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Top Of The Best Lighting Reviewed In 2018Last Updated November 1, 2018
№1 – Progress Lighting P7211-09EB 24-Inch Flat Glass Bath Fixture Linear Fluorescent, Brushed Platinum
№2 – Fovitec StudioPRO – 2x Product Photography Fluorescent Lamp Lighting Kit – [2x][CFL][Lamps and Bulbs Included]
№3 – Neewer 16″x16″/40cmx40cm Photography Photo Video Studio Wired Softbox Flash Light Lighting Diffuser with E27 Socket for Fluorescent Bulb Lamp
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.
Efficiency of LED Lighting
It’s not just a buzzword—efficiency is the name of the game with LEDs. LEDs are more than five times as great as its incandescent counterparts. They use only about 20 percent as much electricity to product the same amount of light.
A quality LED lamp can last anywhere from 20,000 to 50,000 hours. If you operate the lamp for hours per day, 36days a year, your LED lamp could last 20 years.
Brightness of LEDs
Brightness is measured in lumens, while the energy a bulb consumes is measured in watts. To produce similar amounts of light, LED and fluorescents bulbs consume far fewer watts than incandescent or halogen bulbs. A standard 60W incandescent produces 800 lumens, whereas LEDs consume 13-1watts to produce 800 lumens.
LEDs Versus Fluorescent Lighting
Both LED and fluorescent lighting are more efficient than incandescent: LEDs consume up to 90% less energy and fluorescents consume up to 75% less. Fluorescents are made of glass tubes and can shatter if dropped, whereas LEDs are more durable. Also, fluorescents contain trace amounts of mercury and several states have special recycling rules.
Pros & Cons of LED Light
LED stands for light emitting diode, which are semiconductors that produce light when charged. LED bulbs have an average lifespan of over 50,000 hours, compared to a little over 1,000 for conventional incandescent bulbs. As a LED ages, the amount of light it gives off dissipates over time.
Pros & Cons of CFL Light
CFL stands for compact fluorescent lighting, which is simply a smaller version of a fluorescent tube. CFL bulbs contain a mercury vapor that lights when it is energized. Because CFLs contain mercury, they must be disposed of carefully, at designated drop-off site (Home Depot, Lowes, recycling centers, etc). An average CFL bulb should last 7,000 hours.
Pros & Cons of Incandescent Light
Incandescent light is an electric process that produces light with a wire filament that is heated to a high temperature by an electric current which runs through it. This is the type of lighting which was the standard in homes up until the 1990’s. Due to its poor energy efficiency, it is being replaced with the newer technology of LED and CFL bulbs. Incandescent bulbs last roughly 1,000 hours.
Pros & Cons of Halogen Light
Similar to incandescent light bulbs, halogen bulbs use a similar electric-filament technology with one important difference; with incandescents the filament degrades via evaporation over time whereas, with halogens, filament evaporation is prevented by a chemical process that redeposits metal vapor onto the filament, thereby extending its life. Halogen bulbs have a lifespan of roughly 3,000 hours.
Color Temperature & Lighting Color temperature is a characteristic of visible light. The temperature of light refers to its warmness or coolness, or hue. This temperature is measured using the Kelvin scale, which for most use ranges from 2,700°-7,500°K. Incandescent and halogen lighting are the most limited in the temperature range at 2,700°-3,000°K. LED and CFL have each expanded their color range to now offering warmer options. Most task lighting, however, benefits from cooler lighting options which include LED, full spectrum, and CFL.
Understanding Lumens & Brightness is a measurement of light output from a lamp, often called a tube or a bulb. All lamps are rated in lumens. For example, a 100-watt incandescent lamp produces about 1,600 lumens.
The distribution of light on a flat surface is called its illumination and is measured in footcandles. A footcandle of illumination is a lumen of light spread over a one square foot area.
The illumination needed varies according to the difficulty of a visual task. Ideal illumination is the minimum footcandles necessary to allow you to perform a task comfortably and efficiently without eyestrain or fatigue. According to the Illuminating Engineering Society, illumination of 30 to 50 footcandles is needed for most home and office work. Intricate and lengthy visual tasks — like sewing — require 200 to 500 footcandles.
1,000-1,400 Lumens is a commonly accepted range for most applications of task lighting. An average of 50 Lumens per square foot is a common measure. efficacy. Efficacy is the ratio of light output from a lamp to the electric power it uses and is measured in lumens per watt.
Demystifying LED Light
When comparing the raw lumen output of traditional lamps with the lumen output of many LED lamps, it may seem that LEDs deliver less light than the conventional counterparts. These comparisons, however, are inaccurate and misleading, since they fail to account for the amount of wasted light in conventional lighting.
Therefore, lumen output is a poor measure of the suitability of a lamp for a given task. The better measure is delivered light — how much light a fixture delivers to a surface, as measured in lux (lx) or footcandles (fc). You can make comparisons between conventional and LED lighting fixtures on the basis of delivered light, as it measures how much of a light source’s raw lumen output reaches a surface or area you are lighting.
Determining the amount of a conventional lamp’s raw lumen output reaches as area, you must discount any light lost in the fixture housing (at times over 30%), as well as the light lost as a result of shading, lensing, and filtering. Since incandescent and fluorescent lamps often emit light in many directions, you must also discount any light cast away from the target area.
Reading area or den
The reading area should have a bright task lamp. A bright desk lamp can prevent eye strain which is helpful in preventing eye damage in the long run. With bright task lamps in the reading area, you can keep headaches away. Thus, you will surely enjoy reading as well as other activities like writing letters or completing puzzles.
Your kitchen is another part of the home that requires task lighting. The dangerous nature of the activities you do in your kitchen is reason enough to get additional task lighting. More importantly, you need enough light to read recipes and to see the ingredients as they cook as well as other practical things. For kitchens, common task lighting fixtures are under cabinet lights that provide extra illumination to supplement the ambient light.
