Thursday, September 13, 2007

Light me up...

Getting closer to that time of year when lights are needed, I decided to investigate the small, powerful LED lights on my own. I like the Planet Bike stuff. It helps that they are also very advocacy driven. And even better, their lights that require batteries come with batteries! I purchased four lights of various retail price levels. All the lights had an ON and a FLASHING mode except the Super Spot which was just a single mode ON.

I sat out in front of our house on a dark night (every night is dark on our street since there are no street lamps), and shone the lights on our fence gate with our car just behind the gate to see if the light would illuminate the car through the slats. Each picture was taken with the same aperature setting and each photo exposure at 1 second.

Beamer 3 - $21.50
A neat little light with 3 LEDs and a refractor that focuses the beam.

Beamer 3

Next up was the Beamer 5, a lot like the Beamer 3, but with an additional 2 LEDs and a price of $29.50. It seemed only slightly more intense than the Beamer 3 - maybe the light was a little "whiter" than the 3. If I had to choose between the Beamer 3 and 5 for my personal light, I'd choose the Beamer 3 and spend the savings on an appetizer next time the family ate out.

Beamer 5 (a little jiggly)

Blaze - $34.50
According to the Wilson Bicycle Sales inside guy where I bought the lights, the Blaze is a "good seller." The Blaze is a nifty little light. It comes with not only a handlebar mount, but also a helmet mount - nice bonus. The Blaze is a single LED with what looks like a magnifying glass for a lens. I, foolishly, was looking into the lens' depths when I powered it up. Big mistake. After the blindness wore off, I tested it against the gate. As you can see, it's nice and bright and lit up the car through the gate. It would also make a really cool compact flashlight that you could keep in the car for emergencies.


Finally, the most spendy of the four, the Super Spot at $39.50 has a refractor much like an old time car's (you know the ones that you replace the entire lamp instead of that little halogen unit you can't touch with your hands). It lit up not only the car behind the gate, but a huge area to the sides and down low. Pretty impressive for a single LED light. It lives up to its super name.

Super Spot

So, what's this all mean. Heck if I know. Each one was pretty darn nice in its own right. But, the Beamer 5 doesn't seem to have enough going for it over the Beamer 3, so it's out. I like the Beamer 3 because of its just over twenty bucks price. The Blaze is sweet because it's very bright, small, can fit on handlebar or helmet, and would make a nice emergency flashlight. Then there's the Super Spot with its super wide light dispersion and bright main spot. I'll be carrying these three lights and let sales dictate if I keep all three or drop one.