Flashlight, Headlamp and Lantern Terminology

Handheld lighting includes flashlights, headlamps and lanterns. These portable devices provide illumination to professional and consumer users and are invaluable work, recreation and safety tools. Handheld lighting designs vary extensively in respect to light output, charging, energy storage and use applications.

Name commonly given to the two European Directives for controlling explosive atmospheres: 1) Directive 99/92/EC (also known as ‘ATEX 137’ or the ‘ATEX Workplace Directive’) are minimum requirements for improving the health and safety protection of workers potentially at risk from explosive atmospheres.

A series of industry standards for testing and representing the performance of LED flashlights. Regulated by the American National Standards Institute in association with the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.

Battery Magazine
A compartment designed to contain batteries and when inserted into a flashlight body provides operating power.

Beam Distance
The estimated distance a flashlight beam extends in low light conditions. Determined by dividing peak beam intensity by 0.25 and calculating its square root.

The front portion of a flashlight that attaches to the body and supports the lens. Some bezels are designed to operate telescopically to accommodate beam collimation or flattening.

Brightness Index Number refers to a subset of a manufactured batch of LEDs. During LED production color variations exist within a batch. Diodes are sorted (in to actual bins) and categorized according to their color and light output intensity. BIN sorting is performed to match an exact color spectrum.

Often abbreviated “cd”, Candela is a standardized measurement of light intensity. Candela is used to calculate the peak beam intensity of a flashlight.

An Intertek listed mark that demonstrate compliance to the requirements of widely accepted product safety standards, as determined through independent testing and periodic follow-up inspections by an NRTL.

Cigar Ring
A plastic, metal or rubber ring fitted to the body of a flashlight near the tail cap. A cigar ring holds a light while giving access to the tail switch. The ring prevents a flashlight from rolling when placed on its side.

Color Temperature
The beam color temperature refers to hue and is measured in degrees Kelvin. A color temperature of over 5,000 kelvin is a “cool” bluish white, while a lower temperature rating i.e. 3000K (yellow to red spectrum) are considered “warm”.

Cool White
A flashlight with a Correlated Color Temperature (CCT) of 5,000K. Generally classified as “cool white light”.

Crank Flashlight
A flashlight battery that recharges using human muscle power and a rotating dynamo. Crank flashlights operate independent of replacement batteries.

Cree, Inc.
An American manufacturer and marketer of lighting-class LEDs, lighting products, and products for power and radio frequency applications. Most of its products are based on silicon carbide, a mineral compound which early Cree researchers successfully synthesized in a laboratory.

Any material that diffuses or scatters light in some manner to transmit soft light.

Dual Light
The capability of operating a flashlight or headlamp where both the spotlight and floodlight beam’s operate simultaneously

Every Day Carry refers to a flashlight used frequently i.e. daily. Contractors, safety professionals (police officers, fire personnel and others) use a flashlight as a “tool of the trade”. EDC flashlights and headlamps are manufactured to withstand the rigors of rugged use and harsh environments.

Faraday Flashlight aka Shake Flashlight
A linear electrical generator which charges either a capacitor or rechargeable battery when the flashlight is shaken lengthwise. The battery or capacitor powers a white LED lamp. The linear generator consists of a sliding rare earth magnet which slides back and forth through the center of a solenoid (a coil of copper wire) when shaken. A current is induced in the loops of wire by Faraday’s law of induction each time the magnet passes through charging the energy storage cell.

A diffused beam of light generally projected to illuminated nearby objects or provide area illumination.

Hard Anodized Aluminum
Oxidize aluminum material highly resistant to scratches and corrosion. Many high end flashlights use aircraft grade anodized aluminum for its housing and bezel.

A small light affixed to a helmet or directly to the users head via an elastic headband. Headlamps support hands free operation and are frequently used in industrial/commercial settings or for outdoor recreational activities.

A High-intensity Discharge Lamp is a specialized bulb that provides substantial light output relative incandescent bulbs. Commonly used for area lighting the technology is rapidly giving way to LED luminaires.

Hot Spot
A flashlight hotspot is the beam center where light intensity is brightest. Several aspects of the light effect the hotspot such as LED power, type and size of the reflector and the quality of the lens.

International Electrotechnical Commission System for Certification to Standards Relating to Equipment for Use in Explosive Atmospheres (IECEx System)

Ingress Protection Code
IEC System of Conformity Assessment Schemes for Electrotechnical Equipment and Components (IECEE). Applies to the classification of degrees of protection provided by enclosures for electrical equipment with a rated voltage not exceeding 72.5 kV.

