Shopping for a quality LED flashlight can be difficult. If you’re going to lay down money for a decent torch, you want to make sure you’re getting the best value for your buck. Yet it’s difficult to cut through the clamor of manufacturers’ packaging claims and narrow down which LED flashlights truly do deliver on their promises.
Fortunately, many LED flashlight manufacturers have chosen to adopt the American National Standards Institute’s FL1 Standards for flashlights. These voluntary standards were developed in 2009 to give consumers an accurate and objective basis for comparing different flashlight models. With easy-to-read logos displayed prominently on the flashlights’ packaging, the FL1 Standards allow you to quickly and easily compare flashlights based on several key features.
Here’s a look at what you should know about the most commonly considered FL1 Standards when shopping for an LED flashlight:
Brightness is the first thing most people look for when shopping for LED flashlights. Measured in lumens, the light output standard roughly indicates how much light a flashlight will produce at its brightest setting. Keep in mind, however, that a flashlight’s lumen rating says nothing about how well focused or usable the light is; a quality flashlight depends on its optics system to gather that light and focus it into a functional beam.
It’s one thing to shine your LED flashlight on the path in front of you; it’s quite another to shine it into the woods and illuminate a tree several hundred feet away. Beam distance refers to the distance from which your flashlight can usefully light up an object. This standard is an important one to consider if your outdoor activities require an especially penetrating beam – search and rescue is one example of such an application.
An LED flashlight’s run time indicates how long it will function on a single set of batteries. When comparing flashlight run times, keep in mind that LED flashlights that have multiple settings are typically measured using the brightest setting; you can often eke out more battery life than advertised by using a dimmer setting.
Peak beam intensity.
This refers to the intensity of the flashlight’s beam at its brightest point, or hot spot. An LED flashlight’s peak beam intensity is affected by both its light output and the quality of its optics system.
For a more thorough exploration of the FL1 Standards, read our LED flashlight buyer’s guide.