There are many types flashlight models available, each with different sze, styles, and brightness. When looking for a new flashlignt, one of the questions you ask is how many lumens do I need for a flashlight? The simple answer is that it all depends on your situation. How will you use the flashlight, where you will use one, and your preferences.
Here we will explain more about the recommended flashlight brightness which is useful for different kinds of activities. From here you will understand how many lumens for a good flashlight is sufficient based on your needs.
What are Lumens in a Flashlight
Brightness rating in a flashlight is known as lumens. A lumen is a unit of measure of the total output from a flashlight. The higher the lumen rating of a flashlight, the more light comes out, which means the brighter the flashlight is. You will find the lumen rating of a flashlight by reading the packaging or checking the specifications. It will tell the minimum and maximum amount of light the flashlight can produce.
How Many Lumens for a Good Flashlight?
Flashlight technology is rapidly changing. In the past, flashlights had incandescent bulbs and 65 lumens was bright enough, and often used in EDC and tactical flashlights back in the day. For flashlight enthusiasts, do you remember SureFire 6P?
Keep in mind that high output flashlights are not always the best. There are cases wherein low lumens are ideal for certain activities.
Bright flashlights are ideally used situations wherein illuminating a large area is necessary. Such as when lighting a large room, working in large industrial environments, or going outdoors.
Low lumen flashlights are useful in situations wherein a small amount of light is needed so as not to disrupt night vision, or disturb others with a bright light. Common examples are looking at maps, reading at night when outdoors, or checking up on kids while they sleep. Another advantage of low lumens is for extending battery life and useful for survival situations where a little light for a long time is preferred.
How Many Lumens Do I Need for a Flashlight
Let us now go through the common lumen ration found in most flashlights and the recommended activites where they are useful.
0.01-3 lumens (Close up Work)
This ultra-low lumen is the lowest of the low when it comes to flashlight brightness (if you can even consider it bright). Commonly referred to as moonlight mode or firefly mode, this feature is useful to preserve your night vision, once your eyes are already adjusted to the darkness. Avoids glare when doing illuminating near objects and ideal for close up work in the dark. The sub-lumen levels shines when there are no light pollution. Moonlight mode consumes less power resulting in extra long runtimes for a flashlight. Zebralight is a well known flashlight company that makes excellent flashlights that features ultra-low lumens.
3-100 lumens (Reading/Basic Household)
If you need a flashlight for basic lighting needs or everyday tasks, 1-100 lumen range is good enough. Between 3-20 lumens is the domain of most cheap flashlights or smaller micro sized keychain flashlights. The lower range is typically useful for keychain lights and comes in handy when looking for keys or finding stuff in your purse.
This brightness level also covers the range required for reading at night. Now, how many lumens for reading? Book lights are typically between 10 to 35 lumens and this is sufficent enough so as not to cause any difficulties. This level of brightness is not too much to disrupt your vision in the dark, and works well when doing close up work.
100-200 lumens (General Household/Walking/Running/Basic EDC)
This lumen range works well for general household or some outdoor activities. Bright enought to see things further away compared to the previous lumen range. Good for urban and suburban use, like scanning the road for hazards, searching the garage, checking the backyard at night, or for walking around your neighborhood.
200-500 lumens (Everyday Carry/Outdoors/Camping)
If you are looking for a flashlight suitable for outdoor use, lumens starting from this range will be ideal. It is bright enough for camping, fishing, sailing, hiking, hunting, and for security work and tactical use. There are plenty of everyday carry flashlights to choose from with this brightness level.
500-1000 lumens (Everyday Carry/Outdoors/Work)
For more serious illumination needs, a flashlight within these range will be great to have. These flashlights lights up an entire room and capable of longer beam distances. The additional power makes it useful for activities that require plenty of light, like cave exploration, hiking, or for industrial use. You can use these flashlights as EDC lights and bring it with your for nightly walks, running, or camping. Flashlights in this range is already within ‘tactical’ territory and useful for self-defence by temporarily blinding or disorienting an attacker. Flashlights for mechanics typically fall under this range. A well-lit workspace is necessary as it allows you to see everything and spot any problems without difficulty.
1000-2000 lumens (Tactical/Hunting/Law enforcement)
For most handheld flashlights anything within this range are powerful enough. It comes useful for lighting up large areas, exploring, working in construction sites, or for self-defense and tactical use. These lights allows you to lighten up a wider area at night so it is good to carry around a flashlight like this when trekking.
3000+ lumens (Military/Search and Rescue)
What is a high lumen flashlight? High lumen flashlights are those that are able to emit more than 3000+ lumens. They are also known as monster flashlights or super bright flashlights. High lumen flashlights are excellent for large area exploration and search and rescue operations. Professional law enforcement agencies, emergency services, and the military typically prefers flashlights with these kinds of specifications. It is the bare minimum for search and rescue and emergency work, and this kind of power requires larger battery capacity and good thermal management.
How many lumens for a good flashlight will eventually depend on your needs. Use the recommendations here as a guide to help you when choosing a flashlight with the appropriate lumens for your tasks. Higher lumen flashlights are typically larger as they need a bigger and better power source. When choosing a flashlight, do not base your decision based on lumens alone. There are other factors to consider like runtime, battery life, beam pattern, and beam throw distance.
It is important to know that most flashlights will have different brightness levels, so you can select from at least two or three settings. The flashlight’s low, medium, and high setting should cover the range of lumens you need. An example of a flashlight specification with a range of lumens is: Low: 1 lumen, 90 hrs, Medium: 30 lumens, 5 hrs, High: 125 lumens, 1.1 hrs Max: 210 lumens, 1 hr. This effectively give you four level of brightness ranging from 1 lumen moonlight mode, up to 210 lumens along with the corresponding runtimes. Therefore, this specification makes it ideal as a basic EDC flashlight.
Choose a usable range for your needs and this should basically make it simple when choosing how many lumens do you need for a flashlight.