Precision sector lights are frequently used where precise navigation is required, often at short range and by day where the intensities required are very high compared to night time operation. One way of achieving higher intensities is by reducing the vertical beam width, but this can create other problems which need to be considered. Our Sales Director, Jeff Gibson explores how important vertical beam width is when using precision sector lights.

For high-intensity, long-range night lights such as lighthouses, a very narrow beam can be used successfully to achieve the necessary intensity. While vessels may be out the main beam at short range, there is still sufficient intensity for the light to be clearly visible with even 1% of a 15M light offering sufficient intensity to be seen at 3M.

The same does not hold true for precision sector lights. Once vessels are out the beam, the light is lost so it is important that the observer always remains well within the beam. While it can be tempting to reduce the beam width to increase the light’s intensity and better performance on paper, it can significantly restrict the visibility of the light across the range of users.

During a recent meeting, the importance of beam width arose. The Hydrosphere team were invited to comment on the use of a precision sector light down to 400m where a narrow divergence product was being considered. To achieve this with this product, the light would need to be very close to the eye level of the observer which caused other issues:

  1. A tower measuring 25m clear of the water would have been needed. This tower would need to be a rigid structure as very little movement is acceptable when working with narrow beams.
  2. Cost of installation and servicing would be greater due to the height of the structure.
  3. The solution would have been useless for smaller vessels as they would be below the beam at short range.

By comparison, the Vega PEL 4 LED precision sector light had 3 times the vertical beam width meaning it could be mounted at 10m or below. In turn, this leads to a reduction in installation and maintenance costs whilst also being usable by all vessels.

As the UK’s leading supplier of aids to navigation, we offer a range of precision sector lights from the market-leading Vega PEL6 through the new LED units; Vega PEL 4, Vega VLS46 and 46 Ultra and the family of Ekta sector lights. All these units offer first-class vertical beam widths along with a range of features making them ideal for use where traditional leading lights cannot be used or do not offer sufficient accuracy. In addition to this, precision sector lights can also be a cost-effective solution with installation only being required in one location, furthermore, they can often be solar powered offering more flexibility in positioning.

If you would like to find out more about precision sector lights and other types of navigational aids, please contact us.