Ambient lighting, also known as general lighting, illuminates the whole room. This type of light provides enough illumination to safely navigate through the space, read the labels in a first-aid kit and bathe kiddos in the tub. When used with a dimmer, ambient light can also transform into warm, soft illumination to offset the bright glow that results from task lighting.
Ambient lighting is most often achieved through ceiling lighting. A flush mount ceiling light with a frosted diffuser is perfect for providing just enough warm, ambient light to illuminate the whole bathroom.
As the finishing touch to a bathroom lighting arrangement, accent lighting balances out the overall brightness of the room. Enhancing ambient lighting and softening task lighting, accent lighting provides a subtle glow that creates depth and highlights different parts of the bathroom.
An easy way to add accent lighting to a bathroom is through the addition of wall sconces. Positioned next to a door, a piece of art or mounted on a blank wall, a wall sconce will provide soft, diffused light to counterbalance ambient and task lighting.
Areas of a Bathroom to Light
Now that the type of light that is needed in a bathroom has been determined, it is important to identify the appropriate areas that need to be illuminated and what light fixtures will sufficiently illuminate the space.
Bathroom Ceiling Lights
A ceiling light is a successful way to provide the necessary general light that is needed in a bathroom. The previously mentioned flush mount light is a great option, as is an arrangement of hardly noticeable recessed lights throughout. Both will casting general light downwards while blending in subtly with any design.
The placement of ceiling lighting in a bathroom is also key. The center of the room is perfect for casting light around the whole space. Definitely avoid putting a ceiling light directly above the vanity—the result will be splotchy illumination, unwanted shadows and potentially a glare from the light bouncing off of the mirror.
Bathroom Mirror Lighting
For tall or round mirrors, or for personal design preferences, simply mount a wall sconce along either side of the mirror. The wall sconces should be mounted 60 inches from the ground and 2inches apart to provide the proper distribution of task lighting.
Or you can forego the separate installation of lighting and mirror by combining the two together. Lighted mirrors put the lights just where you need them without the need to measure or take up more wall space.
Bathroom Wall Lights
Apart from their possible duties flanking a mirror, elsewhere in a bathroom, wall lights add a soft fill light that enhances ambient light and balances out bright task lighting. A single wall sconce is perfect for lighting a dark corner or highlighting a piece of art. A second option is to create a symmetrical installation by framing a door or window with a wall sconce mounted on both sides. For best results, mount wall lights at eye-level, or 5-feet off the ground.
In areas directly exposed to water, like the area around a shower or bathtub, bathroom lights should be listed for wet locations. This means that, even if the light fixture is splashed or comes in contact with water, the water will not damage or build up in the electrical area of the lamp.
Becca is a Senior Site Merchandiser for YLighting and a firm believer in the idea that sometimes more really is more. As a lover of bright colors and bold patterns, Becca loves for her affinity of color to transcend into all aspect of her life – from her clothes to her home decor. When not at work, Becca can often be found online shopping, watching the latest scary movie, or brushing up on her fun facts.
The most recognisable type of bulb, and the easiest to replace. Let’s say you have a standard 60W incandescent bulb which you use to light your lounge and replace it with a 12W Verbatim LED bulb. This is overkill, if anything, as the replacement will be noticeably brighter (producing 1,100 lumens – the equivalent of a 77W incandescent bulb and representing 8percent energy saving).
Using some average figures – 15p per kWh of electricity – you’ll save around £per year.
They’re said to last for 25,000 hours – the same as the Verbatim – and you’ll break even in roughly two years.
There are various types of incandescent bulb. The common version – in the photo above – is an E2screw, but it can also have a traditional bayonet fitting. Most LED bulbs offer a choice of either fitting.
You may also have R50 spotlight bulbs (also known as SES or E14) in ceiling light fittings. These are fairly widely available as LED versions.
However, using the same SES / E1screw fitting are many ‘candle’ bulbs. Again, these are easily available in LED.
All of these are inefficient and can be replaced with LEDs. Halogen spotlights are perhaps the worst culprits as although they use less power than incandescent bulbs, they’re rarely used singly. Typically there will be up to six or eight per room, and if each is a 35W lamp, that’s between 200 and 300W. Halogens are notoriously inefficient, such that you can buy ‘energy-efficient’ halogen bulbs, but even these save only around a third.
Halogens come in two main types: GU(mains voltage) and MR1(low voltage – 12V). Just because some are low voltage doesn’t mean they use less power. They don’t.
Don’t forget your outdoor lighting. Halogen floodlights – which have lamps which consume between 120 and 500 watts – can be replaced with 10- or 20W LED versions for around £to £20 per light: you replace the entire light fitting. This 10W model costs only £9.9from Toolstation.
Colour temperature is crucial: most people prefer the warm white, which is very similar to halogen, rather than the ‘cold’ bluish tint of white or cool-white LEDs. Look out for the actual colour temperature in Kelvin: 2700-3000K is a good warm white. Higher values, say 5000K or 6000K will look cooler. If you want a whiter look, be careful as you can end up with a very clinical look.
You also need to look at brightness, measured in lumens. Try to find out how many lumens your current halogen lamps produce, and match or exceed that. Some cheap LED bulbs produce as little as 120lm, but you’ll probably find you need 350-400lm to provide the same light output as your existing bulbs.
Next up is beam angle. This determines the spread of light the bulb produces. A narrower angle means light will be concentrated on a smaller area, like a spotlight. A larger angle is better for lighting a larger area, but don’t forget this means it could appear dimmer overall. For replacing Halogen downlights, look for a beam angle of around 40 degrees. Incadescent replacements should have a much larger beam angle, say 140 degrees.
CRI is another spec you should see (if you don’t, it’s worth asking for the CRI figure). Here’s why: CRI stands for Colour Rendering Index and is a measure of the light quality from 0 to 100. In other words, the CRI score tells you if objects appear the correct colour when lit using that bulb. Incandescent bulbs had a brilliant CRI, but not so with fluorescent tubes. If you want to avoid bad-looking lighting, it’s crucial to go for LEDs with a high CRI.
Not all LEDs use the same technology. Cheaper bulbs will tend to use multiple SMD (surface-mount device) LEDs, but newer or more expensive ones will use COB – chip on-board LEDs.
