Home Dive Training Alec Peirce Tech Tips: Dive Lights

Alec Peirce Tech Tips: Dive Lights

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Alec Peirce Tech Tips - Dive Lights

Transcribed by DNN Staff

I want to talk to you about dive lights. I have several comments regarding the lights. I hear this complaint all the time. Dive lights have come a long way and are very sophisticated. Most are made of anodized aluminum and coated so they don’t scratch, they also use good o-rings, and you won’t find switches on many of them which was a big problem; however, there is only one thing that will help your dive light last a long time – you. You have to do just one thing which I mostly guarantee will make your dive light last a long time and if you don’t do it I can guarantee you will ruin your dive light.

So what is the secret?

Let me show you – here is a relatively inexpensive and very simple dive light. You can find one of these for $20-$30 dollars and really are great. They are LED and very bright – these did not exist when I first started diving. We used to take a big dive light – a 6-volt battery and hook it on our belt and a wire running up to a tractor that sealed the beam. Once we got to the dive site we would smear grease over the contacts that would last the whole dive. At the end of the dive, we would cut the wire on the battery then put a new square battery on it and we would be good to go. We thought it was amazing even though the light wasn’t as good as this simple dive light in my hand.

Here is what you have to do – first we look at this light and see there are no switches – you simply unscrew it. There are no wires but there are two batteries and here is the problem with those batteries is that most people do not realize those batteries – whatever brand you use – they work the same way as your car battery. The car battery uses more chemicals and are more sophisticated but the basic principle is the same which is a chemical reaction that produces electricity and it also produces hydrogen. In your car battery the hydrogen is gassed off and it disappears.

The battery usually has a label that says don’t smoke around your car battery since it does produce hydrogen and could explode. On dive light batteries you don’t see those same warnings since they have different ways of getting rid of hydrogen gas but they still produce gas. If the gas remains in the chamber for a longtime it will affect the aluminum and destroy it – the batteries will break and the shell will swell up and get jammed in there. If that happens you really can’t save the light so you end up throwing it away. To be sure this doesn’t happen you have to take action. After a dive you take off your gear and clean it but more often than not what do you do with the dive light? You throw it in the dive bag and that is why it doesn’t last very long. If you gave your dive light the same care you gave your regulator you wouldn’t have problems.

So here is what you do – you undo the dive light, open it up, dump the two batteries. You are left with an empty shell and inside you might find moisture or condensation especially from a cold water dive. The hydrogen gas is also in there and it dissolves in the water inside the empty chamber which creates acid and aluminum doesn’t like acid so you have to take care of this. First – you do not rinse the head – you simply blow it out and make sure it is dry. The chamber; however, you can rinse with fresh water then dry it out. It is critical to dry it inside. Leave the pieces open to dry thoroughly. You should also check the o-rings – a few things you can do is start with removing the o-ring. I have a battery kit I love to use because it comes with an o-ring remover. You have to take care when removing the o-ring because using other things like an exacto knife or screwdriver will ruin it. If. The o-ring is an inch orbigger you can actually squeeze it off with your fingers.

So what do you do with the batteries?

Let them dry for a little while, place them in a Ziploc bag and you are good to go. Once the rest of the light is dry you put it all back together and place it with the batteries in the ziplock and you are done till next time. This is not complicated – the point is that you must open the dive light, remove the batteries, rinse and dry the battery carrier, and then put the batteries in a Ziploc and you are good.

The dive light will last forever.

If you use a more sophisticated dive light albeit not much bigger, this particular light has a strong beamwith different settings. This one is rechargeable and has a power indicator on it. While slightly different the same principle applies even with rechargeable batteries. You go through the same process of taking it apart and removing the batteries. Once cleaned and dried you put everything back together and in this case the battery comes off the charger then goes in the Ziploc bag. Theselights are not cheap – maybe $100.

For photographers the same principal applies there too. If you have batteries in your camera there will be condensation and hydrogen gas and acid. What about the strobe – what’s a strobe? A dive light. They have batteries in them as well and should be taken apart and cleaned out and dried. In the case of the strobe you need to be careful when rinsing out. Perhaps instead of pouring water in the casing you could use a Kleenex.

If you are going to put cameras, lights, and strobes away for a long time – anything longer than a week or two – get those batteries out of there.

I want to finish up with this little camera kit – this particular one is from Inntova, but you can get one from many manufactures. The kit is good for lights too. It has all sorts of goodies inside, including a cleaner, wipe, brush, o-rings, Q-tips, silicone grease and packets of desiccant. These little kits costs about $10, but if you bought all the items separately it might cost you upwards of $25 or more.

Quick Recap: Separate the dive light, clean it, dry it and store the batteries in a separate ziplock bag. You won’t have any issues. It’s simply up to you.