lumens: ratings versus reality

wpa-Bill

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I just started understanding the difference between "regular" lights and the high quality, purpose driven lights you folks figured out already. I am a CPF lurker mostly, generally because I don't know enough to ask reasonable questions yet. Anyway, I read here about a website (it is apparently Japanese) where they sell a bunch of lights and batteries and a bunch of other stuff, including intimate garments. My question is about the lights, not the garments. The lumen ratings are crazy big on brands of lights that I've never seen mentioned here. They also carry some lights that have been discussed positively here. So, is there an 8000 lumen flashlight for $150? Or are lumens like mens height and belt sizes, where no one ever tells the truth? I would like to own a couple REALLY bright handheld lights, but I don't want to end up with duds. Which I guess leads to the second question, which is in the budget range of the nitecore TM26, is there anything better or brighter that I should be looking at? Thanks for wading through all that, I look forward to your feedback.
 

yellow

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a) type/model of led
b) number of led used, -->
makes for POSSIBLE Output

+ battery
+ runtime (stated, or better: measured)
makes for estimated/calculated output


give anything for claims that even beginners can state are wrong:
user error

;)
 

StarHalo

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Manufacturer claims are merely guidelines, less reputable manufacturers have less reliable numbers. Look to objective reviews and comparisons of flashlights, like Selfbuilt's site for actual data.

If you're looking for big output on a budget, some box stores that are probably near you have some decent models; Wal-Mart's Ozark Trail and Home Depot's Defiant have models that are under $30 and over 500 lumens (actually tested, not just going by what the packaging says.)
 

Unicorn

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Don't forget too that lumens by themselves are as worthless as the candlepower ratings used to be before lumens became the hot thing. All it tells you is the total output of the light, not how bright it is, how far it will throw, or how wide of an area it will light up.
A 60 watt incandescent or LED or CFL equivalent puts out about 800 lumens, but you aren't really blinding anyone and aren't lighting up much because those 800 lumens aren't focused. You can have an 800 lumen light that has a tight, far reaching beam, but won't be useful for much because it's such a tight beam that it only lights up a small area.
 

BillSWPA

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A graph of output verses runtime is much more valuable than a simple lumen rating. In most cases, a rating of X lumens for Y time does not mean that you get the full X lumens for the full Y hours, although there are fortunately some exceptions. Generally speaking, when certain makers are more highly respected by participants here, part of the reason is that, when they say you get X lumens for Y hours, you really get most or all of those X lumens for most or all of those Y hours.

A direct drive light that starts out at maximum brightness and gradually dims will have a higher lumen rating than a regulated light with a relatively flat runtime curve, even though the direct drive light will produce the rated output for only a few minutes of its runtime. That same direct drive light can also state a much longer runtime, even though light output will be significantly less than expected for a significant portion of that runtime. The current ANSI specifications state that runtime should be the time to reach 10% of the stated output, but many here, including me, believe that 50% is a better cutoff point.

Lumens can also be achieved by overdriving an LED, which will shorten the lifespan of the light.

There are reasons why lights with seemingly similar outputs can cost very different prices, and why lights with seemingly similar power supplies and LED's are rated quite differently.
 
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Trevtrain

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Unknown random websites selling all manner of junk will almost certainly overstate the ratings of any flashights or batteries they sell. The phrase "Chinese Lumens" is thrown around a lot on sites like CPF for good reason.

These sellers mostly have little to no knowledge of the products they sell (or drop-ship) and no interest at all in accuracy, safety or honesty. Sorry to be so blunt and negative but the Internet has enabled these kinds of shonky dealers to setup multiple websites that come and go with alarming regularity.

If you don't want to "end up with duds" I suggest you stay away from these places and most of the nameless ebay junk sellers unless you know for sure (from a review here or from someone who has actually bought the product) that they can be trusted.

There are some very good suppliers discussed here and at CPFMarketplace. A little time spent searching and perhaps asking for a recommendation here will get you started down the right path.
 

Bullzeyebill

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I think that we can say that some lights out of China are suspect, however too much generalizing about Chinese flashlights is not becoming to CPF. Reading reviews and comments about various lights is a good thing to help steer members to good quality flashlights. Good info here on CPF and the Market Place is available to our members. Let's not do any more generalizing about Chinese flashlights. :)

Bill
 
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Trevtrain

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Umm... I intended my post to be more of a warning about inflated claims by disreputable sellers than Chinese flashlights per se. Most of the flashlights I own are Chinese and they include some very nice products.

