Sôlarc Hidden in HID Lights
By BOB STERNER
For Northwest Dive News
Divers should compare prices and features as they shop
for new ultra-bright high-intensity discharge lights. All
HID lights very likely contain the same Sôlarc HID internal
components regardless of the brand name.
While different brands and models offer unique features to
suit divers’ personal needs, they generally use the same
core HID components from Welch Allyn, Inc. The
Skaneateles Falls, N.Y., lighting products company is a
leader in medical lighting with more than 85 years in the
business. It adapted its Sôlarc system from lights used in
hospital operating rooms, where physicians demand high-
quality, reliable illumination to properly determine the
condition of tissue during operations.
The temperature of the light makes the difference between
halogen and HID lights. Typical halogen beams are 3,000
degrees and consist of all colors of the rainbow, with the
red portion of the spectrum predominating. Water filters
out these colors, starting with the red, orange and yellow
hues, resulting in a shift to blue underwater. To combat
the absorption of light, manufacturers of halogen systems
pump up the power of the lights, making them bulkier and
reducing their burn times.
HID lights burn at a color temperature of 6,000 degrees, a
bluish hue that is equal to that of the sun. The blue beam
of an HID light cuts through the water, since it has less
red, orange and yellow to be filtered out. This creates a
beam that travels twice as far as that of a halogen light,
yet uses less electricity.
HID technology is more efficient, providing 50 lumens per
watt, compared with 20 lumens per watt from halogen
lamps. And since they use less power, they last longer.
Sôlarc lamp bulbs last up to 1,000 hours, compared with
20 hours for typical incandescent lamps.
Using less power offers more options in designing lights.
A conventional battery pack large enough to power a
halogen primary cave light can keep an HID bulb burning
for up to six hours, reducing the need for staged battery
packs equipped with wet-mate fittings for extended
exploration. Lights can also be designed with smaller
batteries in more compact configurations to reduce
weight, bulk and drag. Smaller, lighter designs are handy
for traveling divers who face weight restrictions at
Companies that offer HID lights using Sôlarc technology
include Custom Divers, Dive Rite, Green Force, Kohr
Systems, Kowloski, Light & Motion, OMS, PatCo, Sartek
Industries and UnderwaterKinetics.
PHOTOS: COURTESY WELCH ALLYN
High Intensity Discharge light illuminates a
reef scene, top. The same light components
are used in virtually all HID lights, but
features vary from manufacturer and model.