COB offers a higher light output per watt, and tends to be used in smaller bulbs such as MR1COB isn’t necessarily better than SMD, though. It depends on the form factor of the bulbs you’re buying and your priorities in terms of budget.
If you are replacing low-voltage halogen bulbs, there are no guarantees that LEDs will work on your particular transformers which may require a minimum power draw to work properly. If the draw is too low from your super-efficient LED bulbs, they may flicker or not work at all. In this case, you would need to either replace the transformers with proper LED drivers, or change the fittings from MR1to mains-voltage GUfittings and buy GULED bulbs instead. Fittings are cheap, and it may be cheaper to go down this route than buy an LED driver for each MR1bulb.
A non-standard downrod is used when the ceiling height is greater than feet. See our downrod sizing guide to determine which length you will need for your ceiling height.
A sloped application is intended for room where the ceiling slants at 3degrees or higher. The fan installs into the ceiling with the use of an adapter, like this Modern Fan sloped ceiling adapter.
Lastly, look for a ceiling fan with a blade span that matches the room’s square footage and height. If you choose a fan that is too small for the space, it will struggle to move air. If you choose a fan that is too large for the space, not only will be off putting, but it will waste too much energy.
Sizing Tips: Here are some additional dimensions to consider when you buy a ceiling fan a new ceiling fan.
CEILING FAN LIGHTS
To add lighting or not to add lighting, that is the question. Choosing a ceiling fan with lighting is a matter of personal preference. If you plan to install the fan in a space with good natural lighting or sufficient light fixtures, buy a ceiling fan without a light kit.
If the space could use a boost of general lighting, choose a ceiling fan with a light kit. Today’s fans offer a range of lighting sources, including halogen, fluorescent, and LEDs.
Fluorescent light sources use 7percent less energy than incandescent light sources and have an average lifespan of 10,000 hours. Ceiling fans with CFL bulbs emit cool or warm lighting.
LED light sources consume very little energy and have an average lifespan of 50,000 hours. These ceiling fans with energy-efficient bulbs emit cool or warm lighting.
Antique Ceiling Fan Designs
Antique and vintage style ceiling fans complement traditional and vintage home decors. They often feature decorative filigree and scrollwork on the motor housing and blade brackets. Many light kits include a warm globe light. To achieve a vintage-inspired look, buy a ceiling fan that features an antique-style and pair it with American Empire furniture, floral prints and textiles, and warm brass and copper finishes. A warm pastel palette ties the space together.
Contemporary Ceiling Fans
Contemporary ceiling fans are a great addition to any modern and transitional space. The modern style ceiling fans feature clean lines, smooth metallic finishes, and minimal adornment. Buy a ceiling fan with a contemporary feel and pair it with casual contemporary furniture (avoid wood carving and adornments), natural textiles such as cotton, linen or wool, and chrome, nickel or stainless steel hardware. A bold color palette and geometric accents bring the look together.
Rustic Ceiling Fans
Rustic ceiling fans pair well with country, mission and western interiors. These rustic-inspired ceiling fans feature straight lines and dark wood finishes with homespun accents. To achieve this look, buy a ceiling fan with a rustic look and pair it with lodge-style furniture, checkered or striped prints, handmade accents, such as baskets, carved wooden bowls, and pottery, and hand-forged metal accents. Soft, muted colors, rough hewn wood and hand-forged metal accents round out this look.
Tropical Ceiling fans
Tropical ceiling fans complement coastal, island, and nautical home interiors. The island-inspired fans feature bamboo, natural palm leaf, and rattan blades with distressed wood finishes. To achieve this look, buy a ceiling fan with a tropical feel and pair it with rattan furniture, bright colors and natural patterns, tropical flowers and plants, and handcrafted items.
CEILING FAN EFFICIENCY & AIRFLOW
The motor is the heart of any ceiling fan, and it determines the airflow and efficiency of your ceiling fan. You don’t have to have to be an electrical engineer to understand a fan motor, but it’s the most important part of any fan. Consider the factors below the next time you buy a ceiling fan:
High airflow ceiling fans circulate more air and consume less energy than standard fans. These fans are ideal for garages, warehouses, and outdoor spaces, such as your patio and porch. When you buy a ceiling fan with high airflow you get an added bonus: high-airflow fans are known to drive away mosquitoes and other backyard pests.
Ceiling Fans with Remote Control
The handheld remote control offers the most convenience of all the fan control options. The lightweight and portable control operated within a 30 to 50-foot range, making it ideal for high ceiling fans and hard to reach places. Handheld remote control ceiling fans are also ideal for bedrooms.
The fan speed wall control option allows you to operate the fan speed, direction and lighting with the press of a button. The stationary remote has a range up to 40 feet, making it ideal for families with kids. A wall control is ideal for kitchens, dining rooms, living rooms and multipurpose rooms.
Modern pendant lighting is all about being understated – the focus is on the form, with simple shapes on show. When hanging your pendant light, consider its purpose. Over a dining table, your light should be lower to create intimacy. In heavy traffic areas, such as hallways and living areas, use the tallest household member as a guide to check you’re not creating a collision course.
Hit new heights with these illuminating show-stoppers that can take centre stage or create a cosy corner. Be conscious of scale when picking the right floor lamp for your space, advises Mardi. “It needs to relate to the size of the room or furniture near it,” she says. “A large sweeping floor lamp can smother a small room, whereas a well-proportioned piece can really enhance a living space.”
Contemporary lights will suit the practical areas of your home – think kitchens, bathrooms and laundries. Modern downlights can bring a seamless sophistication to your kitchen, bathroom or living areas, allowing your hero pieces to shine. They are particularly useful if you are dealing with separate work areas, such as kitchen preparation benches, allowing you to direct the light source to the most practical areas. As with other lighting choices, choose energy-saving options, such as LEDs and fluorescents. These options, while initially more expensive, will save money and need less maintenance over time.