But I take your point...
 

mcnair55

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The Chinese seem to get a kicking on most made items,the truth is we would be lost without there expertise and dedication to making a quality product.The real problem arises from the fact they throw little away and i think you can work the rest out.
 

wpa-Bill

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Thanks to all for the information. What I've bought so far is a nitecore P12 as a bedroom, next to the revolver light, and a Streamlight 69260 TLR-1 HL for an AR. What I am looking for now is a high output light for my tool bag or the glove compartment. I really like the P12 (the switch on the side to change modes takes some getting used to), and I am considering the 3500 lumen TM26. Is there anything else in that $300 range that you think I should be looking at? Thanks for the help!
 

jorn

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I dont see why you need tousands of lumens in your glovebox or tool bag. What we want and what we need is not always the same :laughing:
In the glowebox, use a headlamp. If your wheels falls off, you need both hands to put them back on. Mouth holding a big 3000 lumen ligh cant be fun.
Same with a tool bag light. If you need tools, you prob want both hands free to use those tools. You dont see many electrichians with a 3000 lumen handheld light They usually got a crappy led lenser strapped to their forehead. Not as fancy as a 3000 lumen handheld, but it just works better.
 

TEEJ

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I dont see why you need tousands of lumens in your glovebox or tool bag. What we want and what we need is not always the same :laughing:
In the glowebox, use a headlamp. If your wheels falls off, you need both hands to put them back on. Mouth holding a big 3000 lumen ligh cant be fun.
Same with a tool bag light. If you need tools, you prob want both hands free to use those tools. You dont see many electrichians with a 3000 lumen handheld light They usually got a crappy led lenser strapped to their forehead. Not as fancy as a 3000 lumen handheld, but it just works better.

The exception is when you simply tail stand it and light up the entire room, so no headlight, no mouth light, etc.

:D
 

jorn

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It might work, but why burn all the batteries on lighting up the entire room if you only want to see the inside the fusebox on the wall. It's like buying a 1000 hp semi trailer for picking up the kids from kindergarden, just because you love high power engines. :)
Tailstanding wont work when checking something under the hood of the car, or changing tires etc. Big lights takes up way to mutch room in a toolbox. And a headlamp is always on the head. So when you go look in the trunk for a spare wheel, the light goes with you. No need for tailstanding or using time to aim the light on different spots before working.
If something is out of my arms reach, i cant work on it. So i think a good light for a toolbox needs to have a little more reach than my arms do, but most important, it better be a headlamp.
 

StarHalo

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+1 on a headlamp for actual work; a just-right amount of light exactly where you're always looking that lasts all day is a lot more handy than an aluminum log that you have to creatively position and leaves you without natural night vision.
 

TEEJ

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I agree that a headlamp is great for hands free work with less cell draw, etc, than lighting an entire room. With rechargeable cells though, its not like it matters as much though.

Some tasks are done better with a headlight, some with a flashlight, some with it simply being daylight, and so forth.

As far as ebay lumens vs real lumens, I think its pretty straight forward....the ebay lumens are as reliable as the ebay mah, etc. :D
 

wpa-Bill

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The issue is what your "toolbag" is used for. I can see the logic for an electrician to want a head lamp. I get that. My bag is what I carry between my farm (we grow grass, not much more) and our business. The business is located in a "socio-economically challenged" part of town. So the reason I want a 3000 lumen, long throwing light is twofold. First, when I pull into our parking lot I want to be able to make it daylight, lighting all of the nooks and crannies where the socio-economically challenged tend to hide. Second, when I pull into our farm we like to scan the woods and pastures to watch the deer and fox and other woodland creatures running and playing. I guess that both circumstances are predicated on my desire to keep an eye on the wildlife with as much light as I can comfortably hold in one hand. Additionally, if the wheels fall off, I'm calling Triple A. My days of lifting and pulling have come and gone.
 

TEEJ

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The issue is what your "toolbag" is used for. I can see the logic for an electrician to want a head lamp. I get that. My bag is what I carry between my farm (we grow grass, not much more) and our business. The business is located in a "socio-economically challenged" part of town. So the reason I want a 3000 lumen, long throwing light is twofold. First, when I pull into our parking lot I want to be able to make it daylight, lighting all of the nooks and crannies where the socio-economically challenged tend to hide. Second, when I pull into our farm we like to scan the woods and pastures to watch the deer and fox and other woodland creatures running and playing. I guess that both circumstances are predicated on my desire to keep an eye on the wildlife with as much light as I can comfortably hold in one hand. Additionally, if the wheels fall off, I'm calling Triple A. My days of lifting and pulling have come and gone.

Excellent explanation of why you need massive output even if someone else might not.

My "tool bag" is also full of various applications, as I do both forensic inspections and disaster response for example.

Now that I have a clue as to what your light would be used for, I can ask what the MINIMUM range you want to illuminate a shadowed socioeconomically challenged hider at (Say in meters), and, once I know that range, it will tell me the MINIMUM cd of the light you want.

I can then think about what's $150 that can do it, and, how wide a beam you can have in that budget and still hit that range. If you have a guess as to the maximum amount of time it had to run at max out put, at one time, it would also help.

:D
 
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