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Thread: Too much light?

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    Senior Member Blossom's Avatar
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    Too much light?

    I recently bought a DiNotte 600L/120L headlight/taillight combo and tonight was my first use. I have to say that I'm quite impressed, but after looking at it from down the street, I'm a little worried that the LED light is too bright and might be blinding drivers. I had it aimed about 20 feet in front of me, but it was still pretty bright.

    I'm considering using the medium light setting except for when I'm in hight traffic roads or high density of street light areas but I was wondering what the collective had to say...

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    Senior Member Intheloonybin's Avatar
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    Have a friend go down the street and watch you ride towards them.

    You could make adjustments based on what they say.

    I have wondered the same thing about my trinewt. No one has flashed their brights at me yet, so I figure it can't be too bad.

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    Senior Member Pig_Chaser's Avatar
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    I dunno if there's such thing as too much light, especially if you have them aimed down 20' in front of you. Hard to give any meaningful advice without actually seeing the lights of course.

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    Zoom zoom zoom zoom bonk znomit's Avatar
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    When cars start flashing their lights you now you're about bright enough.
    Dimming your lights a little makes them happy.
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    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    If cars flash their lights at you, they see you. Consider it a blessing

    Car lights are aimed more than 20 feet away and are much less directional than LED. Don't worry about it.
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    Senior Member Blossom's Avatar
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    Sounds like reasonable advise. Thanks!

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    Scott n4zou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    If cars flash their lights at you, they see you. Consider it a blessing

    Car lights are aimed more than 20 feet away and are much less directional than LED. Don't worry about it.
    +1
    I get flashed at all the time.
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    Senior Member Intheloonybin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by n4zou View Post
    I get flashed at all the time.
    There's a joke in there somewhere!!

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    I'm Just Sayin'..... Scootcore's Avatar
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    no such thing as too much light on a bike!!!
    Mistakes are just fine. Just don't make excuses....

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    Bike ≠ Car ≠ Ped. BarracksSi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    Car lights are aimed more than 20 feet away and are much less directional than LED. Don't worry about it.
    Hate to disagree, but car lights on their regular low beam setting are more directional than almost any LED, especially since they're all required by the DOT to not project direct light above horizontal.

    The next time you see a car shining its headlights on a wall (such as parked facing the side of a store), check out how it has a horizontal cutoff, with bright light below that line and only incidental light above. Some are better than others (automotive lighting geeks often say that some of Acura's lights have had the clearest, sharpest cutoff patterns), but they all are significantly brighter at ground level than at eye level.

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    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BarracksSi View Post
    Hate to disagree, but car lights on their regular low beam setting are more directional than almost any LED, especially since they're all required by the DOT to not project direct light above horizontal.

    The next time you see a car shining its headlights on a wall (such as parked facing the side of a store), check out how it has a horizontal cutoff, with bright light below that line and only incidental light above. Some are better than others (automotive lighting geeks often say that some of Acura's lights have had the clearest, sharpest cutoff patterns), but they all are significantly brighter at ground level than at eye level.
    That's only horizontal cut off. They still spill lot's of light to the side...much more then LED does. Most every LED I've seen or used has very little side spill. In some cases (a set of Night Hawks emitters I have), they are so directional that they can't be seen from across the street at an intersection to my left.
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    Scott n4zou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    Most every LED I've seen or used has very little side spill.
    Got that right! Most commercial LED lights use a very narrow round flashlight type pattern. This allows for high claimed lumen numbers. Great for flashlights, bad for everything else. If you DIY your own LED light you can use a Fraen 15 degree by 30 degree lens and holder which produces the perfect pattern for road use. Combine it with a 10 degree narrow lens and holder and you get the perfect pattern. LED technology is progressing so rapidly that commercial light manufacturers can't keep up and are not even trying. Investing in new equipment to produce large numbers of lights just to have them become obsolete in a few months would quickly put them out of business. This may change with the introduction of the new SSC P7 LED with an advertised 900 lumen output. This is the legal limit in most states for vehicle headlight bulbs. This would allow commercial manufacturers to produce a standard light that would never be eclipsed in performance.



    Fraen LED optics
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    Senior Member ken cummings's Avatar
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    When I rigged my first 100 watt light I went straight to a local police officer. He said it was no stronger then car and truck headlights so as long as it was aimed down a bit so that it did not shine directly in drivers' eyes it was fine with him.
    This space open

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    Bike ≠ Car ≠ Ped. BarracksSi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    That's only horizontal cut off. They still spill lot's of light to the side...much more then LED does. Most every LED I've seen or used has very little side spill. In some cases (a set of Night Hawks emitters I have), they are so directional that they can't be seen from across the street at an intersection to my left.
    Ah, yup -- that's true.

    The problem with LEDs that people forget is that they can be much brighter to others' eyes than anyone would guess.

    So when someone says that "car headlights are brighter, and you don't see anyone complaining about them, how can a bike LED ever be 'too bright'?" that statement ignores the horizontal cutoff of those lights.