Integrated outdoor lighting schemes will make a dramatic impact to your backyard, deck or patio come nightfall. There are two important considerations when choosing outdoor lighting – safety and design. Coordinate your choices with your garden design to showcase the elements in the space, such as large trees, fragrant plants, stone walls or water features. Nat Corrigan from Gardens At Night says that it is important to look at where the garden is viewed from. “You may view the same feature from dif erent areas – multiple light fittings may be required so one aspect doesn’t appear in shadow,” he says. Nat also recommended fittings that are constructed of brass, copper or 31marine-grade stainless steel, to ensure that fittings will last longer. In terms of safety, make sure uneven pathways are well lit and stairways are highlighted. Check that any transformers are situated in convenient locations.
LED TRACK LIGHTING
Highlight your home’s architectural elements with this energy-ef icient, easy-care option. LED lighting has become the new darling in illumination, especially for kitchens and bathrooms. Sales manager of Superlight, Gordon MacVicar says that demand for the strip lighting has steadily increased over the past few years. “We have been doing LED track lighting for about six years and as the cost has come down, the demand has increased,” Gordon says. He adds that when people are investing in spectacular kitchen splashbacks or bathroom fittings, it is only natural that they want to highlight them with some clever lighting. LED track lighting is energy-ef icient, versatile and generates very little heat, making it also ideal for subtle lighting along stairways, windows and floors. The strips are manufactured to length, allowing lots of flexibility for homeowners. Gordon says that most residential projects choose a warm light option or, if it’s going in a clean white kitchen or bathroom, a 4000 kelvin light will provide a slightly cooler colour tone. Another great thing about LED strips? They are virtually maintenance free, says Gordon and usually don’t need replacing. “You can just set and forget them,” he says.
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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.
Important notes before getting your project started
Step 1: Get a clear vision! Because each project is unique, there is no all-in-one solution. Different projects require different types of LED strips.
Do you want to dim your lights or control them with a remote or wall switch?
Wattage consumed per strip of LEDs
Power consumption is one of the reasons we as a society have begun switching to LEDs. Wattage tells us how much power we are consuming while these lights are on, and in turn how much we’ll have to pay at the end of each month. Once again, be sure to verify the wattage per foot, meter, or reel before you buy.
Some may read “2watts” on a reel and then get home and realize this is per meter or per foot, meaning the whole reel actually uses much more. Making matters worse, they have bought a power supply that covers 30 watts, thinking that would be enough. This often occurs when a seller doesn’t properly list important information in an easy to read format.
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
The lights on this page produce relatively high amounts of visible red and invisible near infrared A (NIR) and have low blue and UV output. Blue and UV wavelengths act to oppose some of the biological effects of red and NIR, light sources with peaks in these regions, such as CFL and many fluorescents should be avoided. Below are some good resources on the topic.
Red NIR on EM Spectrum
Red light and the sleep quality and endurance performance of Chinese female basketball players.
Wavelength output curves of light sources on Kelvin scale.
These incandescent and heat bulbs use E2size screw,the clamp lamp fitting is E27, these are almost always interchangeable. Fittings for these bulbs should be suitably designed for high temperatures at this wattage, even when not using specifically designed heat bulbs. Fittings should have reflectors to focus light where it is needed, some bulbs (heat bulbs generally) also have their own internal reflectors. Where possible I would choose to pair 3-Bulbrite Clear 250W Heat Reflector Light (or equivalent) with 250 Watt Clamp Lamp or above. If purchasing from a different country pay attention to the voltages as there are different requirements. The tripod sets will be easier to set up unless you have somewhere suitable to clamp the clamp lamps.
These clamp lamps are likely suitable for the above bulbs, along with other 250W or lower wattage heat and incandescent bulbs. (If choosing 300W bulbs make sure the clamp lamps are 300W suitable)
Designers Edge L14SLED 1000-Watt Twin-Head Adjustable Work Light with Telescoping Tripod Stand, Halogen
1000-Watt Twin-Head Halogen Adjustable Work Light with Telescoping Tripod Stand
2x 500-watt halogen light bulbs (1000-watts total)
Assessing Your Lighting System Needs
In putting together your lighting system, it’s useful to consider what you want to achieve. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
Regarding the last question, if you’ll be handling your own lighting during performances, features such as remote control, foot pedal control, and programmability will be important considerations.
LED vs. Conventional Lighting Fixtures
Inexpensive LED fixtures typically have smaller, low-power LEDs while larger, high-end fixtures are equipped with one-watt or three-watt diodes for much more impact. Smaller LEDs are often designated by their sizes—typically 5mm or 10mm. A 10mm diode is proportionately much brighter than a 5MM LED.
Light-emitting diodes or LEDs have revolutionized all kinds of lighting fixtures from those used in autos and homes to even the humble flashlight. For many good reasons, the LED’s impact on stage lighting and effects has been huge. Major acts such as Radiohead have recently toured using LED lighting exclusively. Let’s look at LED lighting’s advantages and disadvantages in comparison with traditional lighting:
Strobe and Laser Effects
Strobe effects use a pulsing white light beam to create a visual stuttering effect similar to viewing old-time films. They’re very popular in dance clubs and are available with both traditional filament bulbs as well as LEDs in a range of power levels to match various venues. You can choose from standalone models or DMX-controlled strobes that can be programmed with custom patterns. Sound-activated models can create a particularly exciting ambience on the dancefloor. Note that many LED PAR cans and effects lighting fixtures include strobing functions that may be adequate for your needs.
Laser effects produce very intense single-color beams and often include built-in display programs as well as sound-activated functions using a built-in mic. Motorized units allow scanning and burst effects, and the inclusion of gobos can create patterned laser beams. More advanced laser effect fixtures can produce 3-D effects and detailed backdrops, skyscapes, and much more. Lasers are especially effective when used in conjunction with fog machines.
Black Lights and UV Lights
These fixtures are a simple, low-cost way to add a special ambience to performance spaces and other venues. They enhance the appearance of white and fluorescent colors in darkened spaces creating a ghostly glow. Black lights are available in standard fluorescent tube and incandescent bulb formats that use standard lighting fixtures as well as newly developed LED fixtures.
