LEDs don’t have a filament to burn out or break; therefore, they last much longer than conventional bulbs. Given that a very small semiconductor chip runs an LED, they are very durable and tend to last many thousands of hours. Moreover, LEDs are “instant on,” much like halogen lamps, and thus convenient for use in applications that are subject to frequent or potential on-off cycling. Conversely, HID lamps are more fragile and have to warm up (15 – 25 seconds) during ignition. However, HID lights are much brighter than current LED configurations. This is because the side-emitting light found with HIDs is much easier to focus; the front-emitting nature of LEDs does not lend itself to a tightly focused beam.
HID lighting is still preferred by most divers given the superior intensity and tight focus. However, LED technology is changing rapidly and it is foreseeable that LEDs will eventually surpass the performance of HID lighting.
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