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    Scott n4zou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ken cummings View Post
    When I rigged my first 100 watt light I went straight to a local police officer. He said it was no stronger then car and truck headlights so as long as it was aimed down a bit so that it did not shine directly in drivers' eyes it was fine with him.
    He is incorrect. That policeman might think your light is ok but another officer may not, especially if your blinding him or her. Maximum low beam power is 55 watts for standard filament bulbs and 65 watts when high beam is selected. Drop by your local auto parts store and you'll find replacement bulbs will be limited to these or lower power levels. Everything else will be listed as off road use only. High power LED lights produce light in a spectrum where the human eye is most sensitive to it. This is one of the reasons new LED's seam so bright and when viewed straight on to be blinding.
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    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by n4zou View Post
    He is incorrect. That policeman might think your light is ok but another officer may not, especially if your blinding him or her. Maximum low beam power is 55 watts for standard filament bulbs and 65 watts when high beam is selected. Drop by your local auto parts store and you'll find replacement bulbs will be limited to these or lower power levels. Everything else will be listed as off road use only. High power LED lights produce light in a spectrum where the human eye is most sensitive to it. This is one of the reasons new LED's seam so bright and when viewed straight on to be blinding.
    "Gosh officer. It's a bike. How many watts do you think I can put out on it? Got a light meter, we'll test it?"

    In my case, I can put my hand on my heart and say that I'm only running 20W
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    Senior Member ken cummings's Avatar
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    Wink

    True enough. If I ever find a hard case of an officer he probably could cite me for an over-powered light. It has not happened in over 25 years of commuting in two states and three different counties so I will stick to it. Besides it is designed to draw 100 watts at 13 volts when on an aircraft and I run a 12 volt system so it aint so bad.

    (At 13 volts it is meant to last 50 hours - it is a landing light after all. Can you spell over-volted? I knew you could. If ordered to drop to 65 watt I will but I'll go to a halogen cycle bulb and get as much light anyway. Any comments if I got a 65 watt H.I.D. light? Now that would be over-kill )
    This space open

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    Senior Member maximushq2's Avatar
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    I wouldn't worry about it. You are aiming the light downward and not right in their eyes so I don't see an issue. Around town I like to use 500-600 lumens LED similar to what your light is putting out and don't have any issues.

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    Just a geek tdister's Avatar
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    Just FYI...DOT standards are meant for interstate commerce purposes.

    In other words, Ford and their dealer can't sell you a truck with 100 watt headlight bulbs, but you may be able to add them yourself and be fine. I know of 2 states who have adopted the federal standards, but most have not. A dealer can sell you a truck with OE/aftermarket fog and/or driving lights, depending on state laws, as these items aren't governed by the DOT (the OE fog lights on your car do not have DOT stamps).

    Other laws may apply, but you generally will not get a ticket solely for having non DOT headlights bulbs in a car. Any charges wouldn't stick to a cyclist as the standards are part of the FMVSS (Federal MOTOR vehicle safety standards).
    Last edited by tdister; 04-25-08 at 10:04 PM.
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    Bike ≠ Car ≠ Ped. BarracksSi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tdister View Post
    Any charges wouldn't stick to a cyclist as they are part of the FMVSS (Federal MOTOR vehicle safety standards).
    So remember, we use vehicle laws when they're conveniently in our favor, and ignore them when they're not.

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    Just a geek tdister's Avatar
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    Remember, to back up that attitude you will need DOT approved tires, turn signals, bikes will have crash tests. You will also have a minimum headlight requirement/beam pattern and much much more.

    Does your bike meet all these standards? Should it?

    My point isn't that you should run all the light you want/can.

    You could still get a more generic ticket ("endangering public safety" or some such), but it won't be because your headlights don't meet some Automotive standard.
    Last edited by tdister; 04-25-08 at 10:20 PM.
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    Zoom zoom zoom zoom bonk znomit's Avatar
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    Well I got flashed out on the highway last night. By a cop. Dunno what he would have done if I didn't have a dimmer(drops my dyno light from 500lm down to 300).
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    Senior Member maximushq2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by znomit View Post
    Well I got flashed out on the highway last night. By a cop. Dunno what he would have done if I didn't have a dimmer(drops my dyno light from 500lm down to 300).

    All though there is no way to know, I would guess that he probably wouldn't do anything once he got close enough to see it was just a bicycle. The one time I know I really caught the attention of the local Sheriff patrol was when I was hauling butt down a hill which merged into another road and I had my bar and helmet light both going full bore just after I came down the hill and when I merged into the other road he came around the bend towards me and got a full blast from my lights. He pulled to the side of the road and hit the brakes quick enough to skid and kick up a dust cloud. I quickly dimmed my lights and kept on pedaling past as he watched. He then pulled back onto the road and kept going his way and I went mine. I would have dimmed my lights if I had known he was coming, but there is hardly ever any traffic there at that time of night and I didn't expect him. I was running a NR HID on the bars, but also I had my Lupine Wilma helmet light going on high at the time. It definitely caught his attention anyway. Now I have all LED lights, but in town I typically run the lights dimmed to usually under 600 lumens and haven't had a problem.

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