a certain emission spec.
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Old 08-04-2017, 01:47 PM   #4
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I just bought replacement "LEDs" and put them in the existing 2 pole bayonet fixtures. At $15 each, i will have to think more carefully next time before I go about replacing fixtures.
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Old 08-04-2017, 02:08 PM   #5
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I did the same, but left all wheelhouse and running lights incandescent due to proximity to electronics and antennas. I don't notice any interference, at least when I was testing SSB.
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Old 08-04-2017, 03:03 PM   #6
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Cheap LEDs that rely on a resistor to "regulate" the current through the LEDs won't create interference but they are less efficient than the ones with constant current drivers and will probably fail when your battery charger hits over 14 volts.
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Old 08-04-2017, 04:00 PM   #7
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Electronic constant current drivers are avail. very cheaply that have zero emissions. LM317 comes to mind. I've designed with that over 25 years ago.
Its about thermal management.
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Old 08-04-2017, 04:04 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JDCAVE View Post
I just bought replacement "LEDs" and put them in the existing 2 pole bayonet fixtures. At $15 each, i will have to think more carefully next time before I go about replacing fixtures.
I did the same and found my TV channel 9 would disappear when the LED's were on! Switched to a higher quality Marine Beam insert and now have no interference issues
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