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Home tools Buyer's Guides from tech enthusiast who loves technology and clever solutions for better living.
Home tools Buyer's Guides from tech enthusiast who loves technology and clever solutions for better living.
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After lumens, the next concept you’ll want to understand is color temperature. Measured on the Kelvin scale, color temperature isn’t really a measure of heat. Instead, it’s a measure of the color that a light source produces, ranging from yellow on the low end of the scale to bluish on the high end, with whitish light in the middle.
An easy way to keep track of color temperature is to think of a flame: it starts out yellow and orange, but when it gets really hot, it turns blue. You could also think of color temperature in terms of the sun — low, yellowy color temperatures mimic the tone of light at sunrise or sunset, while hotter, more bluish-white color temperatures are more akin to daylight (sure enough, bulbs with color temperatures like these are commonly called “daylight” bulbs). This is also why a lot of people prefer high color temperatures during the day and lower color temperatures in the morning and evening.
Generally speaking, incandescents sit at the bottom of the scale with their yellow light, while CFLs and LEDs have long been thought to tend toward the high, bluish end of the spectrum. This has been a steady complaint about new lighting alternatives, as many people prefer the warm, familiar, low color temperature of incandescents. Manufacturers are listening, though, and in this case they heard consumers loud and clear, with more and more low-color-temperature CFL and LED options hitting the shelves. Don’t believe me? Take another look at those two paper lamps in the picture above, because they’re both CFL bulbs — from the same manufacturer, no less.
Sylvania often color codes its packaging. Blue indicates a hot, bluish color temperature, while the lighter shade indicates a white, more neutral light.
As you’re probably aware, light bulbs come in a fairly wide variety of shapes. Sure, it’s easy enough to tell a hardware store clerk that you want “one of those flamey-looking lights,” or “just a normal ol’ bulby light bulb,” but knowing the actual nomenclature might save you some time.
Are pricey candelabra LEDs a smart upgrade for your chandelier?
Let’s start with the base of the bulb, the part that screws in. In the US, the most common shape by far is E26, with the “E” standing for Edison and the “26” referring to the diameter of the base in millimeters. You might also see E2bulbs from time to time, which is the European standard. Those should still fit into common American fixtures, but keep in mind that voltage ratings are different in the two regions, with American bulbs rated for 120 volts compared to 220-240 volts in Europe. For smaller sockets, like you might find with a candelabra, you’ll want to look for an E1base.
As for the bulb itself, the typical shape that you’re probably used to is an A1bulb. Increase that number to A2or A23, and you’ve got the same shape, but bigger. Bulbs made to resemble flames are F-shaped, which is easy enough to remember, as are globes, which go by the letter G. If it’s a floodlight you want, you’ll want to look for “BR” (bulging reflector) or “PAR” (parabolic aluminized reflector). Those bulbs are designed to throw all their light in one direction only, which makes them useful for spot lighting, overhead lighting and the headlights in your car.
Your automated-lighting options
It used to be that if you wanted your lights to turn on and off automatically, then you had to rely on a cheap wall socket timer, the kind you might use to control a Christmas tree. These days, with a modest boom in smart lighting currently under way, it’s easier than ever to dive into the sort of advanced automation controls that can make any home feel modern and futuristic. Use the right devices, and you’ll be able to control your lights in all sorts of creative ways, and make your life a little bit easier in the process.
The most obvious way to get started with smart lighting is with the bulbs themselves. You’ve got plenty of intelligent options from brands both big and small, and to find the one that’s best for you, you’re going to need to understand what sets them apart.
Connect with these 3IFTTT-friendly smart devices (pictures)
The first thing to look at is how the bulbs communicate with you. Some offer direct connections with your smart phone via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, which makes setup as simple as screwing the thing in and following in-app pairing instructions.
Others transmit using a distinct frequency like ZigBee or Z-Wave. Bulbs like those might be a better fit for bigger smart home setups, as it’s typically a little easier to sync them up with things like motion detectors and smart locks. Setup can be slightly more advanced, as you’ll need a separate hub or gateway device capable of translating that distinct frequency into a Wi-Fi signal your router can comprehend.
Some smart bulbs come with their own gateway. Others, like the Cree Connected LED, require a third-party control device, like the Wink Hub.
If you’re looking for a little more color in your life, then be sure and take a look at a product like the Philips Hue Starter Kit. Aside from being fully automatable via a mobile app and control hub, the Hue LED bulbs are capable of on-demand color changes. Just pull out your phone, select one of millions of possible shades, and the light will match it. And if you’re into voice control, Hue bulbs hit the compatibility trifecta — they’ll work with Siri, Alexa, and the Google Assistant.
Because Philips opened its lighting controls to third-party developers, you’ll also find lots of fun novelty uses for Hue bulbs, like changing the color of your lights in rhythm with whatever music you’re playing. There’s even an app that’ll sync your Hue lights up with certain TV programming.
Hue lights are also directly compatible with the popular web service IFTTT, with recipes already available that will change the color of your lights to match the weather, or to signal a touchdown from your favorite football team, or even to indicate when your stocks are doing well.
Light bulb technology
There are three types of light bulb currently available: LED are the most efficient, followed by CFL and then halogen.
Halogen bulbs are being phased out from September 2016, starting with directional bulbs (spotlights) and followed by non-directional bulbs in 2018.
LEDs have a much longer lifespan than other bulbs and are now more affordable, but they are less suited to dimmers. It’s worth checking if the bulb is dimmable before purchasing.
Colour temperature is measured in Kelvins and can help to create different moods around the home. Bulbs with a low Kelvin rating (around 2700K) produce a warm, yellowish light, perfect for relaxing and unwinding, while bulbs with a higher Kelvin rating (over 5000K) omit a cool, bluish colour which is ideal for task-based activities.
Dining room lighting
Pendant lights shine light down onto the table, drawing attention to the main focus of the room. Lights hung in a cluster or a chandelier fitting can really make an impact in your dining area.
Additional floor lamps or wall lights are ideal for entertaining as they provide softer, atmospheric lighting.
A ceiling light provides bright lighting for the whole room while desk lamps or positioned spotlights offer directional light for reading and studying.
Consider an illuminated mirror for applying make-up, these mimic natural light for application accuracy.
Use spotlights to illuminate the inside of a wardrobe to make it easier to see into a dark space.
Children’s bedroom lighting
This lighting should be bright and functional for playing. Celling lights provide good general lighting while table lamps or night lights offer a softer glow in the evening.
A desk lamp is an ideal choice for homework and studying.
Many of our table lamps have a fully encased light bulb to prevent little fingers from touching the hot surface.
Bathroom lights require additional protection from water and moisture, this is indicated by an IP (ingress protection) rating. All bathroom lights need a minimum IP4rating to comply with British wiring regulations.
Bathrooms have three safety ‘zones’ – 0, and These zones are identified by their likely contact with water and determine what type of light you can use in that area.
Only light fittings with a suitable IP rating can be used in a specific zone. Argos’ bathroom lights should only be used in zones and in the bathroom, but can also be used in other areas of the house too.
Zone 0: the inside of the bath or shower (IP6and 12V SELV recommended)
Zone 1: the area directly around the bath or shower, up to a height of 2.25m above the floor and at a radius of 1.2m from the water outlet (IP6recommended)
Zone 2: 60cm wide and covers areas next to and around zone 1(IP4recommended)
The light switch should be a pull cord inside the bathroom or a regular light switch outside.
You’ll need a good level of light from ceiling lights for food preparation and cooking in the kitchen area.
Light fittings which have moveable spotlights allow you to angle light on areas which need additional illumination, such as a worktop, sink or oven. Under cabinet spotlights can also provide extra light for tasks like chopping.
Kitchen areas are also subject to lighting safety ‘zone’ legislation but this is only applicable to the area directly above the sink. This is classified as zone and therefore an IP rating of 4is required.
Table, floor and pendant lights usually always require a lamp shade and this is where you can experiment with colour, pattern or texture. Along with traditional fabric shades, glass, metal and natural fibres like wicker are stylish choices.
Switches and dimmers
These have single, double or triple switch buttons and are usually made from metal or plastic. Switch plate finishes include chrome effect, brushed steel, nickel effect and white. Dimmer switches control the brightness of your light, either by touch, a rotating switch, or remotely through a smart phone.
Effective lighting for your video is all a matter of taste. Being able to look critically at your shot will indicate the areas that could use some supplemental lighting. With a little experimentation and muscle memory, this entire process will become quicker and easier with time.
Here are some things to work on as you develop your lighting instincts.
Before you even open a light stand, it’s important to select a location to film and roughly find your shot. Ask a friend to stand in, then walk around with a camera and a few lenses to choose your shot location. As you’re finding that perfect shot, consider the ambient light that comes with it. I dub this pose the Dan Mills Blue Steel:
Avoid shooting under overhead lighting. This type of lighting creates “raccoon eye” shadowing, which isn’t very flattering. Moving your talent over even a foot can often make a huge difference in the nasty shadows cast from overhead lights.
Natural light from windows or overhead lights can be a blessing and a curse. We embrace the natural light that pours into the Wistia office. But when we’re in the studio using our seamless paper background, we block out all natural light with blackout roller shades. This gives us the maximum amount of control over where exactly the light falls on the scene. If you’re in a pinch and need to block out light, pick up a roll of black plastic and some gaffer’s tape and cover the window! Just beware of any fire code restrictions.
For business video, I think it looks best to use flat lighting that eliminates shadows on the face.
Dramatic lighting with harsh shadows tells a far different story than flat lighting. Flat lighting takes away the drama and lets the viewer know that there are no dark secrets lurking in the shadows of someone’s face. It also makes them look less like a zombie.
This one is pretty simple. The larger the light source, the softer the light. The softer the light, the more flattering the result.
Look at the size of the light source on the ring light! The size of the bulb is the very thing that makes this light so soft and flattering.
No one watching your video will know (or care) what you used to light your video. Before I geek out on the gear we use here at Wistia, keep this detail in mind: in my opinion, effective lighting for your video is more about taste than owning the right equipment.
Another huge factor that contributes to our lighting gear selection is intimidation. For someone who isn’t an actor, stepping under the lights is no joke.
Traditionally, video lights are blindingly bright. They’re hot. And they’re intimidating. But alas! We’re in a brave new world. The lights we choose to work with are none of these things! We prioritize making video shoots as comfortable as possible so people can be themselves.
We use LED and fluorescent lights that are cool to the touch. These lights inherently require less power and as a result, don’t throw off as much heat. Combined with the fact that we use DSLR cameras that perform extremely well in low-light situations, we don’t need to blind our subjects by flooding them with crazy bright lights.
Fluorescent Soft Lights
These fluorescent lights have seen quite a bit of action in our office. We have two of these daylight balanced, dimmable Cool Lights set up all the time in the studio. The Cool Lights are very similar to the Kino-Flo Diva Lights, the gold standard in soft fluorescent lighting. The difference here is that they’re significantly cheaper.
The Cool Lights feature daylight-balanced bulbs that combine into one large light source and produce a soft, flattering light. They’re dimmable, which makes them versatile. They’re great for flooding light on a group of people, but equally as great dimmed down to light a single subject.
LED Ice Lights
This light wand is incredibly versatile – it even doubles as a lightsaber! The Westcott Ice Light produces a really flattering light that is pretty dang soft. It’s daylight balanced, dimmable, and runs on battery power.
If you buy two of these lights, they can combine to make an amazingly powerful, portable light kit. When we traveled to Atlanta to film a customer story, we screwed two Ice Lights on light stands to light our interview. This allowed us to keep our travel gear to a bare minimum.
We use the Diva Ring Light from Stellar Lighting. It’s daylight balanced, it’s dimmable, it’s awesome. We tried to say it all in this video:
Because the bulb is so huge, it produces a brilliantly soft, flattering light. When used for its intended purpose, the ring light kills all shadows on your talent’s face and makes everyone look like a rock star.
Beware of using the ring light with people who wear glasses. The reflection and glare can be pretty distracting. While this is an awesome effect for a music video, it can draw attention away from your message in other instances.
The Westcott Skylux is bright. It’s the equivalent to 1000W incandescent light, but it’s daylight balanced and dimmable.
The Skylux is a very harsh light without any type of diffusion, but this is an effect you can embrace as long as you don’t mind some shadows behind your subject. I loved having this light when I was trying to recreate this beach scene inside of Wistia HQ.
Use the lights you already have
The best light to use for a shot is often the most convenient light.
