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Best spotlights 2018 – [Buyer’s Guide]Last Updated March 1, 2023
My name is Willard Lawson. I have been a freelance writer for 20 years, focusing mainly on technology related topics. After more than 40 hours of research, including interviewing two experts and spending 10 hours testing 11 popular spotlights, I found the best spotlights of 2018.
In this article, I will be categorizing the items according to their functions and most typical features. Now I’m going to recommend a few spotlights you can pick from to get started quickly and easily.
Let’s get to it!
Best spotlights of 2018
I review the three best spotlights on the market at the moment. However, after giving you the TOP list, I will also give you some of the benefits you stand to gains for using it. There’s a product for every kind of user on the list of affordable options below. Customers need to be careful on how they spend their money on these products.
Test Results and Ratings
|Ease of use||
How to save up to 86%? Here is little trick.
You must visit the page of sales. Here is the link. If you don’t care about which brand is better, then you can choose the spotlights by the price and buy from the one who will offer the greatest discount.
№1 – STANLEY SL10LEDS 10-Watt LED Lithium Ion Rechargeable Spotlight
Why did this spotlights win the first place?
The product is very strong. Its material is stable and doesn’t crack. The rear part fits perfectly! It is mounted really tight and reliable. I am very happy with the purchase. It is definitely worth its money. The product is top-notch! I don’t know anything about other models from this brand, but I am fully satisfied with this product.
№2 – AMIR 2 in 1 Solar Spotlights
Why did this spotlights come in second place?
The material is pretty strong and easy to wash if needed. Managers explained me all the details about the product range, price, and delivery. This is a pretty decent product that perfectly fitted the interior of our office. I recommend you to consider buying this model, it definitely worth its money.
№3 – LOFTEK 50W Outdoor Security RGB LED Floodlight
Why did this spotlights take third place?
I liked the design. We’ve been using it for 2 months and it still looks like brand new. I hope that the good reputation of the manufacturer will guarantee a long-term work. It doesn’t squeaks nor bents. Looks great in my apartment. This price is appropriate since the product is very well built.
spotlights Buyer’s Guide
Streamlight 44900 Waypoint Spotlight
The Streamlight is clearly designed for usage on boats and similar crafts, since it offers IPXwater resistance and an ability to float if dropped in water.
As far as power is concerned, this is a slightly different option when compared to the other more common lithium battery powered options. This rugged black and yellow colored spotlight is powered by alkaline batteries, the “C” size ones. You need four of them to keep light running for up to 8.hours. There is also an option of using a 12V DC power cord. The batteries are not included with the package.
As for the LED in use, it emits 2lumens at high beam and 20 at low beam. That should be more than enough in a nautical setting, especially when you take into account the highly effective, long range parabolic reflector on this spotlight. The rugger device has a tough polycarbonate body and lens designed to withstand severe impacts and shocks.
Cyclop Sirius 500 Lumen Handheld Spotlight
With a matte all-black finish and a pistol-grip replete with a trigger guard, this spotlight looks very close to a handgun if not for the unduly fat barrel that makes up the LED lights. And there are a lot of them too, with separate LEDs for different ranges.
As its name suggests the Cyclops has high power Cree LEDs taking care of the long range lighting while leaving weaker LEDs to handle the illumination when looking at nearer objects.That obviously implies that this spotlight has modes, off, long distance and short range lighting. The rechargeable battery offers hours of run-time on the more powerful Cree LEDs while the dimmer LEDs can last for around 1hours max on a full charge.
The battery is a 6V lithium polymer SLA with 2.5Ah. For more subtle usage, you even get a detachable red lens. And at 1.5lbs, this is a very lightweight and compact spotlight that is very easy on your hands.
Sirius Cyclops CYC 9WS Thor Watt LED Spotlight
Sirius spotlights tend to have a separate LEDs for high and low beam and this model is no different. It has Luxeon high power LEDs, three of them, for the high beam.
The weaker low beam functionality is handled six Nichia LEDs of a standard configuration. The high beams throws 300 lumens, which is a bit on the lower side when compared to the competition. But the high power LEDs are capable of producing adequate lighting for all but the most demanding users. The spotlight uses rechargeable batteries, and you get a home charging option as well as a car charging option, making this a fantastic choice for a flashlight to keep in your car, especially if going on long trips.
The grip is rubberized and easy to hold, and the gun-like trigger has an always on feature. The spotlight uses up all the battery in hours if used in high beam setting. There is also a discreet detachable red lens.
Requires AA batteries
With almost 750 lumens at high beam, this is one of the more powerful units we have reviewed.
But despite all that power, it weighs in at a measly 1.5lbs. The pistol grip has comfortable grooves that offer extra grip, and there is an excellent trigger lock for always on function. For power saving, you also get a dimmer light switch which reduces the light to 400 lumens.
This spotlight uses an in-built lithium ion battery pack capable of reaching full charge in hours. It will give you close to hour of run-time on high beam, and around hours on the lower setting. It can hold charge for up to 1months and can be charged using either AC or DC power sources.
Now you need to think about lumens. The more lumens, the brighter the light.
With spotlights you can go with fewer lumens than if you were buying an LED bulb. LED spotlights have a better quality of light and appear brighter than halogens.
Now you need to decide how warm or cool you want your LED spotlight colour temperature to be. The ‘degrees Kelvin’ is often used to illustrate the differences between a very warm light (low Kelvin number) to very cool light (high Kelvin number).
Most people use warmer light for living rooms and bedrooms but a cooler light for kitchens and bathrooms.
The narrower the beam angle (e.g. 300) the more concentrated the beam angle. You may want this to highlight a particular item in your room for example. If you are looking for wider coverage from your LED spotlight you should look towards using a beam angle more in the region of 600. You should also consider the height of the position of your LED spotlight to the area you are lighting. The further away the light source is to the ground or object the wider the coverage will be.
The most recognisable type of bulb, and the easiest to replace. Let’s say you have a standard 60W incandescent bulb which you use to light your lounge and replace it with a 12W Verbatim LED bulb. This is overkill, if anything, as the replacement will be noticeably brighter (producing 1,100 lumens – the equivalent of a 77W incandescent bulb and representing 8percent energy saving).
Using some average figures – 15p per kWh of electricity – you’ll save around £per year.
They’re said to last for 25,000 hours – the same as the Verbatim – and you’ll break even in roughly two years.
There are various types of incandescent bulb. The common version – in the photo above – is an E2screw, but it can also have a traditional bayonet fitting. Most LED bulbs offer a choice of either fitting.
You may also have R50 spotlight bulbs (also known as SES or E14) in ceiling light fittings. These are fairly widely available as LED versions.
However, using the same SES / E1screw fitting are many ‘candle’ bulbs. Again, these are easily available in LED.
All of these are inefficient and can be replaced with LEDs. Halogen spotlights are perhaps the worst culprits as although they use less power than incandescent bulbs, they’re rarely used singly. Typically there will be up to six or eight per room, and if each is a 35W lamp, that’s between 200 and 300W. Halogens are notoriously inefficient, such that you can buy ‘energy-efficient’ halogen bulbs, but even these save only around a third.
Halogens come in two main types: GU(mains voltage) and MR1(low voltage – 12V). Just because some are low voltage doesn’t mean they use less power. They don’t.
Don’t forget your outdoor lighting. Halogen floodlights – which have lamps which consume between 120 and 500 watts – can be replaced with 10- or 20W LED versions for around £to £20 per light: you replace the entire light fitting. This 10W model costs only £9.9from Toolstation.
Colour temperature is crucial: most people prefer the warm white, which is very similar to halogen, rather than the ‘cold’ bluish tint of white or cool-white LEDs. Look out for the actual colour temperature in Kelvin: 2700-3000K is a good warm white. Higher values, say 5000K or 6000K will look cooler. If you want a whiter look, be careful as you can end up with a very clinical look.
You also need to look at brightness, measured in lumens. Try to find out how many lumens your current halogen lamps produce, and match or exceed that. Some cheap LED bulbs produce as little as 120lm, but you’ll probably find you need 350-400lm to provide the same light output as your existing bulbs.
Next up is beam angle. This determines the spread of light the bulb produces. A narrower angle means light will be concentrated on a smaller area, like a spotlight. A larger angle is better for lighting a larger area, but don’t forget this means it could appear dimmer overall. For replacing Halogen downlights, look for a beam angle of around 40 degrees. Incadescent replacements should have a much larger beam angle, say 140 degrees.
CRI is another spec you should see (if you don’t, it’s worth asking for the CRI figure). Here’s why: CRI stands for Colour Rendering Index and is a measure of the light quality from 0 to 100. In other words, the CRI score tells you if objects appear the correct colour when lit using that bulb. Incandescent bulbs had a brilliant CRI, but not so with fluorescent tubes. If you want to avoid bad-looking lighting, it’s crucial to go for LEDs with a high CRI.
Not all LEDs use the same technology. Cheaper bulbs will tend to use multiple SMD (surface-mount device) LEDs, but newer or more expensive ones will use COB – chip on-board LEDs.
