I’m only human, what the hell is a lumen? - The Watts What of LED Flashlight Output Power

Author: Harry Nguyen   Date Posted:12 February 2019 

I’m only human, what the hell is a lumen? - The Watts What of LED Flashlight Output Power  main image

When we talk about the brightness of a torch, we often use lumens as an indicator. But what is a lumen? Lumen is the measure of the total output of a light source. Normally the higher the lumen is, the brighter the light source - well, kind of... 

One thing that is important is knowing the difference between Watts &Lumens. Watts are the measurement of how much electricity is being used to generate a certain amount of light. For a regular torch, you would need a lot of watts to generate a high level of lumen. However, with LED torches, you can still generate a great number of lumens without using too much electricity.  

Don’t let the number of lumens or watts printed on packaging deceive you. The advertised lumens indicate how much light is emitted from the LED diode or globe – it does not take into account the reduction that occurs when this light passes through lenses and diffusers (the glass lens on your torch that helps focus and adjust your beam). 

So how many lumens do I need? 

  • 10 – 20 Lumens: For close-up tasks, keeping on your keys, in the top-drawer for blackouts, or in your glovebox. The brightness from 10 – 20 lumens would be as bright as a candle. With just 2 AA batteries you can comfortably run a 10 lumens flashlight for an entire day. 

  • 100 – 150 Lumens: Standard for an average flashlight. It is enough for basic household and outdoor activities. 2 AA battery can provide up to 10 hours of run time depending on how bright your settings are. 

  • 160-500 Lumens: An ideal level of lumens for camping and hiking in the dark. It can cover up to 300 metres in beam length. For a torch at this level, look for a rechargeable Lithium Ion powered torch, standard alkaline batteries will get chewed up in a flash. 

  • 1000+ Lumens: These are professional high-end flash lights that are often used by professions or authorities. It can easily light up a bright area from a 500-700 metres distance away. These 1000+ lumens torches are great for taking outdoors, although they are a bit too large to take hiking, they are great if you just want to show off to your mates!

LedLenser is known for manufacturing incredible torches that are suitable for all occasions. If you are after a regular flashlight that is capable of household and usual outdoor activities, a P14 Led Lenser with max 600 lumens wouldn’t be a bad choice. 

For some of you who are after a big and bold flashlight for more serious outdoor tasks then a P7R with 1000 lumens is something you wouldn’t want to miss out on. The light distance and area of effect is not easily comparable. 

For a seriously powerful flashlight, check out the brand new i18R – a rechargeable LED flashlight with 3000 Lumens of power! Great for taking 4WD’ing or fishing. 

Rather keep your hands free? Check out our range of Headtorches, we have models ranging from a few hundred lumens, up to 3000+. 

What factors can affect your lumens output? 

Like any other products, external environmental factors can have an impact on their performance. For instance, if you are using your torch in a thick mist then the level of brightness or its area of the beam would be reduced. Similarly, in extreme temperatures, the effectiveness of certain batteries can be limited, so don’t expect your flashlight to give you maximum power if you are trekking in the snow or leave it in a hot car for a day. 

Most importantly, the main thing people get caught up in is searching online or checking out eBay for the torch with the highest advertised Lumens. As we have mentioned, lumens are the amount of light being produced by the globe or LED diode, the reflector or lenses the torch used to focus that light does decrease that output – usually with the cheaper flashlights using plastic or low-grade lenses the worst off. For instance, a torch can have 10,000 lumens at the diode, but when the light travels through the diffuser and lenses, it could decrease to just 2000. 

Not only that, cheap lenses aren’t able to focus the LED’s light effectively – in order for a flashlight to give you a proper beam, the lens needs to focus that beam in a unified beam. Check out the following video from our friends over at LedLenser Australia, showcasing the difference between a LedLenser torch and another brand claiming to have more lumens! 

As always, please feel free to get in touch with us with any feedback you have on our blog, or any followup questions! 


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