NiceLite NL311 1W Led Bulb - Discontinued 11/13

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gaz
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NiceLite NL311 1W Led Bulb - Discontinued 11/13

Postby gaz » 21 Dec 2012, 8:19pm

Back in the late 90's I'd settled into using a set of CatEye Daylites, a halogen bulb twin headlamp system, HL-NC200.

The set was supplied as 6W + 10W, running the lower powered lamp or both together from a 6V 4Ah lead acid battery. I rapidly traded down to 6W and 3W to improve run time and to allow a single lamp to be run from a bottle dynamo. The lower powered lamp had a broad beam lens (NC200-BH) with a spot beam for the higher (NC200-SH). I disliked the spot, it seemed too narrow for my taste, so I bought an additional broad beam lens. Each lens is 6cm in diameter.

Image

I bought enough brackets to kit out three bikes to take these lamps.

This set up was ample for my weekly 20-30 mile club run. The 3W was fine for unlit country roads, the 6W was enough to make motorists dip and was a big help on descents. Battery life proved sufficient for a summer 400K.

Around 2001 I stopped night riding altogether, however I am now beginning to return to it on the occassional winter commute. I bought a replacement 4.5Ah lead acid a couple of years ago which has been little used since.

Lighting has been transformed in the interim period and my 3 LED rear Vistalite would now be a joke. I'd already settled on a SMART 0.5W and E-Lite for the rear but I was unsure what to do at the front. Whilst deciding I've been using the Daylites on 3W + 10W (damned if I can find the 6W bulb anywhere). The 3W remains fine for unlit roads but my commute takes me along a canal tow path where the 10W comes in handy. Starting from this position a switch to weapons grade mega-hundred lumen LED lighting seemed a step too far.

I came across a thread on LED v Incandescent bulbs for front lighting. Brucey included a link to Reflectalite who sell drop-in LED replacements for Halogen bulbs. He included a note of caution with regard to the results.

Reflactalite ratings for Halogen bulbs: 3W = 46 lumens, 6W = 100 lumens, 10W = 201 lumens.
Reflectalite rating for the LED Bulb: 1W = 120-130 lumens.


My first thought was to replace both halogens with 1W LEDs, however in view of the cautionary note from Brucey I decided to start with just one.

Living room tests were inconclusive. The LED Bulb produced a lot of light but in a different beam pattern. A road test was required so I topped up the battery pack.

The road test was illuminating. Sadly my attempts at photography of the differing light patterns failed, the key thing is they were most certainly different.

The chosen test zone was an unlit road and short stretch of canal tow-path. A good bit of fiddling about, swapping and re-swapping bulbs was undertaken whilst stationary to try and judge and compare the various beam patterns before riding on a number of combinations.

The halogen bulbs produce a rectangle of yellowish light on the road a good distance ahead, which fades away at the edges. They also provide a spread of light close to the wheel, with a fair amount out to the sides and up to the heavens as well. If solely using the 10W it is possible to angle it a little further ahead than the 3W creating a larger area of useful light. The top of the lens is visible from my riding position but not dazzlingly so.

The LED bulb produces a similar but brighter rectangle of white light on the road a good distance ahead, with less area of fade at the edges. It also provides a spread of light close to the wheel, with a fair amount out to the sides and up to the heavens as well. It was possible to angle it a little further ahead than the 3W halogen, but not as much as was possible with the 10W halogen. The top of the lens is visible and bordering on the dazzling, some DIY modification (strip of black tape as a minimum) will be required.

Motorists will not usually dip for the 3W halogen but do if I flash them with the 10W. As no one approached me on full beam I do not know how the 1W LED compares in this respect.

Running the 3W halogen with the 1W LED seemed little different to running the 1W LED on it's own. The 10W halogen complemented the 1W LED well allowing me to project a little useful light a little further forward. From the riding position the top of the lens on the 1W LED appeared brighter than both the 3W and the 10W halogen.

During all the bulb swaping and other mucking about the 3W halogen gave up the ghost. It's the second one to have failed on me in just three or four 1/2 hour rides, both at the point of switching on rather than mid ride.


In conclusion I have replaced the 3W halogen with a 1W LED. The resulting light to see by is brighter which is adequate compensation for the slightly different beam pattern. I feel that I'd describe the beam pattern as sharper and more defined; the additional brightness compensating for the loss of fade at the edges. I suspect the light to be seen by is much better too. The run time will be much greater and I won't be blowing bulbs so there will be a cost saving in the long term. :D

The jury remains out on whether or not to ditch the 10W halogen bulb in favour of running a pair of 1W LEDs. :?