COB offers a higher light output per watt, and tends to be used in smaller bulbs such as MR1COB isn’t necessarily better than SMD, though. It depends on the form factor of the bulbs you’re buying and your priorities in terms of budget.
If you are replacing low-voltage halogen bulbs, there are no guarantees that LEDs will work on your particular transformers which may require a minimum power draw to work properly. If the draw is too low from your super-efficient LED bulbs, they may flicker or not work at all. In this case, you would need to either replace the transformers with proper LED drivers, or change the fittings from MR1to mains-voltage GUfittings and buy GULED bulbs instead. Fittings are cheap, and it may be cheaper to go down this route than buy an LED driver for each MR1bulb.
Up until recently there has not been any kind of standard in the flashlight industry, the ANSI FLstandards even the playing field for all torch producers. Learning how to read the standards sheets put out by most manufacturers is important to help you find the best tactical flashlight.
Light Output : This is a Lumens rating that shows the total amount of light that comes out of the front of the flashlight.
Run Time : This is the amount of time it will take for light to get to 10% of its initial output. An example would be that if a flashlight started at 100 Lumens this is the length of time of continuous light that it would take to get down to Lumens.
Beam Distance : This is the measurement in meters of the distance at which the intensity of the beam reaches 0.2lux which is the approximated amount of light of a full moon on a clear night.
Peak Beam Intensity : Measured in Candela this is the brightest point in the beam. Where Lumens tell how much light is coming out of the light in total Candela measures how bright the brightest point of the beam is.
Impact Resistance : Measured in meters this indicates the height that you could drop a flashlight from onto concrete and it still work properly. The light can also not have any cracks or breaks in it. : There are three levels of water resistance that are found, those are IPX4, IPX7, and IPX: A flashlight with this rating has been tested to perform under the condition of splashing water. : A flashlight with this rating has been tested to perform submerged to meter for 30 minutes. : A flashlight with this rating has been tested to perform submerged deeper than meter for up to hours.
Why Would You Want To Carry A Tactical Flashlight
Aside from a pocket knife, the most useful tool that you could carry is a flashlight. Even if you are never going to use a flashlight for self-defense a quality torch can be used for countless things. Here are a few situations when having a good tactical flashlight would be nice.
As mentioned earlier modern tactical flashlights are designed to give someone an advantage in a combat situation. The hard anodized aluminum can be used as a striking tool, many flashlights come with crenulated bezels that are shaped in a way that would help you to both break windows and faces. Also, just holding something in your hand will make your fists more devastating. Next, the high lumens make it so you can temporarily blind any would be attacker which could give you time to escape. If you mix together the ability to blind someone with the added striking force that you get from a tactical flashlight you have a dominating combination, imagine the devastation caused by hitting somebody in the face with the Surefire P2X Fury Defender. As a small warning though, if you are not a trained fighter it is always better to use the temporary blindness as added time to get away.
Identify Things In The Dark
This is the main purpose of any flashlight. If you have a flashlight with you you will have peace of mind that any dark alley or parking lot can be illuminated. Some of the lights that we have here can illuminate things over a football field away. You no longer need to worry what might be hiding in the dark.
Just Finding Stuff
I don’t know about you but I lose things all of the time, under the couch, under the bed, behind the desk, behind the dresser, etc… You know what I mean. You do not even know how many times you will be glad that you had a flashlight with you. Hey, a flashlight might even make it so you are not late for work when you are looking for your keys all over the place.
For the people that do not have time right now to read all of the material on this site, here is a quick and dirty summary of the top things to look for to ensure that you are getting a quality product. Some of you may have specific requirement that would make these tips change but for the general public and for the EDC enthusiast that is not a flashaholic these are some easy guidelines. : If you are buying a EDC flashlight how big can you comfortably have with you all of the time. Otherwise if you are not keeping it with you all of the time how much space do you have to store it? : Do you want disposable or rechargeable batteries? And, do you want a standard size battery (easy to find) or a special battery (more power)? : It takes at least 60-100 lumens to cause temporary blindness.
Durability : I would go with type III hard anodized aircraft grade aluminum with a LED bulb that is rated to at least IPXwaterproofing.
Tactical Handheld Flashlights
Handheld tactical lights are designed to be extremely durable, as they need to stand up to some of the harshest conditions. To ensure that they can stand up to the worst conditions most manufacturers are going to use weapon-grade aluminum for the body along with a textured grip. The better grip allows you to use the light as a striking tool without worrying about it slipping out of your grasp. Top quality handheld lights are small enough that they can be easily carried around for everyday use. The smaller size also allows you to easily operate the light with one hand leaving your other hand free for other tasks.
Handheld tactical lights are some of the brightest ones out there. Handheld tactical lights need to be bright enough to light up a dark room, but they also might need to temporarily blind a potential suspect. A handheld tactical light is something that you want to be able to depend on at all times, you want to know that your light is going to work in a life or death situation.
SureFire G2X LE
The Surefire G2X LE was specifically designed to meet the needs of law enforcement officers, making it one of the better tactical flashlights on the market. The G2X LE is an improvement on the G2X Pro as it offers a higher lumen output than the original model. The G2X LE offers two output levels: high and low. High offers a blinding 400 lumens on the first click, while low offers 1lumens that requires two clicks. Highest setting offers users the maximum amount of light, while the lowest settings ensures a longer battery life from the CR123A batteries required to power the light.
The entire light is controlled via a dual-output tailcap switch. This is beneficial for those life or death situation that law enforcement often finds themselves in because it provides instant access to the brightest light when you need it most, giving you a momentary advantage. The G2X is as durable as it is useful as it is made from a Nitrolon polymer body that offers a secure grip. The light uses O-rings and gaskets to seal against moisture and dust, so it will work in any environment. The high performance LED used in the G2X LE is practically indestructible and its parabolic reflector improves the beams reach.
The Nitecore P20 features a CREE XM-L(T6) LED that has a peak beam intensity of 11,000 candelas with a throw distance of 68feet. This premium LED allows the P20 to offer users three different modes: tactical, general, and law enforcement, as well as a strobe mode. Each of the three modes provide different brightness levels allowing for this light to be effectively used in a variety of non-life threatening situations. While we do not recommend this light for life or death situations it does provide quick and easy access to the strobe mode via the strobe ready button.
As tactical lights are supposed to be easy to use Nitecore offers users a dual-switch tail cap, which is said to be ideal for tactical applications as it is designed for one handed operation. The top switch provides users with the ability to power the light on or off, as well as access the different modes. The bottom switch is the strobe ready button and a simply push provides you with instant strobe no matter what mode you were previously in. The Nitecore P20 can be powered by a single 18650 battery or two CR12batteries, what batteries used will affect the lumen output and runtime.
Tactical Pistol Light
As a tactical light you don’t want just any old pistol light, you want something that is durable. You need your pistol light to stand up to numerous bullets being fired from your handgun; you don’t want something that is going to fall apart after only a few rounds. Pistol lights can be mounted directly below the barrel or they can be mounted onto the side via an offset mount, which one you choose will depend on you. Pistol lights often come with a tail cap switch, but high quality ones will provide you with the ability to switch the tail cap switch for a pressure switch.
SureFire X300 Ultra
The SureFire X300 Ultra high performance LED is powered by two high-energy CR123A batteries that will emit 600 lumens for an hour and a half. The X300 Ultra features a newer mounting system that uses a T-slot mounting system with a T-slot mounting rail and tightening screw. This newer mounting system allows users to mount the X300 Ultra to both long guns and hand guns quickly and securely.
What makes the X300 Ultra the best tactical pistol light aside from its extreme durability is its ambidextrous switch that makes activation a breeze. The switch is now wider and shorter than you have seen on previous models, but it is still located at the rear of the light to allow for easy one-handed operation. Remote activation using a DG grip for handguns or a XT tape switch for long guns is also available.
Now if you are looking for a pistol light with a laser, but you really like the SureFire X300 Ultra you need to check out the X400 Ultra as it has many of the same features as the X300 Ultra, but comes with a red or green laser. You can also check out our Pistol Light Buyers Guide for our light recommendations for different sized pistols.
The Streamlight TLR-HL is a shining example of the high quality lights manufactured by Streamlight. The TLR-HL comes in three different colors and is constructed from machined aluminum with a black anodized finish. The light itself is completely sealed earning it an IPX rating of 7, which allows it to be used both indoors and outdoors. If you opt for the Streamlight TLR-HL and currently have a holster that allows for a light bearing pistol you will not need to purchase a new one, as the TLR-HL is constructed to fit into all light bearing holsters.
A CLED is powered by two CR123A batteries and can emit 800 lumens with a peak beam intensity of 15,000 candelas. With a pistol light how far the beam reaches is important and with the TLR-HL you will be able to see up to 800 feet away thanks to the concentrated beam provided by the TIR lens. The TLR-HL comes equipped to mount directly to any handgun with glock-style rails, but can also be mounted to Picatinny rails. The TLR-Hl is designed for hand guns but Streamlight offers a kit for long guns that must be purchased separately.
