Olight is committed to building quality portable illumination tools that are durable, reliable, and efficient.
We engineer lights to give you the best performance, the smallest size possible, and the best value. We use our own products every day to make sure we practice what we preach—keeping us honest. We want to give you quality design and functionality that really works when you need it to.
We are a technology-driven company, but our focus is always on the end user. We don’t build technology for technology’s sake. We harness technology to solve problems, to make our lights more user-friendly and intuitive, and to provide you with the best possible tools. We think long and hard about our products — how they will be used by those in harm’s way, how they might be used to help save a life — and we utilize the latest technologies and manufacturing processes in innovative ways to build the best illumination products that we possibly can.
ALL OLIGHT PRODUCTS ARE TESTED TO ANSI/NEMA FL1-2009 STANDARDS.
ANSI FL1 Standard
FL1 Standard – these specifications can be found on the packaging of most flashlights today. What do these specifications mean for you, and how can you interpret this information? Since we started including runtime graphs in our reviews, we’ve gotten a lot of questions about the ANSI FL1 Standard, so this article is intended to give you a better understanding of the technical aspects of flashlight performance. Commonly abbreviated as the ANSI FL1 Standard, the ANSI/NEMA FL 1-2009 Standard is a set of flashlight performance guidelines. Before the introduction of these standards, you may have seen variety of phrases on flashlight packaging, such as these:
“3W LED” was a common term used when high-performance LEDs, such as the Luxeon, were first introduced. LEDs have varying efficiencies and rarely operate at the rated power, so this doesn’t really have any meaning.
“1 million candlepower” (or any other multiple of a million), is often seen on lanterns and spotlights. A million of anything is impressive, but how bright is one million candles?
“High-flux LED” is really just a fancy way to say that the LED is bright, but even if you’re an engineer, it still doesn’t have much meaning to it.
With the FL1 Standard, ambiguous marketing phrases are a thing of the past, and direct comparisons can be made between flashlights from different manufacturers. Adherence to the FL1 Standard is voluntary, although the vast majority of manufacturers have adopted the standard. Here’s how the ratings are defined:
Light Output [Lumen]
Light output is a measurement of luminous flux using an integrating sphere. The unit of luminous flux, lumen, is a measurement of energy.
Peak Beam Intensity [Candela]
Peak beam intensity is a measurement of luminous intensity at the middle of the flashlight beam. The unit of luminous intensity, candela, is a measurement of energy.
Beam Distance [Meter]
Beam distance is defined as the distance from the flashlight where illuminance is equivalent to a full moon on a clear night.
Runtime is defined as the amount of time, rounded to the nearest quarter hour, until output drops below 10%.
Water Resistance [IPX Rating]
Water resistance is stated using the IP rating system, and three ratings are used.
- IPX4 – water-resistant, or water splashed from all directions
- IPX7 – water-proof, or temporary submersion at 1 meter for 30 minutes
- IPX8 – submersible, or continuous submersion at some specified depth for 4 hours
Impact Resistance [Meter]
Impact resistance is tested with drops onto a concrete surface at the specified height with all intended accessories, including batteries, installed.
Interpreting the FL1 Standard
Now that we have defined these ratings, let’s see what the not-so-obvious ratings mean.
Light Output vs. Peak Beam Intensity
Although higher output seems like it should correspond to higher intensity, a light with more lumens is not necessarily “brighter.” Here’s why:
Light output is determined by the total amount of light coming out-the-front (OTF) of the flashlight and is related to the LED’s efficiency and how much power it uses.
Peak beam intensity represents brightness as perceived by the human eye and is related to how the beam is focused by the optical system (typically a reflector, lens, or optic).
So, which is more important? Light output can be thought of as “raw material,” but it’s how that light is dispersed that determines usefulness. For example, a fluorescent lamp has high output but low intensity (a dispersed, or flood, beam), whereas a laser and has low output but high intensity (a focused, or spot, beam).
Both are useful for their intended purposes, but neither would make a good flashlight. Thus, the candela per lumen (cd/lm) ratio can be used to determine if a flashlight has a spot- or flood-type beam.
Spot beams (large cd/lm ratio) are great for lighting up distant objects, but at close range, the hotspot may be blindingly bright.
Flood beams (small cd/lm ratio) are great for close work, but for distant objects, there’s not going to be much light.
As a reference, well-focused spot beams can be over 100 cd/lm, tactical flashlights are typically between 20-100 cd/lm, and work lights are less than 10 cd/lm.