The ring light is the ultimate embodiment of Lighting on the Fly. I can’t tell you the last time we used the ring light the way it was intended to be used. Instead, we use the ring light for our Mod Minute series. It’s a convenient fill light for shooting groups. It’s the most accessible (and possibly the most used) light in our entire office, because it’s usually set up in the corner of the studio on a stand with an extension cord plugged into it so it’s easy to grab at any time.
The same concept applies to all of our other lights. When you shift from seeing a ringlight and seeing it as a light source, you instantly open up a plethora of available lighting options. So be scrappy and get crazy with the lights you have!
LED vs. CFL vs. Halogen
Now that most incandescent lightbulbs are pretty much a thing of the past, consumers now must choose between LED (light-emitting diode), CFL (compact fluorescent), and halogen bulbs to light their homes. But which is the best option? It all depends on your needs. We’ll take you through the various kinds of lighting, and the benefits that each offers.
LEDs vs. Incandescent Bulbs
Traditional incandescent bulbs measured their brightness in watts; if you wanted a brighter bulb, you bought one with a higher wattage. However, with the advent of LEDs and other types of lighting, that yardstick has become meaningless, and as a result, a bulb’s brightness is now listed as lumens, which is a more accurate measurement of how bright it is, rather than how much energy it consumes. Below is a conversion table which shows how much energy, in watts, an incandescent bulb and an LED typically require to produce the same amount of light.
Other Lightbulb Alternatives
EISA will also stop the manufacturing of candle-and globe-shaped 60-watt incandescent bulbs (the types used in chandeliers and bathroom vanity light fixtures). However, the law doesn’t affect 40-watt versions of those bulbs, nor three-way (50 to 100 to 150-watt) incandescent A1bulbs. So, those will continue to be an option for you, as well, in fixtures that will accommodate them.
LED Lightbulb Options
Traditional bulbs for table and floor lamps are known by their lighting industry style name “A19,”while floodlight bulbs made for track lights and in-ceiling fixtures are dubbed “BR30.” Your best long-term alternative to either style is extremely energy-efficient LED technology.
The LED equivalent of a 60-watt A1bulb consumes only between and 1watts, and provides about the same light output, measured in lumens. A 40-watt equivalent LED bulb consumes only to 8.watts. And a 65-watt BR30 (floodlight) replacement LED bulb consumes only to 1watts.
Moreover, an LED bulb’s lifespan is practically infinite. Manufacturers typically estimate a bulb’s lifespan based on three hours of use per day. By that measurement, an LED bulb will be as good as new for at least a decade, manufacturers say. Under the same conditions, an old-fashioned lightbulb may work for only about a year before burning out.
For example, GE’s equivalent LED bulb has a rated lifetime of 15,000 hours or 13.years. Philips’ equivalent LED bulb has a rated lifetime of 10,000 hours or 9.1years.
LED bulbs will continue to light up even after their rated lifetimes expire; however, brightness may drop or the color cast of the light may change.
GE, Philips, Sylvania, Cree and other brands (including IKEA) all offer LED bulbs that output the most popular “soft white” light, at retailers including Home Depot, Target and Walmart. In addition, GE ‘s Reveal lineup of color-enhancing lightbulbs (a coating filters out yellow tones to enhance colors lit by the bulb) with LED replacements equivalent to 40-watt and 60-watt A1bulbs and to a 65-watt BR30 bulb.
IKEA Tradfri Gateway Kit
Even IKEA is getting into the smart lighting game. Its Tradfri line includes several bulb types, including an A2(essentially an A19), GU10, as well as a remote control, dimming switch, and a motion sensor. These bulbs also require a gateway hub to connect to your smartphone via Wi-Fi. While they currently do not work with any other smart home system, Ikea announced that the lights will work with Alexa, Google Home, and HomeKit by the fall. Not all of the Tradfri lights are available online, so you’ll have to go to an IKEA store for some; be sure to stock up on Swedish meatballs while you’re there.
Incandescent light bulbs produce little glare, enhance color definition, and provide a uniform level of light throughout their lifespan. That lifespan, however, is relatively short — only about 200-1200. Incandescent bulbs are well-suited to ambient lighting applications, but for most task lighting purposes, incandescent lighting is less than ideal.
Halogen light bulbs give off bright, crisp lighting that eliminates shadows and reduces glare and eystrain. Thus, halogen lamps are excellent for task lights. Halogen bulbs also work well for general lighting, thanks to their 1000-2000 hour lifespan and energy-efficient nature.
Fluorescent lights are very efficient, brighter than incandescent lighting, and operate in a cooler range of colors than incandescent. Very useful for task lighting, fluorescent bulbs last up to 10,000 hours, but have their own drawbacks. They tend to be more expensive than incandescent bulbs, and most require a bit of time to warm up before they reach their maximum light output. You can tell a fluorescent bulb is nearing the end of its lifespan when it begins to flicker or dim.
Full spectrum lighting produces the brightest, whitest light. Designed to emulate natural sunlight as closely as possible, full-spectrum lamps are incredibly well-suited to task lighting applications, thanks to the lack of glare and resultant lack of eye strain. Full spectrum light bulbs are designed for optimum energy efficiency, and last up to 10,000 hours.
Energy Efficient Desk Lamps
Energy consumption is a big concern these days, and with specially-designed energy-efficient lamps, you can do your part to minimize your impact. These models are becoming more and more prevalent, so whether you’re looking for general or task lighting, chances are you’ll be able to find something with a low energy draw.
Three-Way Incandescent/Fluorescent Clamp-On Lamp, 40″ Reach, White
Halogen bulbs are really just incandescent bulbs that have a little halogen gas trapped inside with the filament. Like incandescents, halogens emit light because the electricity heats the tungsten filament until it is white hot, at which point it emits light.
The main difference is the halogen – it helps recycle burned-up tungsten gas, making the bulb use electricity in a slightly more efficient manner.
Halogen bulbs are not considered hazardous in the same way that CFLs are.
They use up to 25-30% less energy than incandescent bulbs, and have an estimated lifespan of 3,000-4,000 hours.
They are fully dimmable, just like incandescents. And unlike CFLs, they brighten instantly. Halogens are great for reading and task lighting, as the bright light can help reduce eye strain.
They’re also fantastic for display lighting – the white light, when focused on a point, makes colors appear more vibrant and helps highlight artwork, photos, and architectural details.
Halogen lights can also be used outdoors, and make great addition to floodlight and security light fixtures.
When you picture a light bulb, you’re most likely thinking of a traditional incandescent. A tungsten filament is enclosed in glass. Electricity heats the filament until it glows, and you have light.
Unfortunately, the bulb has to create a lot of heat in order to produce light, which is why it is a much less efficient energy user than halogens, CFLs, and LEDs.
In terms of up-front costs, these bulbs are generally the most cost effective. However, they use the most energy out of all of the basic bulbs, which costs more in the long run.
If you’ve had incandescent bulbs for any period of time, you may be used to looking for bulbs based on watts. With more efficient options on the market, you should really be looking for lumens.
Watts are the measurement of power a light bulb uses. 40 watts means that bulb is drawing 40 watts of continuous power to stay on.
Lumens are the measurement of a light bulb’s brightness. The higher the number of lumens, the brighter the light.
Because many new bulbs are designed to save energy, the result is reduced wattage with higher lumens. That means if you’re relying on these wattage (rather than lumens), you could end up buying a bulb that is too dim or too bright for your home.
Most CFL and LED bulbs are marketed as replacements for incandescent bulbs of specific wattages, i.e. a 40-watt replacement LED bulb that really uses about watts. Just remember – lumens are a much more accurate predictor of brightness.
If you’re switching from incandescent to CFL or LED, here’s what to look for in lumens:
How much light do you really need? Different rooms require different amounts, depending on what you typically do in that room.
Most rooms use a combination of ambient (overhead/wall-mounted) and task (spotlight/desk and table lamps) lighting. Here are our recommendations:
Choose a Natural Light for Makeup
Having the best light bulbs for makeup artists is essential to the outcome of how the makeup looks. When you are looking for the correct light bulbs for application, you want to make sure that they are as close to daylight as possible. With that said, you need your lights to be diffused so that you can create a flawless makeup look. Two of my favorite light bulbs to use are the EcoSmart 23w LED Daylight and the GE Reveal Daylight; both need to be diffused. One option is to place it inside a can light fixture and hook it onto either side of a large mirror for balanced lighting.
Professional Makeup Lighting Fixtures with Light Bulbs
If you want to keep everything simplified, choose a lighting system for makeup that is consistent and works everytime. Here are a few professional lighting makeup set ups for you to consider to help you along in your makeup application.
Features of a mountain bike light
Lamp body (head unit): This houses the LEDs, the lens in front, the reflectors behind, the circuitry that makes it all work and the fins or ribs that radiate away as much heat as possible.
LEDs: Most lights now use LEDs (light emitting diodes), because they produce more light for less power than a conventional bulb and are far less fragile than HID lamps. Technological advances mean performance has leapt forward in the past few years and each new season brings significant upgrades.
Optics: The reflector and lens in front affect how the light is thrown down the trail. Focused spot beams are great for seeing a long way for a given output; wide flood beams give good peripheral vision.
Mount/bracket: How you attach the light to your bike. Most mounts use clips and spacers but O-rings are a great simple solution. If you are thinking of using a helmet mounted light, you need a lamp that’s light enough to be comfortable and secure on your lid, rather than a neck snapper. You’ll need an extension cable and helmet mount too, so check if that’s included or an optional extra.
Battery: The bit that powers the light. Lighter, tougher, far more random charge resistant lithium ion (Li-Ion) chargeable batteries have revolutionised mountain bike lighting compared with older lead acid and NiMH batteries — but battery and lamp efficiencies still vary dramatically. Most brands sell extra batteries (often at a discount if bought with the light) so you can always swap halfway. Check your batteries are properly prepared for maximum performance (this should be in the instructions) and take a back-up until you know you can rely on their run times.
Switchgear: The switch not only turns the light on, but also lets you change power output levels. It needs to be easy to operate while riding, even with gloves on, but hard to operate accidentally. Many lights now use backlit switches that double as mode and/or run time indicators using traffic-light-style colour changes. Switchgears now range from a simple push button sequential mode switch with low battery warning light to wireless bar-mounted units or switches that can also change the different output levels and menus.
Head or bars
Most lights come with both bar and helmet mounting options. Which is better comes down to personal preference, but here are the pros and cons of each.
The result — it’s a draw! In reality the best solution is to use helmet and bar-mounted lights, even if you have to buy lower powered units to afford both. It also means you have a backup should one battery die.
Amp-hour — A measurement of battery capacity. The bigger the capacity, the longer your lights will run. You need to divide this value by the amperage the light operates at in order to get the theoretical run time
Bag — A cloth pack that holds the battery onto the bike’s frame
Bar mount — Light bracket that fits around oversize (31.8mm) and/or older 1in (25.4mm) diameter handlebars
Battery cell — The single units that wire together to create a battery pack
Bottle — Plastic water bottle converted to hold a large capacity battery
How we test mountain bike lights
Being stuck on a wet winter’s night, miles from anywhere with a failed light or everything suddenly going pitch black halfway down a technical descent is a really serious matter. That’s why we take our lights testing extremely seriously.
There’s no substitute for time on trail in all weathers to find out this crucial stuff — and we’re not just talking about lights used in the past few months. We also reference the sets we’ve run long-term to get in-depth, worst case use feedback that’s directly relevant to the riding you do.
Product reviewer Guy Kesteven tests run times and cooling
The science side
As is often the case with mountain biking, the scientific part of the testing is the easiest bit. Lights (lamp body plus handlebar bracket) and batteries are weighed on our scales.
We then measure the useful maximum power run time (to when the output fades and low battery warning lights come on) with pre-conditioned (used and recharged) batteries in the highest power setting on an air cooled rig to mimic the cooling effect of riding at night. We also measure the maximum casing heat of the lights with a thermal probe to see if any get dangerously hot.
Light output is calculated using a lux (a measurement of one lumen per square metre) calibrated industrial light meter placed 5m from the lamp in a blacked out workshop. (If the light has more than one beam or head unit we measure both separately and their combined output.)
This method does favour spot beams over flood beams, but it’s still a more trail translatable measurement than the lumen potential of LEDs. The coverage, density and other specific characteristics of the beam are often more important than the peak brightness though, so we also take beam photos to make it easier to compare the lights.