For those of you that prefer to have a laser light combo and you really like what the Streamlight TLR-HL is offering there is good news. Streamlight makes two other models of the TLR-they come with all of the same features and quality as the TLR-HL, but they have an added laser. The TLR-HL comes with a red laser, while the TLR-HL G comes with a green laser. You can check out our Best Pistol Light article for a more detailed review of those two lights.
Aimkon HiLight P5S
The Aimkon will fit on the majority of the subcompact pistols on the market, but it will also fit on several full sized pistols. The Aimkon HiLight P5S utilizes a quick release mount system to attach to your weapon. The P5S comes equipped with two distinct modes: constant on and strobe, as well as a red laser for aiming purposes.
While all of this might sound great we strongly discourage you from using the Aimkon HiLight P5S in life or death situations. Yes the pistol light is made to mount a on pistol, but that doesn’t mean you can rely on it for life threatening situations. The quality and durability is nowhere near the same as pistol lights made by SureFire and Streamlight. This pistol light is one that should only be used for target practice or even on airsoft guns.
Tactical Rifle Flashlight
Rifle flashlights are very similar to pistol lights; they are both designed to be mounted onto your weapon to provide you with light while keeping both hands on your gun. The difference between these two weapon lights is what kind of weapon they are mounted too. Pistol lights for the most part are designed to be mounted to pistols or handguns, although some of these lights feature kits that allow them to be mounted to long guns. Rifle flashlights are not designed to be mounted to the smaller guns, these lights are designed to be mounted to the longer style guns like rifles and they will typically be able to use a pressure switch.
One of the great things about rifle flashlights is that all of them currently on the market use LED emitters, so they usually exceed the minimum 50 lumens needed to disorient a person’s night vision. With lumens not being a concern the other things that you need to look at when selecting a rifle flashlight are how reliable the light is, how much output it has and what kind of beam distance it will provide, how easy it is to operate, and how small and lightweight the light really is.
SureFire M600IB Scout Light
The SureFire M600IB Scout Light ranks as the best rifle flashlight for a variety of reasons with its IntelliBeam Technology being one of them. This technology uses an intelligent sensor coupled with a microprocessor system to constantly evaluate the area where the beam is being aimed. Based on the data collected the light output will automatically be adjusted anywhere between 100 to 600 lumens enabling you to always have the right amount of light for the job you are doing. The M600IB is made from hard-anodized aluminum and utilizes a high performance LED that is considered to be practically indestructible. The light mounts onto MIL-STD-191rails using a thumbscrew mount.
The M600IB Scout comes equipped with a clicky type tail-cap switch. The clicky switch can be partially pressed down to use the momentary on feature or fully press the switch to activate the constant-on feature. Full tactical mode, which is a bright 600 lumens, is activated by going from off to on again within one second of each other. SureFire also minimizes the chance of accidental activation by shrouding the switch. Now the M600IB doesn’t come with a pressure switch, but you can purchase one separately and we strongly recommend that you do. For the M600IB we recommend the SureFire DS0Remote/Pushbutton Switch Tail Assembly.
Streamlight 8805ProTac Railmount 2L Gun Light
With the ProTac Railmount 2L you will be able to mount the light to ay Picatinny rails with its dedicated fixed mount, which is a fixed rail grabber with thumbscrew mount. This specific light is a part of the Streamlight’s 6000 series, so like other lights in its series it is constructed from machined aircraft aluminum with an anodized finish. To add to its durability the ProTac Railmount 2L utilizes an impact resistant BOROFLOAT lens to protect the CLED that can emit up to 62lumens for a period of hours using two CR123A batteries. This light currently has two IPX ratings depending on what switch is used to control the light. With the tail switch the ProTac Railmount 2L has an IPXrating, while the pressure switch drops down to an IXP4.
The ProTac Railmount 2L utilizes Streamlight’s TEN-Tap Programming and provides users with the choice of three different operating modes. With the ProTac Railmount 2L users can choose high/strobe mode, high mode, or low/high mode. The strobe option is ideal for signaling for help or disorienting a potential attacker. The rifle light is controlled via a multi-function tactical tail switch that is designed for one handed operation. The ProTac Railmount 2L also comes with a dual remote pressure switch that can be used in place of the tactical tail switch, as well as remote retaining clips.
Nitecore CGHunting Kit
One of the first things you need to realize is that no matter how amazing this light kit sounds, we do not recommend it for any kind of tactical situations. Nitecore does make high quality lights, but we feel that the NiteCore CGHunting Kit is more geared for playing rather than in life or death situations. One of the great things about this hunting kit is just how much stuff it comes with. Inside the CGHunting Kit you are going to find the light that provides users with green and white light, as well as a icharger, NL18battery, RSWremote switch, a tactical ring, lanyard, holster, car adapter, NFR40 Red Filter, weapon mount, and a survival keychain light.
The Chameleon CGlight offers users bright and focused dual beams. The white beam can reach up to 440 lumens for a distance of 62feet, while the green light can emit up to 18lumens for a distance of 55feet. The white light option offers users the choice between five modes, while the green light option comes with three different brightness levels. The CGoffers two special modes: strobe and emergency police warning light. The rifle mounting kit that comes with the CGkit comes with a rail mount and a barrel mount option, as well as a high clearance scope mount and a remote pressure switch. Whether you are using the dual mode switch or the remote pressure switch the light is easy to activate and the dual beams are controlled independently. The CGfeatures a power indicator light to alert you to battery power levels and will also remind you when it is time to recharge the battery.
Headlamps are a great choice for those who are looking for 100% hands free lighting. The main purpose of a headlamp is to direct the entire amount of light to a specific area, which is why the lamp of the light is usually worn in the center of the head. When choosing a headlamp the amount of lumens is going to tell you how bright the light is, but the beam distance is what you really want to pay attention to. The beam distance is going to tell you how just how far your headlamp is going to be able to produce useable light.
Another important aspect is the beam type. With head lamps you have three basic choices: flood, spot, or adjustable. Flood lamps are ideal for close up repair work or ordinary outdoor tasks. Flood lamps are used when light doesn’t need to reach long distances. Spot lamps are best for hiking, climbing, and other similar activities because the beam is ideal for lighting up things in the distance. Adjustable headlamps offer the best of both worlds, as they provide you with both a flood and spot option, so you have the right kind of beam when you need it most. For tactical use we feel that a headlamp must have a red light since red is the best color to retain night vision and many times you will use your headlamp just to read something quickly.
Tactical Night Vision
In this article we only cover two night vision devices: monocular and goggles. Monoculars are night vision devices that provide no magnification and use a single eye unit. In many cases these style of night vision devices are the most versatile of them all, as they can be worn on the head or even mounted to the front of a rifle scope. How monocular devices can be used will depend on the brand and model purchased. Goggles allow for both eyes to be used when viewing, but like monoculars they do not provide any kind of magnification. Goggles can be head mounted and come in two different styles. The first style is single image tube with two eye pieces, while the other is a dual image tube with two eye pieces. One of the great things about goggle style night vision devices is how natural they feel when you first start wearing them, they don’t take much getting used to at all.
Armasight Nyx-Pro Bravo Gen 3
Before we get too involved in looking at what the Armasight Nyx-Pro Bravo Gen has to offer we want you to know that this light meets our minimum requirements to be used in life threatening situations. In all honesty there are higher end products out there that far exceed what this one has to offer, in fact, the Gen of this same model is currently the best product available. The Gen meets minimum requirements for high quality tactical use at a little bit lower of a price, so we feel that it is a good fit for our review.
The Armasight Nyx-Pro Bravo Gen is an extremely durable and rugged bi-ocular night vision goggle. The Bravo Gen uses simple, but very reliable electronics and the highest grade optics to provide you with clear and bright images through night vision. The Bravo Gen can be 100% hands free if worn on the included flip-up head mount, but can also be a hand-held night vision device if you need to engage in long range observation. These goggles are powered by a single CR12or an ordinary AA battery that provides up to 60 hours of use. The goggles are water and fog resistant and come with easy to operate controls. The auto brightness feature and the built-in infrared illuminators are just an added bonus.
ATN NVM 14-Gen Monocular
What makes the ATN NVM 14-Gen the best tactical night vision monocular in our opinion is how versatile it is, as well as its amazing features. The NVM 14-can be used for a variety of different tasks, including driving and administering first aid, in addition to so many other things. With the NVM you can pretty much go about your normal daytime tasks, but in the dark. The NVM can be used as a handheld device, a head or helmet mounted device, or even mounted on a weapon. The NVM can be vertically adjusted by using the head straps; it can also offers a fore and aft adjustment. The NVM also offers objective lens focus and eyepiece focus.
The Automatic Brightness Adjustment system on the NVM 14-is a nice feature to have as it ensures that the IIT brightness level remains steady no matter the conditions. With the Automatic Protective System the NVM is able to control the current illumination automatically, plus the Monocular will shut off on its own if lx levels go higher than 100 to 300 lx within minutes. The NVM features a monocular optical system that is made up of an objective lens, an eyepiece, and an Image Intensifier Tube. The eyepiece itself is home to a red and green indicator light. The green light warns of excessive brightness, while the red is a low battery warning and a IR illuminator indicator.