PAR Can Lighting Fixtures
These lights are a staple of stage and live-sound lighting. These basic fixtures have a metal housing, mounting bracket, reflector, and socket that can accept a variety of different lamp types. They’re often used in large numbers to illuminate certain performers or stage areas and are usually mounted on overhead trusses. They do not offer a true hard-edge beam; the width of the beam is determined by the shape and positioning of the PAR can’s reflector.
PAR cans come in a wide range of sizes and are identified by their diameters in eighths of an inch. A PAR64, for example, has an 8″ diameter (because 6eighths of an inch equals 8″). Most include a holder allowing colored gels to be mounted in front of the lens.
Note that PAR3lamps are sometimes designated as simply SP (Spot) or FL (Flood).
The power requirements of PAR cans with incandescent lamps can add up fast. Those for smaller stages are typically in the 75-150 watt range. PAR3cans typically run between 50-150 watts. PAR46s usually have 200-watt lamps, PAR56s usually range from 300-500 watts, and PAR 64s range from 500-1000 watts. This is where the LED technology really shines (pun intended). They not only use a fraction of the power required by incandescent fixtures, but also reduce the number of fixtures needed in order to create a wide range of color options.
A common lighting setup for bands involves the use of a pair of light trees on either side of the stage, each holding enough PAR3cans with spot lamps and amber or light pink gels to light each frontline band member. Drummers are usually lit from the back and sides. Mounting the light trees to the tops of your main speakers is a space-saving strategy.
PAR cans and other lighting fixtures that have a double-yoke support system are something to look for if you want maximum placement flexibility. Double yokes allow mounting the fixture from a truss or placing it on a floor, speaker, or stage without a separate mount.
Today, many PAR fixtures are equipped with LEDs instead of traditional incandescent bulbs, giving them multi-color and color-mixing options. As noted above, PAR cans with LEDs generate much less heat, require far less power, and don’t require the use of dimmer packs.
The Thinpar6from Venue uses 100 bright LEDS to generate intense static or pulsing colors plus sound-activated and automated programs with master/slave or DMX-controlled operation.
Dimmer and Switch Packs
PAR cans with incandescent lamps require dimmer packs to control them. They operate in the same way household dimmer switches function, allowing you to set the relative brightness of connected lights. Most small bands and DJs use satellite dimmer packs with several channels that are typically mounted to the T-Bar or truss holding the PAR cans. The cans are plugged into the dimmer and they’re connected to a DMX controller. Dimmer packs are available with various numbers of channels, and some include built-in programs or chases.
Some units offer both dimmer and switch capabilities. Switches only provide on/off functions, and should be be used on LED and non-DMX effects fixtures to avoid shortening their life.
Lighting and Effects Packages
On the Musician’s Friend website you’ll find affordable lighting and effects packages that range from economical multi-PAR can packs to full systems that include a complete set of stage lighting and effects fixtures plus a controller, stands, and cables—everything needed to light your show. Aside from the savings these packs offer, you can be sure each fixture is compatible and designed to maximize the overall visual impact of your performance.
Non-DMX lighting fixtures have their own on-board controllers. Many such fixtures are designed to react to sound picked up through an internal microphone. Sound-activated fixtures usually include settings allowing the unit to create effects when insufficient or no sound is present.
Selectable, built-in programs allow you to automate non-DMX fixture operation—an advantage for bands and DJs who handle their own lighting. Fixtures in this category with incandescent lamps are often manufactured to operate for a specified period of time before they must be turned off, which may make it necessary to use multiple fixtures to create a continuous show. Look for the duty-cycle specification to determine if a specific model makes sense for your needs. This is another advantage of LED fixtures—they have no duty-cycle limitations. Examples of common non-DMX lighting include beam effects, flower effects, and gobo projectors.
DMX Lighting Fixtures
Also called intelligent lighting, these fixtures can be controlled via DMX-51controllers or interfaces. A DMX controller allows you to program stage lighting and effects remotely, ideal when you want complete control of the look and timing of lighting effects. DMX fixtures offer more control attributes or “traits” than non-DMX fixtures.
DMX-51is the communication/cabling protocol that most entertainment lights and controllers use to communicate with each other. DMX acts like a post office. For control, you assign an address between and 51However, unlike your house, which only has one address, your fixture needs a number assigned to each of its channels. A 6-channel DMX fixture uses addresses, or channels on a controller. Each channel on the fixture handles a specific control attribute such as pan, tilt, color, etc.
Controllers run the gamut from simple non-DMX switchboxes and relay packs that allow you to power multiple lighting and sound channels to highly sophisticated DMX units that provide control over every aspect of multiple lighting systems composed of hundreds of DMX-compatible fixtures. Some simpler controllers have a dedicated purpose such as controlling specific effects such as strobes or fog machines. Some controller models allow foot control—a great feature for solo acts and small bands who control their lights in realtime during performance.
The basics of DMX controller operation are generally quite simple. Each slider on the controller corresponds to a channel on the fixture being controlled. DMX fixtures have specific values that correspond to their various control settings such as color, gobo, pan, tilt, strobe speed, etc. By moving a slider on the controller to a specific value, the fixture follows suit. The various control values of each button or slider used to create an overall effect can be saved into a “scene”, which triggers the specific action or state you set. The scene is then saved into a memory bank. Numerous scenes can be combined into an entire program, which, for example, can be synchronized with cues for a show. This is called a “chase.” Chases can be adjusted via a myriad of input functions, depending on the controller being used. Examples of control triggers include MIDI and clock/calendar events.
Software-Based DMX Control
As with software-based audio recording and performance functions, there is a revolution in progress involving a shift in lighting control from hardware-based controllers to PC software and mobile device apps. That said, also as with audio functions, there are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches.
Dedicated hardware lighting controllers with physical sliders, buttons, switches, and legible displays offer intuitive and tactile control and workflow without delving deeply into menus and mastering steep software learning curves. On the other hand, software-based lighting control offers enormous control potential with nearly unlimited creativity in designing elaborate lighting programs. Software may also be more affordable route.
