FAQ

Below are answers to common questions.

Shipping Information

When can I expect to see my products shipped?

Products are usually packed up the night of the order and shipped the following day. UPS usually comes by around 10:30am eastern time

LED Lighting

Im an experimental. Why do I need certified lighting products?

The short answer is legally you don’t. But lets talk a little bit about why you should.

1. Most of your lighting solutions are not just about you seeing, its about you being seen! Unlike other areas of experimental land, this is an area where its not just about your safety. Its about the safety of others as a result of your equipment. Anti-collision lights are an important safety measure. Sure you can, and many do, put some cheap light on their planes. But for what? Saving a few hundred dollars? How would your other fellow GA pilots feel about that choice?

2. As the result of many accidents over the years, The FAA went through a very an exhaustive process in determining light intensity, distribution pattern, and locations. The FAR’s are pretty complicated for the non-engineer types. It suffices to say that you can feel comportable in knowing that if you buy Whelen products, they meet or exceed FAA regulations for certifications. Here are a few if you like to read that sort of thing: FAR 23.1389 Position light distriubution and itensities, FAR 23.1401 Anti-collision Light Systems


What is the difference between lumens and candela?

Lumens – The measure of the total amount of light from a given source. Not the actual brightness since the total light output is unfocused. Candela – The power emitted by a light source in a particular direction. Candela (formerly candlepower) is more important than lumens in a landing lights, strobes etc. because candela is the actual measure of brightness in a focused beam. The lumen is a more general term referring to total light output, and is not a measure of the light focused in one direction. Candela and lumens measure different qualities of a light–they are not interchangeable. If you want a light to illuminate a large area, or are concerned with electricity or energy efficiency, then look at the lumen rating. If you want a landing light, flashlight or a spotlight or any other lamp that requires a focused beam, then look at the candela rating. For our aircraft use, candela is the only measurement that matters. You will notice that cancela is the measurement used by the FAA for certification. There is a reason for that. Here is an article on direct comparisons of lights by a third party.


I can find other LED light solutions cheaper. Why?

One answer is that for other LED applications, they can be made cheaper. For aircraft installations, quality matters. See also the note in the FAQ on RF noise and light quality. Most all low cost solutions do not meet the intensity and coverage requirements for night flight. Notwithstanding the structural integrity to survive years of trouble free operation. Also inexpensive LED solutions do not do a good job of thermal management… ie managing the heat from the circuitry. Why install lighting on your aircraft that compromises the safety of you, your passengers, and other aircraft just to save a few hundred dollars? Here is a head to head video on rv noise comparisons.


Why should I choose Whelen Lighting products over other manufacturers?

Whelen products have been proudly designed and manufactured in the United States for over 60 years. The same attention to detail and workamanship for a homebuilt product is the same as for corporate aircraft. Do you need an approved product as a home builder? No. However you must have the ability to show the lighting on your aircraft is in compliance with FAA regulations if you are to fly at night. The new Orion series products are fully faa/tso approved. All Whelen lights can be serviced with simple hand tools & replacement lenses are available maintain light output over time. What good is a lifetime warranty if the lens cannot be changed?


How can I compare light quality and output from different LED suppliers?

See the lumens/candela discussion below. And an aritcle comparing light outputs.


Why USE LED’s as a light source?

The key strength of LED lighting is reduced power consumption and very long life. When designed properly, an LED circuit will approach 80% efficiency, which means 80% of the electrical energy is converted to light energy. The remaining 20% is lost as heat energy. Compare that with quartz bulbs which operate at about 20% efficiency (80% of the electrical energy is lost as heat). Reduced power consumption means less power, lighter weight installations, and more power available to the aircraft systems such as EFIS’s and GPS navigation. In our aircraft, weight and power consumption matter. Reducing both, increases available useful load to the aircraft as well as increasing available electrical loads for our ever increaseing needs of electrical power in the plane. The lab life of a quartz bulb for aircraft is ~200 hours. The lab life of a LED bulb is 10,000 hours. Pretty significant.

Products

Are Leading Edge landing lights better than the wingtip versions?

In a word. YES. Here is why. The wingtip of an RV was never designed for a landing light. The geometry is just awful. Lets use this image as a reference. These are the 2 wingtip models on the RV’s. Does not matter which you have. The problems are the same.