Edits - picture of lights added to this post. 2/11/13 Reflectalite website now shows this LED bulb model as discontinued.
Last edited by gaz on 2 Nov 2013, 10:47pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: NiceLite NL311 1W Led Bulb (£13.15 inc p&p)

Postby gaz » 2 Jan 2013, 10:38pm

This evening I had my first chance to do my commute with the new set up. The original test was in dry conditions, this time the roads were wet and rain set in half way home.

The commute was not a direct comparative test, I was running the 1W LED for the whole trip and did not swap back to the 3W Halogen. I've used the same route with the 3W halogen but only in drier conditions.

The 1W LED was sufficiently bright to be used on it's own for the whole trip (unlike the 3W halogen), although there were a few times when a little extra light would have been welcome. Of course this was available from the 10W halogen and I did use it briefly a couple of times.

This time I met more motor traffic, with two drivers on full beam. The first didn't dip his lights but he didn't dip them when I kicked in the 10W halogen either :roll: .

The second did. I generally felt that I was shown more respect by oncoming motorists, with a tendency to wait rather than to keep on coming when spaces were narrowed by traffic calming and parked vehicles. I take that as a good sign that the 1W LED is more visible than the 3W halogen.

The trip has made me feel more confident about trying a 2 x 1W LED set up, I may save up to get LED bulbs for my Maglite and Petzl at the same time.
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Re: NiceLite NL311 1W Led Bulb (£13.15 inc p&p)

Postby Edwards » 4 Jan 2013, 5:18pm

gaz wrote:The trip has made me feel more confident about trying a 2 x 1W LED set up, I may save up to get LED bulbs for my Maglite and Petzl at the same time


Thanks for the link. I am thinking about getting some for our Petzl Zoom head torches.
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Re: NiceLite NL311 1W Led Bulb (£13.15 inc p&p)

Postby gaz » 11 Jan 2013, 11:52pm

A few more commutes under my belt and the set up with the Cateyes continues to work well. I've also encountered some joggers on the canal path (not ninjas, they were wearing reflectives) and the 1W LED picked them out at a fair distance.

In the garage of doom I came across an EverReady front lamp and decided to do a brief investigation with the Nicelite LED. The light was donated to me by a friend when he gave up riding and has since been used as mini-me's Center Parcs lamp, only serving a to be seen by purpose.

It's a 2 C Cell model, I don't know it's exact age but I suspect it's post "Nightrider" so probably early 2000's. The lens bears no BS markings, the bulb is around 1.2W Krypton. The batteries I found in the garage have stood unused for some time and it's doubtful that they were at full whack.

The test was in the dark of the garage and the gloom of the drive rather than on the road, it was simply to gain an impression of the NL311's capabilities in another lamp.

The light from the Krypton was pathetic, barely OK for street lit roads, far from enough to see by in unlit conditions. The lens design gives a reasonable amount of light close to the wheel and a dull spot further ahead. The LED bulb packed a lot more punch, giving much more light in both areas. This made the spot much more useful, but the spot remained too focused for my taste. An improvement but not a transformation.

So I can confirm what Brucey said in the linked thread; if the beam pattern is poor to start with a LED bulb doesn't fix it.

In any case suitable 1W & 2W LED bulbs for the Petzl Zoom head torch and 2D Maglite respectively arrived on 16 January and I'm very pleased with the results.

Edit 11 Feb 2013.

For about the last 3 weeks I've been running a second 1W LED in the Cateye Daylites in place of the 10W halogen. I've also added some short yogurt pot and silver foil hoods to the tops of the lamps in a bid to cut out glare and unnecessary uplighting.

The 2 x 1W set up is most satisfactory, it's picked out ninja peds, cyclists and horses on the canal tow-path at a reasonable distance and those armed with reflectives from further away. The 2 x 1W LED can be left running on that basis and dipped if necessary. Not as bright as the 1W LED and 10W Halogen but quite bright enough for me.

Edit 24 Oct 2013.

Inspired by mjr's results with a BS6102/3 Cateye I decided to go on ebay and re-live my youth by buying a MkII Duracell lockable BS6102/3 lamp set.

