Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Understanding a flashlight’s beam strength and length

When choosing a tactical flashlight, it’s common for people to be attracted to the variety of features offered by manufacturers of high-end flashlights. The look of a tactical flashlight can be a powerful marketing tool, but when it comes time to put cash down on the counter, most people realise that functionality is far more important than extras and appearance when it comes to making a wise investment.

Most people are concerned with two things – other than price — when deciding what flashlight to purchase: How much light the flashlight will generate and how far the beam will reach.

Light output is measured in lumens. Beam length is measured in metres.

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When Evaluating Beam Strength…

As mentioned, beam length is measured in lumens, but what is a lumen? The practical definition involves the use of a birthday candle. If you held a birthday candle 30cm away from your face, the light generated by that birthday candle would be equal to one lumen. This definition is a little easier to relate to for most people.

A flashlight with a 20 lumen output is suitable for reading a book. A flashlight with a 60 lumen output is perfect for lighting a dark trail. In most cases, a 100 lumens is all you will need for most purposes (police officers flashlights typically have a minimum output of 90 lumens). Anything above 100 is normally only necessary for a search and rescue situation – it’s a nice option to have, but isn’t necessary for daily use.

When Evaluating Beam Length…

Beam length is measured in meters, but it is more involved that just marking the very last point where the light is still visible. Beam length is marked at the point that the light emitted is equal to that of the light generated by a full moon on a cloudless night. There may be multiple beam lengths listed as flashlights with variable lumen output can have multiple beam lengths. In most cases, a beam length of 50-100 meters is more than adequate. Anything greater – like a 400m beam length – is normally only useful during search and rescue operations.

Make sure you understand a flashlights beam length and strength before investing in a tactical flashlight.

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