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According to StVZO a taillamp may draw at most 0.6W + 20%, which means 0.72W and at 6V that gives a current of 0.120A. The minimum allowed is 0.6W -50% which means 0.3W and at 6V that gives a current of 0.050A.
|Taillamp:||Current at switching on:||Current after several minutes:|
|Lamps with 0.6W incandescent bulb
(Spanninga SP 15, old Basta Ray, etc.)
|ca. 100 mA||ca. 100 mA|
|Spanninga: SPX, battery version (3V)||5 mA||5 mA|
|Spanninga: Pixeo||> 120 mA||27 mA|
|Axa: Go||> 75 mA||47 mA|
|B&M: D-Toplight plus||>150 mA||30 mA|
|B&M: Flat plus||>90 mA||48 mA|
|B&M: Flat S plus||>100 mA||60 mA|
|B&M: Line plus||> 70 mA||20 mA|
|Herrmans: H-track||>100 mA||64 mA|
|Basta: Riff steady||80 mA||47 mA|
|Spanninga: Plateo xds||75 mA||25 mA|
|B&M: Mini plus||16 mA||16 mA|
|Philips: Lumiring||52 mA||14 mA|
|Philips: Lumiring, battery version (3V)||39 mA||39 mA|
|Basta: Ray LED||65 mA||65 mA|
|Axa: Spark steady||> 100 mA||51 mA|
|B&M: Toplight line brake plus||> 86 mA||10 mA|
|Spanninga: Brasa, battery version (3V)||26 mA||26 mA|
|Spanninga: Lineo||> 85 mA||42 mA|
|Philips: Lightring||53 mA||53 mA|
|Philips: Lightring, battery version (3V)||41 mA||41 mA|
Several taillamps do not seem to conform to StVZO with respect to power (far too low), unless these taillamps draw more power when attached to an alternating current, I will check that. If they don't then the approving body has almost certainly looked at the amount of produced light and approved them despite a too low power consumption. The Philips Lumiring stays above required 50mA for quite a while until it drops.
Addition 2012-1-24: During the Philips bicycle lighting day I asked about this and it turns out the minimal current/power draw of a lamp is not looked at if the lamp produces enough light.
The first test was done at night 2011-8-18, it was raining and I was cycling from 100m towards the taillamps. The second test in the night of 2011-11-29 was with the Toplight Line plus (the best of the first test), the Philips Saferide Lumiring, and the Basta Ray LED. I did this test in 3 parts: Cycling from 100m to the lamp, walking from 100m to the lamp, and a comparison of visibility between the Line plus and the Lumiring with both lighting at the same time and riding towards them from 150m distance.
Goal 1: To see how well visible they are, and in case of taillamps that have an annoyingly bright point source of light, by covering that point source with black tape (to be done: or by making that more diffuse and dimmer with some semi transparant tape) to see how much or little influence this point source has on visibility.
Goal 2: Determine the difference between line taillamps and taillamps with large illuminated surface w.r.t. visibility and ability to estimate distance. I will test this by comparing the Line plus and Plateo xds. The latter with obscured point source (and to be done: diffused/dimmed point source).
|Taillamp||Visibility||Distance estimation (getting blinded by a point source?)|
|Spanniga 15||Surprisingly good! I'd say at least as good as any except the Line plus.||Hard, size is too small.|
|Basta Ray||Not tested (the Spanninga 15 is very similar, and it was raining ;-)).||Not tested.|
|D-Toplight plus||Not tested because of the rain and because I had already tested the similar (point source of light) flat plus.||Not tested, but there is no doubt that this is impossible due to the point source of light.|
|Toplight flat plus||Poor!||Impossible because of the point source of light. Distance estimate at short distance is also impaired even if the cyclist is visible otherwise as the strong point source of light is dangerously blinding.|
|Toplight flat S plus (linetec)||Surprisingly also quite poor! The lines don't help much. Not sure why.||Very hard.|
|Toplight line plus (linetec)||Excellent from 100m to 0m, and never annoying. Well, too bright perhaps. The Spanninga 15 is actually nicer to ride behind and still almost as visible...||Hard|
|Herrmans' H-track||Reasonable. When the direct light from the LED is obsured the visibility is a lot less. It seems not enough lights goes backwards horizontally and actually, when I look at the beamshot again it seems to confirm this. The line plus is better visible at any distance.||Hard|
|Basta Riff steady||Reasonable, but less good than the H-track. I didn't think this taillamp was visible enough at 100m to warrant a test with obscured direct light from the LED.||Hard|
|Spanninga Plateo xds||Reasonable, but less good than the H-track. With the direct light from the LED obscured, this taillamp is very dim which means not enough light goes into lighting up the reflector.||Impossible because the point source overpowers the light from the reflector. Distance estimate at short range is also impaired even if the cyclist is visible otherwise as the strong point source of light is dangerously blinding.|
|Toplight mini plus||Not tested, but undoubtedly poor as there is no optic to distribute/bundle the light.||Not tested, but there is no doubt that this is impossible due to the point source of light.|
|Philips saferide taillamp||Excellent from 100m to 0m, and never annoying.||Difficult but at short distances you do get the feeling of seeing a real object instead of just a bright light. The diffuse light and fairly large surface (only the Plateo has a larger illuminating surface but that's spoilt by the point source) work.|
|Basta Ray LED||Excellent from 100m to 0m, but too bright at short distances.||Impossible due to the point source of light, it also gets too bright at short distances which hinders following traffic (esp. other cyclists).|
Visibility: The Spanninga 15 with 0.6W bulb is surprisingly good, and I think it's better visible than all LED taillamp except the Toplight line plus (not yet directly compared with the Lumiring). The Spanninga 15 has a more smooth lightouput (even distribution over a reasonable surface area) than the Line plus which makes it nicer to look at for following traffic while being almost as visible, so all in all it is still a very good taillamp, better than I thought before this test (because of the corner- and wall projection images). This probably means all incandescent taillamps are actually pretty good, much better than one might think... Sideways visibility test (what a driver in a car coming to an intersection sees) is yet to be done...
