Carmanah LED Beacon...
A Big ATON Advance “Wrapped in a Small Package”

By Bob Trapani, Jr.

Carmanah LED on a buoy in Rehoboth Bay
Photo by Bob Trapani, Jr.

A Carmanah Model 701
Series LED beacon is attached
to a buoy in Rehoboth Bay

Beacons for our 21st century lighted aids to navigation will never rival the sparkling beauty of the classical Fresnel lens but they sure do spawn incredible intrigue thanks to the powers of digital technology. The old saying, “good things come in small packages,” might aptly describe the latest advancement in LED (light emitting diode) optics manufactured by Carmanah Technologies in British Columbia, Canada, which have been authorized for use in the field of aids to navigation throughout America by the United States Coast Guard.

Though the days of solar powered aids utilizing the 100 year-old technology of incandescent lighting have long been numbered, even recent LED advances could not overcome the need for traditional external solar components – until now. Whereas current solar arrangements utilizing a 12-volt incandescent lighting system must be equipped with at least one external battery, solar panel(s) and cable connections – not to mention internal components such as lamps, a lampchanger and flasher mechanism, the new 600 and 700 Series of Carmanah LEDs eliminate this cumbersome and costly arrangement altogether.

MK3 Hollyfield wires a battery
Photo by Bob Trapani, Jr.

MK3 Rob Hollyfield wires
the battery to a 155mm
incandescant optic...a system
the LED is slowly replacing

The Carmanah LEDs are a self-contained, compact and quite durable beacons designed to operate flawlessly once installed, with no additional servicing or maintenance necessary for up to approximately 5 years before battery replacement is required. In addition, the LED optic has a life span of up to 100,000 hours or eleven years. By deploying one 12-lb, self-contained 700 Series Carmanah LED, Coast Guard servicing personnel eliminate the arduous task of having to install heavy 75-lb photovoltaic batteries, solar panels and fragile light source components up tall light towers and across rough terrain where many lighted aids are inherently established.

The standard 155-mm red, green, and white acrylic optics that recreational boaters are accustomed to seeing on many of our nation’s buoys, piers and light towers will slowly be phased out as time moves forward and subsequently replaced by optics such as the Carmanah 700 Series LEDs. Though technological advances in lighted aids to navigation won’t stop with the invention of this incredible beacon, it is fascinating to watch the non-stop progression associated with the quest to continually improve our nation’s guiding lights. Even the definition of automation as we know it in the world of ATON seems inadequate to describe how effective and enthralling Carmanah LED beacons are to navigation as they continue to achieve previously unheard of capabilities in lighting technology.

There are two factors that stand out most with Carmanah LED beacons. One, the optic’s reliability is nearly flawless and two, the LED being a compact, all-inclusive unit versus its predecessors with all their external components, presents a 21st century ATON marvel that is best described with one word – “wow!”

Carmanah Model 700 Series
Photo by Bob Trapani, Jr.

The optic, battery and solar
panels are all-inclusive in the
Carmanah Model 700 Series

Foam buoy with Carmanah 701 LED
Photo by Bob Trapani, Jr.

FN Greg Panas holds
up a foam buoy with a
Carmanah Model 701 LED

Carmanah Model 702 LED
Photo by Bob Trapani, Jr.

Senior Chief Dennis Dever
holds a Carmanah Model
702 LED, which weighs
about 12 lbs.

Programming an Carmanah LED
Photo by Bob Trapani, Jr.

(L to R) MK2 Rich Wasilius, BM1
Jeremy McConnell and SN Chad Stevenson
use an infrared remote control to
program a Carmanah LED

Carmanah LED Facts...

  • The Carmanah 700 Series is currently the only LED-based marine lights approved by the U.S. Coast Guard for use in the U.S. Aids to Navigation System
  • Distance of visibility up to 3 miles
  • Over 200 programmable flash patterns
  • Completely self-contained and sealed against environmental conditions
  • Quick, non-technical installation
  • An infrared programming device in the form of a remote control can change the flash pattern, intensity level, activate / deactivate and check battery level for current capacity
  • Replaceable battery packs
  • The Carmanah LED will charge under nearly all weather conditions
  • The Carmanah LED Model 701 weighs 11.5 pounds and the Model 702 weighs 17 pounds
  • The Carmanah LED Model 701can operate under a full charge for up to 300 hours and the Model 702 can operate under a full charge for up to 600 hours

To learn more about Carmanah LEDs, visit their web site at:

Created: March 2004