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Comparing Manual Radbolt Generator and Radlamp


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So the Manual Radbolt Generator converts 1 kg of Uranium Ore into 5 radbolts. It also takes 40 seconds of duplicant time modified by lit workspace and machinery attribute. Overall 1 radbolt requires 200 g of uranium and 8 seconds of duplicant labor, down to about 3 seconds with high machinery and lit workspace.

The Radlamp consumes 16.67 g/s of uranium ore and in the most intense tile generates 720 rads, this permits producing 72 radbolts/cycle or 1 radbolt  every 8.33 seconds. Overall 1 radbolt requires 138 g of uranium and 4.5 kJ of energy. The next most intense tile generate 675 rads, and if we used two Radbolt Generators the conversion improves to 1 radbolt = 72 g of uranium and 4.4 kJ of energy (the energy per radbolt is reduced because the lamp is a constant 60 W and sharing that wattage over two generators has a larger impact than the very slightly reduced efficiency of the second generator). While it's a bit of a dumb comparison, a Manual Generator requires 11.25 seconds to generate 4.5 kJ of energy, so if for some reason you were limited to hamster wheels then the Manual Radbolt Generator would be more dupe-time efficient particularly if you had high machinery attribute: in reality of course, you probably have labor-free power generators.

So the radlamp is more efficient at converting Uranium Ore into radbolts, even when using only 1 Radbolt Generator and much more if using 2. In fact you can use even more Radbolt Generators with only a slight increase in energy consumption if you wish to conserve ore, provided of course that whatever is receiving the radbolts can accommodate the burstier nature of multiple Generators firing in quick succession.

For what it's worth: if you use two Radlamps, the most intense pairs of tiles become 1181 rads, 1103 rads and 1024 rads. This permits a 64% increase in radbolts per second and (almost) per energy, but at a 2x uranium ore usage. In principle you could use 4, 6 or more Radbolt Generators to conserve uranium ore, and this doesn't meaningfully increase energy per radbolt, it just places a larger load on the generators for the duration that you are generating radbolts.

What about enriched uranium:

When enriched uranium is used in the Manual Radbolt Generator the radbolt production is increased 5x which is an enormous increase in radbolt output, though you need 5 units of uranium ore to produce 1 unit of enriched uranium via the Centrifuge.

If however you are getting your enriched uranium from Beetas (like you have access to a uranium biome rather than just getting some from a geode) then the manual radbolt generator actually looks extremely good as Beetas convert uranium ore into enriched uranium at very high efficiency and without requiring any dupe labor except the final harvesting, so you'll get far more radbolts per uranium ore out of the manual generator, beating most radlamp setups in uranium efficiency, and at quite a high labor efficiency and basically zero power.

Practicalities
The manual radbolt generator can not be automated via the usual channels, this means if you want to automatically regulate its output, you need to resort to tricks such as building it on a Mechanical Airlock that gets open/closed by automation to enable and disable the Manual Radbolt Generator.

In my experience, after the dupe has finished a radbolt task, they stand still for long enough to NOT get hit by a radbolt aimed diagonally down.

Annoyingly because the manual generator, when fed Enriched Uranium, produces exactly 25 radbolts, but because of decay only about 24.9 radbolts arrive at the receiver, so if firing it directly into a Materials Studies Terminal, 4 firings will put 99 radbolts in storage, and it'll fire a 5th time to fill it to 100 radbolts. With Manual Generators you can set them to fire 51 radbolts to avoid this annoyance. There are of course workarounds that make the setup more complicated, but this is something I'd really hope to see a fix for from the devs by fudging the numbers a little so that 4 firings at close to point blank range actually put 100 radbolts into a receiver because these kind of "off by 0.01" issues are extremely unsatisfying in video games.

Just the TL;DR

The Manual Radbolt Generator is basically crap when fed Uranium Ore, and a Radlamp + Radbolt Generator setup is much more efficient at converting uranium ore into radbolts, there is no energy efficiency penalty for using two Radbolt Generators in terms of joules to radbolts, it just puts more strain on the power grid.

This reverses if you can get enriched uranium from Beetas, in this case the Manual Radbolt Generator actually looks much better than the Radbolt Generator unless you value duplicant labor particularly much, though it does have a few automation annoyances.

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I like your analysis, but you focus your analysis mostly on uranium consumption.

My main difficulty early game is not the radiation, but getting the power to feed the RG continuously. So for me, the manual generator win's big time for the first few research items. Then, once power permits, RG's win out for the reasons you point out.

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