Anchor light just using too much power? A Davis Mega Light with one of these super-bright LED bulbs was the answer for us.

Bright LED Bulb for Davis Mega Light

Davis Mega-Lights are nifty lights that can be used in the cockpit or as an anchor light in most places. We used one for years on our previous boat.

Davis Mega Lights plug into a cigarette lighter with a 15-foot cord, operate on a photo cell (that is, they turn on automatically at dusk and turn off automatically at dawn) and are low draw — the incandescent ones we used on Que Tal drew less than an amp.

When we first began cruising aboard Barefoot Gal, we were surprised to find that our masthead anchor light drew almost 3 amps. Multiply that by 13 or 14 hours a day that it’s on and it’s a huge power hog! Plus we had to remember to turn it on. And off.

The previous owner, however, had left an old Davis Mega Light on board — one with incandescent bulbs. We put it into use almost immediately and saw a major reduction in the power used. We simply clip it onto our lazyjacks with a stainless carabiner and take it off when sailing.Anchor light just using too much power? A Davis Mega Light with one of these super-bright LED bulbs was the answer for us.

Then a friend clued us in to an even bigger power savings: a Davis light with a bright LED bulb. He was in the process of selling his boat and gave us an LED bulb from Cruising Solutions that he’d never used.

WOW! The light is much brighter and draws only 0.04 amp (not a typo — less than 1/10 amp). The bulb is very simple to change and contains 6 LEDs. It is visible well over 2 miles, meeting the standard for anchor lights.

Now I see that Cruising Solutions has an even brighter 15-LED bulb for the Davis Mega Light. This draws 0.1 amp (one-tenth of an amp). The boat behind us here at Boot Key Harbor has one of these and it is easy to pick out in the “starfield” of anchor lights. Of course, our LED will never burn out so it’s unlikely I’ll have to buy another, but yes, if I do, I’ll get the brighter one.

NOTE: These are not the “LED Davis Lights” or the LED replacement bulbs that are packaged by Davis. A friend couldn’t figure out why their LED Davis Light was nowhere near as bright as ours — turns out his had just one LED in the bulb, yet it drew over 1/10 amp. It just wasn’t bright enough to use as an anchor light despite what the company might say.

If you have an old Davis Mega Light that works, you can upgrade it to the 6- or 15-LED bulb. They’re sold in both Cool White and Warm White — the cool white is brighter than the warm white for the same number of LEDs.

If you’re looking to buy a new Davis Mega Light, I’d get it from Cruising Solutions rather than Amazon, West Marine or other retailers, as Cruising Solutions sells them with the better LED bulbs already installed, so you don’t have to buy the bulb separately (and the whole thing is cheaper than what many retailers charge for just the light without the good LED bulb).

A couple of notes about the Davis Mega Lights:

  • Even if you have a masthead LED anchor light, they’re good to have on hand in case the masthead one has a problem that can’t be fixed immediately. I know a number of people that keep one “just in case.”
  • They’re good lights and pretty weatherproof. But they won’t last forever. We’ve found that the photocell is usually what goes first, and then the light just won’t turn on. They typically last us about three years (but no guarantees).
  • Do you have an insulated backstay for an SSB or ham radio antenna? Do you hang your Davis Light off it? Yeah, we did. Until once we transmitted when the light was on and basically fried its innards. Don’t do it.
  • They are not “certified” to be anchor lights, as the Coast Guard certifies only whole light assemblies (fixture and bulb together). But you are not required to have a “certified” anchor light, only to have a white all-around light that meets the visibility standards. We’ve been in the Florida Keys for three months now, in a harbor where anchor lights are required. The Coast Guard regularly patrols for anchor light violations (and boats have been cited). No boat with a Davis Mega Light — incandescent or LED — has been cited for an improper anchor light as far as I know.
  • At a recent Q&A with the FWC here in Boot Key Harbor, the captain for this area said that he prefers boats in the harbor have a light that is NOT at the masthead, since most people aren’t looking at the sky. He really liked the Davis lights as most people hang them at a lower level that’s easier to see.
Anchor light just using too much power? A Davis Mega Light with one of these super-bright LED bulbs was the answer for us.

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  • Ritchard Findlay
    Posted at 12 March 2015 Reply

    I did exactly the same LED lamp swap, and now I use my Davis light permanently fixed as the anchor light.

  • Bill Dixon
    Posted at 12 March 2015 Reply

    Perfect timing on this post. Last night was our first with the more powerful of the two incadescent bulbs that came with the Davis light. Still was not as bright as i would like. Ordered the led bulb right after i read your post.

  • Angie Wilson
    Posted at 12 March 2015 Reply

    Never had one work longer than one season. After 3 failures not a product I will buy again.

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 12 March 2015 Reply

      Ours Davis Lights have all lasted several years. Well, except when we’ve done something stupid.

  • Mary E Dixon
    Posted at 12 March 2015 Reply

    Couldn’t order online had to call

  • Bill, SV Denali Rose
    Posted at 12 March 2015 Reply

    We have used these lights since before they had an LED version. We still have the first one (of three- which sports an LED bulb from Cruising Solutions…)

    We have yet to have one fail. When anchored, we use one at the bow and stern in addition to the masthead light, and leave them out all winter. They have withstood -20°F and keep on working. We left one under the dodger for a night light all last winter. [They are also designed to shine down as well as 360° so they make great supplemental deck lights…]

  • Keith & Nicki, s/v Sionna
    Posted at 14 March 2016 Reply

    Used the light last season, and it’s going strong, but as you mention, not bright enough. Looked at ordering a bulb through your link, but for a $12 bulb, they wanted $12 more for shipping? That seemed a little steep, so with further research I found one from the brighter version (12 leds) was $12.50, and $6.95 shipping – that’s more my speed!

  • Keith Davie
    Posted at 04 April 2016 Reply

    Just got ours! Great lead, Carolyn, thank you!

  • Niels Kisling
    Posted at 09 August 2016 Reply

    I work for Davis Instruments and I agree that the Cruising Solution bulbs are brighter. Just want people to know that our LED bulb draws just 23 milliamps….1/5th of 1/10th of an amp. No typo here! Thanks for your bright comments on our Mega Light.

    Niels Kisling

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 09 August 2016 Reply

      I love your lights . . . and with the CS bulb, it’s even better! Thanks!

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