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What are Lumens and Why You Should Care

What are Lumens

What are lumens? Knowing the answer to this question can help you find the right flashlight for the job.

When looking for the right tactical or adventure flashlight it is critical to know what you are getting and to make sure it will meet your needs.  Flashlights are often considered based on the lumen value of the light.  A common question when considering a high-performance flashlight is, what are lumens?

The simple answer is that lumens are a measure of the total amount of visible light (to the human eye) from a light source. The actual measure of the lumen is something called luminous flux.  Larger lumen values can translate into brightness, but it doesn’t have to.  Candela power is also an aspect of “brightness” when considering a flashlight’s illumination power and lumens.  Why these things are important is that they will determine the quality, length, and diffusion of light.  When a high lumen light is focused in a tight beam the light will appear bright to the user, when the light is diffused into a wide beam it will appear less bright.  While lumens are not officially a measure of illumination, for the purposes of most users lumens equate to the brightness qualities of the flashlight.

What are Lumens

A flashlight with high lumens in a concentrated beam can give you stand-off to identify threats at a greater distance.

When considering a high-performance flashlight it is important to think about how the light will be used and then find a light that provides the biggest area of illumination at the maximum distance you will need.  While most lights will give a maximum beam range, only about half of this range will provide good quality light for tactical purposes.  Consider half the maximum range as the light’s actual effective range.

As an example of possible planning considerations when selecting a flashlight, think about the type of tactical light you would need in a home security role.  First, identify the maximum effective range of your light as defined as the longest hallway or open line-of-sight area in your home.  Start looking for a light that has an official rating that is twice your longest distance.  The brightest light on the market may not be your best light in all situations; a light that is too bright in enclosed areas can be disorienting and reduce your situational awareness.  Find the right lumens and you will find the right flashlight for your needs.

What are Lumens

A flashlight that has too much illumination can cause light “splash-back” when used in close quarters. Find the right lumens for how you will use your light.

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