Does your flashlight measure up?

All lights are not created equal. With the rapid changes in lighting technology in the past few years it’s easy to get confused. Candlepower? Lumens? Runtime? Burn time? Xenon? LED?

Fortunately, ANSI has stepped in to keep manufacturers honest and to help set a standard by which we can measure the basic elements of lighting. The chart below is the result of this ANSI/NEMA FL1 standard:



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Light output

  • Measured in Lumens (Candle Power is obsolete).
  • It measures the total
    projected output.
  • Measured in an integrating sphere.


  • In hours and/or minutes
  • Defined as the duration of time that light is emitted from 30 seconds after the light is activated till the time it only has 10% of its original intensity.

Beam Distance

  • Measured in meters from which there is at least 0.25 lux still measurable using a lux meter.

Peak Beam Intensity

  • Intensity of light is measured in candela
  • It measures the intensity of the beam of light at the point from which it does not vary.

Enclosure Protection Against Water Penetration Ratings

  • There are 3 ratings available:
    • Water Resistant – IPX4 Splashed with water
    • Water Proof – IPX7 – submerged in 1 meter of water for 30 minutes
    • Submersible – IPX8 – submerged deeper than 1 meter (manufacturer specified depth) for 4 hours.


Impact Resistance

  • Measured in meters
  • Drop tested on concrete
  • Batteries are in the light when it is dropped


ANSI (American National Standards Institute)

These standards are accredited by ANSI, which is a private non-profit organization that oversees the development of voluntary consensus standards for products, services, processes, systems, and personnel in the United States. The organization also coordinates U.S. standards with international standards so American products can be used globally.

Glossary of Terms:

Candela – A unit of measurement of the intensity of light that is, power emitted by a light source in a particular direction.

Lux – The unit of luminous flux in the International System, equal to the amount of light given out through a solid angle by a source of one candela intensity radiating equally in all directions.

Lumen – A unit of measurement of the amount of brightness that comes from a light source. Lumens define “luminous flux,” which is energy within the range of frequencies we perceive as light.

IP (Ingress Protection) – Ingress Protection (IP) ratings specify the environmental protection the enclosure provides. The IP rating normally has two numbers (IPXX). The first number represents protection from solid objects or materials (dust) where the second number represents protection from liquids (water). With the IP rating IP 54, 5 describes the level of protection from solid objects and 4 describes the level of protection from liquids.