Sunday, November 12, 2006

Portable Bright Lights

I wrote earlier about how a bright light really helps in a self-defense situation.

In that post I was only talking about handguns. Since then I wondered if a portable bright light might be wise to carry on its own. Here is what learned.

There are companies that make really bright self-defense flashlights. There are also companies that make bright bicycle lights.

From the SureFire site, and other reviews of their products, we learn that 65 lumens is enough, after dark, to disorient someone and perhaps help you escape conflict. This much light can be carried in a 3.2 ounce flashlight. They also sell a 200-lumen flashlight that weights 6.5 ounces.

As light technology, these lights is not terribly impressive. If I was willing to carry a pound of light and battrery, I could have ten times that much light! The SureFire brand is based on its reputation of sturdiness and reliability, not cutting-edge technology.

But I don't want to carry a pound of light and battery. Can a smaller bicycle light replace a high-power flashlight?

Definitely. But by the time you are purchasing a bicycle light of this quality you will not save any money.

The fanciest Cat Eye lights produce 85 lumens per bulb (as does the Vega bike light on the other bicycle light webiste). So the Cat Eye HL-EL530 produces light comparable to the smaller high-power flashlights and weighs about the same.

(There might even be a bicycle light I do not know about that is just as bright but the first press of its button starts its flashing mode. Studies have shown a strobe effect is optimal for self-defense.)

True, a bicycle light is not as useful as a metal flashlight if running away does not work. But for comparable money I'd rather buy one of the indestructible umbrellas I had mentioned in a different earlier post.

Eugene is bicycle-friendly and rainy. Nearly everyone owns a bicycle light and an umbrella. It would be very silly all the ways my handgun class has prompted me to think about self-defense had the end result of my purchasing... a new bicycle light and umbrella!

But I'm not going shopping yet. In Oregon there are good legal reasons not to carry a club around, even if it also works as an umbrella. I'll discuss Oregon's legal issues of self-defense in the next post in this series...

If all this talk about lights has made you wonder how many lumens are produced by the compact flourescents in your home or workplace, go here for examples.

If you are interested in the total cost of ownership for lights, and why LED lights have not yet replaced compact flourescents in homes, read the left-most article here from Compound Semiconductors Online. (Short summary: the t
otal cost of ownership for 50,000 hours is around $450 for incandescent or halogen bulbs, $350 for LED bulbs, and $150 for fluorescent bulbs).

For more information about comparing lumens and candlepower see a link here and a PDF here.

For tips about how to smash people with flashlights, see The Martialist.

James Rummel has three recent posts about why people should not trust pepper spray (unless it also contains a more potent chemical) or a taser, and what to do after you blind the attacker and flee.

UPDATE: Please do not think I am actually going to buy a self-defense umbrella. I explain why here.