ATN Spirit MP-Monocular
The ATN Spirit MP-Monocular is a perfect choice for night vision monoculars for those who are currently working on tactical law enforcement teams, as well as elite military personnel. In all honesty the Spirit MP-can also be used by ordinary citizens, but it is a something that is of high quality and is made for true tactical situations. The ATN Spirit MP-can be attached to a helmet or even a weapon, it can also be used as a head mounted device or a handheld device and is perfect for doing a variety of daytime tasks in the dark of night.The MP-is powered by a single CR123A battery that will allow you to effectively use the monoculars for a period of 60 hours before needing replacement.
One thing that the Spirit MP-offers is Total Darkness technology. This technology comes with a infrared light emitting source that is built into the monocular itself. This technology allows you to use the device even when there is a lack of ambient light. Like many other ATN models the Spirit MP-also comes with LED indicator lights, automatic brightness control, and a bright light cut off. Most IR laser aiming devices, as well as illuminating devices, are completely compatible with the Spirit MP-2, which only adds to its versatility. It is the advanced technology used in the ATN Spirit MP-that gives you the tactical advantage when using it in a tactical situation.
Other Tactical Lights
Most categories of tactical lights are focused on a style of flashlight, whether it is a headlamp, helmet mount, or goggle style light; they all look and act similar to a flashlight. All of the above mentioned lights are great tools to use in a variety of tactical situations, but sometimes you need something a little bit different to get the job done. In this section we want to introduce you to other tactical lights that you might find useful to have on hand.
One thing that you might notice based on the lights that we have chosen for this article is that tactical lights provide you with advantage during tactical situations. In some cases the burst of light helps disorient an adversary while other times the infrared light allows you to maneuver through a room without giving away your position or destroying your night vision. The lights included in this category of our article are no different. These lights provide you with a tactical advantage, but what advantage they provide will vary.
Brite Strike RID-3
The Brite Strike RID-is not a replacement for a flashbang, but they were designed by police officers to be a distraction and disorientation device. Brite Strike RID-doesn’t require any special training to use and they are an excellent alternative to flashbangs. One reason why they are such a good alternative to flashbangs is they can be used to gain entry into an unsafe room that contains flammable material.
Brite Strike RID-3s are small, lightweight ball balls that are expertly weighted to ensure they spin and wobble when they are tossed into a room. As the ball rolls across the floor or when it first hits the floor it will spin and wobble with its two white LEDs shining brightly. Once the ball stops wobbling and spinning the light will be facing up allowing the person in the room to be perfectly backlight. The spinning and wobbling light distracts the person in the room, giving you the perfect opportunity to make your move. Brite Strike RID-does not feature a strobe option, as you don’t want to be blinded by the strobe when you walk into the room. The spin and wobble feature works similar to a strobe without having any disorientating effect on you. Note, these do not strobe.
Lumens are how we measure luminous flux which is the amount of light energy or power of the light in total that comes out of the face of the flashlight. High Lumens means that you have a powerful LED and a powerful battery. Flashlight producers like throwing the word Lumen around everywhere but it is not really as useful of a measure of light as Candela or Beam Distance for how the flashlight will perform. The most powerful tactical flashlights have really high lumens but it is dependent on the reflector on whether the light will shine a long distance or if it will light up the area close to the light.
Candela is the peak beam intensity or in other words the brightest point of light produced. Without changing the amount of Lumens the Candela can change dramatically since they are dependent on the beam angle which is controlled greatly by the reflector. The smaller the beam angle the greater the peak brightness with be (Candela). So you could have flashlight with a much less powerful LED producing a higher beam intensity and having a longer beam distance because it has a smaller beam angle.
As mentioned earlier when we described the ANSI FLstandards Beam Distance is the distance in meters that a light can go until it reaches 0.2lux which is the amount of light output by the full moon on a clear night. Just like Peak Beam Intensity/Candela the Beam Distance is very dependent on both the type of LED used and also the reflector. Flashlights can be designed to throw a long beam like a spot light or to light up a whole area like a light bulb in your house. Later we will talk about throw vs flood.
With all of that said, we will play by the manufacturers rules and decide how much light we need by Lumens. But, now that you are educated you can take the other ANSI measurements into account while searching for the best tactical flashlight.
700+ Lumens: This is getting really serious. This is the level of power you want if you need maximum brightness for your job but still need a small handheld light. Search and rescue teams or people that just want to show off get these kinds of lumens. There are handheld flashlights that go up to 7000+ Lumens these insane flashlights can make a tree 3-football fields away as bright as a christmas tree.
Flood Vs. Throw
These are two terms that you will hear about all of the time if you do much research in flashlights. A flashlight the has a lot of flood will illuminate a very large area but not very far. There will not be a defined beam but on overall brightness in the whole area. Torches that have a long throw have a very definite beam and you can light up something many yards away. Different lights are designed to be more floody or throwy, it is dependent on the design of the reflector and on the LED that is used. In general flashlights that are floody are better for close up activities and flashlights that have a long throw are for lighting up thing that are far away. You need to decide how far away you want to be able to see something and this will change the flashlight that you will want to buy.
Some flashlights come with light filters that you can put over the top of the flashlight so it will shine another color. Red is popular for night vision, blue and yellow are popular for seeing blood, and green does not spook animals while hunting and can not be seen from the side so you can preserve your location.
Dedicated RGB LEDs
You would use red, blue, and green led flashlights for the same reason as above but for some reason you might want them built into the flashlight. Having the built in LEDs makes it so you do not need to search for filters all of the time, but you will not be able to get the same level of brightness as you would in a light with a filter.
Some people like to carry flashlights is a separate holder on their belt, and some flashlights are too big to fit in a pocket. For this reason there are flashlights that come with holsters. Most flashlight holsters have a belt loop and then a Velcro flap that goes over the head of the flashlight.
Do you need to put your light on a gun, some lights are dedicated gun lights and some handheld flashlights have adapters that will attach them to a gun. A light the is meant designed to go on a gun will fit more secure and have less movement, but having an adapter for a handheld light is both more versatile and cheaper.
If you want to mount your flashlights to a weapon some lights offer different types of switches. Many manufacturers offer pressure switches that replace the tail switch of a flashlight with a pressure pad so you can move the on/off button to almost anywhere else on the gun. These are particularly useful for long weapons so you can put a switch right next to where you would comfortably keep your hands as opposed to feeling around for the button on the flashlight.
Do you want the surface of the flashlight to be knurled for extra grip or do you want it to be smooth. Knurling is when a pattern is put into the metal surface of the flashlight. Many people like the knurling in the metal but some do not and prefer smoother ergonomic features to increase grip.
Flashlights 10- Introductory Course
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IP Ratings explained
Each light we sell has its own IP rating. IP stands for “Ingress Protection” and shows how resistant each light is to water. The higher the rating, the better the protection – it’s that simple.
Each IP rating contains numbers. The first number demonstrates the degree of protection the lighting unit offers from foreign objects and the second number demonstrates its resistance to moisture.
You’ll need certain IP rating for bathroom lighting used in certain bathroom zones (which we’ll move onto shortly).
IP rating examples
Second number (moisture protection) – 0 = No protection.
First number (intrusion protection) – = Protection from entry by tools, wires etc., with a diameter of 2.5mm or more.
Second number (moisture protection) – = Protection from spray up to 60° from vertical.
First number (intrusion protection) – = Protection against dust that may harm equipment.
Second number (moisture protection) – = Protection against water spray from all directions.
Bathroom zones explained
Depending on how big your bathroom is and where certain items are situated, your bathroom will be split into different zones which are suitable for different electrical items.
You can find out more about bathroom electrical zones in our bathroom electrical installation blog post.
Bathroom ceiling lights have always been viewed as very functional, with a general lack of design choices. That is until now…
Whilst you can still find quite simple designs, such as flush fitting bathroom ceiling lights, you are now faced with a greater choice than ever before. Choose between elaborate designs that match your bathroom decor, like decorative bathroom chandeliers, or more contemporary fixtures.
Downlights and spotlights
A more modern choice for your bathroom lighting comes in the form of downlights. Fitting into, and sitting flush to, your ceiling, these lights are extremely discreet and provide a more even illumination across your whole room.
They may require more installation work than a single lighting outlet, but the overall effect is impressive. Plus, with some downlights, you can specifically angle the beam to highlight certain elements, such as your bath or basin.
You will also find shower lights that are designed specifically for the ceiling above your shower, turning a daily wash in the gloom into a more illuminating experience. These usually have a higher IP rating, e.g. IP65.
For a more subdued mood, wall lighting is the perfect choice. Some wall lights can also work independently to your main lighting, with a pull cord operating a switch. Just make sure any wall lights are placed away from bathroom zones 0 – 1.