I was a pre-public release test pilot for these (but that's another story) and my recollection was that I liked the beam pattern and that it was a good light when converted to run a 6V 3W halogen bulb rather than it's standard 1.68W krypton.

I still liked the beam pattern on the krypton bulb, a fairly even spread of light over a good area, just not much light to spread. Changing to the LED changed things. Much more light but ..... the beam pattern had changed subtely yet disastorously. There was now a dark patch running through the middle of the beam. The additional light was not sufficient compensation for the change in beam shape.

Whilst I continue to like these LEDs in the Cateyes I don't think they worked well in the Duracell.

Edit 30 Mar 2014.

I got hold of a Cateye HL-500 and popped in one of the LEDs. Interesting results on the drive in the sense that I feel they weren't the same as mjr's, I got a very round "O" beam and less cut-off than with the HL-NC200. Further tests and enquiries required.
Last edited by gaz on 30 Mar 2014, 8:11pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: NiceLite NL311 1W Led Bulb (£13.15 inc p&p)

Postby gaz » 5 Mar 2013, 11:19pm

Cateye Daylites a.JPG
Cateye Daylites


A few on the driveway pics. I don't think they do justice to the reality but they are taken with the same background lighting etc so may be of some use for comparisons. Don't ask about apertures, shutter speeds,etc - such things are meaningless to me.

Pics are arranged with a view looking over top of bars at light cast near wheel and a view looking down driveway at light cast ahead. Approx 19m from camera to garage door.

2.4 W Hal a.JPG
3W Halogen


2.4W Halogen a.JPG
3W Halogen


1W L a.JPG
1W LED


1W LED.JPG
1W LED
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Re: NiceLite NL311 1W Led Bulb (£13.15 inc p&p)

Postby gaz » 5 Mar 2013, 11:25pm

2.4W + 10W Hal a.JPG
3W + 10W Halogen


2.4W+10W Halogen a.JPG
3W + 10W Halogen


1W L +10W H a.JPG
1W LED + 10W Halogen


1W LED + 10W Halogen a.JPG
1W LED + 10W Halogen
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Re: NiceLite NL311 1W Led Bulb (£13.15 inc p&p)

Postby gaz » 5 Mar 2013, 11:26pm

2 x 1W L a.JPG
2 x 1W LED


2 x 1W LED a.JPG
2 x 1W LED
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Re: NiceLite NL311 1W Led Bulb (£13.15 inc p&p) now with pic

Postby gaz » 7 Mar 2013, 12:49pm

Some of the same pics but with a bit of "photoshop" manipulation. All have had the same image manipulation but the darker pictures needed to be "shrunk" more to upload to the forum. IMO the resulting images are closer to the scene as viewed.

Background a.JPG
Background Lighting


Whilst it was around 10:15pm all these pictures were taken on the driveway. There is a low-energy (LED?) street light across the road. Whilst the photoshopping is extremely grainy it gives a good indication of background light levels. Unphotoshopped this picture is almost black throughout.
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Re: NiceLite NL311 1W Led Bulb (£13.15 inc p&p) now with pic

Postby gaz » 7 Mar 2013, 12:57pm

Some of the same pics but with a bit of "photoshop" manipulation. All have had the same image manipulation but the darker pictures needed to be "shrunk" more to upload to the forum. IMO the resulting images are closer to the scene as viewed.

Background lighting as shown in previous post remained constant, views down the drive on different halogen bulb / LED combos. Approx 19m to garage door.

2.4W Halogen a.JPG
3W Halogen

1W LED a.JPG
1W LED

2.4W+10W Halogen a.JPG
3W Halogen + 10W Halogen

1W LED + 10W Halogen b.JPG
1W LED + 10W Halogen

2 x 1W LED a.JPG
2 x 1W LED
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Re: NiceLite NL311 1W Led Bulb (£13.15 inc p&p) now with pic

Postby mjr » 20 Sep 2013, 8:02am

I've used this bulb to upgrade a BS-approved HL-500 and so far, so good.

Going solely by the pictures above, the HL-500 doesn't throw as much light upwards as the non-BS HL-NC200. The light on the garage door would probably have a sharper, flatter top edge and a more pronounced 8-with-a-squashed-top shape beam centre on the ground, with a more even/dim spill sideways - it looks a bit like you've darker patches at 11 o'clock and 1 o'clock?

