choosing a light
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HOW TO CHOOSE A LIGHT
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.
We sell three types of lights that produce light with three types of "bulbs": Halogen, LED and HID.
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. They produce quite a bit of light as well. 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. We continue to make one halogen light: the 1200 light which runs on replaceable alkaline batteries.
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 are a little more complex in the circuitry, and not as repairable, but since they rarely stop working, it isn't usually a problem. 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 ½ watt, Beamer 3 or the Beamer 5 provide enough light to get you just about anywhere. Our Blaze 1w 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.
HID is the latest addition to the world of bicycle lights. High Intensity Discharge light technology was originally developed for the medical field, but was quickly adapted for many other uses like scuba diving, high end car head lights, and obviously night riding. The gas in HID bulbs serves as the filament between two electrodes. When an electrical current arcs from the electrodes thru the gas, intense light is produced. HIDs provide the most light by far, but they are also the most expensive, and somewhat fragile. Our HID lamp is powered by a small Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) battery that charges quickly, puts out about three times the light of our next brightest light, lasts for up to 3 hours and is about the most compact on the market.
Each manufacturer gets their Halogen and LEDs from a variety of sources. (Our LED's come from Cree and Nichia of Japan who holds the patent and sets the standard in white LED technology.) However, all HID bulbs come from the same source, Welch-Allyn.
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%u2026 you''ll find where the light is 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.