Determining what type of lamp or bulb best fits your needs is one of the most important considerations to make when choosing one flashlight or spotlight over another. Three lighting types currently dominate the industry: LEDs, incandescent bulbs and HID (arc) lamps. Comparing the three types can be like comparing apples to oranges. They all produce light, but that is where most similarities end. LEDs are an excellent choice when it comes to burn time and efficiency, however they cannot compete with the lumen output of high-performance incandescent bulbs or HID lamps.
Both incandescent bulbs and HID lamps can generate high lumen output and long-range brightness. Incandescent bulbs put off light when an electric current is passed through a thin piece of filament, causing it to heat. HID lamps replace filament with gas and metallic or sodium vapor. An electric current (arc) passed between two electrodes heats up the vapor creating an intense, white light. Without the filament, HID lamps are able to generate a higher percentage of pure light as opposed to heat.
The color temperature of HID lamps resembles natural light more closely than the yellow tint of incandescent lighting. Similar to fluorescent lamps, HID lamps use a ballast to start and maintain the electric arc. The ballast is the reason why HID lamps require a few minutes to reach maximum brightness and may flicker when first turned on.
Combine all of these technologies together and you can see why HID has advantages over incandescent bulbs in terms of greater lumen output, whiter light, longer service life and less power consumption. To the average camper, hunter and angler this means an HID spotlight or flashlight has the sunlight-replicating brightness to cut through pitch darkness without needing as many replacement lamps or charges.
Types of HID Lamps These are the three most common types of HID lamps:
- Mercury vapor This type is the oldest of the high-intensity discharge lamps. It generates a blue/green light that renders colors poorly, however a phosphor coating can alter the color temperature and improve color rendering to some extent. Most manufacturers favor metal halide lamps over mercury vapor for its accurate color rendering and higher efficacy. Mercury vapor and sodium lamps have the longest lifetimes (16,000 - 24,000 hours) of the HID lamp types.
- Sodium The main advantage of sodium HID lamps is energy efficiency. Similar to mercury vapor lamps, sodium HID lamps have poor color rendition compared to metal halide lamps but longer lifetimes (16,000 - 24,000 hours). They produce light with an orange-pink cast. Color-corrected lamps producing a whiter light are now available, but some efficiency is sacrificed for the improved color.
- Metal halide Cabela’s HID spotlights and flashlights use metal halide lamps because of their many advantages. They offer high efficacy, excellent color rendition, long service life and superior lumen performance. The bright, white light is considered the best of all the HID lamps for accurate color rendition. Adding metal halide gases to mercury gas within the lamp results in greater light output, more lumens per watt, and better color rendition than from mercury gas alone. These lamps do lose some efficiency and have a slightly shorter life span (5,000 - 20,000 hours) as a tradeoff for their superior color rendering.
View our selection of HID Lights