The practical side
It’s the feedback we get from real world usage that really sorts out often very similar lamps in terms of trail performance. When it comes to our test conditions we’re talking serious sorties, often two or three times a week all year round in every trail condition imaginable. Baked hard river bed runs that’ll shake a poor bracket or fragile circuit board apart in seconds or leave a badly bagged battery hanging by its lead; sub-zero tundra trudges that freeze a battery to horribly low maximum power run times; drownings in downpours and hip-deep bog crashes.
Most of our lights have seen it all and, if the most recent versions have only been hammered through summer, we’ve certainly put the models preceding them through the most testing ride schedule possible. Repeated group riding, bike switching, recharging and battery flattening gives us the perfect comparative testing cluster too, so any failures or fading is immediately obvious rather than going unnoticed in isolation.
In other words, if a light scores well, you know it’s gone through some proper optical and electrical purgatory to prove itself. For that reason, for all of our latest lights testing we’ve deliberately stuck with established (at least a year old) lights manufacturers to ensure anything we recommend is a fully supported product.
Light output is calculated using a lux calibrated industrial light meter placed 5m from the lamp in a blacked out workshop
Modern lamp shades
Many people think lamp shades can be uninspiring or plain, but there are many amazing, trend-inspired styles available that will add a stylish touch to your decor. Lamp shades now come in fabulous shapes, such as the Spikey ball lamp shade, and with stunning design details like the bamboo shade with a yellow interior. Lamp shades can make a real style statement in a home.
How to choose the right lamp shade
When it comes to lamp shades, making the right choice can make or break your look. Whether you want something small and subtle or a bright and bold shade, there are many styles and types available for you to choose from.
Light shades can change the look of a room as well as affecting the light output of a fitting, so there are a few elements to consider when choosing lamp shades: style, colour, shape and fabric.
Lamp shades are available in a wide range of colours, so there is something to suit every room. You might want your lamp shade to blend in and co-ordinate with your decor; in that case choose a soft block colour shade in a colour similar to your walls or decorative features, such as ivory or grey. A light coloured or white shade will diffuse light more easily for bright and diffused illumination.
Or why not choose a lamp shade in a contrasting colour such as plum or red, to create an eye-catching design feature that stands out for all the right reasons?
When deciding what shape of lamp shade you would like, think about the proportions of your room. A wide drum lamp shade could overpower a small room but would look great in a room with lots of space. Thin, conical shades are perfect for hallways and compact spaces.
Drum shades have an open top and bottom that casts light upwards and downwards, so they offer a bright solution to lighting, perfect if you have a dark room.
The shape of a light shade can also help to create a style statement. Choose an easy fit shade with a more unusual, sculptured shape, such as the Conch lamp shade.
Fabric can add texture and interest to an interior space, so it is an important consideration when choosing a lamp shade. Pleated fabric adds an interesting twist to a plain fabric shade, whilst rattan and bamboo shades have a beautiful, natural look that fits perfectly with modern spaces. On the other hand, a glass shade will add elegance and a classic look to a room.
The material you choose will also have an effect on the light output of the shade. Thick, opaque materials will control and direct the light, whereas light transparent materials will provide a more even, dispersed light throughout the room. Glass shades allow a lot of light to shine through, meaning that they offer almost as much light output as a exposed bulb.
Make it easier to find the lampshade you want
You don’t have to just trawl through hundreds of lampshades trying to find the exact right size or shade to fit your lamp. If you’re armed with certain pieces of information, you can shortcut your search to find the perfect lampshade.
If you have the dimensions of your old lampshade
Usually you measure a lampshade across the top to get a “top width”, across the bottom to get a “bottom width”, and along the “diagonal slant” (or vertical height for drum shades) of the side of the shade, to get a “slant height”. Consult our section below about how to measure a lamp shade if you need help. But once you know the measurements, why not jump straight to the exact right size lampshades and skip the ones that won’t look right?
If all you have is a lamp base without a shade
Fear not, because you can actually figure out the exact right size of lamp shade you need based on the size and shape/style of your lamp base. Consult the section of this guide regarding how to measure a lamp shade for tips on what size shade you’ll need depending on your lamp base size.
Generally you’ll want to get an idea of the right “size” of lampshade you need first before you consider the shape or color, otherwise it won’t have appropriate proportions and will look too big or small.
Once you have an idea of the size you may need, consider the shape of the lamp base to help you decide what kind of lamp shade to look for. See our section on How to match the shade shape to the lamp base for simple tips about matching the lamp shade shape to the style of the base. While it may be easy to just throw a typical empire shade onto your lamp, it will look better when the shape of the lampshade complements or balances or brings out the shape of the base.
Popular Lampshade Colors
Lampshades feature a wide spectrum of colors to suit almost any lamp base and environment. You will likely want to complement the base of the lamp by choosing a lamp shade color that is either understated (as to let the lamp base be featured), or to make the shade a focal point (e.g. with a more understated base). It’s also possible to strike a balance between the two components, for example picking up colors in the base to bring out with the shade – similar to how you bring out the color of your eyes.
Black Lamp Shades
A black lamp shade can allow a lamp to be understated but also gives your lamp and air of sophistication, and can also be quite a modern look. Sleek black shades might match your black furniture or act as a balance against white or brightly colored elements in the room. Explore some examples of black lamp shades.
White Lamp Shades
A white lamp shade similarly can give your lamp a look of elegance and sophistication especially allowing the lamp base to be featured if it is colorful or interesting. White shades are clean and purifying, and may reflect upon white elements in the room or act as a canvas for other colors you wish to feature. Explore some examples of white lamp shades.
Red Lamp Shades
Believe it or not, red lamp shades are one of the most searched-for colors on the internet. A red shade would likely highlight warmer tones in a lamp base or be a striking statement against an understated lamp base. Red shades might just highlight your favorite color ro pick up red or warm accents in the room. Explore some examples of red lamp shades.
Orange Lamp Shades & Yellow Lamp Shades
Orange or yellow lamp shades are not typically as popular as a color choice, since yellow tends to be quite a bright color which will stand out in a room. You’d probably pick an orange lamp shade or yellow lamp shade if it particularly matched the lamp in some way or is part of your room’s color scheme. Explore some examples of orange and yellow lamp shades.
Green Lamp Shades
Green lamp shades also are one of the less popular colors for a lamp, mainly because green is quite a distinct color and tends not to be featured in lamp bases. Green shades may however complement a green or earth-toned or natural theme in your room and could complement a natural-toned lamp base well. Explore some examples of green lamp shades.
Blue Lamp Shades
Add a blue lamp shade to your table lamp or floor lamp and you’re instantly into making a cool statement. Blue is actually one of the most searched-for- colors of lampshades online, perhaps due to the relative rarity of blue coloring in nature in general. A blue shade will likely look quite contemporary and give your lamp a deliberate, designer look. Pair it with a lamp with blue in the base or perhaps white or black. Explore some examples of blue lamp shades.
Purple Lamp Shades and Pink Lamp Shades
Yes, pink is in. And purple too. Pink lamp shade are quite sought after and perhaps this is due to the fact that many people replacing lampshades are women. It may be a stereotype, but yes, women do seem to like to buy pink shades. And some men too, of course. A pink shade would look great on a white or gray or perhaps red or pink lamp base. Perhaps a pink or purple lamp shade would look great in a girls’ bedroom. Explore some examples of pink lamp shades and purple lamp shades.
Cream Lamp Shades
Cream lamp shades are a classic. Not so pure as to be white, but somewhat softened and warming. A cream lamp shade will match well to many lamp base designs and colors especially more classically or traditionally styled lamps. Sometimes cream includes off-white or egg-shell which are more neutral or reddish tones. Explore some examples of cream lamp shades.
Beige Lamp Shades
Beige is all the rage. A beige lamp shade suits many modern homes where beige and browns provide a soft, comforting and nurturing environment. Beige shades can complement well with brown furniture or perhaps a beige couch. Often a beige lamp shade will complement a fancy decorated lamp base well. Explore some examples of beige lamp shades.
Brown Lamp Shades
Brown lamp shades add a darker, comforting warmth to a room. A brown shade can complement a more decorative lamp base of many colors or a more plain design. With a brown shade, you can pick up on the browns in your furniture or textiles in the room. Explore some examples of brown lamp shades.
The Practical Uses of Different Lamp Shades
Different types of lamp shades serve a different purpose. Besides shielding your eyes from the glare of a light bulb, their shape is not purely for decorative reasons. The correct shade greatly affects the kind of light the lamp gives off, as well as where that light is directed. Different types of lamp shades correlate to different functions for practical purposes, be it sitting nearby, at a distance, or as an ambient light source. If you are not as concerned about how the lamp assists you in your daily activities, you may prefer to make a choice purely for decorative reasons.
Empire lamp shades for table lamp provide a spread of light for a bedside desk as well as for reading in bed.
A bell shade atop a floor lamp provides a maximum area of illumination for sitting beneath to read.
A drum lamp shade on this pendant light, radiating strong and focussed light downward over a dining table as well as illuminating the room with ambient light via the ceiling.
Bell lamp shades for table lamps provide a local spread of light for nearby seating.
A pair of floor lamps with flat drum lamp shades prove strong ambient and local light for a softer mood.
The opaque drum lamp shade on this lamp provides a decorative, less functional ambient light over a narrow side-table.
How Home Lamp Shades Affect the Light
Light emits from different shaped shades in different ways, which affects how far the light is useful and for what purposes. Light emitting from the top of the shade produces a reflected ambient light bouncing off the ceiling, while light emitting below produces a more focused light surrounding furniture. Additional light shines through the sides of the shade itself, whereby a white or light-colored shade allows the most light to pass through. Darker-colored shades and hardback shades tend to block more of the light.
Drum lamp shades provide an medium spread of light from both ends
An empire shade provides most light from the bottom, the least from the top
A bell shade provides a balance between light from the top and a wide spread of light from the bottom
Light from Bell Lamp Shades
TIP: Also consider also what other sources of light are in the room – if you have bright light from a main light fixture, your lamps may provide accent lighting, or mood lighting when used alone. If you need them to be a primary light source for sitting and reading, opt for a more flared shape of shade such as empire/coolie, provided it complements the style of the base. Also consider a hard-backed shade for increasing the light output from below the shade.
Hard-Back Lamp Shades
Lampshades hold their shape either due to a hard lining or with the use of a metal framework. A `hard-backed` shade is typically lined with plastic or or other materials designed to prevent light from passing through the sides of the shade. The hard lining allows the shape of the shade to be quite firm and less likely to change over time. The firm backing is glued into place behind a more attractive outer material.
Soft-Back Lamp Shades
A soft-back shade does not have a firm lining, although it may still potentially be lined. The lining, however, would be flexible, such as a linen or paper, and so does not provide support for maintaining the shape of the lampshade. As a result, soft-back or `un-backed` shades require additional vertical supports between the bottom and top of the shade to maintain shape.
This soft-backed drum lamp shade emits light through the shade itself, for a softer light, and reveals a textured pattern in the shade material.
Cylinder Lamp Shades
Cylinder-shaped lamp shades are taller than they are wide, with vertical straight sides. These tall shades are best for unusually tall lamp bases, or floor lamps. They funnel equal amounts of light out of the top and bottom without spreading the light outwards, producing a large amount of ambient reflected light.
Because they are so much taller than wide, their proportions look good on narrow lamp bases. Their very open-ended nature maximizes the amount of light output.
Drum Lamp Shades
Drum-shaped shades are similar to cylinder shades except they are flatter, typically wider than they are tall, similar to a musical drum. Drum shades look good on a variety of table lamps and floor lamps, but also can be suited to pendant light fixtures. With vertical sides, maximum light emits through the top and bottom of the drum shade producing ambient reflected light in the room.
When used in an overhead pendant it provides ample light output for visual clarity. On a table lamp the drum shade gives a contemporary, modern look. A drum shade is well suited to a lamp base with wide proportions. Being open-ended allows a maximum amount of light to be released through both ends of the shade.
Floor Lamp Shades
Floor lamps typically require a slightly larger shade than table lamps. Also due to the height of the lamp, they tend to look better with a drum or floor-style shade. A floor shade is almost a drum shade, except the sides are slightly slanted. This shape complements the proportions of the floor lamp.
A floor shade distributes light out through the bottom with a slight spread, illuminating a larger area around the lamp base. Similarly, the top of the floor shade is less open, slightly restricting the amount of ambient reflected light shining out through the top. Often a floor lamp is located near to a seating area and thus provides a cone of light which can extend at least partly across the furniture. Floor lamps, in general, provide a large amount of light close to functional spaces.