So the HL-500 is probably not as good for fast or off-road, but I like its beam shape for on-road. The squashed-8 centre means I'm not fiddling about each ride to place an O-shape beam centre high enough to see far enough ahead but not so high that I'm dazzling oncoming people.
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Re: NiceLite NL311 1W Led Bulb - Discontinued 11/13

Postby Bledlow » 27 Aug 2014, 6:15pm

I've just stumbled over this thread, & despite the risk of being accused of thread necromancy, felt an urge to contribute.

I bought a couple of these LEDs a few years ago, & have them in a Smart BL201H light set. This was originally 2.4W & 10W, & I'd changed it to 2 x 6W years ago. With both lights on it burned through the battery at an alarming rate, so the second one was for occasions when extra light was needed briefly. It has a clear lens which produces a bright spot & a dimmer flood (originally 10W), & a faceted lens which produces a 'bar' in the middle, plus a dimmer spread.

The 1W LEDs are similar to the 6W in output. Whiter, & hard to judge exactly how the brightness compares, but definitely not greatly different. Beam shape isn't much different. Slightly worse, I'd say. But since I can run both lights all the time, the overall light is, I think, better.

I use these lights on leisurely rides on an old MTB, where I don't mind lugging around the massive NiCad battery pack. They're dimmer combined than the newer single LED lights I & my partner use on our road bikes, but bright enough for anything except fast downhills.

We're spoilt nowadays. I remember when a 2W halogen Vistalite was thought of as bright, & a few years later the Smart BL201H was the bees knees.

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Re: NiceLite NL311 1W Led Bulb - Discontinued 11/13

Postby LittleGreyCat » 4 Nov 2014, 8:49pm

Very useful thread - however it does say the LEDs have been discontinued.

I am chasing links at the moment, but does anyone know of a current LED for these Smart twin lens lights?

Cheers

LGC

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Re: NiceLite NL311 1W Led Bulb - Discontinued 11/13

Postby gaz » 5 Nov 2014, 7:11pm

Reflectalite NL322, assuming the SMART uses push-in bulbs.
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Re: NiceLite NL311 1W Led Bulb - Discontinued 11/13

Postby horizon » 8 Nov 2014, 8:43pm

gaz wrote:Reflectalite NL322, assuming the SMART uses push-in bulbs.


Yes they do.
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Re: NiceLite NL311 1W Led Bulb - Discontinued 11/13

Postby Bledlow » 15 Dec 2017, 10:30pm

I just stumbled on this long-forgotten thread again & couldn't resist a bit more thread necromancy.

Reflectalite (who I used to buy halogen bulbs from, many years ago) are still selling drop-in LED replacements for filament bulbs. The current incarnation of the discontinued Nicelite NL311 is the NL322: 1 watt, 1.5 to 9 volts, & a claimed 140 lumens, so more than the old NL311. The beam pattern is supposed to have been improved, & it doesn't care about polarity, so (like the NL311) it should be happy in my old Smart BL201H lights, though I've not tested it. The Torch Site sells similar 1 watt LED bulbs, claimed 120 lumens & a bit cheaper.

Yes, I still have the lights, & I've got spares from old sets being discarded by others. Waste not want not, eh? They're good enough for my old MTB, even though I wouldn't put 'em on my Enigma. I'm not using the NL311s I bought several years ago in them, though: I bought a couple of 3 watt TTS-3WCREEs from The Torch Site, claimed 220 lumens. They seem a bit brighter than the 10W halogen that was originally in the BL201H lights, which fits the claimed brightness, & they're cheaper than the NL322 - £8.95 vs £10.70, & slightly lower postage. So, it's a bit like the BL201H set-up with 2 x 10W halogen, but with the bonus of not killing the battery in minutes rather than hours. I've put the NL311s in a couple of old torches.

Reflectalite also sells a 120 lumen LED bulb for old dynamo light sets (NL412).The Torch Site sells a few, including a 2W 150 lumen reverse polarity (would work in a Smart BL201) bulb at £5.95. Both sell LEDs for old Maglites. I got one for my ancient Mini Maglite & it works very well.

I've had good service from both of these -
http://www.reflectalite.com/LEDpage.html
http://www.thetorchsite.co.uk/Universal_led_upgrades.html

I intend to keep using my last millennium BL201H lights as long as they work. They're fine for how I use my last millennium MTB.