4 Reasons why you don't need really bright lights

4 Reasons why you don't need really bright lights

November 11, 2015

SG -N1000 Bike LightOur Lights by Sanguan offer between 1000 and 2200 Lumens, but many customers ask us to compare with models on eBay that advertise 5000 or even 7000 lumen. Is that even a good idea?

1. Durability

- LED lifespan and performance is affected when too much current is applied to an LED, or if an LED gets too hot. Packing in more power than intended will lead to LED failure. The LEDs produce a lot of heat, and as they do, they reduce in luminosity. Having lots of LED even if given the ideal amount of power to produce the advertised light, will need a lot of cooling to maintain that level of brightness.

Ultimately, desired run time and weight, are the deciding factors. We aim for 3.5 hours at Max output, with that max output being the advertised luminosity. We think this more than represents the average ride, or daily commute. To achieve many 1000s of lumens will need a really big battery pack, and a lot of cooling material. 

2. Usability

- Better lights help us see better, but we are way past the days of halogen bulbs now. Colour Temperature is a very important factor. This is measured in Kelvin (K). Temperatures below 3500k produce a warm yellow light. Above 6000k produce a cool blue light. We aim for between 3100K and 4500K. Above this and it becomes difficult for the human eye to distinguish depth of field. You might start to experience this if you use our MTB package at full power. The immediate landscape becomes almost monotone, and off road riding becomes harder to see terrain changes and shadows. 

With really bright lights you also need to consider Light Beam Shoot, this is how the light is spread. You can actually dazzle your own eyes with the periphery light. 

3. Being Seen

- Beam Spread determines the flood or spot type light pattern. A wide beam is easier for a driver to spot than a focused spot of light. For road users you need to angle your light down a little, but still show enough light to be seen from every angle. Mountain Bikers tend to benefit from having 2 lights, because as you move your body around more for balance your bike direction and focus will change. Having a less bright with a wide angle on your helmet will help with focus, and maintain your depth of vision. 

4. Curtesy to other road and trail users. 

The very brightest HID car headlamps output about 2500-3500 lumens at arround 3500K. You can imagine how blinded you might be by that coming round a corner. Car lights tend to be pointed at the road, while we too frequently point our bike lights about horizontal. It is dangerous to blinded by over bright lights. 


Choose your lights on intended use, durability, safety, usability, price and weight. 

Our personal preference is:

For Road: Either a 1000 lumen light, like the Thumb 1 and 2 running at mostly full power. A nice lightweight solution. Or a 2000 lumen light running at 50% power, with occasional use at max power on quiet lanes, pointed down. 

For MTB: A 2000 lumen light on the handlebars that you regally switch power modes to save battery. Match this up with a 1000 lumen helmet light mostly running at 50% power. If you don't get too much glare from rain and mist, then ramp it up to Max power on the descent. 



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