Empire Lamp Shades
Empire-shaped lampshades strike a balance between slanted sides and visually-appealing proportions. These straight-sided shades are found commonly on many table lamps and some floor lamps. The narrower opening at the top is still large enough to vent heat from the light bulb, yet allows the bottom of the shade to flare more in order to spread light outwards.
This wider cone of light illuminates a wider area beneath and to the sides of the lamp, providing a hotspot of local light ideal for reading and other activities. Since most of the light is cast downwards, there is less ambient light reflected off the ceiling and more light spread outward near to seating areas or top of furniture. Empire shades are popular lamp shades for table lamps.
Coolie Lamp Shades
A coolie lamp shade features a very wide spread of light, since the top of the shade is very narrow and the bottom very open. The sides of the coolie shade are heavily slanted. Coolie shades tend to be flatter (less height) due to the proportions of the shape.
The coolie shade restricts ambient light emitting from the top of the shade, while maximizing the amount of light spreading out from the bottom. The shape of the shade also directs the light to spread as widely as possible to the sides of the shade for maximum coverage. This can be useful when your lamp is serving to illuminate tasks or projects or for reading.
Bell Lamp Shades
The bell shade is very popular and provides an elegant, relaxed shape. The sides of the shade curve inwards producing a shape that resembles a `bell`. The flare at the bottom helps to distribute light outwards for maximum coverage, while the top of the shade remains quite wide to help facilitate the escape of heat and ambient light.
The bell shade is well suited to table lamps with a more curved base shape. Empire lampshades are popular lamp shade for table lamps to use.
Oval Lamp Shades
With an oval-shaped shade, looking down on the shade from above reveals an oval shape rather than a perfect circle. The shade wider than it is deep, front-to-back. An oval or flatter style of lamp base goes well with it. It can help to situate a lamp on a narrower piece of furniture closer to a wall without extruding into the room, helping to ensure the lamp will not be knocked over by passers by.
Oval shades are less common but look good when their shape complements the shape of the base. An oval shade may have an oval profile from the top, while having any of the other shapes when viewed from the side, such as an oval bell, an oval empire, an oval drum etc.
Square and Rectangular Lamp Shades
Square and rectangle-shaped shades complement a lamp base which is very rectangular in appearance. Suited mainly to contemporary modern lamps, they work well with floor lamps and table lamps. The rectangular shade has flat edges rather than circular edges, and thus produces corners. Some varieties of square shade also feature a ‘cut corner’ as a decorative modification to its shape.
Square or rectangular shades are most obvious when viewed from above or at an angle, but from the side may feature a bell shape (pagoda), drum shape, or empire shape. Rectangular or square shades with a very narrow or no opening in the top may be thought of as a pyramid shade.
Art-Glass Lamp Shades
Art-glass is a special kind of toughened glass designed to be lighter and less fragile than real or tiffany glass. Lamps with an art-glass shade make a bold statement. Commonly a single piece of art glass is used in a very unique hand-crafted shape. Since art-glass can be molded into endless shapes, it can be manipulated to resemble flowers, animals or even traditional shade shapes with unusual edge designs.
In addition to the shape, art-glass shades feature extraordinary patterns of vibrant color, with swirls of multiple hues mixed in. While art-glass lamps are readily available, finding replacement glass shades is less simple – usually through contacting the manufacturer of the original lamp, since each piece is so uniquely specific to the lamp itself.
How to Match Lamp Shade Shape to the Lamp Base
A base featuring a curved profile is complemented by a curved bell shade. You can see here the pattern of a curve ending in a platform is repeated from the base to the shade, albeit inverted. Bell shades match well to a curved base profile.
A barrel, drum lamp shade or cone-style lamp base is reflected well by a rounded drum/cylinder shade. Rounded/cylindrical bases tend to work better with rounded shades than square shades.
Sometimes shapes are directly repeated in the base as in the shade. Here, trapezium shapes occur multiple times and the shade is an extension of the base’s design theme. Since the base’s view from above/below is a square, the square shade works well.
Bases with a square or rectangular profile do well complemented with a rectangular shade. Since these angular shapes tend to be more modern, a square/rectangular shade is a good match.
Sometimes the shape of the shade may reflect the shape of only a portion of the base. Here, trapezium/pyramid shapes are repeated in the shade and the foot of the base, as well as in the patterning of the shade itself.
Proportions of shade and base should be reasonably similar. Here an unusually tall/thin lamp base is well complemented by an unusually flat/thin drum lamp shade, continuing the theme of elegance. Also very narrow lamp bases look good with a drum or rectangle shade.
While both lamp base and shade here are circular, since the base features a bold shape, the shade chosen is also a boldly contrasting shape. Use a partly contradictory or balancing shape of shade for added drama. Notice the shade is still round and the base is still round when viewed from above or below.
While this lamp base bends outward, the shade bends inward. Both elements thus feature a curved surface, but they work together to form a balance. This also produces a flowing visual line from the bottom of the lamp to the top. Notice also the need for a square-style shade due to the base’s square sides.
Matching with your furniture
As an extension of your lamp, consider the furniture it sits on or is near to. What shapes do you see there? What are the proportions like, as a whole and for individual parts?
Rectangular furniture: is likely to be best complemented by a more angular or rectangular shade
Sculptured rounded furniture: is likely to match best with a more rounded shade especially if the furniture has rounded corners
Proportions: Is the furniture wide and flat or tall and narrow? Consider how your lamp may complement or balance the shape
Decor: Consider the rest of your room’s theme. Think about the textures and colors and shapes that your lamp could tie into. Is there a strong color that you’d like to match or contrast with?
Lampshade Sizing Rules
Shade height should be about 3/the height of the base. The bottom of the shade should be wider than the widest part of the base. Shade width should approximately equal the height from the bottom of base to socket.
Reading lamps need a wider shade to provide plenty of light.
Consider the Bulb
Be sure you have 2-inch separation from bulb to shade, especially for higher wattage bulbs. Be sure the top opening is wide enough to vent the heat. Compact Fluorescent bulbs are great for most lamps because they burn cooler, but you may need larger harp since CFL’s are taller than standard light bulbs.
How to measure a lamp shade
Find the right size shade for your lamp. Follow these tips for correct measuring.
Shade Dimensions are typically given Top x Bottom x Height on the SLANT. Be sure to measure the slant height and not the vertical height.
The taller the lamp, the larger the shade. Most table lamps take a shade with a bottom diameter (B) of 16″ or less. Floor lamps take a shade with a bottom diameter (B) of 16″ or 18″ or larger.
Measure the lamp’s height from the bottom of the base to just below the socket(s). The basic rule of thumb is that the shade you choose should have a bottom diameter (B) that’s approximately equal to this measurement.
Choosing the Right Fitter
A “fitter” is simply the way the shade connects to your lamp. Most lamps have “spider” fitters. Other common fitters include UNO or clip-on fitters. Check your existing lamp against the diagram and descriptions below to determine what type of fitter you need:
Choosing the Right Drop
Shades with a spider-type or UNO-type fitter usually have some distance between the top edge of the shade down to the center of the fitter. This makes the fitting less visible when viewing the lamp from the side but does raise the position of the shade by the drop distance.
Shades with spider-type fitters typically feature a 1/to 1-inch drop.
Shades with a Slip-UNO fitter have several inches of the drop which varies per-shade since the fitter has to drop down to below the bulb.
Threaded-UNO fitter shades typically feature a drop of to inches so as to conceal electrical attachments above the shade.
Simple designed straight-sided shades that usually feature a bottom width 3-times larger than the top, resulting in a shade that emits most of the light from the bottom.
Distance from the top of the shade to the center of the fitter.
The metal structure that attaches the shade to the lamp base. The most common type is the Spider Fitter which resembles a spoked wheel and connects to a harp with a finial. A Clip-On Fitter features metal loops allowing the shade to attach on top of the bulb. Larger clip-on shades are designed to attach directly to a standard Edison bulb, while smaller chandelier shades have smaller loops to fit a candelabra bulb. An Uno Fitter is designed with a larger center opening which fits snugly into the socket. Slip Uno Fitters feature a large drop and rest on the socket of a table lamp. Threaded Uno Fitters actually screw on to the socket so it can hang downward, typically on down-bridge floor lamps.
A stiff backing applied to the inner surface of a lamp shade to keep its shape over time. During the creation of a hardback lampshade, the fabric is laminated over a stiff but bendable backing material, typically a plastic such as a styrene. The hard backing helps the shade to keep its form, prevents drooping or warping, and extends the life of the shade. With a hardback shade it often becomes unnecessary to use extra metal framework running between the top and bottom of the shade, since the backing maintains the shape. This removes the shadows or blocks to light caused by the presence of vertical framework showing through the shade.
Decorative covering, usually fabric, used to diffuse and direct the light from the bulb. A properly chosen shade will enhance the base and bring out its best features without competing with it for attention. (The life of the party can also use it as a hat late on a wild evening.)
An additional surface applied to the inside of a lamp shade, used to filter or reflect light. A reflective lining such as gold or silver helps to reflect light away from the shade surface and focuses it out of the top and bottom. This keeps the outer appearance of the shade the same color and tone as when the light is off. This is useful for dark or black shades that you want to stay dark-looking even when the lamp is on. It also prevents the shade from absorbing some of the light, increasing overall light output. A reflective lining also hides the appearance of a bright-spot from the light bulb, as seen through the shade. Other types of lining include plastic, linen and other fabrics, each with its own degree of diffusing and reflecting light. Some linings allow some light through while also increasing the output through the top and bottom of the shade.
The measurement from the outermost tip of the top edge of a lamp shade, to the outermost tip of the bottom edge, on a diagonal and in a straight line. We use the slant height to describe the `height` (length of the side) of the shade. The slant height is easily measured outside the shade, even when the shade is installed, and should be measured in a straight line regardless of any curvature in the shape of the shade. Bell shades are just as easily measured, measuring in a straight line from top to bottom, ignoring the curved surface. (Since most shades do not have vertical sides, it is difficult to get an accurate vertical measurement, usually requires the shade to be removed from the lamp. It is easier and more intuitive to measure the outside of the shade on the slant from top to bottom.)
Metal receptacle at the top of the lamp base that holds the bulb and usually contains the switch. A slip-UNO fitter or a harp generally sits beneath the socket.
I like to help people find unique ways to do things in order to save time & money — so I write about “outside the box” ideas that most wouldn’t think of. As a lifelong dog owner, I often share my best tips for living with and training dogs. I worked in Higher Ed over years before switching gears to pursue activities that I’m truly passionate about. I’ve worked at a vet, in a photo lab, and at a zoo — to name a few. I enjoy the outdoors via bicycle, motorcycle, Jeep, or RV. You can always find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (3fun & helpful websites).
Up until recently there has not been any kind of standard in the flashlight industry, the ANSI FLstandards even the playing field for all torch producers. Learning how to read the standards sheets put out by most manufacturers is important to help you find the best tactical flashlight.
Light Output : This is a Lumens rating that shows the total amount of light that comes out of the front of the flashlight.
Run Time : This is the amount of time it will take for light to get to 10% of its initial output. An example would be that if a flashlight started at 100 Lumens this is the length of time of continuous light that it would take to get down to Lumens.
Beam Distance : This is the measurement in meters of the distance at which the intensity of the beam reaches 0.2lux which is the approximated amount of light of a full moon on a clear night.
Peak Beam Intensity : Measured in Candela this is the brightest point in the beam. Where Lumens tell how much light is coming out of the light in total Candela measures how bright the brightest point of the beam is.
Impact Resistance : Measured in meters this indicates the height that you could drop a flashlight from onto concrete and it still work properly. The light can also not have any cracks or breaks in it. : There are three levels of water resistance that are found, those are IPX4, IPX7, and IPX: A flashlight with this rating has been tested to perform under the condition of splashing water. : A flashlight with this rating has been tested to perform submerged to meter for 30 minutes. : A flashlight with this rating has been tested to perform submerged deeper than meter for up to hours.
Why Would You Want To Carry A Tactical Flashlight
Aside from a pocket knife, the most useful tool that you could carry is a flashlight. Even if you are never going to use a flashlight for self-defense a quality torch can be used for countless things. Here are a few situations when having a good tactical flashlight would be nice.
