Lightsaber Blade Brightness: What You Should Know (wattage vs. lumen rating)
Sometimes lightsaber enthusiasts seem to enjoy discussing lightsaber blade brightness nearly as much we enjoy discussing the hilt designs themselves. Let’s talk about the most important factors that affect lightsaber blade brightness and how to the select the brightest blade for your circumstances.
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LED Wattage and Lightsaber Blade Brightness
Many custom lightsaber companies post wattage for their lightsabers and LEDs, but wattage is a misleading measurement. Wattage is just a measurement of energy and it NOT a good indicator of brightness.
LED Lumen Rating and Lightsaber Blade Brightness
A much better indicator of brightness is the lumen rating. The lumen rating measures the quantity of visible light emitted by a source. Unfortunately, not very many custom saber companies seem to post the lumen rating for their products. If lumen ratings are not posted on the custom saber company’s website, you can try asking the company for a lumen rating for a specific LED color.
Lightsaber blades become dimmer as the battery or batteries get depleted. If your lightsaber blade seems dimmer than before, it might be time to replace or charge the batteries.
Blade Length and Thickness
The length and thickness of the blade itself also affect blade brightness. For example, a short blade like a 24 inch blade is brighter than a full size 32 or 36 inch blade because the light doesn’t have to travel as far within the blade. Similarly, thinner blades (midgrade or thin-walled blades) are brighter than thicker blades (heavy grade or thick walled blades). Thicker blades block more of the light from leaving the blade tube, but they are more durable than thinner blades.
Inside the In-Hilt LED Blade: Blade Film and Blade Tip
In-hilt LED lightsabers use standard lightsaber blades. Blade film helps diffuse the light more evenly throughout the length of the blade. A blade that doesn’t use blade film will often suffer from a darker dead zone near the far end of the blade, which is farthest from the LED light source. A reflective blade tip also help reflect the LED light back within the blade.
Inside the Neopixel Blade: Neopixel Strips
Neopixel lightsabers use special blades equipped with bright neopixel strips contained within the blade itself. Neopixel blades can be much brighter than lightsabers that use a standard blade and in-hilt LED light source.
Day Blades for Bright Environments
Even the brightest lightsaber blade doesn’t look very bright outside on a sunny day or in some other environment with a lot of light. If you plan on using a lightsaber in a bright environment, you may consider getting a day blade. Day blades are colored lightsaber blades that are specifically designed for bright environments. How day blades work is you select the color closest to your LED color (i.e. a saber with a red LED would select a red day blade). A day blade helps strengthen the color your lightsaber blade in bright environments.
Color Discs and LEE Filters with a White LED
If you’re planning on using color discs or Lee Filters (camera filters) to change the color of your blade on an in-hilt LED lightsaber, then selecting a bright white LED will help you get brighter and more vibrant blade colors. Ultrasabers calls their white LED ‘Adegan Silver’. Spending the extra money to upgrade from a single diode LED to TRI CREE LED will help ensure your blade color doesn’t look too dim. Keep in mind that some color disc and filter colors look better and brighter than others.
Acrylic Blade Brightness vs. Polycarbonate Blade Brightness
Ripper Blades, often attributed as the originator of the Darksaber-style flat lightsaber blade, uses acrylic plastic rather than polycarbonate plastic to make its flat lightsaber blades. Ripper Blades uses acrylic instead of polycarbonate because light is distributed better through acrylic than it is through polycarbonate. Unfortunately, acrylic is a lot more fragile than polycarbonate so flat acrylic blades are not duel worthy and are insteaded for display and spinning only.
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How important is lightsaber blade brightness to you? What are your tips for selecting the brightest lightsaber?