Whichever method you choose, this can be an effective and impactful way of bringing added illumination to your bathroom.
LED vs. CFL vs. Halogen
Now that most incandescent lightbulbs are pretty much a thing of the past, consumers now must choose between LED (light-emitting diode), CFL (compact fluorescent), and halogen bulbs to light their homes. But which is the best option? It all depends on your needs. We’ll take you through the various kinds of lighting, and the benefits that each offers.
LEDs vs. Incandescent Bulbs
Traditional incandescent bulbs measured their brightness in watts; if you wanted a brighter bulb, you bought one with a higher wattage. However, with the advent of LEDs and other types of lighting, that yardstick has become meaningless, and as a result, a bulb’s brightness is now listed as lumens, which is a more accurate measurement of how bright it is, rather than how much energy it consumes. Below is a conversion table which shows how much energy, in watts, an incandescent bulb and an LED typically require to produce the same amount of light.
Other Lightbulb Alternatives
EISA will also stop the manufacturing of candle-and globe-shaped 60-watt incandescent bulbs (the types used in chandeliers and bathroom vanity light fixtures). However, the law doesn’t affect 40-watt versions of those bulbs, nor three-way (50 to 100 to 150-watt) incandescent A1bulbs. So, those will continue to be an option for you, as well, in fixtures that will accommodate them.
LED Lightbulb Options
Traditional bulbs for table and floor lamps are known by their lighting industry style name “A19,”while floodlight bulbs made for track lights and in-ceiling fixtures are dubbed “BR30.” Your best long-term alternative to either style is extremely energy-efficient LED technology.
The LED equivalent of a 60-watt A1bulb consumes only between and 1watts, and provides about the same light output, measured in lumens. A 40-watt equivalent LED bulb consumes only to 8.watts. And a 65-watt BR30 (floodlight) replacement LED bulb consumes only to 1watts.
Moreover, an LED bulb’s lifespan is practically infinite. Manufacturers typically estimate a bulb’s lifespan based on three hours of use per day. By that measurement, an LED bulb will be as good as new for at least a decade, manufacturers say. Under the same conditions, an old-fashioned lightbulb may work for only about a year before burning out.
For example, GE’s equivalent LED bulb has a rated lifetime of 15,000 hours or 13.years. Philips’ equivalent LED bulb has a rated lifetime of 10,000 hours or 9.1years.
LED bulbs will continue to light up even after their rated lifetimes expire; however, brightness may drop or the color cast of the light may change.
GE, Philips, Sylvania, Cree and other brands (including IKEA) all offer LED bulbs that output the most popular “soft white” light, at retailers including Home Depot, Target and Walmart. In addition, GE ‘s Reveal lineup of color-enhancing lightbulbs (a coating filters out yellow tones to enhance colors lit by the bulb) with LED replacements equivalent to 40-watt and 60-watt A1bulbs and to a 65-watt BR30 bulb.
2700K: These bulbs will be labeled “soft white,” and will cast a gentle warm glow that’s good for the bedroom, as well as table and floor lamps.
3000K: “Bright White” bulbs have a more neutral glow, being neither warm nor cool.
5000K: Lights that are 5000K and higher will typically have a “daylight” label, and edge towards the bluer part of the spectrum. However, they will best approximate actual sunlight.
IP68… IP67… IP58, what does it all mean – and is it important? Yep, It certainly is! These codes highlight the extent of how water and dust proof your new LED driving lights will be. IP stands for Ingress Protection, and below is a breakdown of what these numbers actually mean. Take the first number of your IP rating from the solids section, and the second number from the liquids section to determine how protected your LED lights actually are. An IP6rating for example would be water and dust proof.
LUMENS VS LUX
Every manufacturer will supply the raw lumen figure their light produces, but many wont supply the lux readings. Quite simply, lumens provide a figure of the total amount of light being produced. Lux on the other hand, measures the intensity of the light. So while a light may have high lumens and offer fantastic spread of light, if the lux readings are low there won’t be enough grunt to actually see much at all. There are technical methods of measuring both lumens and lux, which takes out the ‘seat of the pants’ argument. A light integrating sphere accurately records lumens, while lux is measured with a far simpler device (oddly enough) called a lux meter.
You might not think it, but the wiring looms supplied with LED driving lights are a major part of what actually helps to keep water and dust out. Many manufacturers will in fact void the light’s warranty if you decide to cut off the supplied connectors and install your own. Look for a light that incorporates Deutsch connectors that are water and dust proof. If not, moisture will find its way down the electrical cable, and directly inside your LED driving light, potentially destroying it.
We know from the previous article on illegal 4Xmods that you can’t mount an LED or any driving light on top of a bull bar. So how do you go about installing them? Luckily, many bull bars will have mounting tabs to secure a light fixture. If not, there are several light mounts that can be installed with a few basic tools. The most common variety is a tube-mount clamp that wraps around the top hoop of a bull bar pointing downwards, providing you with an adjustable mount that simply bolts on. No need to weld or fabricate new mounts, which also preserves the factory powder-coated finish the bull bar came with.
GREAT WHITE 1LED
Manufactured by Vision X, Great White has been lighting up tracks in Australia for some time now. In the process, they developed a product with many big claims: it’s shock proof to 15.6G, waterproof to 3m, has an operating lifespan 50,000+ hours and it’s all backed by a five year warranty. If that sounds like something that might be up your alley, take a closer look at the 1LED driving light. Powered by eighteen individual LEDs, the Great White LED is offered in a dust proof black or chrome-finished aluminium housing. There are also many additional accessories available for the range of LED driving lights, including anti-theft lock nuts, coloured and clear polycarbonate lens covers, and both 12v and 24v wiring harnesses.
ROUND DRIVING LIGHT
Very similar to its big brother (the 1LED driving light), the LED version offers similar features and benefits, just in a smaller package. Modern vehicles have far less space for aftermarket accessories when compared to older four-wheel drives. This is especially true when you take a look at a modern bull bars. So it’s no surprise that a light with half the amount of LEDs produces exactly half the raw lumens. But when you still have 4,43raw lumens of 6000k LED light pointing down a dusty track, you wont be complaining. The smaller size is also a benefit for those who own vehicles that are more notorious for having overheating issues. With less surface area to block the radiator, more cool air can get past the lights and into the vehicle’s cooling system.
HALO RAPTOR INCH LED
The Halo Raptor is a seven-inch LED driving light that packs plenty of technology into a small package. While LED lights by nature don’t get anywhere near as hot as halogen lamps, Halo have put considerable amounts of time into keeping these lights running as cool as possible. Features include integrated electronic thermal management to regulate heat levels, and a channeled heat sink also helps to dissipate heat and prolong LED lifespan. The housing is made from 606grade aluminium for durability, and a polycarbonate PMMA lens keeps weight down while resisting impacts from stones and debris. As an interesting side note, Halo tells us that these lights can be mounted vertically, horizontally, diagonally or on any angle. So if you have a tricky mounting platform that requires an alternative install, these could be the driving lights for you.
IMPACT LED 51W
These are the least expensive LED driving lights in this guide, and on paper they deliver some impressive statistics, with 1three watt American-made LED lights crammed into a rugged seven inch housing. Strong 3mm thick tempered glass has been utilised instead of polycarbonate, and all cabling has been sealed and double insulated to prevent water and dust ingress. Impact LED back up their product with a two year warranty and claim the LEDs used in the light will be good for a lifespan of up to 30,000 hours. These lights have also been tested in accordance with ISO 16750-which (if you are not a mechanical engineer) means they have passed a mechanical shock test to ensure they wont fall to bits while blasting down your favourite track.
JW SPEAKER TS3000R
JW Speaker are an American-based manufacturer of high quality lighting that you will see on Harley Davidsons, John Deere tractors and Caterpillar earth moving machinery. So while the name might not be immediately familiar, they have been in business since 193and have been manufacturing vehicle lighting since 1960. The TS3000R from JW Speaker is a compact LED driving light that has been designed from years of engineering research and development. Like many other LED driving lights, the TS3000R is available in a pencil or spread beam and with a black or silver finish on the die-cast aluminium finish. While small in size, the pencil beam will shine close to 500m down the road and the spread beam offers a wider beam of light yet will still comfortably shine over 400m down a straight road. Another unique feature is the universal pedestal mount that has been designed for ease of fitment on a variety of mounting platforms.
Lightforce LED 180
The smaller model in the latest Lightforce LED range is the 180. This LED driving light is made up of seven watt high output CREE Chipset LEDs that are housed in a high-pressure cast aluminium housing. There is a choice of wide or spot beams depending on your requirements, and Lightforce claim their product is waterproof. The difference between cheaper driving lights and Lightforce units is the attention to detail. DuPont paint has been used to provide protection from our harsh elements, and the polycarbonate lens has been hard coated for scratch and impact resistance. For even more protection, clear clip-on covers are provided and military grade wiring cable gets the nod for handling power-up duties. These inclusions make for a solid, compact LED driving light that has been designed for Aussie conditions.