Impact Resistance
A material’s ability to withstand intense force or shock applied to it over a short period of time.

Impact Strength
The capability of the material to withstand a suddenly applied load and is expressed in terms of energy. Often measured with the Izod impact strength test or Charpy impact test, both of which measure the impact energy required to fracture a sample.

An incandescent bulb is a lamp that creates light by heating a wire filament to high temperatures within a glass bulb filled with inert gas.

Intrinsically Safe
A design technique applied to electrical equipment and wiring for hazardous locations. The technique is based on limiting energy, electrical and thermal, to a level below that required to ignite a specific hazardous atmospheric mixture.

An electronic semiconductor device that emits light when an electric current passes through it. LED are considerably more efficient than incandescent bulbs, and rarely burn out. Instead LED performance fades away. Its rate of light output decay compared against peak performance is measured in hours of use.

A lens is a transmissive optical device that focuses or disperses a light beam by means of refraction. A simple lens consists of a single piece of transparent material, while a compound lens consists of several simple lenses (elements), usually arranged along a common axis.

Is the SI derived unit of luminous flux, a measure of the total quantity of visible light emitted by a source per unit of time. Lumens are related to lux in that one lux is one lumen per square meter. Increasingly, light output of a luminaire is measured in lumens (lm) allowing for ease of comparison.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration is an agency of the United States Department of Labor which administers the provisions of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977

Neutral White
A neutral white LED has a color temperature range of around or under 3000 kelvin. This gives the light a ‘warm’ look, or a slight yellow-red hue. Neutral white light is favorably compared to the type of light emitted from older style incandescent lights, and is often used in photography for its superior color amplification.

Orange Peel Reflector
An orange peel (or OP) reflector is a textured reflector, often looking bumpy like the skin of its namesake fruit. Some manufacturers use a pebbled or “orange peel”, instead of a smooth, reflector, to improve the uniformity of the light beam emitted.

Pocket Clip
A pocket clip is a simple attachment that secures a flashlight to clothing.

Polymer Housing
A polymer is a large molecule, or macromolecule, composed of millions of repeated linked units, each a relatively light and simple molecule. Some of the useful properties of various engineering polymers are high strength or modulus to weight ratios (light weight but comparatively stiff and strong), toughness, resilience, resistance to corrosion, lack of conductivity (heat and electrical), color, transparency, processing, and low cost.

Pressure Switch
A pressure switch is a tactical flashlight operating peripheral that adds a length of cord and a pressure sensitive pad. Typically used with gun mounted lights allowing light toggling without removing a shooters hands from the weapon.

Rechargeable Flashlight
Refers to a flashlight capable of recharging its battery using USB, AC/DC adaptor, crank, shake or solar. Rechargeable flashlights use a variety of energy storage cells including Li-ion, NiMH and capacitors.

Reverse Polarity Protection
Flashlights with RPP has circuitry and programming that prevent electronics damage resulting from improperly installed batteries.

Run Time
Estimated time useful light output is emitted. Run times vary based upon lumen output and battery energy storage capacity.

Side Switch
Switch located on flashlight body or head to control on/off use or change mode of operation.

Shake Flashlight
Refer to Faraday Flashlight

Smooth Reflector
Common type of reflector. Light beam typically presents alternating rings of bright light interspersed with darker rings. Smooth reflectors emit longer beam distance than OP reflectors.

Solar Flashlight – Headlamp – Lantern
An illumination device that uses photons collected by a solar photovoltaic (PV) cell or panel to rechargeable its battery.

Tactical Flashlight
A flashlight capable of weapon mounting. Tactical lights frequently feature a disorienting strobe and a crenelated strike bezel.

Tail Cap
Butt end of a flashlight that sometimes includes an activation switch. Other features may include access to the battery compartment or USB connector.

Maximum beam distance where an object is discernibly illuminated.

Underwriter Laboratory (UL)
UL is an accredited standards developer in the US and Canada. In extending its global public safety mission, UL Standards partners with national standards bodies in countries around the world to build a safer, more sustainable world.

Ultraviolet (UV) light falls in the range of the EM spectrum between visible light and X-rays (180 to 400 nano-meter). Light use includes identification of body fluids and verification of currency, photo identification cards, etc.

Weapon Mount
Many tactical flashlights attach to larger weapons (assault rifles, shot guns) via a mount that often includes Picatinny rails or a magnetic mounting bracket.