Buying a new flashlight, headlamp or lantern these days can be confusing at best. The problem is that there has not been any standardization in the reporting of performance standards of lights from the many manufacturers in the market. A variety of terms such as wattage, candlepower and lumens have been used to measure light output and the method of measuring battery run time was not standardized. This made it nearly impossible to compare features of products produced by different manufacturers. To help alleviate the confusion, a group of the leading companies in the industry joined together to create a new standard of specifications for the portable lighting industry. The resulting ANSI FL1 flashlight standards spell out very specific methods of testing for each feature under controlled laboratory conditions, and will ensure that any light produced by any manufacturer that has adopted the standards can be easily compared for performance and features. Below is a set of icons that participating manufacturers will be using on their packaging and marketing materials along with a description of each specification that each one symbolizes.
Light output – Total light output measured in lumens. Lumens has become the most commonly used unit of measure for total light output in portable lighting devices such as flashlights, headlamps and lanterns. Wattage, on the other hand, is a measurement of power consumption, not light output. With today’s super efficient LED technology, it’s very possible to have a 1 watt LED flashlight with a greater light output than another flashlight with a higher wattage rating, particularly if the higher wattage light source is less efficient. (more…)