As mentioned earlier modern tactical flashlights are designed to give someone an advantage in a combat situation. The hard anodized aluminum can be used as a striking tool, many flashlights come with crenulated bezels that are shaped in a way that would help you to both break windows and faces. Also, just holding something in your hand will make your fists more devastating. Next, the high lumens make it so you can temporarily blind any would be attacker which could give you time to escape. If you mix together the ability to blind someone with the added striking force that you get from a tactical flashlight you have a dominating combination, imagine the devastation caused by hitting somebody in the face with the Surefire P2X Fury Defender. As a small warning though, if you are not a trained fighter it is always better to use the temporary blindness as added time to get away.
Identify Things In The Dark
This is the main purpose of any flashlight. If you have a flashlight with you you will have peace of mind that any dark alley or parking lot can be illuminated. Some of the lights that we have here can illuminate things over a football field away. You no longer need to worry what might be hiding in the dark.
Just Finding Stuff
I don’t know about you but I lose things all of the time, under the couch, under the bed, behind the desk, behind the dresser, etc… You know what I mean. You do not even know how many times you will be glad that you had a flashlight with you. Hey, a flashlight might even make it so you are not late for work when you are looking for your keys all over the place.
Top Buying Tips For Finding The Best Tactical Flashlight
For the people that do not have time right now to read all of the material on this site, here is a quick and dirty summary of the top things to look for to ensure that you are getting a quality product. Some of you may have specific requirement that would make these tips change but for the general public and for the EDC enthusiast that is not a flashaholic these are some easy guidelines. : If you are buying a EDC flashlight how big can you comfortably have with you all of the time. Otherwise if you are not keeping it with you all of the time how much space do you have to store it? : Do you want disposable or rechargeable batteries? And, do you want a standard size battery (easy to find) or a special battery (more power)? : It takes at least 60-100 lumens to cause temporary blindness.
Durability : I would go with type III hard anodized aircraft grade aluminum with a LED bulb that is rated to at least IPXwaterproofing.
Tactical Handheld Flashlights
Handheld tactical lights are designed to be extremely durable, as they need to stand up to some of the harshest conditions. To ensure that they can stand up to the worst conditions most manufacturers are going to use weapon-grade aluminum for the body along with a textured grip. The better grip allows you to use the light as a striking tool without worrying about it slipping out of your grasp. Top quality handheld lights are small enough that they can be easily carried around for everyday use. The smaller size also allows you to easily operate the light with one hand leaving your other hand free for other tasks.
Handheld tactical lights are some of the brightest ones out there. Handheld tactical lights need to be bright enough to light up a dark room, but they also might need to temporarily blind a potential suspect. A handheld tactical light is something that you want to be able to depend on at all times, you want to know that your light is going to work in a life or death situation.
SureFire G2X LE
The Surefire G2X LE was specifically designed to meet the needs of law enforcement officers, making it one of the better tactical flashlights on the market. The G2X LE is an improvement on the G2X Pro as it offers a higher lumen output than the original model. The G2X LE offers two output levels: high and low. High offers a blinding 400 lumens on the first click, while low offers 1lumens that requires two clicks. Highest setting offers users the maximum amount of light, while the lowest settings ensures a longer battery life from the CR123A batteries required to power the light.
The entire light is controlled via a dual-output tailcap switch. This is beneficial for those life or death situation that law enforcement often finds themselves in because it provides instant access to the brightest light when you need it most, giving you a momentary advantage. The G2X is as durable as it is useful as it is made from a Nitrolon polymer body that offers a secure grip. The light uses O-rings and gaskets to seal against moisture and dust, so it will work in any environment. The high performance LED used in the G2X LE is practically indestructible and its parabolic reflector improves the beams reach.
The Nitecore P20 features a CREE XM-L(T6) LED that has a peak beam intensity of 11,000 candelas with a throw distance of 68feet. This premium LED allows the P20 to offer users three different modes: tactical, general, and law enforcement, as well as a strobe mode. Each of the three modes provide different brightness levels allowing for this light to be effectively used in a variety of non-life threatening situations. While we do not recommend this light for life or death situations it does provide quick and easy access to the strobe mode via the strobe ready button.
As tactical lights are supposed to be easy to use Nitecore offers users a dual-switch tail cap, which is said to be ideal for tactical applications as it is designed for one handed operation. The top switch provides users with the ability to power the light on or off, as well as access the different modes. The bottom switch is the strobe ready button and a simply push provides you with instant strobe no matter what mode you were previously in. The Nitecore P20 can be powered by a single 18650 battery or two CR12batteries, what batteries used will affect the lumen output and runtime.
Tactical Pistol Light
A pistol light, which can also be referred to as a handgun light, is a tactical light that mounts directly to our handgun via a Picatinny or Weaver rail. Pistol lights are an excellent tool, but they must be chosen with care. As a true tactical light you want to know that you can count on your pistol light working when you need it, especially in one of those life or death situations. One thing you must keep in mind with your pistol light is that where you are pointing the light you are also pointing the pistol. With that being said these lights should only be used in situations where your gun is already out!
As a tactical light you don’t want just any old pistol light, you want something that is durable. You need your pistol light to stand up to numerous bullets being fired from your handgun; you don’t want something that is going to fall apart after only a few rounds. Pistol lights can be mounted directly below the barrel or they can be mounted onto the side via an offset mount, which one you choose will depend on you. Pistol lights often come with a tail cap switch, but high quality ones will provide you with the ability to switch the tail cap switch for a pressure switch.
SureFire X300 Ultra
The SureFire X300 Ultra high performance LED is powered by two high-energy CR123A batteries that will emit 600 lumens for an hour and a half. The X300 Ultra features a newer mounting system that uses a T-slot mounting system with a T-slot mounting rail and tightening screw. This newer mounting system allows users to mount the X300 Ultra to both long guns and hand guns quickly and securely.
What makes the X300 Ultra the best tactical pistol light aside from its extreme durability is its ambidextrous switch that makes activation a breeze. The switch is now wider and shorter than you have seen on previous models, but it is still located at the rear of the light to allow for easy one-handed operation. Remote activation using a DG grip for handguns or a XT tape switch for long guns is also available.
Now if you are looking for a pistol light with a laser, but you really like the SureFire X300 Ultra you need to check out the X400 Ultra as it has many of the same features as the X300 Ultra, but comes with a red or green laser. You can also check out our Pistol Light Buyers Guide for our light recommendations for different sized pistols.
The Streamlight TLR-HL is a shining example of the high quality lights manufactured by Streamlight. The TLR-HL comes in three different colors and is constructed from machined aluminum with a black anodized finish. The light itself is completely sealed earning it an IPX rating of 7, which allows it to be used both indoors and outdoors. If you opt for the Streamlight TLR-HL and currently have a holster that allows for a light bearing pistol you will not need to purchase a new one, as the TLR-HL is constructed to fit into all light bearing holsters.
A CLED is powered by two CR123A batteries and can emit 800 lumens with a peak beam intensity of 15,000 candelas. With a pistol light how far the beam reaches is important and with the TLR-HL you will be able to see up to 800 feet away thanks to the concentrated beam provided by the TIR lens. The TLR-HL comes equipped to mount directly to any handgun with glock-style rails, but can also be mounted to Picatinny rails. The TLR-Hl is designed for hand guns but Streamlight offers a kit for long guns that must be purchased separately.
For those of you that prefer to have a laser light combo and you really like what the Streamlight TLR-HL is offering there is good news. Streamlight makes two other models of the TLR-they come with all of the same features and quality as the TLR-HL, but they have an added laser. The TLR-HL comes with a red laser, while the TLR-HL G comes with a green laser. You can check out our Best Pistol Light article for a more detailed review of those two lights.
Aimkon HiLight P5S
The Aimkon will fit on the majority of the subcompact pistols on the market, but it will also fit on several full sized pistols. The Aimkon HiLight P5S utilizes a quick release mount system to attach to your weapon. The P5S comes equipped with two distinct modes: constant on and strobe, as well as a red laser for aiming purposes.
While all of this might sound great we strongly discourage you from using the Aimkon HiLight P5S in life or death situations. Yes the pistol light is made to mount a on pistol, but that doesn’t mean you can rely on it for life threatening situations. The quality and durability is nowhere near the same as pistol lights made by SureFire and Streamlight. This pistol light is one that should only be used for target practice or even on airsoft guns.
Tactical Rifle Flashlight
Rifle flashlights are very similar to pistol lights; they are both designed to be mounted onto your weapon to provide you with light while keeping both hands on your gun. The difference between these two weapon lights is what kind of weapon they are mounted too. Pistol lights for the most part are designed to be mounted to pistols or handguns, although some of these lights feature kits that allow them to be mounted to long guns. Rifle flashlights are not designed to be mounted to the smaller guns, these lights are designed to be mounted to the longer style guns like rifles and they will typically be able to use a pressure switch.
One of the great things about rifle flashlights is that all of them currently on the market use LED emitters, so they usually exceed the minimum 50 lumens needed to disorient a person’s night vision. With lumens not being a concern the other things that you need to look at when selecting a rifle flashlight are how reliable the light is, how much output it has and what kind of beam distance it will provide, how easy it is to operate, and how small and lightweight the light really is.
SureFire M600IB Scout Light
The SureFire M600IB Scout Light ranks as the best rifle flashlight for a variety of reasons with its IntelliBeam Technology being one of them. This technology uses an intelligent sensor coupled with a microprocessor system to constantly evaluate the area where the beam is being aimed. Based on the data collected the light output will automatically be adjusted anywhere between 100 to 600 lumens enabling you to always have the right amount of light for the job you are doing. The M600IB is made from hard-anodized aluminum and utilizes a high performance LED that is considered to be practically indestructible. The light mounts onto MIL-STD-191rails using a thumbscrew mount.
The M600IB Scout comes equipped with a clicky type tail-cap switch. The clicky switch can be partially pressed down to use the momentary on feature or fully press the switch to activate the constant-on feature. Full tactical mode, which is a bright 600 lumens, is activated by going from off to on again within one second of each other. SureFire also minimizes the chance of accidental activation by shrouding the switch. Now the M600IB doesn’t come with a pressure switch, but you can purchase one separately and we strongly recommend that you do. For the M600IB we recommend the SureFire DS0Remote/Pushbutton Switch Tail Assembly.
Streamlight 8805ProTac Railmount 2L Gun Light
With the ProTac Railmount 2L you will be able to mount the light to ay Picatinny rails with its dedicated fixed mount, which is a fixed rail grabber with thumbscrew mount. This specific light is a part of the Streamlight’s 6000 series, so like other lights in its series it is constructed from machined aircraft aluminum with an anodized finish. To add to its durability the ProTac Railmount 2L utilizes an impact resistant BOROFLOAT lens to protect the CLED that can emit up to 62lumens for a period of hours using two CR123A batteries. This light currently has two IPX ratings depending on what switch is used to control the light. With the tail switch the ProTac Railmount 2L has an IPXrating, while the pressure switch drops down to an IXP4.
The ProTac Railmount 2L utilizes Streamlight’s TEN-Tap Programming and provides users with the choice of three different operating modes. With the ProTac Railmount 2L users can choose high/strobe mode, high mode, or low/high mode. The strobe option is ideal for signaling for help or disorienting a potential attacker. The rifle light is controlled via a multi-function tactical tail switch that is designed for one handed operation. The ProTac Railmount 2L also comes with a dual remote pressure switch that can be used in place of the tactical tail switch, as well as remote retaining clips.
Nitecore CGHunting Kit
One of the first things you need to realize is that no matter how amazing this light kit sounds, we do not recommend it for any kind of tactical situations. Nitecore does make high quality lights, but we feel that the NiteCore CGHunting Kit is more geared for playing rather than in life or death situations. One of the great things about this hunting kit is just how much stuff it comes with. Inside the CGHunting Kit you are going to find the light that provides users with green and white light, as well as a icharger, NL18battery, RSWremote switch, a tactical ring, lanyard, holster, car adapter, NFR40 Red Filter, weapon mount, and a survival keychain light.
The Chameleon CGlight offers users bright and focused dual beams. The white beam can reach up to 440 lumens for a distance of 62feet, while the green light can emit up to 18lumens for a distance of 55feet. The white light option offers users the choice between five modes, while the green light option comes with three different brightness levels. The CGoffers two special modes: strobe and emergency police warning light. The rifle mounting kit that comes with the CGkit comes with a rail mount and a barrel mount option, as well as a high clearance scope mount and a remote pressure switch. Whether you are using the dual mode switch or the remote pressure switch the light is easy to activate and the dual beams are controlled independently. The CGfeatures a power indicator light to alert you to battery power levels and will also remind you when it is time to recharge the battery.
