Enter 2011. LED technology has finally crossed the 100 lumens per Watt threshold. My HID was around 50 lumens per Watt and required heavy ballasting circuitry. Nobody uses NiMH batteries anymore either. They are lithium ion these days. NiMH batteries pack about 100 Watt-hours per kilogram density, while Li-ion pack more than twice that. So with the lights available today, I can get twice the lumens for twice the run time for less weight than my old system. That is a four-fold improvement just over 10 years.
I ordered a new XML-3 and updated 400L+ from DiNotte Lights this week. I was holding them my hands the day after I placed the order. Standard shipping, no charge. Benefit of buying local. Visually, the quality looks impressive. Reviews on the forums are quite positive on any DiNotte light. I spoke with Rob @ DiNotte when placing my order and he was happy to answer all my geeky technical questions.
The XML-3 and 400L+
I bought the XML-3 to go on the bar. It puts out 1200 lumens in high setting. My old HID did 500 lumens, and I thought that was way brighter than anybody needed. The new light weighs a fraction of my old light. The 400L+ will see dual use. Riding, it will go on my helmet. Rob threw in a headband mount so I could also use this light for XC skiing at night. I'd only need to run it on low in snow, so it would run several ski sessions on one charge. You don't want to look into these lights. You will see spots for a VERY long time afterwards.
I updated my metrics table from a prior post. A few other companies have updated their lights. Almost everybody uses Cree XPG or XML diodes. The XML's are newest with highest efficiencies. Performance metrics between lights vary widely. Many companies boast theoretical lumens, as in what some data sheet says is possible under some specific condition. Others will measure their lumens.
Lights to avoid are designs that push an extraordinary number of lumens per emitter. I believe anything over 500 lumens per XPG LED is asking for trouble, in terms of shortened diode life, overheating, and degraded efficiency.
You can see DiNotte compares favorably with the best. I highlighted in green the options I have to work with. I have one 2-cell and one 4-cell battery. You can see just by putting a bigger battery (2-cell to 4-cell on the 400L) on a light, you can improve the performance and cost metrics.
I would have liked the XML-1 instead of the 400L+. The problem is, the XML-1 wasn't designed for headband mount. It is tiny and very efficient. I could probably have cobbled something together, but Rob's headband for the 400L+ is one of the better headband light systems out there. I had to wear my bicycle helmet to use my HID light skiing. Goofy.
Exposure Lights boast some of the highest performance metrics in the industry. With batteries integrated right into light, they save on cable weight. Cost metrics are ok, but not best.
Generally, more LEDs used to generate the lumens raises the performance metric, but lowers cost metric. Lupine pushes this to the limit. They have the brightest, most efficient lights, but for almost $1000. The new DiNotte lights derive their high performance metric from the XML LEDs.
Could be a while before I get to use my lights. Need to let my leg get strong again. I'm walking pretty normally today on no pain meds, a vast improvement from yesterday. My HR hasn't gone above 60bpm in three days. I was contemplating jumping on the trainer for a bit. But noooo. Apparently Dr Heaps recognized I would be Jones'n for fix before my first check-up next week. While I was in recovery Tuesday, he had a word with my wife. Cathy was instructed to block any attempt of mine to do something stupid. Bummer.