LIGHTFORCE LED 215
Opposite Lock have long been selling the Power Vision range of halogen and HID driving lights, so it makes absolute sense that they partner up with them again to produce the Nitro 228mm LED driving lights. These driving lights pump out a huge 120w of glorious white light, thanks to 2five watt CREE LEDs producing a claimed total of 10880 raw lumens per lamp. Sturdy mounting brackets are supplied, which offer ease of adjustment for a range of fitment options. Lens covers, a wiring harness and anti-theft locking nuts are also included, meaning no surprises when it comes time to install the lights. Plenty of attention to detail has gone into the construction side of things, with the inclusion of a robust high-pressure die-cast aluminium housing and a high impact polycarbonate lens to prevent stone chips and other damage while off-road.
RIGID INDUSTRIES Q SERIES
The Q Series from Rigid Industries is a little different to the rest of the LED driving lights on the market, as it is a square shaped unit rather than a traditional round shape. The reason for this is quite clever, Rigid Industries were able to build the Q Series around four of the smaller yet extremely popular and proven Dually LED lights optics. The real benefit of the Q Series is the shear amount of beam pattern options available. From spot beam for those who need absolute long distance vision, to diffusion beam for anyone wanting as much light spread as possible, or combinations of both. Originally designed for use on fire and rescue and commercial trucks, the Q series are extremely heavy duty in construction and still made in America. Best of all, they come complete with mounting brackets and a waterproof wiring loom too.
RIGID INDUSTRIES R SERIES
The latest LED driving light from Rigid Industries is also quite possibly the boldest they have designed. The R Series has been built for those who want to stand out from the crowd, while still offering performance levels that you would expect from the USA-based manufacturer. The secret to the exceptional performance of the R Series is the curved lens and housing which allows for a tremendous throw of light. When combined with twelve of Rigid Industries’ brightest LEDs, you have one serious LED driving light. Availability in a spot, hyperspot, flood, combo, driving and wide beam patterns means there is a light in the R Series range to suit most applications and terrains. A black lens cover is included, as are quality stainless steel brackets and a waterproof wiring loom.
VISION X SOLSTICE
Vision X is actually the manufacturer of choice for many other lighting companies, so their own product sometimes gets less attention than it deserves. Producing a generous 4800 raw lumens from just six LEDs is impressive, and when you consider they also have a service life of up to 50,000 hours things really get put into perspective. The key feature of this light has nothing to do with the light output, but more the slim die cast aluminium housing, which has excellent strength and heat dissipation properties. And with a mounting depth of just 1.inches, this is the LED driving light for you if space is at an absolute premium. As Vision X lights are subjected to rigorous vibration testing for performance in high impact situations, Vision X offer a lifetime warranty on the LED Solstice driving light.
A standard set of 100 led solar fairy lights should have a minimum of 200 mAh or milliamp hours this could also be expressed as 0.watts. This requirement increases as the number of led’s and therefore the cable length increases, as it takes more and more voltage to push the power through the cable.
So for example a set of 200 led lights needs at least watt of solar panel power. PowerBee are famous for going even further than this basic requirement. Take for example the standard 100 led warm white lights, these actually have a 300 mAh panel.
This is part of the reason that in their class the Endurance range are the best solar powered lights you can buy and will outperform any other set by some degree.
Spot lights need to produce quite a powerful light, it needs to be intense so as to light up the selected location to at least some useful or pleasingly aesthetic degree, for this reason a solar spot light needs to have a good quality high watt panel, to produce enough voltage, and a decent battery capacity to allow the light to emit a good amount of lumens for a prolonged period of time.
The number and type of LEDs is also an important factor, as this will determine the light output, this is nearly always expressed in lumens, we would recommend that the minimum lumen’s output for a half descent solar spot light should be 80. If the spotlight does not inform you of the lumens value then you can almost be certain it will be far lower than this value, some ‘spot lights’ we tested were around lumens output, which really should be sold as a novelty light.
There are really two very different categories for solar power spotlights: • There are small plant type highlighters which do produce a large amount of light and need to be placed very close to the plant or shrub in question, these lights will certainly highlight part a small bush during summer, but will not work during winter, or on cloudy days. • The second type of solar spot light is what we regard at powerbee to be a true spot light, it depends on what the customer wants at the end of the day, however we certainly feel that a spot light should work during winter, to at Least some degree, and should have the flexibility to be located away from the tree, bush or feature wishing to be highlighted, if you take for example the custodian, you will be able highlight a small to medium size bush or tree, from 1feet away, nearly all year around (in winter operation will be limited but if the panel is facing south without shade then this will be on average – hours every day ).
As you’re probably aware, light bulbs come in a fairly wide variety of shapes. Sure, it’s easy enough to tell a hardware store clerk that you want “one of those flamey-looking lights,” or “just a normal ol’ bulby light bulb,” but knowing the actual nomenclature might save you some time.
Let’s start with the base of the bulb, the part that screws in. In the US, the most common shape by far is E26, with the “E” standing for Edison and the “26” referring to the diameter of the base in millimeters. You might also see E2bulbs from time to time, which is the European standard. Those should still fit into common American fixtures, but keep in mind that voltage ratings are different in the two regions, with American bulbs rated for 120 volts compared to 220-240 volts in Europe. For smaller sockets, like you might find with a candelabra, you’ll want to look for an E1base.
As for the bulb itself, the typical shape that you’re probably used to is an A1bulb. Increase that number to A2or A23, and you’ve got the same shape, but bigger. Bulbs made to resemble flames are F-shaped, which is easy enough to remember, as are globes, which go by the letter G. If it’s a floodlight you want, you’ll want to look for “BR” (bulging reflector) or “PAR” (parabolic aluminized reflector). Those bulbs are designed to throw all their light in one direction only, which makes them useful for spot lighting, overhead lighting and the headlights in your car.
Your automated-lighting options
It used to be that if you wanted your lights to turn on and off automatically, then you had to rely on a cheap wall socket timer, the kind you might use to control a Christmas tree. These days, with a modest boom in smart lighting currently under way, it’s easier than ever to dive into the sort of advanced automation controls that can make any home feel modern and futuristic. Use the right devices, and you’ll be able to control your lights in all sorts of creative ways, and make your life a little bit easier in the process.
The most obvious way to get started with smart lighting is with the bulbs themselves. You’ve got plenty of intelligent options from brands both big and small, and to find the one that’s best for you, you’re going to need to understand what sets them apart.
The first thing to look at is how the bulbs communicate with you. Some offer direct connections with your smart phone via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, which makes setup as simple as screwing the thing in and following in-app pairing instructions.
Others transmit using a distinct frequency like ZigBee or Z-Wave. Bulbs like those might be a better fit for bigger smart home setups, as it’s typically a little easier to sync them up with things like motion detectors and smart locks. Setup can be slightly more advanced, as you’ll need a separate hub or gateway device capable of translating that distinct frequency into a Wi-Fi signal your router can comprehend.
Some smart bulbs come with their own gateway. Others, like the Cree Connected LED, require a third-party control device, like the Wink Hub.
If you’re looking for a little more color in your life, then be sure and take a look at a product like the Philips Hue Starter Kit. Aside from being fully automatable via a mobile app and control hub, the Hue LED bulbs are capable of on-demand color changes. Just pull out your phone, select one of millions of possible shades, and the light will match it. And if you’re into voice control, Hue bulbs hit the compatibility trifecta — they’ll work with Siri, Alexa, and the Google Assistant.
Because Philips opened its lighting controls to third-party developers, you’ll also find lots of fun novelty uses for Hue bulbs, like changing the color of your lights in rhythm with whatever music you’re playing. There’s even an app that’ll sync your Hue lights up with certain TV programming.
Hue lights are also directly compatible with the popular web service IFTTT, with recipes already available that will change the color of your lights to match the weather, or to signal a touchdown from your favorite football team, or even to indicate when your stocks are doing well.
Colour and colour temperature
Warm white, cool light, daylight: choosing a ‘simple’ white lightbulb can be more complicated than it seems.
The colour temperature of a bulb makes a big difference to the kind of light it emits and is denoted by a 4-digit number followed by the letter ‘K’ (which stands for Kelvin).
The colour temperature of most bulbs is between 2000K-6500K. A 2000K bulb would give off a very warm, yellow light, suitable for cosy living rooms or bedrooms, while a 6500K one would be what is known as a ‘Daylight’ bulb, as it is supposed to recreate exactly that.
If you’re shopping for a warm white lightbulb for the home, look for anything around 2500-3000K, while anything over 4000K would give you a nice cool light.
Alternatively, you can find a wide variety of coloured or colour-changing lightbulbs. These will be labelled quite clearly with their colour. ‘RGB’ bulbs allow you to pick from a variety of different colours.
Watts and lumens
Do not use a bulb’s wattage to determine its brightness.
The ‘lumens’ rating gives a more accurate indication of how bright a lightbulb is. This is especially important when choosing LED lightbulbs as they can give out the same brightness as an incandescent bulb using much less power. For example, an LED lightbulb that uses only watts (W) of power emits around the same brightness as a traditional 50W bulb (see to find out how we know this).
