choosing a light

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Choosing the right head light for your bike these days can be a daunting task. There are a lot of different lights out there, for a bunch of different purposes. This Learn Stuff is dedicated to de-mystifying the jargon of the light industry.

The first question you'll need to ask yourself when choosing a light is what do you want the light to do? Are you looking for a light to see with, or to be seen by motorists and other cyclists? Will you be doing 24-Hour races? How much do you want to spend? Do you want to use rechargeable batteries? A good starting point is our light finder. This helpful tool will provide you with a visual example of how much illumination each of our lights puts out.

Halogen lights were the industry standard for many years. You no doubt had a halogen flashlight growing up. The bulbs have a tiny filament strung between two towers. When an electronic charge passes across the filament, it gets extremely hot, and reacts with a gas in the bulb (in this case Xenon) producing light. Halogen bulbs are cheap, rugged and the circuits are very simple making them easy to repair. Their main draw back is their lack of efficiency. Quite a bit of heat is produced as a by-product of the light, and consequently, they will eat up you battery's charge quickly.

LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) aren't really bulbs at all, but rather tiny semi conductors. You can find them just about anywhere in your daily life from your alarm clock, to your TV remote. LED's are even less expensive and more rugged than halogen bulbs. They don't produce nearly as much heat, so their battery longevity is many times longer than that of halogen lights. The technology of LEDs accelerated in the last decade, and now by clustering several LEDs or focusing them with good lenses, you can push quite a bit of light out them. We make a number of different LED head lights. Want to be seen? Then you'd probably want to pick the Blinky Safety set, Beamer, Spok or the Spot. Looking for a bit more power? The Blaze 1 Watt, Blaze 2 Watt, or 2 Watt Micro provide enough light to get you just about anywhere. Our Blaze Dynamo light is powered by a hub generator. The Dynamo is the ultimate light for the environmentally conscious commuter because of its simplicity and the fact that it doesn't require batteries.  For reliability, bang for the buck and size, LED lights are the way to go.Our LED's come from Cree and Nichia of Japan who holds the patent and sets the standard in white LED technology.

There are many ways to "scientifically" measure and compare light outputs.  We've found that while measuring our lights using Lumens, Lux or Candle power we can have a good comparison from one Planet Bike light to another however there are no industry standards for testing light intensity.  This makes comparing one brand of lights to another mis-leading and inaccurate.  These tests also do not take into consideration the beam pattern of the light. Where the light is focused in front of you is just as important as the overall intensity rating.  After all, what good is twice the light if half the light is illuminating the tree-tops?  We'd rather point you towards our Light Finder and have you see for yourself which light puts out the right amount of light for your cycling needs.  If you have any questions about a light, email us  and we'll try to help you find the light you need.