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Runtime with 2006 Lupine Wilma

Last updated 2011-02-08 - Send Feedback
Related: lighting

The Lupine LED lampheads offer outstanding runtime relative to battery size, on par or better than any product on the market. High efficiency is a function of quality parts and expert technical design. Internal electronics, which must convert electricity from the battery into the required voltage for the bulb/LED, are a major factor in “burn time” with headlamps and flashlights.

It is important not to confuse claimed lumens of light output with actual usable light (and its color). The Lupine lampheads “delivers the goods” with regards to light output; a custom-designed lens system in the lamphead maximizes its effectiveness. Even a coating on the lens glass helps a bit.

That a light’s lens and reflector system is a major factor in actual performance will quickly become apparent should you purchase an inferior light and compare it side-by-side with a Lupine LED lamphead.

Lumens and lumens

Never buy a light based on its lumens rating alone; much depends on beam pattern, beam uniformity, color, etc, so there is plenty of room to make a Brand X light look good on paper with a high lumens rating, yet emit visibly inferior quantity and quality of light than a brand of allegedly “lower” output. There simply isn’t a scientific measure which can address these subjective factors satisfactorily; lumens is a crude rating and often quotes theoretical output at maximum efficiency at the bulb (not what actually falls on the dark pothole in the road).

Conservative ratings

Lupine is conservative in their ratings— the 2006 Wilma shone on highest output for at least 3 hours and 28 minutes of runtime (checking status every 5 minutes), or 26% longer than specified. (Actual runtime could have been up to 5 minutes longer, but I wasn’t watching every second). This is a fabulous performance. (The specifications are 2 hours 45 minutes for the Wilma with the 4.5Ah battery, verified with “Wolf” at Lupine).

Runtimes as tested

This page contains testing data from 2006. Things have only gotten more impressive, with higher lamp efficiency and greater battery capacity.

Extrapolated runtime for other battery sizes

These runtimes were tested in 2006 with the existing Wilma. Newer batteries have higher capacity and will last somewhat longer, and newer lampheads are more efficient (more light output for the same wattage).

With the 2011 offerings,runtimes with current Wilma are rated about 1/3 longer.

Extrapolating the runtime test to other battery sizes, one could reasonably expect to see the following runtimes***:

Runtime at highest output
(additional minutes at reduced output)

Battery Runtime (hh:mm) Weight (g)** Comments
1.8 Ah 1:18 111.0

softcase
runtime as tested @ 83°F

4.5 Ah 3:28 231.4 softcase
runtime as tested @ 77°F
6.8 Ah 5:14* 331.7 softcase
9.0 Ah 6:56* 430 water bottle
13.8 Ah 10:37* 667 water bottle

* Extrapolated from test with 4.5Ah battery, not actually tested
** Excepting the 9.0Ah battery, weights as actually weighed with case
*** actual light output was not measured, and could be a bit more or less than the rated 15 watts for steady-state usage.

Actual battery life will depend on the individual battery (all batteries vary slightly in capacity, internal impedance, etc), age, ambient temperature, etc.

Unless your needs are extreme, the 5.0h battery is the sweet spot for size, weight and battery life. For those with shorter lighting needs, the featherweight 1.8Ah battery will be barely noticeable on the headbelt, and can be mounted directly to a cycling helmet as well. But I’d recommend the 2.5Ah battery for its longer life.

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Burn time Test Setup

I tested above as follows:

  • a brand-new 4.5Ah battery, freshly charged;
  • ambient temperature 77° F (4.5Ah battery), 83°F (1.8Ah battery);
  • a fan was used to cool the lamp such that it never became more than warm to the touch;
  • the highest output setting was used;
  • status was checked every 5 minutes using a countdown timer as a reminder to verify that the green and blue lights were both on (indicating highest output).

The last status check seen at full power was at 3 hours and 28 minutes; actual runtime could have been up to 5 minutes longer (staring at the battery status lights gets pretty boring). Note that this runtime was achieved at a relatively high ambient temperature, although the lamp head was kept relatively cool using the fan, a reasonable simulation of a bike ride at 15 mph or so.


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