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Range of a flashlight

The maximum beam distance of a flashlight: you must have seen it on the packaging or with the product on the website. But how realistic is this indication? Will a flashlight with a maximum beam distance of 300 metres also shine that far?

What is the reach of a flashlight?

If you want to know how far a lamp shines, you must first define what the minimum light output is for you to still see anything. The light of a torch shines endlessly far but it becomes progressively weaker.

According to the ANSI standard for torches the minimum quantity of light to still be able to see something is 0.25 lux. On that basis, many manufacturers, including Fenix, currently indicate how far a torch shines. Check that it indicates whether the ANSI standard is applied.

Regarding the indication: 0.25 Lux is very little light. In clear weather you can distinguish contrasting objects like a black door in a white building perfectly at 0.25 lux, but in less contrasting environments you need more light and if the weather is misty the range of a torch is limited anyway.

Regarding the ANSI indication: one quarter of the indicated distance is a more realistic distance (you then have some 4 Lux light output). For the PD32 that was the subject of this question, it is approximately 35 metres.

What exactly is Lux?

In short: Lux is a term that is used for the strength of the light that hits a surface. Like on a wall or floor. 1 Lux is approx. the light intensity of one candle located 1 metres away. You can add up lux! Suppose that 1 candle produces 1 Lux at a 1-metre distance, then 2 candles will produce 2 lux at a 1-metre distance.

Light intensity of a flashlight and the ANSI norm

For the ANSI norm we came to the following conclusion after testing multiple flashlights: a quarter of the listed distance is a more realistic, accurate distance. That is when, on average, you have approx. 2 to 4 Lux of light intensity. The intensity is in this case enough to clearly see what you are lighting up. For a flashlight with a beam distance of 300 metres, this is approx. 75 metres. And for a flashlight with a beam distance of 800 metres this is 200 metres.

Difference flashlight with a large beam distance and one with a broad beam distance

The beam distance of a flashlight does not always say a lot about the quality of a flashlight. A higher amount of metres sounds better. But there are also different types of beams for different purposes.

A flashlight with a large beam distance shines far. This flashlight has a focused, narrow beam.Designed for long-range illumination. With it you purposefully illuminate any object, to make sure you can see the situation from afar. Perfect for search ops.

A flashlight with a broad beam distance has a broad beam. With it you light up a wider area at a close range. Great if you want to light up your entire field of view. During walks or when camping, for instance. You do, however, have to compromise when it comes to the beam distance. But this does not have to be an issue if you don't prefer it.

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