Scheiber’s kinetic Light Air Switch kit, with Marinebeam assist

Scheiber is a substantial French electronics company that provides sophisticated systems to large boatbuilders like Beneteau and Lagoon, but it’s now offering its lighting control technology in a retail kit form that means a local installer or DIY could use it for refits or custom builds. Moreover, the $350 Light Air Switch is distributed and supported in the U.S. by the crack team at Marinebeam, and what technology it is! For starters, the wall switches themselves don’t even need batteries, let alone wires…

In this demo video, Marinebeam’s Jeff Field explains how the switch is powered by harvested or kinetic energy. In other words, simply the motion of your finger pushing On or Off — or even push/hold for dimming — generates the wireless signal that gets the job done. Field also explains how a single Light Air module can control dozens of light fixtures with dozens of switches (if desired), and shows how easy it is to program each switch to work with one or several lights, no PC or smartphone needed.

Note that Marinebeam published this Light Air Switch video in 2014, so the basic system has been out in the field for several years. The new OEM and retail version, however, has been improved by separating the wireless gateway from the switching module.



So here’s a current Air Light Switch system diagram along with a photo of the new gateway. The advantage is being able to install the module near the light cables with the gateway placement optimized for wireless connection to the switches. Note that each of the module’s six lighting circuits has integrated current sensing protection so that only a single circuit breaker is needed for the system, and extension modules are available if six circuits aren’t enough.

And here’s the rest of the kit showing the new main module with the same two programming buttons shown in the 2014 Marinebeam video. The connectors remain the same, though still unfamiliar to me, and I’m impressed with the claimed durability of the Wago picoMax design, which also looks very easy to install.

On the other hand, the unfamiliar orange CAN Bus cable that connects the switch module to the wireless gateway is also a reminder that this lighting control system could be running on the NMEA 2000 version of CAN Bus with standard cables and possible interfaces to all sorts of marine displays. But then again, I can’t think of an N2K control product with the Air Light features and relatively low cost.

In sum, this simple task-specific digital switching product can not manage boat lighting as well as systems like C-Zone or the new Lumishore Smart Lighting, but it offers a lot for the hardware and install cost, and in some cases could be much more boat upgrade than just moving to LED replacement bulbs (though Ben Stein just illustrated how easy that is).

Also, while the Light Air Switch can certainly serve standalone, note the mentioned compatibility with other Scheiber and third-party boat systems. I’m sure there were new compatibility discussions going on in Scheiber’s 2018 METS booth below and, moreover, I know that very familiar brands like Simrad are aiming for compatibility with most any digital interface that makes boating better, standard or proprietary, en route to full information display style integration.

Jeff Field of Marinebeam shows off the Scheiber Light Air Switch kit at METS

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Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now excited to have Ben Stein as very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Panbo is going to the next level in 2019 and beyond.

13 Responses

  1. Dreuge says:

    Nice for “Yachting Magazine” folks, but over-kill and over-priced for the Practical Good Old Boat Sailors. This reminds me of the well priced wireless windlass kits sold by marine companies whereas a $15 RV wireless winch kit is just good as the 20X expensive marine solution. There are many $20ish thrifty “wireless switch for 12V lights” on Amazon. The eMylo 1 ch or eMylo 16ch both look interesting.

    • Sorry, Dreuge, but comparing those eMylo RF relays to the Light Air Switch system is apples to oranges, and I’d say bitter little crab apples.

      https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dtools&field-keywords=eMylo+DC+12v+wireless

      Also, I don’t think that you (or anyone) gets to speak for “Practical Good Old Boat Sailors” (though I think you coined an interesting phrase). I know people who read those magazines who would never install something like the eMylo switching on their boat. They may be frugal, me too, but they also know that stuff like this can end up costing much more than the sticker price.

      • Dreuge says:

        I agree and disagree, but first I do thank you for your valuable insight into many topics and items. I don’t mean to offend. I agree there are items one should not skimp on: thru-hulls, hose clamps, hoses, tinned wire, butt connectors, quality rigging wire, … items that are needed. But for some conveniences, like smart wireless switches, a cheap alternative just may do the trick(if one really finds the “need” for such device).

  2. Great timing! I’m just about to do all the lighting on my wooden trawler here in Ireland. ny idea of UK suppliers? Haven’t located yet. 128 switches on one system! Serious!

    • Hi, Randy. Even if Scheiber had a distributor in the UK, it’s possible that they wouldn’t be oriented to boats and/or the fairly new retail products like this Light Air Switch. If I were you, I’d try to work with Marinebeam in South Carolina. They seem very knowledgable about all of Scheiber’s boat systems and I know they’ve even been helping with the document translations into American English.

  3. Colin A says:

    Looks similar to EnOcean which has been around awhile.
    https://www.enocean.com/en/
    I don’t see Scheiber listed as a a partner (didn’t look to hard may be there) so I assume it’s only similar. I know some people in the UK were using EnOcean stuff on yachts back in 2012 so there may be some other brands out there as well. I believe ViMar which is big in the yacht world did some things with it for instance.
    This would be one of the first times I have seen it designed for retail markets which is cool.

  4. Cameron says:

    I used switches like this a couple years ago during the refit of my 88 Ocean 55SS. They weren’t as high quality as these, I got them from SuperbrightLEDS.com. They made installation and upgrading of lights much easier since I didn’t have to run wires to where I wanted switches. The ones I have are a bit finicky and some locations don’t work as well as other for the remotes and sometimes a remote will lose connection with the light, but they made the job possible.

    I replaced all the cabin lights with led lights (superbrightleds has these 6″ flat LED lights that I used all over because they fit over the old light well and provide a fantastic, dimmable light. My galley has 6 of them so it’s really good for cooking!) 1 of the cabins really has no wall with a conduit behind it, so wiring it would be impossible, or ugly. This solved that for me in a snap! It also allows me to have a switch beside my bed that I can turn off all lights when I’m in bed and that’s nice so I’m not getting into bed in the dark.
    I’d be interested in these if they have better wireless connectivity, but not sure they’re as economical. For my deployment, I put transmitters near almost every light because running the wires wasn’t feasible.

    • Jeff Field says:

      Cameron – The new Scheiber switches are 2.4GHz so have very good range, without the typical interference seen on 433MHz. Also they have no battery inside. The lighting modules handle up to 6 lighting circuits each. They are expandable with just a CANbus cable and the addition of another lighting module (6 more circuits) – and so on. So, typically there is no need for multiple receivers, Even if you had dozens of lighting circuits. Still just one receiver, because it is networked to the lighting modules via CANbus. The receiver module (gateway) can be centrally located among the modules. For large yachts with steel bulkheads, we sometimes use multiple receivers on the network and strategically locate them for the best reception. We also add a Navigraph touch display for plug-and-play control of the boat’s lighting from a central (or multiple) location. The Light Air switch is meant to be the basis for a complete boat solution. The switches accept any Vimar faceplate to match existing switches.

  5. Cameron says:

    The cost of these could be seriously offset by the labor and copper wire savings.

  6. cameron says:

    I like this enough to consider upgrading. I’m going to look at how difficult it would be to run wires from 1 source to each light. It just might be!

  7. Jeff Field says:

    Here is an updated video link showing the new 2.4GHz Light Air Switch demo. https://youtu.be/9sPjLT_2yC4

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