Bulbs for general household use will typically have a lumens rating (lm) somewhere between 300-800lm. The lumen output of golfball and candle bulbs may be on the lower end of the scale, as they’re designed for use in smaller lamps, while high-powered outdoor floodlights could emit in excess of 20,000 lumens.
The wattage of a bulb should still be taken into consideration to make sure it’s compatible with your fittings. The low wattage of LED lightbulbs gives you a lot more flexibility, but you should still not exceed the stated wattage of any light fixture.
LED lightbulbs are incredibly long lasting compared to their incandescent counterparts. The average rated life of a product will tell you roughly how many hours life you should get out of it before it fails. Importantly, though, don’t mix the rated life up with the manufacturer’s warranty period, as the two may not always be the same.
If an LED bulb fails within its manufacturer’s warranty period, you are entitled to a replacement bulb. If it fails outside of this period, you are not, even if the bulb has not reached the average rated life stated on the product.
The manufacturer’s warranty should be stated clearly on any product. Contact us for help if it is not.
Other technical details
The following points aren’t the most important factors in buying a lightbulb, but may help you find the perfect one for your needs.
If you’re buying spotlights, the beam angle may be something to think about. Measured in degrees, the beam angle of a light determines how wide or how narrow the beam of light is that the bulb emits. A 40° beam angle, for instance, would have a very narrow, focused beam suited to retails displays, while a 100° beam angle would cast a wider light more suitable for lighting corridors or larger rooms.
Some lightbulbs come with a CRI (Colour Rendering Index) rating. This tells you how well a bulb reproduces the colours of the environment around it. High CRI bulbs are useful for photography studios, where capturing the natural colour of objects is really important. If you’re just buying a bulb for general use in the home, this is likely not something you need to worry too much about.
Track lighting has become a staple of modern home design, and you don’t have to wonder why. It’s an easy way to add a contemporary feel to new or existing homes and versatile enough to light several areas around the house. However, with the large variety of different sizes, track types, and lamp head styles, diving head first into the world of track lighting can seem pretty overwhelming. Instead of driving yourself crazy, let us do the work for you. In part one of this two-part Buyers’ Guide, we’ll be covering tips and tricks for getting the most out of your track lighting in various applications.
Probably the most common way to use track lighting is accent lighting. Track lighting got its big start in art galleries and museums, so it’s no surprise that illuminating decor is what its best at doing. The wall washing technique is the way to go when you need a wide, unfocused spread of light to cover a large area, such as for bookshelves or your action figure collection. For narrower beams of light, use adjustable spotlights to bring attention to decorative pieces like paintings and photos.
Weapons store Off Road 4X 18W Cree LEDs Work lights
Produced using military level aluminum, these Arsenal mark off the road driving light are operated to be extreme. They are likewise to a great degree brilliant. The bundle incorporates four lights and double guard mounting sections. It additionally includes the reward of a free red enlightened rocker switch.
This HELLA Halogen off the road driving lights are well-known for their consistent quality and durability, at a reasonable cost. They are lightweight, and simple to mount on just any truck or SUV. HELLA likewise offers other extras for these off road lights that including stone shield, defensive grilles, and the new Color Shieldz defensive overlays that come in Smoke,the Yellow,the Blue, and Clear. The Color Shieldz is for appearance, as well as offer extra assurance from road flotsam and jetsam, for example, rocks.
Assessing Your Lighting System Needs
Regarding the last question, if you’ll be handling your own lighting during performances, features such as remote control, foot pedal control, and programmability will be important considerations.
LED vs. Conventional Lighting Fixtures
Inexpensive LED fixtures typically have smaller, low-power LEDs while larger, high-end fixtures are equipped with one-watt or three-watt diodes for much more impact. Smaller LEDs are often designated by their sizes—typically 5mm or 10mm. A 10mm diode is proportionately much brighter than a 5MM LED.
Strobe and Laser Effects
Strobe effects use a pulsing white light beam to create a visual stuttering effect similar to viewing old-time films. They’re very popular in dance clubs and are available with both traditional filament bulbs as well as LEDs in a range of power levels to match various venues. You can choose from standalone models or DMX-controlled strobes that can be programmed with custom patterns. Sound-activated models can create a particularly exciting ambience on the dancefloor. Note that many LED PAR cans and effects lighting fixtures include strobing functions that may be adequate for your needs.
Laser effects produce very intense single-color beams and often include built-in display programs as well as sound-activated functions using a built-in mic. Motorized units allow scanning and burst effects, and the inclusion of gobos can create patterned laser beams. More advanced laser effect fixtures can produce 3-D effects and detailed backdrops, skyscapes, and much more. Lasers are especially effective when used in conjunction with fog machines.
Black Lights and UV Lights
These fixtures are a simple, low-cost way to add a special ambience to performance spaces and other venues. They enhance the appearance of white and fluorescent colors in darkened spaces creating a ghostly glow. Black lights are available in standard fluorescent tube and incandescent bulb formats that use standard lighting fixtures as well as newly developed LED fixtures.
PAR Can Lighting Fixtures
These lights are a staple of stage and live-sound lighting. These basic fixtures have a metal housing, mounting bracket, reflector, and socket that can accept a variety of different lamp types. They’re often used in large numbers to illuminate certain performers or stage areas and are usually mounted on overhead trusses. They do not offer a true hard-edge beam; the width of the beam is determined by the shape and positioning of the PAR can’s reflector.
PAR cans come in a wide range of sizes and are identified by their diameters in eighths of an inch. A PAR64, for example, has an 8″ diameter (because 6eighths of an inch equals 8″). Most include a holder allowing colored gels to be mounted in front of the lens.
Note that PAR3lamps are sometimes designated as simply SP (Spot) or FL (Flood).
The power requirements of PAR cans with incandescent lamps can add up fast. Those for smaller stages are typically in the 75-150 watt range. PAR3cans typically run between 50-150 watts. PAR46s usually have 200-watt lamps, PAR56s usually range from 300-500 watts, and PAR 64s range from 500-1000 watts. This is where the LED technology really shines (pun intended). They not only use a fraction of the power required by incandescent fixtures, but also reduce the number of fixtures needed in order to create a wide range of color options.
A common lighting setup for bands involves the use of a pair of light trees on either side of the stage, each holding enough PAR3cans with spot lamps and amber or light pink gels to light each frontline band member. Drummers are usually lit from the back and sides. Mounting the light trees to the tops of your main speakers is a space-saving strategy.
PAR cans and other lighting fixtures that have a double-yoke support system are something to look for if you want maximum placement flexibility. Double yokes allow mounting the fixture from a truss or placing it on a floor, speaker, or stage without a separate mount.
Today, many PAR fixtures are equipped with LEDs instead of traditional incandescent bulbs, giving them multi-color and color-mixing options. As noted above, PAR cans with LEDs generate much less heat, require far less power, and don’t require the use of dimmer packs.
The Thinpar6from Venue uses 100 bright LEDS to generate intense static or pulsing colors plus sound-activated and automated programs with master/slave or DMX-controlled operation.
Dimmer and Switch Packs
PAR cans with incandescent lamps require dimmer packs to control them. They operate in the same way household dimmer switches function, allowing you to set the relative brightness of connected lights. Most small bands and DJs use satellite dimmer packs with several channels that are typically mounted to the T-Bar or truss holding the PAR cans. The cans are plugged into the dimmer and they’re connected to a DMX controller. Dimmer packs are available with various numbers of channels, and some include built-in programs or chases.
Some units offer both dimmer and switch capabilities. Switches only provide on/off functions, and should be be used on LED and non-DMX effects fixtures to avoid shortening their life.
Lighting and Effects Packages
On the Musician’s Friend website you’ll find affordable lighting and effects packages that range from economical multi-PAR can packs to full systems that include a complete set of stage lighting and effects fixtures plus a controller, stands, and cables—everything needed to light your show. Aside from the savings these packs offer, you can be sure each fixture is compatible and designed to maximize the overall visual impact of your performance.
Non-DMX lighting fixtures have their own on-board controllers. Many such fixtures are designed to react to sound picked up through an internal microphone. Sound-activated fixtures usually include settings allowing the unit to create effects when insufficient or no sound is present.
Selectable, built-in programs allow you to automate non-DMX fixture operation—an advantage for bands and DJs who handle their own lighting. Fixtures in this category with incandescent lamps are often manufactured to operate for a specified period of time before they must be turned off, which may make it necessary to use multiple fixtures to create a continuous show. Look for the duty-cycle specification to determine if a specific model makes sense for your needs. This is another advantage of LED fixtures—they have no duty-cycle limitations. Examples of common non-DMX lighting include beam effects, flower effects, and gobo projectors.
DMX Lighting Fixtures
Also called intelligent lighting, these fixtures can be controlled via DMX-51controllers or interfaces. A DMX controller allows you to program stage lighting and effects remotely, ideal when you want complete control of the look and timing of lighting effects. DMX fixtures offer more control attributes or “traits” than non-DMX fixtures.
