Cave diving is a unique and dangerous experience, requiring powerful lights for guidance. Due to the lack of oxygen in such diving sites (even above water inside the caves), many professionals only use equipment designed for extreme environments. These days, challenges with underwater lighting during cave diving expeditions are being addressed using LED technology instead of canister lights.
Pitfalls of Canister Cave Diving Lights
Previously, the traditional canister light was the most preferred option for illumination in caves. A canister light is a bulky device that is typically secured on the arm of the diver. Alternatively, the unit can be mounted on the back of one’s oxygen tank.
Old canister light designs relied on sealed lead acid batteries for power, as well as incandescent or HID bulbs. The combination of both components (and a cord for connection) resulted in a heavy and very hot underwater lamp. Furthermore, divers frequently wait at the very last minute to activate the portable fixtures, in order to reduce the risk of premature failure.
LEDs and Underwater Cave Diving
The introduction of LEDs revolutionized the cave diving industry (among others). Improvements in battery technology also contributed to such upgrades, from lead acid-based to lithium.
Without a cord and with a solid-state build, LED spotlights for cave diving are lightweight and durable, making the luminaries less prone to failure from rough contact. Such features are also useful, when traveling to the diving site, as persistent vibration from airline cargo and off-roading can break lights with loose filaments.
Because LEDs are energy efficient, less heat is released during operation. For cave divers, the possibility of accidental burns from touching a very hot lamp or battery pack is decreased. Lastly, with safety as the top priority, individuals do not have to wait last minute to turn on an LED lamp, due to their lengthy lifespan.