Distance estimates: I don't think these are possible very well even with the line plus. The Lumiring is slightly better, especially at close range. The very strong point source in the Plateo makes distance estimation with that taillamp just about impossible. Obscuring the point source gives a near perfect taillamp, which makes distance estimation also better than any other taillamp. The only problem is that it's fairly dim that way. As I thought before has been confirmed, the Plateo with a few small changes could have been superb, instead of poor. I will do another test with the Plateo with white tape to diffuse/spread the light from the point source and see how it performs then.
21-2-2013: Medium distance taillamp test with a few new taillamps:
The maximum distance to the taillamps was ca. 35m, walking away from them and back again to see what you can see of their shape, whether distance estimating is possible etc. This was with some light from streetlamps not too far away, so this test is a test of what it's like when encountering such taillamps in a city.
Axa Go: The luminance problem becomes clear in that I could not differentiate the lightring from the Go (mounted about 10 cm apart) except at very close range. This does not indicate the Go is better, but that it blinds you... It means motorists can't see what else there is beside the light, not even other lights, so they can't estimate the width of the cyclist...
The SP15-2013's beam colour is way too diluted, not red enough. It's probably not bad enough to make a motorist or other road user think it's a yellow headlamp, but I don't like this at all.
There is not much difference in visibility between these lamps up to the relatively short distance of 35m.
From this test already it's clear the Axa Go is rubbish, and the SP15-2013 is not good because of the light colour.
Up to the distance tested the Lightring and Lumiring are equally visible, The Lumiring and Lightrings shapes can clearly be identified as such, and distance estimates are possible best with the Lumiring.
The Brasa has a point source, but it's not strong enough to really annoy. But the lines are also not outstanding in any respect. The sideways visibility of this lamp is despite the light lines going round the corner, worse than that of the Lumiring as I had tested long ago already, which means that I don't see the point of this lamp. The Lumiring is way better and the Line plus is also better. The Brasa is also quite ugly.
The Lumiring and Lightring are very well visible, both in amount of light that you experience, and in the smoothness of the beam.
The SP15s are not as well visible at this short distance of up to 35 m due to the small size of the emitting source. Whether the Lightring is as visible as the SP15s and the Lumiring at 100m and more is an interesting question, but I can only test that in about 3 weeks...
The Lineo is bright, too bright. The high luminance, though it doesn't give stars in your eyes and doesn't blind you, is an issue in another way which becomes clear in that it's hard to make out that there are 2 sections of light (left & right) until you get close enough (I would say about 15 m), so the luminance is a spoiling factor. The 2 sections of light could have been a help in letting traffic get a distance estimate, but with this intensity it doesn't work. Also the lightoutput that you experience is not as smooth as the Lumiring, which is clearly an oval which is well visible and which can be identified as an oval up to a long distance.
If the Lineo were driven at a lower power, and if the light were distributed over a bigger surface, with more distance between left/right illuminated sections, it would be much better.
The Lumiring is still on top. The Lineo is perhaps equal to the Line plus or a bit better? The Lineo is probably the best for areas with lots of light pollution and/or chaotic traffic.
I need to compare the Lineo, Line plus, Lumiring and Lightring in a 100m+ distance test to be able to tell more. This will come in a few weeks' time and I'll make a video of them.
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Last modified: Sun Feb 24 15:05:06 CET 2013