Spot lamps will get you in trouble with police
3 months ago, 11 July 04:41
I have been driving at night for some time now, and I can no longer tolerate the glare from all sorts of contraptions, add-ons and LED light bars that have suddenly found themselves on just about every car on Kenyan roads. So I have decided “dawa ya moto ni moto (to fight fire with fire)”. I want to dump my halogens for either LED or xenon, but I can’t understand all the terms being thrown around like lumens/watts/temperature/heat sinks/ ballast, etc. Could you shed some light on this and also advise on their legality?
Let’s start with the legality (or the lack thereof) of installing military-grade searchlights on your car.
Unless you roll up in one of those high-end tractors gleaming with intimidatory menace designed for dictators and arrogant, hell-raising celebrity types — instruments such as over-chromed, oversized and overpriced SUVs or battleship-length luxury limos, then perhaps you are better off straining your eyes to see better in the dark, or trying not to drive at night. The police will give you grief for your enhanced front-end wattage. Yes, there are two sets of laws for humankind, and both sets read exactly the same, the difference being that these laws are optional for one lot — the shiny 1 per cent — and compulsory for thinner cattle like us, who form the majority. Spot lamps, particularly of the eye-searing LED kind, are verboten by law.
I’ll start with the second-to-last term: the heat sink. It is simply an element made from a good heat conductor for the purpose of cooling the lamp. These lamps, to generate that kind of luminosity, heat up quite a lot — to the extent that they can cause serious burns if mishandled — and, therefore, need to be cooled down lest they melt or evaporate their componentry. Having a dedicated cooling system for your lamps is the kind of stuff that shoots car prices skywards and increase potential trouble spots as far as maintenance goes, so the most cost-effective method is by using a heat sink, which is nothing more than a sheet of metal.
Ballast:this is a type of resistor that limits the amount of electrical current in a circuit. As stated above, high currents have heating effects so one way to control this — besides the obvious cooling — is to place a bottleneck on the flow of current in the circuit.
Temperature: this is an interesting concept of light that might not be directly connected to heat by use of example but is actually connected to heat by means of calculation. Ignore that sentence if it doesn’t quite add up in your head and read the next one instead: Temperature is essentially the combination of colour and brightness of visible light, in layman’s terms. Cool lights have colour temperatures above 5000K (kelvin), while warm lights fall in the 2700-3000K range. Categories fall between the orange flame of a matchstick at 1,700K ...
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