Thursday, October 20, 2005

Lights II

The stunning light output of the Light & Motion ARC Li-ion HID light piqued my curiosity: are there more powerful HID lights meant for off-road biking in the night?

It turns out that there exist two other lights superior to the ARC. Both of them are made in Germany.

The first is the Lupine Lighting Systems Edison 10. Like the Light & Motion ARC, the Edison 10 has two power settings: "high" and "low." But this is where all similarities end: while the ARC puts out a dazzling 675 lumen on "high" and an impressive 550 lumen on "low," the Edison 10 throws out an unbelievable 900 lumen on "high" (@ 16W) and a still-respectable 500 lumen on "low" (@10W). When it is set on "high," the Edison 10 puts out the equivalent of a 65 watt HP halogen bulb. Despite the blinding light output, battery endurance is nothing short of remarkable: 6 hours for "high" and a whopping 9 hours for "low." The complete system weighs 720 grams.

Retailing at US$900, the Lupine Edison 10 is significantly more expensive than the ARC Li-ion (US$499) or the ARC Li-ion Ultra (US$599).

The other light is the Supernova Lighting Systems P99-D. This monster is a dual HID lamp that puts out a combined 28W of eye-frying light. Bedazzled is an understatement. The entire system, battery and all, weigh at a tolerable 900 grams. Mountainbike Magazine calls it, "the brightest system we've ever seen." Each of the 14W HID lamps is equivalent to a 50W halogen bulb. Turned on together, you have the equivalent of over 100W of halogen light output before you. In addition, there is a special handlebar mounted switch that lets you know at a glance, how much power you have left. In the battery endurance department, a dual HID system sucks juice and it shows: the P99-D has a less-than-adequate 2 hours on "high," and a run-of-the-mill 4 hours on "low."

All this power and functionality comes at a price, of course. The P99-D is yours for US$1080.

Just how powerful is the P99-D, you ask? Check out the following 3 shots of a pitched dark footpath:

This is a Luxeon Star 5W LED running at 4.3W. It is about the brightest (and most power hungry) LED out there. SureFire uses it for their L4 LumaMax tactical light. The light output here is the equivalent of a 14 watt halogen lamp but appears slightly brighter due to the different color temperature of a "white" LED.

This is an actual 16 watt halogen lamp. As you can see, relative to the LED's higher color temperature, the light is more yellowish.

This is what P99-D's 28 watts of HID will give you.

I found out that HID lamps are a favorite of 24 hour endurance racers. The sheer brilliance of the lamp causes the halogen lights of the competitors in front of you to wash out. Consequently, their bodies and bikes cast shadows on the trail before them, and they experience increased difficulty discerning roots, rocks and ruts from their own shadow. Pretty nifty, IMHO. A picture says a thousand words: check out the image below.

Beep! Beep!

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