The compact Chauvet Xpress 51Controller and USB Interface works with Windows or Mac computers and gives you powerful software-based control over an unlimited number of shows.
Many hardware lighting controllers come bundled with their own proprietary software and/or are compatible with other lighting software. Deciding which approach to lighting is right for your needs comes down to the complexity of your lighting and your willingness to master sophisticated lighting programming.
The Elation Show Designer 2CF DMX Controller offers 102channels of controls and has a huge fixture library for simplified effects programming.
DMX Controller Features and Specs
Here are some features and specs to look at when shopping for a DMX Controller:
Number of channels: Much like calculating the connections needed on an audio mixer, count the number of devices and each device’s number of channels in coming up with an adequate channel count. You’ll of course want to allow some additional capacity for future needs too.
Number of channels per fixture: Some fixtures have many control attributes or parameters. If you plan to include such fixtures in your lighting system, a controller that can handle up to 3channels per fixture will make sense. However, if your system will be largely comprised of simpler effect fixtures and PAR cans, a smaller, DJ-type controller is likely to be adequate.
Number of programmable scenes: As noted above, a scene is a set of control values or slider positions that can be saved for instant recall. Some controllers allow scenes to be saved on external memory devices while software-compatible controllers offer scene storage and editing on external computers or tablets.
Number of programmable shows: A complete sequence of chases and other settings that comprise a complete performance that can be saved and recalled.
Number of universes: Each DMX network is called a “universe” and has up to 51channels. Smaller controllers usually have a single OUT connector allowing control of a single universe. More complex lighting systems may be composed of several networks or universes thus requiring multiple controllers, or a single controller with multiple OUT connectors.
Fixture libraries: These collections of fixture profiles streamline the process of setting attributes and functions.
Tap/sync: This function allows the operator to sync lighting effects with the music by tapping in the tempo.
Joystick/trackball controls: These make tilt/pan and other positional functions easier to control.
Keyboard input: Allows connection of a computer keyboard for faster programming and naming of scenes, chases, and shows.
MIDI I/O and control: Allows control of the lighting system with a MIDI-enabled pedalboard, keyboard or other controller—a valuable feature for performers and DJs who control their lights in realtime. MIDI in and out connectors also facilitate programming on external computers and other MIDI-compatible devices.
USB Connectivity/Software-based DMX control: A USB connector plus MIDI implementation opens up a world of control possibilities using PC software and/or mobile apps to program and control your lighting.
Wireless operation: Some DMX controllers are compatible with wireless adapters so as to deal with situation where very long cable runs would otherwise be needed. Such systems have a wireless transmitter at the controller and receivers located near lighting fixtures. These systems convert DMX control messages to radio frequencies at the transmitter then convert the signal back to DMX signals at the receivers which are connected to the fixtures.
Each fixture produces output at a specific beam angle, which denotes the width of beam being produced. Assuming that you have two fixtures with the same wattage lamps, the fixture with the smaller beam angle will appear brighter. This is because the same amount of light is being focused into a smaller area. In addition, because a smaller beam angle creates a more focused and intense projection, the light can be placed further from the subject being illuminated. The larger (wider) the beam angle of a fixture, the larger the area that can be covered by the unit.
Fixtures should also be placed in proximity to the subject based on output. Lights that have a lower output need to be placed closer to the subject than a high-output fixture in order to be perceived as having the same brightness.
Having a combination of wash and spot fixtures illuminating an area will greatly enhance the look of any show. By using contrasting colors, the spots will pop out more, appearing brighter within the wash effect than if used alone.
Assigning Effects and Programming Shows
The key to good lighting design is to mix and match fixtures and tones to create a desired mood and effect. When programming, use color schemes that complement or contrast with one another, depending on the mood you want. Using a wash to create an ambient light in a color that will complement your spot, or effect, will make it appear brighter and richer. Clean, crisp complementary colors, along with fluid movement and symmetry produce an air of professionalism. Contrasting colors add high energy and drama to a venue. The best way to increase your design skills is by visiting different venues and shows to see what other designers have done. Note the elements that struck you as the best, and attempt to emulate and improve on them.
Connecting a Controller to Lighting Fixtures
A DMX signal begins at the controller and follows the path of the cable to the first fixture and then to each fixture in line down the cable run. The following diagram shows the proper method and order for connecting multiple fixtures to a single controller. The DMX line pictured here runs from the controller to the “DMX In” connection on the first fixture. From the “DMX Out” connection of the first fixture, a cord is connected to the “DMX In” connection of the next fixture in the line, and so on until all units have a cable connected to the “DMX In” connection. The last fixture in the line should have a DMX terminator installed to maintain the quality of the DMX signal.
Method for connecting DMX lighting fixtures to the controller
When setting up your lighting, you need hardware that will safely and securely position and hold your fixtures where you need them. Raising your lighting fixtures increases their coverage and keeps them safe from accidental contact and damage caused by vibrations. Musician’s Friend offers a broad selection of clamps, mounting brackets, and safety cables to accomplish this.
If you perform in a variety of venues, it’s likely you’ll run into challenges in setting up your lights. Having an assortment of lighting stands can help make setup simpler. Basic T-bar stands with tripod bases make a good all-around lighting support. A pair of such stands with an integrated truss affords more positioning options, support, and stability. Read specs carefully to make sure that the light stand or truss system you choose is rated for the weight of your fixtures.
The fixtures you select will determine the cables required to connect your system. In general, you will need one power cord per fixture, along with the appropriate extension cords (if needed). In addition, if you are connecting your fixtures via DMX cable, you will need one DMX cable per fixture. DMX cables use XLR connectors and come in 3- and 5-pin varieties. Check the user’s manual of your fixtures and controller to determine which type will be needed for your application. It’s a good practice to have extra cables on hand to deal with failures and venues requiring longer cable runs. That goes for extension cords, switchboxes, and AC power strips too.
Attribute » a controllable parameter on a fixture such as gobo selection, color, tilt, pan, etc.
