Types of Cabin Lights
A very wide variety of cabin lighting is available. The proper selection can make a big improvement in the livability of your boat. We hope this guide will help you select the lighting best suited to your needs, whether it be Alpenglow lights, or another brand or style.
Cabin lights can be divided into two basic types: area lighting and spot lighting. Round dome lights and most fluorescent lights are examples of area lighting. High-intensity lights, reading lights, and swivel lights are examples of spot lighting. Gimbal lamps and some low-power fluorescent lights fall in between. Spot lighting is a good choice when only one person needs light for a task at a specific location such as reading or working at the chart table. If you need very intense light for detailed work such as instrument repair, spot lighting can be effective if the light can be placed close to the work. A spot light is also good if one person is reading while another is sleeping in the same cabin. If light is needed at more than one spot at a time, area lighting is usually more effective than using several spot lights. One problem with spot lights is that contrast between the illuminated area and the dark background can cause eyestrain.
Area lighting is accomplished with one or more lights (depending upon cabin size and lamp brightness) mounted overhead, or occasionally on a bulkhead. By illuminating the entire cabin, shadows are greatly reduced because the light bouncing off hull sides and bulkheads results in scattered light coming from many directions. In order to realize this advantage, the light needs to be fairly bright and it must be wide angle. Take a look at the light pattern diagrams. Notice that the Alpenglow lights give about the same light to the sides as down, and that the incandescent dome light gives slightly more light to the sides than down. Fluorescent examples "A" and "C" give wide-angle light to one side only, and example "B" and the twin tube do not give enough side light to provide even illumination. Example "C" also isn't bright enough for area lighting, as you would need to have a book within two feet of it for reading. These fluorescents with focused light and lower light output could be used under a cabinet to light a chart table, etc. In this sense, it is more like spot lighting. Gimbal lights, in some cases can be a good compromise. The light is brightest nearby, but they also cast light in all directions which provides some light to the background. Because of the high efficiency of fluorescents, you can usually light the entire cabin with the same power as one spot-type light by using a high efficiency fluorescent area light.