Every time I do an avionics upgrade, I watch my ammeter needle creep up a notch. At what point does my alternator and voltage regulator just give up the ghost and fail? Back in 1977 when my airplane was built there wasn’t a computer or display screen anywhere to be found in my plane. In fact, the smallest computer you could get took an entire room to house. I counted thirteen computers in my plane.

So, how do I get my power usage down without turning off my expensive computers (avionics)? The same way we do it at home: replace incandescent light bulbs with LED bulbs. These new bulbs use a fraction of the power that the old bulbs did, run cooler, and will last forever. In fact, they should last the life of the plane.

Aircraft Spruce has a light bulb section and you can pick these out very easily. Whelen Aerospace Technologies is also a good source if you want to go straight to the manufacturer. I’ll put the part numbers that I used below. My airplane is 12VDC so I’m picking 12V bulbs. If your plane is 24V, you’ll need different bulbs.

The bulbs we’re going to replace are as follows:

Wing tip position lights:
11-07744 12v Green led bulb, $34.75 each
11-09299 Clear lens, $15.65 each

Rotating beacon:
Pick correctly for your plane, $633 to $761

Landing light:
11-12976 $274.95

These are all as easy as pie to replace so I’m going to keep the article short and put the directions with each picture. When it’s done, I’m sure you’ll see your ammeter move downward! And you’ll never have to buy another light bulb, either.

Screws, metal cover, and position covers removed. The position lamp can be pushed in slightly and rotated about an eighth of a turn counterclockwise. It will pop out when you release pressure. If the strobe tube is black, there won’t be much life left in the bulb. No need to replace it now unless you want to, but get some rubbing alcohol (isopropyl) and put a few drops on a clean, soft cloth and clean the strobe tube and the inside of the strobe cover while we’re here. Be gentle, they’re expensive.
The new green LED bulb in the old socket. Put the cover and three screws back on. Don’t forget to use the new, clear lens over the LED bulb. We won’t be using the green lens or bulb again.
Whelen Aerospace Technologies beacon replacement. This is going to require shop time.
Whelen LED landing light replacement. You or your mechanic can swap out this bulb in about 10 minutes. A medium Philips screwdriver is about all you need.