Test all limits in the Nissan Navara
Test all limits in the Nissan Navara

Let there be light: LEDs vs fluorescent camping lights


Modern society is obsessed with technology. So much so, that we often get caught up in “progress” and mistakenly assume that the old tech is 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 in colour. The same folk 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.

Camping light comparison

National Luna was once an industry leader in 12V fluorescent lights; but, when LED technology hit the market, National Luna’s 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 very own 12V LED camping light. The unit was a great success, and much like their fluorescent product line, National Luna was heralded as a global leader in LED lighting.

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.

led camping light
As the name suggests, the Weather Proof LED camping light is fully water resistant, so you can permanently mount it on your 4×4’s roof rack.

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 to 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 opt 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 versus 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, on the other hand, may seem dull in comparison; but, what it lacks in brightness, it makes up for in all-round ambience and un-intrusive light.

But then, 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 actually 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 touch-pad activated.

In the end, whatever light you choose is a matter of personal preference – but, if you’re still undecided, perhaps space, longevity, efficiency, and durability should be your deciding factors. If that’s the case, the LED unit is the glaringly obvious answer.

Compiled by National Luna and first published on www.4x4equipt.com

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