powerful arc-lights


Senior Member
Sandy stood up and Perez led him out. Usually it would have been quiet and dark. There were no street lights here, and Magnus’s house was still empty. But further south the men were working to get the road clear for the following day, and the powerful arc-lights threw strange shadows across the hill.
Source: Cold Earth by Ann Cleeves
Context: There has been a landslide in Ravenswick, causing chaos - the main road from Lerwick to Sumburgh Airport was closed and there were no roads to set up a diversion.

Are the powerful arc-lights similar to below search lights?


Thank you.
  • bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    I would expect the sorts of lights that crews working on roads would use at night, not searchlights, spotlights, or klieg lights. The lights are likely the sort intended to together illuminate a wide work area and have a correspondingly wide focus, not the narrow focus of a searchlight.


    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    The term "arc-light" means that the light is generated by an electrical arc within the bulb/lamp. Arc lamp - Wikipedia Such a bulb/lamp can be used in a variety of situations - a cinema projector, a search light (both narrow beams) or a floodlight (wide beam) - the last one being used to illuminate large areas, as in the quote.


    Senior Member
    English, U.S.
    As JulianStuart said, an "arc light" or "arc lamp" gets its light from an electric arc,
    which is a spark jumping from one electrode to another, rather than a glowing, solid filament.
    It is not necessarily the curved line that might be suggested by the word "arc".
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