Headlamps are a great choice for those who are looking for 100% hands free lighting. The main purpose of a headlamp is to direct the entire amount of light to a specific area, which is why the lamp of the light is usually worn in the center of the head. When choosing a headlamp the amount of lumens is going to tell you how bright the light is, but the beam distance is what you really want to pay attention to. The beam distance is going to tell you how just how far your headlamp is going to be able to produce useable light.
Another important aspect is the beam type. With head lamps you have three basic choices: flood, spot, or adjustable. Flood lamps are ideal for close up repair work or ordinary outdoor tasks. Flood lamps are used when light doesn’t need to reach long distances. Spot lamps are best for hiking, climbing, and other similar activities because the beam is ideal for lighting up things in the distance. Adjustable headlamps offer the best of both worlds, as they provide you with both a flood and spot option, so you have the right kind of beam when you need it most. For tactical use we feel that a headlamp must have a red light since red is the best color to retain night vision and many times you will use your headlamp just to read something quickly.
Tactical Night Vision
In this article we only cover two night vision devices: monocular and goggles. Monoculars are night vision devices that provide no magnification and use a single eye unit. In many cases these style of night vision devices are the most versatile of them all, as they can be worn on the head or even mounted to the front of a rifle scope. How monocular devices can be used will depend on the brand and model purchased. Goggles allow for both eyes to be used when viewing, but like monoculars they do not provide any kind of magnification. Goggles can be head mounted and come in two different styles. The first style is single image tube with two eye pieces, while the other is a dual image tube with two eye pieces. One of the great things about goggle style night vision devices is how natural they feel when you first start wearing them, they don’t take much getting used to at all.
Armasight Nyx-Pro Bravo Gen 3
Before we get too involved in looking at what the Armasight Nyx-Pro Bravo Gen has to offer we want you to know that this light meets our minimum requirements to be used in life threatening situations. In all honesty there are higher end products out there that far exceed what this one has to offer, in fact, the Gen of this same model is currently the best product available. The Gen meets minimum requirements for high quality tactical use at a little bit lower of a price, so we feel that it is a good fit for our review.
The Armasight Nyx-Pro Bravo Gen is an extremely durable and rugged bi-ocular night vision goggle. The Bravo Gen uses simple, but very reliable electronics and the highest grade optics to provide you with clear and bright images through night vision. The Bravo Gen can be 100% hands free if worn on the included flip-up head mount, but can also be a hand-held night vision device if you need to engage in long range observation. These goggles are powered by a single CR12or an ordinary AA battery that provides up to 60 hours of use. The goggles are water and fog resistant and come with easy to operate controls. The auto brightness feature and the built-in infrared illuminators are just an added bonus.
ATN NVM 14-Gen Monocular
What makes the ATN NVM 14-Gen the best tactical night vision monocular in our opinion is how versatile it is, as well as its amazing features. The NVM 14-can be used for a variety of different tasks, including driving and administering first aid, in addition to so many other things. With the NVM you can pretty much go about your normal daytime tasks, but in the dark. The NVM can be used as a handheld device, a head or helmet mounted device, or even mounted on a weapon. The NVM can be vertically adjusted by using the head straps; it can also offers a fore and aft adjustment. The NVM also offers objective lens focus and eyepiece focus.
The Automatic Brightness Adjustment system on the NVM 14-is a nice feature to have as it ensures that the IIT brightness level remains steady no matter the conditions. With the Automatic Protective System the NVM is able to control the current illumination automatically, plus the Monocular will shut off on its own if lx levels go higher than 100 to 300 lx within minutes. The NVM features a monocular optical system that is made up of an objective lens, an eyepiece, and an Image Intensifier Tube. The eyepiece itself is home to a red and green indicator light. The green light warns of excessive brightness, while the red is a low battery warning and a IR illuminator indicator.
ATN Spirit MP-Monocular
The ATN Spirit MP-Monocular is a perfect choice for night vision monoculars for those who are currently working on tactical law enforcement teams, as well as elite military personnel. In all honesty the Spirit MP-can also be used by ordinary citizens, but it is a something that is of high quality and is made for true tactical situations. The ATN Spirit MP-can be attached to a helmet or even a weapon, it can also be used as a head mounted device or a handheld device and is perfect for doing a variety of daytime tasks in the dark of night.The MP-is powered by a single CR123A battery that will allow you to effectively use the monoculars for a period of 60 hours before needing replacement.
One thing that the Spirit MP-offers is Total Darkness technology. This technology comes with a infrared light emitting source that is built into the monocular itself. This technology allows you to use the device even when there is a lack of ambient light. Like many other ATN models the Spirit MP-also comes with LED indicator lights, automatic brightness control, and a bright light cut off. Most IR laser aiming devices, as well as illuminating devices, are completely compatible with the Spirit MP-2, which only adds to its versatility. It is the advanced technology used in the ATN Spirit MP-that gives you the tactical advantage when using it in a tactical situation.
Other Tactical Lights
Most categories of tactical lights are focused on a style of flashlight, whether it is a headlamp, helmet mount, or goggle style light; they all look and act similar to a flashlight. All of the above mentioned lights are great tools to use in a variety of tactical situations, but sometimes you need something a little bit different to get the job done. In this section we want to introduce you to other tactical lights that you might find useful to have on hand.
One thing that you might notice based on the lights that we have chosen for this article is that tactical lights provide you with advantage during tactical situations. In some cases the burst of light helps disorient an adversary while other times the infrared light allows you to maneuver through a room without giving away your position or destroying your night vision. The lights included in this category of our article are no different. These lights provide you with a tactical advantage, but what advantage they provide will vary.
Brite Strike RID-3
The Brite Strike RID-is not a replacement for a flashbang, but they were designed by police officers to be a distraction and disorientation device. Brite Strike RID-doesn’t require any special training to use and they are an excellent alternative to flashbangs. One reason why they are such a good alternative to flashbangs is they can be used to gain entry into an unsafe room that contains flammable material.
Brite Strike RID-3s are small, lightweight ball balls that are expertly weighted to ensure they spin and wobble when they are tossed into a room. As the ball rolls across the floor or when it first hits the floor it will spin and wobble with its two white LEDs shining brightly. Once the ball stops wobbling and spinning the light will be facing up allowing the person in the room to be perfectly backlight. The spinning and wobbling light distracts the person in the room, giving you the perfect opportunity to make your move. Brite Strike RID-does not feature a strobe option, as you don’t want to be blinded by the strobe when you walk into the room. The spin and wobble feature works similar to a strobe without having any disorientating effect on you. Note, these do not strobe.
Lumens are how we measure luminous flux which is the amount of light energy or power of the light in total that comes out of the face of the flashlight. High Lumens means that you have a powerful LED and a powerful battery. Flashlight producers like throwing the word Lumen around everywhere but it is not really as useful of a measure of light as Candela or Beam Distance for how the flashlight will perform. The most powerful tactical flashlights have really high lumens but it is dependent on the reflector on whether the light will shine a long distance or if it will light up the area close to the light.
Candela is the peak beam intensity or in other words the brightest point of light produced. Without changing the amount of Lumens the Candela can change dramatically since they are dependent on the beam angle which is controlled greatly by the reflector. The smaller the beam angle the greater the peak brightness with be (Candela). So you could have flashlight with a much less powerful LED producing a higher beam intensity and having a longer beam distance because it has a smaller beam angle.
As mentioned earlier when we described the ANSI FLstandards Beam Distance is the distance in meters that a light can go until it reaches 0.2lux which is the amount of light output by the full moon on a clear night. Just like Peak Beam Intensity/Candela the Beam Distance is very dependent on both the type of LED used and also the reflector. Flashlights can be designed to throw a long beam like a spot light or to light up a whole area like a light bulb in your house. Later we will talk about throw vs flood.
With all of that said, we will play by the manufacturers rules and decide how much light we need by Lumens. But, now that you are educated you can take the other ANSI measurements into account while searching for the best tactical flashlight.
700+ Lumens: This is getting really serious. This is the level of power you want if you need maximum brightness for your job but still need a small handheld light. Search and rescue teams or people that just want to show off get these kinds of lumens. There are handheld flashlights that go up to 7000+ Lumens these insane flashlights can make a tree 3-football fields away as bright as a christmas tree.
Flood Vs. Throw
These are two terms that you will hear about all of the time if you do much research in flashlights. A flashlight the has a lot of flood will illuminate a very large area but not very far. There will not be a defined beam but on overall brightness in the whole area. Torches that have a long throw have a very definite beam and you can light up something many yards away. Different lights are designed to be more floody or throwy, it is dependent on the design of the reflector and on the LED that is used. In general flashlights that are floody are better for close up activities and flashlights that have a long throw are for lighting up thing that are far away. You need to decide how far away you want to be able to see something and this will change the flashlight that you will want to buy.
Some flashlights come with light filters that you can put over the top of the flashlight so it will shine another color. Red is popular for night vision, blue and yellow are popular for seeing blood, and green does not spook animals while hunting and can not be seen from the side so you can preserve your location.
Dedicated RGB LEDs
You would use red, blue, and green led flashlights for the same reason as above but for some reason you might want them built into the flashlight. Having the built in LEDs makes it so you do not need to search for filters all of the time, but you will not be able to get the same level of brightness as you would in a light with a filter.
Some people like to carry flashlights is a separate holder on their belt, and some flashlights are too big to fit in a pocket. For this reason there are flashlights that come with holsters. Most flashlight holsters have a belt loop and then a Velcro flap that goes over the head of the flashlight.
Do you need to put your light on a gun, some lights are dedicated gun lights and some handheld flashlights have adapters that will attach them to a gun. A light the is meant designed to go on a gun will fit more secure and have less movement, but having an adapter for a handheld light is both more versatile and cheaper.
If you want to mount your flashlights to a weapon some lights offer different types of switches. Many manufacturers offer pressure switches that replace the tail switch of a flashlight with a pressure pad so you can move the on/off button to almost anywhere else on the gun. These are particularly useful for long weapons so you can put a switch right next to where you would comfortably keep your hands as opposed to feeling around for the button on the flashlight.
Do you want the surface of the flashlight to be knurled for extra grip or do you want it to be smooth. Knurling is when a pattern is put into the metal surface of the flashlight. Many people like the knurling in the metal but some do not and prefer smoother ergonomic features to increase grip.