Peak Beam Intensity vs. Perceived Brightness
Brightness, as we think of it in everyday terms, is actually a difficult measurement to grasp numerically. While 10,000cd will appear brighter than 5,000cd, it will not appear twice as bright. The reason is because our perception of brightness is non-linear, meaning that “twice the intensity” will not appear “twice as bright.”
Keeping this non-linear relationship in mind is important for making Peak Beam Intensity comparisons, and a rough estimate is that for a light to appear twice as bright to the eye, four times the intensity is required.
Beam distance is calculated from peak beam intensity, so there is actually no new information here. In addition, a full moon on a clear night is not really a useful amount of light, so don’t put too much weight on this specification.
Limitations of the FL1 Standard
While the FL1 Standard is a big step forward, no standard is free of issues, and there are some limitations to the FL1 Standard. Knowing the limitations of a standard is just as important as knowing what the standard means, and the biggest limitation of the FL1 Standard is the runtime rating.
Here’s a trick question: when is a 1.5V battery actually 1.5 volts? Ideally, always, but an alkaline battery’s voltage decreases as it discharges, so it would almost never be 1.5 volts. This is why LED flashlights require complex electronics, but not all flashlights behave the same way. To capture this behavior, runtime must be presented as a graph, which is not required by the FL1 Standard. Take this sample data from our runtime tests:
This runtime chart tells us the following information:
- Flashlight 2 has the shortest runtime, but it is consistent and within 10% of the initial brightness.
- Flashlight 1 has slightly longer runtime than Flashlight 2, but brightness (which is mostly less than 50%) is continuously decreasing.
- Flashlight 3 has a long runtime that is maintained at 50% brightness.
Based on the runtime graph, we can say that flashlight 2 is a better choice than flashlight 1, and flashlight 3 is the good choice for extended runtime (in fact, flashlight 1 and 2 are actually the same flashlight using different batteries, but that’s the topic for another article).
These observations would not be possible with just a runtime rating, which is why conduct our own independent ANSI FL1-compliant testing and include runtime graphs in our reviews to supplement the FL1 Standard Runtime. For more information about our runtime tests, please click here.
While LEDs are reliable solid-state devices with no moving parts, electronic circuitry that regulates power to the LED tend not to be as durable. Occasional drops shouldn’t be an issue, but repeated stress can cause damage that may lead to erratic operation or failure. Our advice would be to treat LED flashlights like any other electronic device and avoid drops or other damage if possible.
Here’s a list of abbreviations for battery types:
- ALKN = Alkaline
- NICD = Nickel-Cadmium
- NIMH = Nickel-Metal Hydride
- LITH = Lithium Primary
- LTON = Lithium-Ion
- LTFP = Lithium-Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4)
- 2013 LED-Resource. ansi-fl1-standard. www.led-resource.com, 2/26/2014, http://www.led-resource.com/ansi-fl1-standard/#standard
Light emitting diodes
Light emitting diodes (LEDs) are becoming increasingly ubiquitous across all aspects of illumination products. They offer a lot of advantages over traditional incandescent lamps and other alternatives.
Durability: LEDs are extremely durable and last for thousands of hours. Built with robust solid-state components, they don’t have moving parts and are extremely resistant to vibration and shock — critical when it comes to flashlights. So unlike incandescent lamps that have all-too-fragile filaments, they won’t break. LEDs stand up to rough conditions either from harsh weather, hard use or physical damage.
Long Lifespan: They don’t just burn out and stop working like a standard light; lighting diodes emit lower output levels over a very long period of time. Thus, even if they become less bright after a long useful life, they still can provide useable light, unlike incandescent bulbs. LED bulbs and diodes have an outstanding operational lifetime expectation of up to 100,000 hours.
Energy Efficiency: LEDs are the most efficient illumination and lighting source, emitting more light per watt with an estimated energy efficiency of 80% to 90% when compared to traditional lighting and conventional light bulbs.
Ecologically Friendly: LED lights are free of toxic chemicals. Most conventional fluorescent lighting bulbs contain a multitude of materials, such as mercury, that are dangerous for the environment. LED lights contain no toxic materials and are 100% recyclable. They will help you to reduce your carbon footprint by up to a third. The long operational life span mentioned above means that a single LED light bulb will save materials and production costs of 25 incandescent light bulbs! A big step towards a greener future!
Zero UV Emissions: LED illumination produces little infrared light and virtually no UV emissions . Because of this, LED lighting is highly suitable not only for goods and materials that are sensitive to heat due to the minimal radiated heat emission, but also for illumination of UV sensitive objects or materials such as in museums, art galleries, archaeological sites, etc.
Design Flexibility: LEDs can be combined in any shape to produce highly efficient illumination. Individual LEDs can be dimmed, resulting in dynamic control of light, color and distribution.