Barrel scanner » This effect fixture, also called a rolling mirror scanner, has a moving mirror that rotates around a drum with a beam that can be panned across its axis
Beam angle » The width of a beam of light, often designated by the number of degrees; the greater the number the wider the beam. Sometimes designated with qualitative terms such as narrow, medium, and wide.
Chase » A sequence of lighting effects or on and off sequences. A simple example is the apparent movement of theatre marquee lights along a string, caused by the rapid sequential illumination of each fixture.
CMY » System of light color mixing using Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow. This system entails the use of colored gels or filters to create a wide palette of colors. Also see RGB.
Color temperature » A measurement of how relatively blue (“cold”) or amber (“warm”) a given light is.
Color wheel » A circular metal disc containing colored glass filters and is motorized to rotate in front of a light source.
DMX51» The protocol used to control lighting systems and individual DMX-compatible effects.
Fixture » In lighting systems, any lamp or lighting effect is considered a fixture.
Focus » A qualitative statement of how relatively hard or soft a gobo’s projected image is. The hardness of a projected image is largely a function of the distance that the beam is projected; the greater the distance, the softer the image. Focus may also refer to the X/Y position of a moving light in relation to the performance space or stage.
Gel » Also called a color gel or color filter, it’s a transparent colored polyester or polycarbonate sheet used in stage lighting in front of a light beam to alter its color.
Gobo » A usually spherical glass or metal template containing patterns that are projected by light sources mounted behind or within the gobo.
Gobo wheel » A disc within a moving light fixture that has several gobos placed around its perimeter. A motor steps through each gobo pattern in sequence, or fixtures may be programmable to select custom sequences.
Joystick » A device that allows control of a moving light’s pan and tilt functions. See trackball.
Kelvin » The measurement of a lamp’s color temperature. Incandescent lamps typically range between 600-3200 Kelvin. Arc and discharge lamps range 6000 and 9000 Kelvin. The sun has a temperature of 577See color temperature.
Moving head fixture » A lighting fixture in which the entire optical system, including gobo wheels, lamps, prisms, etc. move with the emitted beam(s).
Moving mirror fixture » Often called scanners, these lighting fixtures employ a mirror to animate and project beams of light. They typically offer faster movement than moving head fixtures.
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
Why you should trust me
I’ve reviewed consumer electronics for more than 1years and have held top editorial positions at magazines including Electronic House, E-Gear, Dealerscope, and others. I’ve also reviewed products for Sound & Vision, Big Picture Big Sound, and Consumer Digest. I’ve been an invited speaker at both the CEDIA and CES expos on the subject of smart home systems. In addition to turning my house into a laboratory for DIY home automation products, I’m also a certified Controlprogrammer.
Who should get this
Smart light bulbs are the easiest way to upgrade your home or apartment lighting to wireless control. Smart bulbs can reduce your energy consumption, especially if you’re just getting around to replacing incandescent or compact fluorescent bulbs with the significantly more energy-efficient LED bulbs. An LED bulb can last more than 1years under normal usage. If you’re smart about using the smart bulb’s scheduling and remote-operation features, you can save money by not using them when no one is in the room. However, smart bulbs cost more up front—sometimes a lot more—than non-smart LED bulbs, so the cost savings over time may be more symbolic than actual.
The main reason to try smart bulbs is that they’re fun. It’s okay to admit there’s a little thrill in tapping your smartphone to turn off a light across the room or across the house. Maybe that thrill decreases over time, but it’s still there. Getting up to physically hit a light switch—that’s never fun (unless you’re stopping at the fridge along the way to grab a beer). And smart bulbs do add convenience to your life. It’s easy to shut off downstairs lights when you’re upstairs tucked in bed. If you hear a bump in the night, you can turn on multiple lights at once. Want to turn down the lights for watching TV in the evening? All smart bulbs are easily dimmable from their apps. Most apps allow for scheduling, so you can have groups of lights turn on and off based on your daily activities or to simulate occupation when you’re away from home.
Smart bulbs that change colors are even more fun. Like a softer, warmer light to ease your way into morning? A color-adjustable or tunable white bulb can do that. Want to set a relaxing mood for music after dinner? Turn the lights blue, or green, or whatever palette you like. Set in strategic locations, color-adjusting smart bulbs can be an integral part of your home decor, rather than just something to chase the shadows away.
Many smart bulbs, including our top picks, can be integrated with a variety of other smart-home products, including smart-home hubs, switches, cameras, and thermostats, making a light bulb an easy way to start your smart-home system.
If you already have a couple of smart bulbs or a smart-home system installed, however, you may be stuck with a specific brand or technology. Some bulb brands can be mixed and matched in a system, others can’t; we explain that further below.
The Hue does everything its competitors do, but a wider product and app ecosystem allows for more flexibility and creativity than any other smart bulb.
Since Philips introduced the original A1color-changing bulb in 2012, the company has added several more products to the family, including battery-powered lights, strip lights, light globes, wireless remotes, motion sensors, and plain-white-light smart bulbs. The recent addition of HomeKit compatibility makes Hue lights work with additional products and allows Siri voice control over the lights. This requires the Hue gateway, which comes in the current starter kit.
No need to paint the walls to change the look of your room. Just change the color scene of your Hue bulbs. With 1million colors, you won’t quickly get bored.
Setting up Hue lights requires a few simple steps, much like any other smart-home device. The gateway connects to your home router or network switch via a wired Ethernet port. This connects the system to your network and allows you to control the lights with a smartphone or tablet connected wirelessly to the same network. The gateway connects to the Hue bulbs themselves over a Zigbee wireless mesh network. A mesh network has the ability to repeat signals through all the connected nodes (in this case, the Hue lights are the nodes), which cuts down on errors and improves reliability. The gateway unit is small enough that you can easily tuck it out of sight.