Flashlights 10- Introductory Course
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Handheld Flashlight: These are the flashlights that we all think about when we think of flashlights.\r\n
Headlamp: Headlamps are light that you wear over your head that allow you to be hands free. For things like camping an hiking these flashlight are ideal. It is much easier to use the restroom in the middle of the night with a headlamp on as opposed to a handheld light, and you really wouldn’t want to use a weapon light for this.\r\n
Weapon Lights: This other type of flashlight is specifically designed to be mounted to a pistol or a long gun. An example of a dedicated weapon light is the SureFire X300 Ultra. The two main types of mounting rails are the Weaver rail and the Picatinny rail. The Picatinny rail is the new of the two standards and typically Weaver accessories will fit on a Picatinny rail but not vice-versa. The other type of mounts that are used for shotguns and rifles without a rail system simply squeeze around both the barrel and the flashlight by tightening a screw.\r\n
– 1Lumens: Any kind of flashlight will do, you mainly just need a small light to get around dark rooms. Something to help you find your way to the restroom in the middle of the night or help you read a map. This level of light will not completely destroy your night vision.\r\n
1- 5Lumens: This is enough light to completely illuminate a room in the event of a power outage but it is not enough to see very far outdoors. This is also not enough to temporarily blind a would be attacker but still enough to mess up your own night vision.\r\n
60 – 14Lumens: Now we are getting to enough light to see outdoors. This is the level of light you would want if you were going for a walk at night through your neighborhood. There are conflicting numbers but in the dark above 100 Lumens should produce temporary blindness, you will need higher Lumens if you are in a more well lit place.\r\n
150 – 29Lumens: With this level of light output you could easily light up a large room, your entire backyard and be able to see pretty far out of a campsite. At 150 Lumens you will be able to cause temporary blindness even in a well lit place at night and at close to 300 Lumens you would be able to cause temporary blindness in an indoor daylight situation.\r\n
300 – 69Lumens: These are some serious Lumens. Most small flashlight require a burst mode to reach these high of lumens. You will typically only get into these lumen levels with specialty batteries. You could come close to lighting up an entire football field and would have no problem illuminating a campground.\r\n
Micro Flashlight: A micro light is under inches, they are the small keychain flashlights that usually use button cell batteries. There are a few super small serious flashlight that run on a single CRor CR123A battery that manage to be under inches in length but not many.\r\n
Mini Flashlight: We will say that a mini flashlight is under inches in length. From inches to inches you open a whole world of single battery flashlights including the standard AA and AAA sizes. There are flashlights that are this size that manage to put out 25Lumens on burst mode with a single CR123A battery. Tactical flashlights that are less than inches are difficult to use as a striking tool since most peoples hands will completely cover the flashlight.\r\n
Small Flashlight: A small flashlight is under inches in length. Between and inches you can not really fit in a second battery but you are able to have single battery flashlights with more features. In this size you will find more options with tail switches and the lights can have a deeper reflector so they can throw their light farther. Also, at inches these flashlights will be able to be used as a striking tool.\r\n
Medium Flashlight: A medium flashlight will be between and inches. In this range we have my lights that run on two batteries and you also start getting flashlights that use 18500 and 18650 specialty batteries. With the the availability of more power because of size these lights will have the top end LED bulbs that can put out very high Lumens. Again, with this size you also increase your ability to use your flashlight as a self-defense tool.\r\n
Large Flashlights: Here we will consider anything over inches that still has a small diameter bezel and can be held in a holster. Police usually buy flashlights in this size range since they can be used as a club and are definitely an extra weapon. Like the previous section these tactical flashlights can output huge amounts of Lumens but with the extra added size these flashlights may have a few more features than the slightly smaller lights.\r\n\r\nWhat Kind of Power Source Do You Want?\r\nWe all want to help the world be a cleaner place and we like the idea of rechargeable batteries, but there are many scenarios where disposable easy to find batteries are the best option.\r\n
Disposable Alkaline: These are the standard size batteries that you are used to seeing AAA, AA, C, and D batteries. These batteries do not offer as much power as some other types of batteries but they are very easy to find. Often people in the prepper\/survival industry like flashlight that will work on standard size batteries so they know that they will have access to the batteries. Alkaline batteries have a shelf life of around years.\r\n
Disposable Lithium: Do not confuse these batteries with Lithium Ion batteries! These batteries are in almost every way the same as alkaline batteries except they have more power, can store more energy and are lighter. Lithium batteries have a shelf life of around years so they are a favorite of survivalists. On the flipside they are quite a bit more expensive than alkaline batteries. Some specialized batteries that fit in this group are the CR123A and the CRwhich are often used in tactical flashlights.\r\n
Rechargeable Cells: Rechargeable Li-Ion cell batteries come in many different sizes. Some specialized sizes that are often used in tactical flashlights are 18500, 18650, and RCR123A. They offer great power output and the ability to recharge. The downside is that the batteries are expensive and you need to buy a nice charger to go along with them so you do not destroy them.\r\n
Integrated Rechargeable Pack: Lastly you can find tactical flashlights that have specially designed battery pack that is made just for that flashlight. sometimes these are removeable or sometimes you plug the whole flashlight into the wall. Often times these offer great benefits but if you run out of juice you need to wait awhile to charge back up.\r\n\r\nFlood Vs. Throw\r\n
These are two terms that you will hear about all of the time if you do much research in flashlights. A flashlight the has a lot of flood will illuminate a very large area but not very far. There will not be a defined beam but on overall brightness in the whole area. Torches that have a long throw have a very definite beam and you can light up something many yards away. Different lights are designed to be more floody or throwy, it is dependent on the design of the reflector and on the LED that is used. In general flashlights that are floody are better for close up activities and flashlights that have a long throw are for lighting up thing that are far away. You need to decide how far away you want to be able to see something and this will change the flashlight that you will want to buy.\r\n\r\n
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Head\/Tail Twist: This type of switch is very common on super small flashlights since it does not take any more space to develop a flashlight that changes its electrical contacts based on how much the head or tail is screwed on. Many people do not like these switches because they find that the head or tail sometimes comes completely unscrewed.\r\n
Body: The body switch was the most popular style and is like what you would find on a Mag-lite. It allows certain types of grip that you would not be able to do with the other two types of switches.\r\n
Tail: The tail switch is the most popular and usually the favorite type of switch for a tactical flashlight. Having the button on the bottom of the torch allows an overhand grip that is already in a fist position, which allows for better self defense with easy flashlight usage. Also, our most preferred method of using a flashlight with a gun really is much easier with a tail switch.\r\n\r\nHow Many Brightness Levels Do You Want?\r\nEvery person wants something different out of their flashlight and every flashlight manufacturer has their own idea of what the best way to provide light is.\r\n
On\/Off: There are no modes or brightness levels, just full power. Many flashlights that are designed for tactical use actually prefer this because when you push that button you know exactly what is going to come out. Some people feel that all of brightness levels and modes can confuse and just get in the way.\r\n
Two Brightness Levels: High and Low, these lights do not offer anything fancy except the ability to have a long battery life on a low setting aside from just having max power all of the time.\r\n
Many Brightness Levels: There are flashlights that have up to different brightness levels and some even with dials that support continuous change. Obviously the brighter the light the lower the run-time so having just enough light for what you are doing is a huge benefit. Rather than having not enough or having too much and having your flashlight die out very quickly.\r\n\r\n \r\nDo You Want Any Special Light Modes?\r\nThere are three special light modes that a flashlight come with. They are Strobe, SOS, and Beacon.\r\n
Strobe: Strobe is designed to disorient somebody, it is a very fast and super bright blinking light that is usually in a changing pattern to really confuse people. This is a feature that many police officers would consider a necessity.\r\n
SOS: SOS or —…— in Morse code is used for emergency purposes. It is originally a naval term for save our ship. This would be useful for anybody that was out camping or stuck in a survival situation.\r\n
Beacon: A beacon is like a lighthouse, it blinks at full brightness every few seconds. The purpose of this mode is for survival. You would use this when you want to get seen. Blinking every few seconds conserves battery life as long as possible.\r\n\r\nWhat Do You Want Your Flashlight To Be Made Out Of?\r\nThe material that flashlights are made of has is important to the durability and the weight of the flashlight. The following are the most commonly used materials.\r\n
Plastics or Composites: There are not that many high quality tactical flashlights for sale that use plastics or composites but one company that is making good composite flashlights is pelican.\r\n
Anodized Aluminum: This is the material that most flashlight manufacturers are using in flashlights today. You want to make sure that you have at least type II anodizing but Type III (hard anodized) is better.\r\n
Stainless Steel: Stainless steel is a very strong and durable material but it is heavy.\r\n
Titanium: Titanium is kinda the best of both worlds, very strong like stainless steel and pretty light. The downside to titanium is the cost.\r\n\r\nDo You Need Water Resistance?\r\nYou may of may not think that you need water resistance. I suggest at least getting IPXwater resistant lights as you do not want you flashlight to stop working in the event of an accident.\r\n
IPX4: This basically means that the flashlight is splash resistant. This should not be submerged in water or it will probably get in.\r\n
IPX7: This is submersible but only to meter for up to 30 minutes according to the specification.\r\n
IPX8: This is the highest level of waterproofing that you will see in most flashlights, it is submersible to more than meter for up to hours.\r\n\r\nDo You Have Any Special Needs For Your Flashlight?\r\nYou can find flashlights these days with all sorts of extra modifications for sale that fit particular needs. Take a look at some of the more common features that manufacturers offer to see if any of these might be useful to you.\r\n\r\n\r\n\t
Faint, Dull, Bright, Very Bright, Brilliant – Gem Quality
This is the brightness chart you will see on most internet auctions with being the brightest.
Currently the Opal association is working on a chart which will have seven levels of brightness with number ONE being the BRIGHTEST.
Check on listings to make sure what chart is being used.
Opal sizes are listed in millimetres (25.mm = inch) and weights are listed in carats – just like all other gemstones and the jewelry mountings for them A calibrated shape gemstone should fit most jewelry mountings designed for those dimensions.
An opal that is within 0.to mm of a calibrated size may acceptably fit into many calibrated mountings. Calibrated shape opals typically cost 15% to 50% more than a freeform shape opal due to the wastage of the opal when cut.
A freeform or larger size opal can be cut to a smaller size by an experienced cutter. Or you can have a custom jewelry mounting made for your unique opal, often for less expense than you might expect.
Thickness of the opal is a major factor in the carat weight of a precious opal gemstone – but an opal that is unusually thick will be considered less valuable as it may have to have excess weight removed to fit in a jewellery piece.
Play of Color
The very best precious opals have play-of-color across the entire gemstone when rotated. Most precious opals do not have play-of-color across 100% of the gem and are still stunning. Every natural precious opal gemstone is unique. Some precious opals have a flash, a Harlequin or other unusual pattern, rainbows, ribbons of color or many variations that are both beautiful and stunning while not covering 100% of the opal’s face.
If an opal doesn’t have Play-Of-Color, it isn’t precious opal.
Sometimes an area of the opal will have a Play-Of-Color flash from a particular viewing angle, while another area of the opal flashes best at a different viewing angle. You may have to rotate or pivot the Gem Stone and/or change positions between you, the opal and the viewing light to see Play-Of-Color from a particular area of many opal Gem Stones. These stone are directional and are usually best suited to a pendant.
The most expensive opals have at least some wonderful Play-of-Color from most viewing angles. Sometimes an opal is at its best if lighted from the side or from slightly ‘above’ which would make it an ideal opal to use for a pendant. Some opals are at their best and brightest ‘face up’ – when the viewer has the light source over her shoulder to view the opal face-on like a ring stone. Some of these patterns can EXPLODE and look stunning.
Visible Opal Flaws
Listed here are some of the natural imperfections that can reduce the value of your precious opal. If you can accept these natural imperfections, you may be able to purchase an opal you otherwise couldn’t afford. And, the ‘natural imperfections’ are proof that the opal is not man made!
A whitish to cream color area visible within your opal’s surface is often called ‘clay’ or ‘silk’ or ‘sand’, small bits of clay present when the opal was forming.
A ‘Matrix’ opal that has precious opal surrounded by visible rock or clay it formed within will be less valuable than a solid opal or most quality constructed doublets.
Potch lines across the colour face are acceptable provided they aren’t contrasting with the stones appearance. Most black gems have some potch in the face which doesn’t stand out but grey potch on a black stone would so it would decrease its value.
Sometimes a line inside the opal is just how the opal naturally formed and not a crack or flaw. Hold it close to a lamp shape to see it you can see a fractured reflection. If large areas of your opal have no precious Play-Of-Color (sometimes called ‘potch’), that will reduce the value of the opal.
If there are visible scratches on the surface of the opal, its value will increase after the opal has been professionally polished to remove them. Cracks that go through the thickness of the opal’s surface will reduce its value. To save a damaged valuable precious opal keepsake, cracks can sometimes be repaired and no longer be visible to the unaided eye.
Any seller of precious opals should always tell the customer if an opal has been repaired, stabilized or otherwise treated.
It must be remembered that opal reflects light and digital cameras are not built to capture the amazing patterns and colour changes in opal.
A simple experiment is to place a stone on the floor by a doorway in natural sunlight, and move the stone back inside taking several photos along the way. You will most likely find that one photo looks amazing as if it has been enhanced.
Depending on the quality of photographic equipment and lighting sources, there will always be some variation between a digital photo and viewing a stone with a naked eye.
Sellers on are expected to produce consistent photos that are representative of the opal being sold. Viewing an item that has a video can be a good way to reveal the many different faces of a good quality opal, and see the movement of colour that is not necessarily visible from all angles.
The experienced buyer will know to take all information into account, including the N tone rating, brightness, shape, dimensions and of course price.
The most common complaint is for blue opals. Most cameras capture the mauve in the stone which the naked eye can’t see. So if you see a mauve stone remember it’s most likely a blue stone.
Pastel colours seem to come out true to form. With Ethiopian opal the red is easy to capture and it will not be as bright in the hand.
If a seller guarantees his stock there is no advantage in over enhancing the pictures as he would have to return too much stock.
Many sellers use a black background as the camera captures the opalat its best. Always ask for a photo taken in the hand.
You can see the two stones below look better in the hand shot which is more natural. The last picture has been enhanced so you notice how the hand looks red and less natural. If you see a hand looking red you know the picture has been enhanced.
