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Does LED Lighting Cause Radio Interference?

April 24, 2019

There is no doubt that the U.S. Coast Guard’s recent claims about LED lighting have raised some eyebrows within the industry. As a marine lighting manufacturer for almost 50 years, we raised ours, too.

Phoenix is – and always has been – dedicated to providing our partners with the highest quality lighting fixtures in the industry. We take safety seriously, thus didn’t take these claims lightly. We took immediate action with thorough field testing to discover whether or not our LEDs affect radio transmissions.

The US Coast Guard Marine Safety Alert Letter

Putting Our Lights to the Test

Phoenix installed its first LED light on a ship about eight years ago. Since then, we’ve installed thousands more on various maritime equipment around the world. While we’ve heard no such complaints from our customers, could it be possible that our LEDs cause radio interference? We were about to find out.

Using two separate brands of marine radios (Uniden and Lowrance), we individually tested seven different Phoenix fixtures on two different “worst-case” mounting locations. In none of our test scenarios did the radio’s signal audibly weaken or was noise heard.

For us, and for those who know the vigorous quality standards that Phoenix upholds, the results were not surprising.

What Makes a Difference?

Certain design elements can drastically reduce the potential for radio interference.

When a lighting manufacturer (like Phoenix) designs a fixture, fully enclosing the drivers and LED boards in aluminum housings will help to shield the surrounding environment from emissions. Higher end, name-brand drivers are less likely to emit electromagnetic emissions that can cause radio frequency interference because they use certified components and are tested extensively. Manufacturers should always ensure that drivers meet EN 61000-4-3 (Radio-Frequency Electromagnetic Field Susceptibility Test) and EN 61000-4-6 (Conducted Radio Frequency Disturbance Test).

Lighting manufacturers also have the option to be CE certified for conducted and radiated emissions. More specifically, marine fixtures should be certified to EN 55015, which measures and limits radio disturbance characteristics of electrical lighting and similar equipment.

All of the design practices described above are followed consistently by the Phoenix team.

Keeping the Conversation Going

The safety alert has left many in the industry with a lot of questions, and Phoenix is no exception. It has now been several months since the notice was released, and the results from the Coast Guard’s request for information have not yet been released. Phoenix has since contacted the USCG directly to inquire about this information. As we all await further information, the Phoenix team thought it would be helpful to communicate what we do know about LED fixtures.

As with any industry topic, we encourage our customers to ask questions. The ultimate goal is to keep the industry as safe as possible, which is why many of our customers use LED lights in the first place.

To continue this conversation with Phoenix, please click here.