How Many Lumens Should a Good Flashlight Have: A Guide Into the Light

How many Lumens should a good flashlight have? This question has different answers depending on your purpose. Read through this article to get know-how.

While you can pick just any flashlight on the market for as long as it will give light, there are a few considerations that depend on your purpose. Of course, the first thing you should check is how bright the flashlight is. The light output of flashlights is measured by Lumens. So, how many Lumens should good a flashlight have?

There’s no direct answer to this question. However, this article will give you a comprehensive discussion on the topic. If you don’t know anything about the term ‘Lumens,’ this article will also bring you back to its roots and history. In addition, you’ll get an idea of how many Lumens you should need for a particular task or application.

Quick Background

Lumen is the measure of the flashlight’s output. While this does not entirely affect brightness, you’ll get the idea of how bright the flashlight is using the lumen rating. And, in general, the higher the number of Lumens, the bright the flashlight can be. You’ll not see any brightness specification on the packaging of your flashlight, but instead a lumen rating.

Back in the days, lumen rating isn’t a consideration when buying the best 18650 flashlight for hiking, trekking, camping or hunting. If you are comfortable with it and if it gives you the brightness that you need, it’s good. But in 2005, it was defined that 100 Lumens is the minimum rating for tactical flashlights — and become the standard in the law enforcement sector.

Yet, as technology becomes more sophisticated, you can see flashlights with a higher number of Lumens. In 2016, there are already tactical flashlights with 1000 Lumens. And, now, you can see best single AA battery flashlights with even higher Lumen specifications in the market.

Lumen Rating and Best Use

The following will be a breakdown of the number of Lumens to explain to you where they are best used for. Know the purpose of your purchase to get a product with the right lumen rating that can serve you well.

  • 1 Lumen

To better understand the term Lumen, think about it as moonlight. And, in general, 1 Lumen equals 10 times the brightness of moonlight. However, this is also dependent on the width of the beam. If the beam is wide, the light will be dimmer. In most cases, two AA flashlight batteries can power your 1 Lumen flashlight to be running for a few days.

  • 10-20 Lumens

With these lumen ratings, you can have a flashlight that is good for hiking, camping, and backpacking. This will give you enough light for emergencies like a blackout or finding something in the dark. It’ll help you find things within 100-meter distance. Usually, two AA batteries can power your 10 Lumens flashlight to last for a day.

  • <1000 Lumens

If you find flashlights with 120 Lumens and above, these can be police flashlights and for security. Most tactical flashlights fall in this range. Getting a flashlight with a number of Lumens beyond 120 could blind the attacker so you can still have the chance to flee.

  • 20-150 Lumens

Flashlights falling into this category are great for household use and can reach up to a distance of 120 meters.

  • 160-200 Lumens

If you find flashlights with lumen ratings falling within this range, it’s perfect to be used for hiking, camping, tactical and security. It can cover up to 250 meters.

  • 200-500 Lumens

Flashlights with this much lumen rating are good for sailing, fishing, hunting, tactical tasks and so on.

  • 600-1000 Lumens

You might need flashlights with the number of Lumens within this range for industrial uses, caving, fishing, hunting, and more. If you want flashlights that can cover up to 300 meters, look for flashlights with 600-1000 Lumens.

  • >1000 Lumens

Search and rescue operations require as much light as possible. These can be used to light up large areas like a construction site, shipyard, hunting, or outdoor lighting. Beware, that if these will be used indoors or if you’ll look directly at the beam of the flashlight, it could damage your eyes. These flashlights will pump out more light output, but it will burn a hole in your pocket as they are more expensive.

Other Factors That May Affect the Brightness

As mentioned earlier, while Lumens directly affects the brightness of the flashlight, it doesn’t entirely define it. Aside from the Lumen rating, you also have to consider the beam distance, run time, bulb type, beam type, battery type, and more. Before learning more about these, you might want to see this YouTube video:

  • Beam Distance

This is the maximum distance the flashlight can emit useful light, like a full moon on a clear night.

  • Run Time

This measures how long the light output diminishes to 10% of the rated output of the new batteries. If your flashlight has different light modes, of course, the run time is specified per light mode.

  • Bulb Type

The most common and the most advanced today is LED technology. However, you can also see incandescent bulbs like krypton bulbs, even for new flashlight models.

  • Beam Type

In general, there are three beam types — flood or fixed, spot or focused and adjustable. The first is primarily for walking or if you’re looking within a certain area. The second is for long-distance illumination. Lastly, the third offers a range of beam types from wide to focused. This means that the adjustable beam type is favored over the other two because it’s more versatile.


You’ve already known how many Lumens a good flashlight should have and it depends on your application and use. Apart from that, a few things also affect the brightness of the flashlight and not just the Lumens rating.

If you think a higher Lumen rating is the best, because it’ll be brighter, you’re partially correct. The beam distance, beam type, bulb type, and battery type are also some considerations. But, if your question is only the Lumens and not about its application, then, this article has covered all the bases.

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