December 15, 2019

Whelen Lights Ordered

I’ve been looking into lighting for a long time, and I have been looking at multiple vendors as evidenced on my links page. I’ve been holding out on buying something since there have been a lot of new products that came to the market over the last few years. But now as I’m working in the fuselage I realized I should figure out what to get because I want to put an anti-collision light on the belly of the fuselage, so I need to figure out how and where to mount that now, and get wiring run.

Luckily I’ve done a lot of research into the available options. My priorities are that the lights must be LED-based, synchronizable for flashing, and have options available that make sense for installing atop the rudder, since that is the only spot provided on the tail (no place to put a rear-facing anti-collision light like most other planes have). I narrowed down to two options – Aveo and Whelen.

I decided to go with the Whelen Microburst III lights for the wingtips, and Vertex lights for anti-collision/beacons on the top of the rudder and bottom of the fuselage. Whelen won out for me because they seem to stand behind their products, offering a 5 year warranty and many postive reviews on Aircraft Spruce. I really wanted to like Aveo, but the reviews for Aveo products on Aircraft Spruce seem to be inconsistent – some people love them, others complain of warranty requests going unanswered. Aveo’s lights are designed around an epoxy resin encasement, which is great for sealing out moisture, but the resin will yellow and haze over time due to actinic degradation. Aveo explicitly excludes warranty claims for this, and the manuals say the lights must be covered if left outside in sunlight. In contrast, the Whelen lights use a replaceable clear dome.

Not sure how old this is, but it’s an Aveo light that has seen a bit of sunlight. This is a picture I took at Oshkosh 2018.

Two other companies I considered (Avio, JMH/Thiessen) are not US-based, so I’m not sure how well they’re supported, nor how well they work… and I’m just not willing to take a chance on them, given the cost.

Aveo bothered me for other reasons too. Their website touts new models of lights such as the Powerburst NG and DroneV products, but I couldn’t find a single place to buy them, and my email inquiries to their sales address went unanswered.

I’m going to try out these Whelen lights on the bench before I go further, to make sure they work the way I expect and can all be synchronized. The Vertex light series is actually marketed for emergency vehicles (police, ambulance, etc.), but they seem to be a great option to use for anti-collision lights: one on the top of the rudder, and one on the belly of the fuselage, while the Microburst is a 3-in-1 design that covers red and green nav lights, flashing anti-collision, and rear-facing position lights all in one compact and affordable package for the wingtips.

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