Operational in Extremely Cold or Hot Temperatures: LEDs are ideal for operation in a wide range of outdoor temperatures, from frigid cold to scalding hot. Fluorescent lamps in particular are susceptible to low temperatures, which may affect operation and present a challenge. LED illumination operates well in cold settings, such as the peak of winter, in freezer rooms, etc.
Efficient Light Dispersion: LEDs are designed to focus their light output and can be directed to a specific location without the use of an external reflector, achieving higher application efficiency than conventional lighting. Therefore, well-designed LED illumination systems are able to deliver light more efficiently.
Instant Lighting & Frequent Switching: LED lights deliver their full output immediately and when powered on, which is vital for tactical use, strobe features, search and rescue, and other mission critical applications. Also, LED lights can be switched on and off frequently and without affecting the LED’s light emission or lifespan. In contrast, traditional lighting may take several seconds to reach full brightness, and frequent on/off switching will drastically reduce operational life expectancy.
Olight flashlights are powered by different types of power sources, including AAA alkaline, AA alkaline, CR123A Lithium-Ion, 18650 rechargeable batteries, and our proprietary rechargeable lithium battery pack (headlamp only). Each has its own strengths. We have flashlight models to fit every type of need and application, with battery options to match.
The CR123A lithium battery is the best performer in terms of capacity, doubling that of the AA alkaline battery, allowing flashlights to generally have longer runtimes. CR123A batteries produce 3 volts of power per battery for most of their useful life, as compared to 1.5 volts from alkaline batteries. And with better voltage maintenance they are perfectly suitable for high-powered flashlights. Finally, lithium batteries tend to have a much longer shelf life and temperature tolerance than alkalines. The disadvantage of CR123A batteries is that they cost more and may not be as widely available, depending on the retailers in your area. Olight’s own CR123A batteries are top quality, high performance, and a great value.
While they put out less voltage, you can’t beat AA and AAA batteries for their compact size, economical price and ubiquity. They are everywhere, and make the cost of operating a flashlight very reasonable.
Rechargeable batteries take that even further, costing more initially but paying off in the long run by eliminating the need to continually purchase replacement batteries. Rechargeable batteries are particularly convenient for those who use their flashlights frequently, whether on duty or for work.
Switching and Controls
There are two main functions in controlling a flashlight: turning it on or off, and selecting different modes. Olight has thoughtfully designed its line of flashlights with controls that are intuitive, ergonomic and specifically suited to the task at hand. For instance, a tactical flashlight intended to be used by law enforcement, military and armed citizens features different types of controls than a general purpose flashlight designed to be absolutely as small and compact as possible. We have carefully considered how flashlights are used in various types of applications and developed different types of controls for each. We encourage you to examine each light and choose the one that is best suited for your needs.
Activating the light
Olight’s flashlights feature switches located on the side or tail end of the body to turn the light on and off. Side switches are versatile, extremely compact and easy to actuate in regular usage and with larger and longer flashlights. Some of Olight’s side switches are very simple to operate — just press once to turn on the light, and press again to turn it off. Some are so-called clicky switches, which provide momentary activation by partially depressing the switch as well as alternately clicking on and off by depressing the switch fully.
Tail-cap switches are commonly used for tactical applications because when held in an “icepick” grip a tail switch can be easily located by feel (with or without gloves) and regardless of orientation of the light, and many techniques have been developed over the years to employ a light in this fashion. However, tail switches can become awkward to employ on long flashlights. Olight uses clicky tail switches, which provide momentary activation by partially depressing the switch as well as alternately clicking on and off by depressing the switch fully.
Olight builds state-of-the art flashlights with multiple brightness levels, strobe modes to disorient attackers, and lock-out modes to prevent accidental activation. All this functionality could be confusing, so we have designed our lights to be straightforward and intuitive. Our lights have three main methods of selecting modes, depending on the model: the side switch on the body, a side switch on the tail cap, and the selector head.
Models with a single side switch on the body typically turn on and off with a single press of the button, and cycle through different brightness levels by holding the button down continuously (they will remember the last setting used). They also usually have “quick access” features, such as double clicking the switch — when the light is off, this will immediately activate the light at its highest brightness level, and when the light is already on, this will activate strobe mode.
Tactical models feature separate controls to avoid any possibility of confusion and to ensure all functions can be accessed easily while under stress and with gloves — the tail switch only activates the light (as described above), and the selector head or a side switch on the tail cap changes modes. The tail switch also provides quick access to the brightest output and strobe mode with a quick double or triple press, respectively. And by either pressing the side switch on the tail cap or twisting the selector head, you can easily cycle through different brightness levels and modes.