Modern society is obsessed with technology, so much so that we often get caught up in “progress” and mistakenly assume that the old ways are inferior to the new. LED lighting is a great example: it’s bright, efficient and lasts almost forever… but does it really provide better light?
Some users find LED lights to be glary, harsh on the eyes and cold when it comes to colour. The same people often prefer old-school fluorescent lighting, which is well-diffused, warm in colour, and far more ambient in its delivery.
So, which is better? Are LEDs automatically the better choice, or do fluorescent lights still have something to offer the outdoor traveller?
Oddly, it seems that the retail industry has made this decision for you. These days it’s almost impossible to buy a new 12V fluorescent camping light. In fact, the only company that still manufactures 12V fluorescent camping lights is National Luna — a South-African-based company that specialises in 12V refrigeration, dual-battery systems and outdoor lighting.
National Luna was once an industry leader in 12V fluorescent lights but, when LED technology hit the market, its fluorescent light sales plummeted. It seemed that no-one was interested in this old technology, and the move towards LED lighting was rapid and complete.
Needless to say, National Luna was forced to take note and, after several years of extensive research, development and product testing, the South African brand finally launched its own 12V LED camping light. The unit was a great success, and much like their fluorescent product line, was heralded as a global leader.
However, despite its achievements in the LED market, National Luna continues to manufacturer a wide selection of 12V fluorescent lights. They do this not only to provide back-up service for old-school caravan owners, but also because they believe that fluorescent lights still have something to offer campers and the general outdoor market.
On paper, a comparison between National Luna’s new 18-LED weather proof light and their previously popular Little Luna fluorescent light will quickly reveal a performance winner. Although the Little Luna is marketed as an 8-watt unit, its actual power output is 9.41 watts. This translates into a total light output of 440 lumens, at 47 lumens per watt, and 784 mA.
In comparison, the 18-LED light (on its brightest setting) features 4.46 watts, at 547 lumens, and just 390 mA. However, the light also boasts a touch-activated dimmer switch, which allows you to choose between three brightness levels and/or power consumption settings.
Again, on paper, it’s clear that the 18-LED light is far more efficient, sporting 122 lumens per watt compared with the fluorescent’s 47 lumens per watt. However, in terms of real-life performance, you can expect less diffusion, sharper shadows and slightly more glare from the LED unit. The fluorescent light may seem dull in comparison, but what it lacks in brightness it makes up for in all-round ambience and unintrusive light.
As far as features and versatility are concerned, it must be said that the weather proof LED is also a dual colour light. It features 18 warm-white LEDs, as well as 12 red or orange LEDs. (The choice of colour is yours.) In other words, the weather proof LED boasts multiple brightness settings and power consumption levels which vary from 390 mA to as little as 36 mA.
The LED unit is also water resistant (IP66), and sports a glow-in-the-dark power switch that is activated by a touch pad.
In the end, whichever light you choose is a matter of personal preference, but if you are undecided perhaps space, longevity, efficiency and durability should be the deciding factors. In that case, the LED unit is the glaringly obvious answer. – Grant Spolander