There are 2 walls in the lens. Wall A is nearly parallel to the fuselage. Wall B is slanted 110 degrees back. Angle C is 110 degrees. Where did this 110 degrees come from? It comes from the FAR’s. 14 CFR part 23 section 1391 which specifically calls out the viewing requirements for position lights and this 110 degree angle. As a result, the only way to be legal, and put a landing light into the tip, is to mount it aft of the B wall. ARGH! This makes life complicated. Anything you mount on or behind wall B, means that wall A will block all light trying to get in front of the plane, where you really want it. This is the crux of the problem. Wingtip landing lights just cant get the light in front of the plane where you really need it. The larger your wingspan, the bigger this problem is. And lets not forget, that your nav/strobes are mounted to wall A. This provides a large amount of obstruction to any landing light trying get out from behind it. Leading edge lights do not have these problems. And finally, space. The space available on the wall B to mount a landing light is small. Small space, small lights.

All that being said, can you put a landing light out there? Yes. Does it work adaquetly? Barely. If you choose a wingtip landing light, you should have a really really good reason for doing it. As an example.. My RV-8 has full length wing leading edge fuel tanks. Putting a leading edge landing light into a fuel tank can be done, but its a lot of extra work and a lot of fuel leak risk. So like everything, its a trade off. I choose the wingtip landing light as a result. But I sure wish I had leading eadge landing lights. They provide better viewing, and a lot more light where you want it.

When I talk to builders, their main reason for wanting wingtip landing lights is that they all seem frightened to be cutting into the leading edge of their wing for a landing light and it seems so much simpler to install a landing light in the wingtip. ITS NOT. It takes the same amount of time and effort to do either. Thousands of builders have made the cuts into their leading edge for landing lights. It has been done successfully without much fan fare. And it can be done even if you are painted already!


What’s the difference in the internal wingtip in lens Nav/Strobe and the external version?

The inside the wingtip lens, in-lens, or embedded solution is the most favorite choice as it gets the light off the wingtip and into an enclosed structure. The in-lens solution requires a rear rudder mounted tail light. There has to be some speed savings there getting those lights into an enclosed space and out of that air stream. Also, for the RV’s as an example, only the early squared off tips can you actually mount an extrenal Nav/Strobe and be legal. The more modern ‘bat tips’ are curved and Nav/Strobes can’t be seen from the rear so you need the rear rudder light anyway. The most important thing is that with either solution, that the lights meet the FAA regulations so that you can be seen by others.


Whats the warranty on the Whelen Lights?

All Whelen LED products have a 6yr warranty from the date of manufacture stamped on the light. Other aircraft light competitors require warranty card, special prior written permission to transfer, and lots of pitfalls. You should read the details of those. Some dont even warranty the LED’s themselves!! Whelen has no silly cards, no worry when you sell your plane, or as a buyer you need not worry. Simply 6 years. Maybe closer to 5 by the time you actually get the product in hand. Actual warranty here.


What are the Lens’ in the kit made of?

Lens are made from Acrylite Resist 65 sheet (formerly Acrylite Plus), a versatile, thermoplastic material developed for retail display and glazing markets as well as other markets requiring strength, appearance and weatherability. Acrylite Resist 65 has the beauty and appearance of acrylic, with approximately twice the impact strength of acrylic. It is ideal for fabricated items that are heavily handled. It has high impact strength and designed for outdoor abuse.


When choosing a landing light kit, what are the considerations between the PAR36 light and the smaller Whelen 71685 light?

The PAR36 light has been a form factor standard for decades. Having an LED direct replacement makes good economic sense for many applictions. The PAR36Plus LED landing light produces 60,000 candela. The 71685, a smaller and less expensive landing light, produces 13,000 candela. The choice between lights is simply a price/performance trade off. The 71685 is adequate. Certainly better and brighter than the old rectangular Duckworks lights of the old days.

Wiring

If I don’t need shielded wire, why do you sell it?

In short, cost. 5+ multi-conductor aircraft grade mil spec wire is 3 times the cost when its not shielded. Its a matter of supply and demand. Shielded wire is made in huge quantities and is therefore cheaper. You DO NOT need shielded wire for Whelen LED wiring installations. It is however, a lot cheaper to buy it shielded.


Why is it I don’t need shielded wire with Whelen lighting?

EAA wrote a nice article on wiring techniques. A recommended reading. The short answer is that shielding is what we use to keep the wires from acting as antennas and either radiating or receiving unwanted RF. RF can translate to ‘noisy’ intercoms. Many LED’s use variable voltage switching circuits. These are VERY noisy. In the case of Whelen LED lights, they are highly engineered with solid state circuits with a focus on keeping RF to a minimum Solid state is QUIET. This requires a great knowledge of electronics, high quality circuitry, and a focus on quality aircraft electrical engineering designs and practices. This is why OTHER LED products make a lot of noise on the wire. It is cheaper to design and develop a noisy product. If your not making noise, you dont need wire shielding or fancy grounding techniques. Here is a head to head video on rv noise comparisons.