Who else likes them
Pretty much anyone who’s reviewed Philips Hue bulbs loves them. PCMag gave the starter kit an Editor’s Choice award and says “Hue not only adds the convenience of wireless control, but it adds an element of wonder with its ability to easily recreate scenes and moods.” Though CNET wishes the bulbs were a little brighter (newer versions are brighter than the originals), the site agrees with me that smart compatibility makes it a winning choice, declaring “If you have a variety of smart-home gadgets, and you want color-changing bulbs that will work with as many of them as possible, Hue can’t be beat.” The reviewers at Digital Trends called the Philips Hue “just plain fun and addictive.”
Simple Bluetooth control
An inexpensive bulb that’s good for people who want an easily controllable light, not a whole smart home.
GE discontinued its previous Link line of bulbs, which connected using Zigbee, in favor of the new C family. C-Life bulbs connect via Bluetooth, making them easy to connect and control from your smartphone, tablet, or computer, but which also means you can’t control them when you’re away from home or—given Bluetooth’s limited range—even if you’re on a separate floor of the home.
The C-Life bulb is usually sold in a bundle with C-Sleep, a tunable white bulb that you can adjust from a harsh white to warmer tones. The app also allows the tone to automatically track with the time of day, supposedly creating the optimal light for the conditions. Of course, because it doesn’t include a light sensor or any connection to weather information, C-Sleep can’t actually know what the ambient lighting conditions are. Still, it’s an inexpensive tunable white bulb and works well at what it does. Like the C-Life, it also communicated via Bluetooth.
Sylvania Lightify bulbs (which used to be called Osram Lightify) work on a Zigbee network, and as such need a Zigbee hub, either the small wall-plug unit often sold bundled with a bulb or a smart-home hub like SmartThings or Wink. The Lightify RGB color-adjustable bulb is about the same price as the Hue, but it’s shaped more like a traditional incandescent bulb. I measured 500 lux from the top and 250 at the sides, which makes it slightly brighter than the Hue, but the difference is only really noticeable when in a white mode. The colors are not as rich as those of the Hue or LIFX bulbs, but red looks red enough, and green looks green enough to satisfy most people.
The Lightify tunable white bulb measured a little brighter at its peak settings, giving us 600 lux from the top and 320 from the sides.
When setting up your Lightify bulbs, you first need to set up the gateway (unless you’re using another brand’s hub). It didn’t initially want to connect to my network, until I resorted to calling technical support and was walked through a few additional steps that did the trick (turn iPhone to airplane mode, then turn Wi-Fi back on, which disables Apple’s Wi-Fi Assist). Weird, but it worked.
The Lightify app is graphically dull and not as intuitive as the Hue or LIFX apps, but if you’re connecting the bulb to the SmartThings or Wink hub you’ll use that app instead and won’t have to mess with the Lightify one. For a while Lightify bulbs could also be paired with the Hue gateway, but firmware updates seem to have made that more difficult, so it’s no longer a dependable option (feel free to try it, but cross your fingers).
Like Hue and LIFX, Lightify bulbs work with Alexa when connected to an Alexa-compatible hub like SmartThings and Wink, but they won’t work with Alexa independently, and don’t work with Google Home or Apple HomeKit. The lights do work with Nest, so you can create scenes that synchronize with Nest’s Home and Away modes. Those may be factors to consider if your plan is to add a variety of smart-home gadgets to your abode.
Like Hue, these bulbs are part of a family of Lightify products, which also include outdoor string lights and strip lights for indoor use (which we plan to test soon) as well as a wireless remote similar to the one Hue offers. Lightify isn’t a bad way to go if your plans go beyond standard A1bulbs, but the company doesn’t currently integrate with as many other platforms.
The Cree Connected and LinearLinc bulbs.
LinearLinc Bulbz (also sold under the GoControl brand) is a Z-Wave bulb for Z-Wave–based smart-home systems. It works well with both the Wink and SmartThings hubs (and presumably with other Z-Wave smart-home hubs). Putting out 520 lux from the top and 360 from the side, it’s brighter than many of the bulbs we tested, but also more expensive—twice the price of the Cree or GE bulbs. Unlike those bulbs, the LinearLincs responded almost immediately to app commands. If keeping your smart-home devices within a Z-Wave ecosystem is important to you, these bulbs will light the way.
What to look forward to
Sylvania’s Smart+ A1Full Color bulbs, the company’s first line of smart light bulbs, are supposedly the first to allow owners to control them directly via Siri and Apple’s Home app. The Bluetooth-enabled bulbs are expected to ship in September. Once they are available, we’ll see how they stack up to our current picks.
TP-Link’s LB230 smart bulbs are designed to change color and connect to Wi-Fi without a separate hub, and can be controlled remotely through an app. TP-Link says it offers a two-year warranty and lifetime technical support. We’ll test these out as soon as we can and update this guide with our thoughts.
IKEA’s Trådfri smart LED bulbs are now compatible with Apple’s HomeKit (IKEA’s dimmers and other smart-lighting devices are still not compatible, however). According to The Verge, IKEA has also promised Google Home compatibility sometime in the future, but just when that might happen is unclear. They’re certainly cheaper than our current pick and runner-up, but we’ll wait to update this guide until we get a chance to test how they perform with the HomeKit.
You can already find several smart bulbs that include non-lighting features such as music or video cameras. Although we’re not huge fans of those, we expect to see more, and if there’s interest, we’ll check them out. Overall, the biggest trend we expect and hope for is declining prices. Though smart LED bulbs may last you 1to 20 years, they’re still expensive. As they grow in popularity, they’ll inevitably become cheaper, and more people will get to enjoy their benefits.
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 Lighting wisely! Good luck!
So, TOP3 of Lighting
- №1 — Progress Lighting P7211-09EB 24-Inch Flat Glass Bath Fixture Linear Fluorescent, Brushed Platinum
- №2 — Fovitec StudioPRO – 2x Product Photography Fluorescent Lamp Lighting Kit – [2x][CFL][Lamps and Bulbs Included]
- №3 — Neewer 16″x16″/40cmx40cm Photography Photo Video Studio Wired Softbox Flash Light Lighting Diffuser with E27 Socket for Fluorescent Bulb Lamp