Rock the Opal side-to-side and top-to-bottom – rotate it 90 degrees clockwise and repeat, – then again.
Change the angle between the light source, the opal and your eyes and repeat. Rock the opal side to side or top to bottom to change the viewing angle.
Harlequin opal is the most sought after pattern in opal due to its rarity and beauty.
On the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) website, it states: “Harlequin or mosaic – broad, angular, close-set patches of color”.
Originally rounded or floral shapes were not called harlequin but this is now common practice.
On some unscrupulous internet sites many stones are listed as harlequin as the seller believes this will increase its value. Many of these stones would not be called harlequin on the opal fields, however they can still be beautiful and valuable in their own right. It is always important to buy from an opal expert.
In my 20 years experience of selling thousands of stones, I have only had three opals which I consider to contain a true harlequin pattern.
Things to watch for
Synthetic opal are sometimes used in triplets which are much harder to spot. Generally they are very bright with a regular pattern that looks too constant to be natural. It is best to become familiar with a few man made opals (usually advertised as synthetic or man made) so it is easier to recognize them.
Andamooka Matrix is a natural white opal matrix found in Andamooka, South Australia. It has been treated to look like expensive black opal. The treatment is permanent but if you reshape or cut it you will have to re-treat it.
Some of this material is called concert which is more porous than the gem matrix. It is hard to get a good polish on it as it has pores. You can use a resin like liquid glass – or in Australia we use HXmade by Shell. This is an epoxy that soaks in to the stone and gives a good polish. The colours and fire are amazing.
Andamooka Matrix is even great just left in a glass jar as a dazzling specimen.
No Reserve Opal Online Auctions
No reserve opal online auctons are a great entry point for new opal buyers, as the buyer can determine the price at which the item sells. This is generally a good indicator of the value of the item.
For this reason sellers have been known to list a great variety of high quality items to ensure a good selling price, and build up their loyal repeat customer base.
Buying rough opal is always a bit of a gamble as you can’t really see the quality of the precious opal within.
You can lessen the risk if you buy “rubs”. Opal rubs are pieces of rough that have been rubbed down to the colour bar so you can get some idea of the stone it will cut. There is still the risk of inclusions in the stone which may make it smaller than you expect.
Most sellers on the internet wet the rubs or rough before hand to show the colours you can expect when it is polished. Always check the thickness of rubs as if it is too thin it won’t be strong enough for a ring. Any stone around mm thick is too thin and may even need reinforcing in a pendant.
You shouldn’t expect to see a good stone in cheap rough as no seller would deliberately leave it there, however some beautiful stones have been found in rough that looked as if it contained nothing.
Black nobbys from Lightning Ridge are known for there surprises as even the most experienced dealers let some stones slip through in there rough grading process. Nobby rough untouched should always be viewed as a gamble.
With white opal rough it is a rule of thumb that what you paid per gram should cut that per carat as a finished stone.
Buying rough from photos is always difficult so you should check the sellers return policy. If they don’t offer one you should consider taking your business elsewhere. It is generally accepted that if you rub, snip or touch the rough it is considered sold.
Most internet sellers want your repeat business so even if you are not happy with what you have cut you can always ask for a bonus.
Trivia & Tips
The buyers on the internet have a big influence over the shape of the industry. If they return over enhanced stones back to sellers, they will be forcing sellers to more accurately classify their stock so all sellers are on an equal playing field, and it will be easier to compare stock between sellers.
The future is exciting for the opal industry. This beautiful stone is now available at competitive prices to buyers who would normally not have access to it.
The gemstone industry has many levels of dealers but the internet allows you to go direct to the source. New cameras will more accurately capture the true colours of opal and there will be evolving video technology that will allow you to see a stone as if it was in your hand.
For the sake of this review, I installed the Origem Magic Lamp into my photo light fixture in my office. However, I used the Magic Lamp on my patio for the duration of this review, since San Diego pretty much has year around good weather where I can sit outside and enjoy music.
Almost as good
This bulb met all of our requirements and had nearly as wide a dim range as the Cree in our tests, but it costs slightly more per bulb and has a lower CRI.
If our top pick is unavailable, the Philips 60W Equivalent Soft White A1Dimmable LED with Warm Glow is a great backup choice. It meets all the same criteria as the Cree does, with only slightly inferior specs and a slightly higher price per bulb. It has a lower CRI (80), it doesn’t get quite as bright according to our lux meter (though we couldn’t tell the difference with the naked eye), and it has a narrower dimming range. However, it is available on a single-bulb basis if you need to get only one or two at a time.
You stand to save about a hundred dollars over the guaranteed lifetime of an LED bulb versus a comparably bright incandescent.
If you’ve fully converted to compact fluorescent bulbs, you’ve already seen some savings—but switching to LEDs will save you even more. Compact fluorescent light bulbs use about a third to a quarter of the energy of incandescents, and two to three times as much energy as LED bulbs. LEDs also tend to work better with dimmers than CFLs do. When your CFLs die, upgrading to LEDs will definitely be a worthwhile investment.
How we picked
For this guide, we wanted to focus on bulbs designed to replace the vast majority of bulbs in typical home fixtures and lamps. That means they should be affordable and widely available, and they should come as close to mimicking the performance and appearance of an incandescent bulb as possible.
Lamp and fixture compatibility is a must, which means you’ll probably want an A19-type base (the standard screw mount). It’s the most common base type, but you should double-check your lights to make sure. We may add reviews of candelabra and other mount types in the future if we see sufficient interest.
Brightness is important, as well. We have picks for both 60-watt equivalents and 40-watt equivalents because you want the brightness of 60-watt bulbs for ceiling fixtures, but not every lamp needs to be bright enough to light a room on its own.
Color temperatures are technically a personal preference, with lower numbers indicating more yellow and higher numbers indicating more blue. We figured that most people would like to maintain the warmer look of incandescent bulbs, so we focused on the most common kind, 2,700-kelvin “warm” or “soft white” bulbs. You can find brighter-looking, bluer-hued bulbs in the 5,000 K range and warmer, plus Edison-bulb-like models with numbers lower than 2,000 K, but those are more for special uses.
Color Rendering Index (CRI) is an indicator of how accurate colors will look under the light a bulb produces. The maximum score is 100—incandescent bulbs score 100, but the average LED bulb scores about 80. CRI is an imperfect measurement; generally speaking, a higher number is better, but such bulbs cost more and use marginally more power. “For most people, 80 CRI bulbs are fine; you wouldn’t notice them unless you are really particular,” CNET’s Ry Crist told us in an interview. He gave the example of someone who might select a particular color-coordinating scheme for their living room furniture and drapes. Crist told us that it’s hard to see a distinction until the bulb is at a CRI of about 8or higher. Designing with LED’s Margery Conner suggested that it might be worthwhile to invest in a few higher-CRI bulbs (with a score of 90 or better) in dining areas or rooms with art on the walls. After all, you wouldn’t want to flatten the colors on the food you worked so hard to buy, serve, and eat.
The Cree 60W Equivalent Soft White A1Dimmable LED bulb.
The Philips 60W Equivalent Soft White A1Dimmable LED bulb.
A normal 60-watt incandescent.
A note from our photo editor: White balance remained constant at 2,700 K for all the photos in the above gallery, so the differences in color cast are the actual differences you would see between the bulbs if you were to compare them side by side. But the differences are not visible to the naked eye unless two different bulbs are lighting the same space.
How we tested
We tested bulbs for brightness, light spread, warm-up time, and performance in a dimmer. To measure warm-up time and brightness, we closed off a room to all incoming light (testing at night) and duct-taped a light meter to the ceiling and walls to measure lux readings from three points around the room (foot from the bulb, feet from the bulb, and feet from the bulb reflected off white drywall). For each bulb we measured lux at the dimmer’s highest and lowest setting; we then waited five minutes and repeated the same measurements.
We found in our testing that these bulbs no longer needed warm-up time to shine their brightest. In fact, they almost all started out at their brightest and then dimmed by a dozen or so lux before settling down. So we made our pick decisions using the post-warm-up readings, since it’s rare that you’d use a bulb for less than five minutes.
At the time of turning on the bulb and after five minutes, at both dimmer extremes, we listened for any humming or buzzing the bulb might make. We also tested for light spread in a more open nondimmer socket, and in that regard we found most of the bulbs to be beyond reproach, with a few exceptions as noted in The competition.
For a lower price than most other bulbs, this dimmable LED balances brightness, efficiency, a wide dimming range, and a high CRI of 85, producing warm and accurate light. (pack of four)
The Cree was among the brightest bulbs we tested, falling just behind the GE Reveal 60W Equivalent A1Dimmable LED in overall brightness. At a distance of foot at the highest setting, we measured a reading from the Cree bulb of 31lux, which fell to 29lux after five minutes. While this was the the second-highest reading we measured in our tests (the GE Reveal was a touch brighter at 30lux), each bulb was bright enough to fully illuminate a 100-square-foot room without additional help, and we struggled to discern any qualitative difference between any of the bulbs at peak brightness. Backing up this result was our data in the other test, where we measured the brightness of each bulb’s reflection cast onto a wall feet away. In this test, the brightest bulb, the GE Reveal, had virtually the same lux reading as the Cree (3lux versus 3lux) and both just barely edged out the 30-lux reading of our Philips runner-up, which registered a mere 19lux at its brightest setting. This goes to show that brightness isn’t everything.
The Cree 60-watt-equivalent bulb was also able to get much dimmer than the competition, delivering a 282-lux dimming range (light spread), wider than any other bulb. At the lowest dimmer setting, our light meter picked up a reading of 1lux, which held steady after five minutes. That’s dim enough that you’d probably have to squint to read a book; it’s also significantly dimmer than the GE Reveal got, as that bulb was too bright at its lowest setting (4lux) for us to consider it truly dim.
For several days we tested and lived with the Cree 60-watt-equivalent LED installed in both an open light fixture and a living room lamp, reading and watching TV by its light in a dark room with hardly any incoming sunlight. We detected no humming at any dimmer setting, which couldn’t be said of the otherwise great Walmart bulbs we tested. The light from the Cree bulb felt warm and comfortable in our use, comparable to that of an incandescent. And this bulb, with its relatively low energy draw of just 9.watts, promises an even lighter impact on your utility bill than, say, the 11-watt GE Reveal 60W Equivalent A1Dimmable LED or the 10-watt Walmart Great Value 60W Equivalent Omni Dimmable Soft White LED.
The Cree bulb also has a relatively high CRI of 85, ranking higher than all but one of our top contenders. But as Margery Conner told us, it’s almost impossible to see the difference between an 80 CRI bulb and and 8CRI bulb, so when we say there was nothing of note regarding the bulb’s color accuracy, you should interpret that as a good thing. The GE Reveal 60W Equivalent A1Dimmable LED has a CRI score of 90, but it costs twice as much per bulb and uses more energy. (If color accuracy is a high priority for you, the GE is probably the better choice so long as you can deal with a not-so-dim dim setting; if not, skip it.)
A 40-watt incandescent bulb.
This Cree bulb has a CRI of 85, which is relatively high for the 40-watt-equivalent category. At 5.watts, it also draws considerably less energy than competitors, most of which range in consumption from to watts per bulb.
We had one major beef with this bulb: All four of the bulbs in the package produced a subtle hum. It wasn’t so loud that you’d notice it over the general activity of a home, but it was certainly present. Also, as we explain in How we picked above, the presence of humming usually has more to do with the dimmer than the bulb, so your experience may vary in this regard, and in the end we didn’t find it a strong enough flaw to reject this Cree bulb as our 40-watt-equivalent pick.
However, if you are primarily concerned about noise—maybe you intend to install the bulb in a near-silent reading room—consider one of the competitors we tested, namely the (especially cheap) Sylvania/Osram 40W Equivalent Dimmable Soft White A1LED or the Philips 40W Equivalent Soft White Clear A1Dimmable LED with Warm Glow.
First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.
Most important, have fun and choose your Light Bulb Rings wisely! Good luck!
So, TOP3 of Light Bulb Rings
- №1 — LightInTheBox Max 5W Pendant Light Modern Chrome Chandeliers Ceiling Lighting Fixture for LED Metal Living Room / Bedroom / Dining Room / Kitchen 5 Lights on One Base Light Source Color=White
- №2 — Oil Ring For Light Bulbs (ORIN)
- №3 — Home Interior -Ceramic Lamp Ring – 2 Rings Without Oil