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Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are emerging as viable replacements for incandescent (INC)-based cap lamps used in mining. The photometric and energy characteristics of these light sources differ in important ways. This paper describes the performance of LED and INC sources in cap lamps in terms of correlated color temperature, color rendering, light output, electric power, ambient temperature and air flow, and light source aging. Importantly, these characteristics can influence a miner's ability to spot mining hazards thus impacting safety. Second, some of these characteristics interact with the operating life of the cap lamp's battery power, such that differences between LED and INC sources can be magnified toward the end of a 10-h battery discharge cycle. Empirically, we have determined that after 8 h at an ambient temperature of 25degC , the average light output of an INC cap lamp can decrease to about 69% of its initial value when powered by a lead-acid battery, and it can decrease to about 65% of its initial value when powered by a nickel-hydride battery. An LED-based cap lamp using a constant current drive circuit can maintain about 96% of its initial value when powered by a nickel-hydride battery. Real-world tests addressing the effects of ambient temperature and air flow on the light output of an LED and INC cap lamp were conducted in the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Safety Research Coal Mine. The LED cap lamp yielded a vertical average illuminance improvement of approximately 9.5%, and the INC cap lamp yielded a vertical average illuminance degradation of approximately 4%. The differences between LED and INC cap lamps were further quantified by the calculation of ldquomesopic luminancerdquo data that indicated for the same photopic luminance (i.e., as measured using a conventional light meter) the LED cap lamp could be up to 38% more efficient than the INC cap lamp with a lead-acid battery at the end of the 10-h driving cycle. Lastl- - y, accelerated life tests were used to empirically determine light output depreciation as the INC light source age approached its useful life. There was about a 35% decrease in light output. This is quite considerable, particularly given that the light output will decrease an additional 30% to 45% over the period of a 10-h shift. The implications of the differences between LED and INC sources are discussed. This information is crucial in determining how visual performance could be affected for real-world conditions where batteries discharge during the work shift and as the light source ages. To date, only idealized conditions have been used for LED and INC cap lamp visual performance research.