DMX-51is the communication/cabling protocol that most entertainment lights and controllers use to communicate with each other. DMX acts like a post office. For control, you assign an address between and 51However, unlike your house, which only has one address, your fixture needs a number assigned to each of its channels. A 6-channel DMX fixture uses addresses, or channels on a controller. Each channel on the fixture handles a specific control attribute such as pan, tilt, color, etc.
Controllers run the gamut from simple non-DMX switchboxes and relay packs that allow you to power multiple lighting and sound channels to highly sophisticated DMX units that provide control over every aspect of multiple lighting systems composed of hundreds of DMX-compatible fixtures. Some simpler controllers have a dedicated purpose such as controlling specific effects such as strobes or fog machines. Some controller models allow foot control—a great feature for solo acts and small bands who control their lights in realtime during performance.
The basics of DMX controller operation are generally quite simple. Each slider on the controller corresponds to a channel on the fixture being controlled. DMX fixtures have specific values that correspond to their various control settings such as color, gobo, pan, tilt, strobe speed, etc. By moving a slider on the controller to a specific value, the fixture follows suit. The various control values of each button or slider used to create an overall effect can be saved into a “scene”, which triggers the specific action or state you set. The scene is then saved into a memory bank. Numerous scenes can be combined into an entire program, which, for example, can be synchronized with cues for a show. This is called a “chase.” Chases can be adjusted via a myriad of input functions, depending on the controller being used. Examples of control triggers include MIDI and clock/calendar events.
Software-Based DMX Control
As with software-based audio recording and performance functions, there is a revolution in progress involving a shift in lighting control from hardware-based controllers to PC software and mobile device apps. That said, also as with audio functions, there are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches.
Dedicated hardware lighting controllers with physical sliders, buttons, switches, and legible displays offer intuitive and tactile control and workflow without delving deeply into menus and mastering steep software learning curves. On the other hand, software-based lighting control offers enormous control potential with nearly unlimited creativity in designing elaborate lighting programs. Software may also be more affordable route.
The compact Chauvet Xpress 51Controller and USB Interface works with Windows or Mac computers and gives you powerful software-based control over an unlimited number of shows.
Many hardware lighting controllers come bundled with their own proprietary software and/or are compatible with other lighting software. Deciding which approach to lighting is right for your needs comes down to the complexity of your lighting and your willingness to master sophisticated lighting programming.
The Elation Show Designer 2CF DMX Controller offers 102channels of controls and has a huge fixture library for simplified effects programming.
DMX Controller Features and Specs
Number of channels: Much like calculating the connections needed on an audio mixer, count the number of devices and each device’s number of channels in coming up with an adequate channel count. You’ll of course want to allow some additional capacity for future needs too.
Number of channels per fixture: Some fixtures have many control attributes or parameters. If you plan to include such fixtures in your lighting system, a controller that can handle up to 3channels per fixture will make sense. However, if your system will be largely comprised of simpler effect fixtures and PAR cans, a smaller, DJ-type controller is likely to be adequate.
Number of programmable scenes: As noted above, a scene is a set of control values or slider positions that can be saved for instant recall. Some controllers allow scenes to be saved on external memory devices while software-compatible controllers offer scene storage and editing on external computers or tablets.
Number of programmable shows: A complete sequence of chases and other settings that comprise a complete performance that can be saved and recalled.
Number of universes: Each DMX network is called a “universe” and has up to 51channels. Smaller controllers usually have a single OUT connector allowing control of a single universe. More complex lighting systems may be composed of several networks or universes thus requiring multiple controllers, or a single controller with multiple OUT connectors.
Fixture libraries: These collections of fixture profiles streamline the process of setting attributes and functions.
Tap/sync: This function allows the operator to sync lighting effects with the music by tapping in the tempo.
Joystick/trackball controls: These make tilt/pan and other positional functions easier to control.
Keyboard input: Allows connection of a computer keyboard for faster programming and naming of scenes, chases, and shows.
MIDI I/O and control: Allows control of the lighting system with a MIDI-enabled pedalboard, keyboard or other controller—a valuable feature for performers and DJs who control their lights in realtime. MIDI in and out connectors also facilitate programming on external computers and other MIDI-compatible devices.
USB Connectivity/Software-based DMX control: A USB connector plus MIDI implementation opens up a world of control possibilities using PC software and/or mobile apps to program and control your lighting.
Wireless operation: Some DMX controllers are compatible with wireless adapters so as to deal with situation where very long cable runs would otherwise be needed. Such systems have a wireless transmitter at the controller and receivers located near lighting fixtures. These systems convert DMX control messages to radio frequencies at the transmitter then convert the signal back to DMX signals at the receivers which are connected to the fixtures.
Each fixture produces output at a specific beam angle, which denotes the width of beam being produced. Assuming that you have two fixtures with the same wattage lamps, the fixture with the smaller beam angle will appear brighter. This is because the same amount of light is being focused into a smaller area. In addition, because a smaller beam angle creates a more focused and intense projection, the light can be placed further from the subject being illuminated. The larger (wider) the beam angle of a fixture, the larger the area that can be covered by the unit.
Fixtures should also be placed in proximity to the subject based on output. Lights that have a lower output need to be placed closer to the subject than a high-output fixture in order to be perceived as having the same brightness.
Having a combination of wash and spot fixtures illuminating an area will greatly enhance the look of any show. By using contrasting colors, the spots will pop out more, appearing brighter within the wash effect than if used alone.
Assigning Effects and Programming Shows
The key to good lighting design is to mix and match fixtures and tones to create a desired mood and effect. When programming, use color schemes that complement or contrast with one another, depending on the mood you want. Using a wash to create an ambient light in a color that will complement your spot, or effect, will make it appear brighter and richer. Clean, crisp complementary colors, along with fluid movement and symmetry produce an air of professionalism. Contrasting colors add high energy and drama to a venue. The best way to increase your design skills is by visiting different venues and shows to see what other designers have done. Note the elements that struck you as the best, and attempt to emulate and improve on them.
Connecting a Controller to Lighting Fixtures
A DMX signal begins at the controller and follows the path of the cable to the first fixture and then to each fixture in line down the cable run. The following diagram shows the proper method and order for connecting multiple fixtures to a single controller. The DMX line pictured here runs from the controller to the “DMX In” connection on the first fixture. From the “DMX Out” connection of the first fixture, a cord is connected to the “DMX In” connection of the next fixture in the line, and so on until all units have a cable connected to the “DMX In” connection. The last fixture in the line should have a DMX terminator installed to maintain the quality of the DMX signal.
When setting up your lighting, you need hardware that will safely and securely position and hold your fixtures where you need them. Raising your lighting fixtures increases their coverage and keeps them safe from accidental contact and damage caused by vibrations. Musician’s Friend offers a broad selection of clamps, mounting brackets, and safety cables to accomplish this.
If you perform in a variety of venues, it’s likely you’ll run into challenges in setting up your lights. Having an assortment of lighting stands can help make setup simpler. Basic T-bar stands with tripod bases make a good all-around lighting support. A pair of such stands with an integrated truss affords more positioning options, support, and stability. Read specs carefully to make sure that the light stand or truss system you choose is rated for the weight of your fixtures.
The fixtures you select will determine the cables required to connect your system. In general, you will need one power cord per fixture, along with the appropriate extension cords (if needed). In addition, if you are connecting your fixtures via DMX cable, you will need one DMX cable per fixture. DMX cables use XLR connectors and come in 3- and 5-pin varieties. Check the user’s manual of your fixtures and controller to determine which type will be needed for your application. It’s a good practice to have extra cables on hand to deal with failures and venues requiring longer cable runs. That goes for extension cords, switchboxes, and AC power strips too.
Attribute » a controllable parameter on a fixture such as gobo selection, color, tilt, pan, etc.
Beam angle » The width of a beam of light, often designated by the number of degrees; the greater the number the wider the beam. Sometimes designated with qualitative terms such as narrow, medium, and wide.
Chase » A sequence of lighting effects or on and off sequences. A simple example is the apparent movement of theatre marquee lights along a string, caused by the rapid sequential illumination of each fixture.
CMY » System of light color mixing using Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow. This system entails the use of colored gels or filters to create a wide palette of colors. Also see RGB.
Color temperature » A measurement of how relatively blue (“cold”) or amber (“warm”) a given light is.
Color wheel » A circular metal disc containing colored glass filters and is motorized to rotate in front of a light source.
DMX51» The protocol used to control lighting systems and individual DMX-compatible effects.
Fixture » In lighting systems, any lamp or lighting effect is considered a fixture.
Focus » A qualitative statement of how relatively hard or soft a gobo’s projected image is. The hardness of a projected image is largely a function of the distance that the beam is projected; the greater the distance, the softer the image. Focus may also refer to the X/Y position of a moving light in relation to the performance space or stage.
Gel » Also called a color gel or color filter, it’s a transparent colored polyester or polycarbonate sheet used in stage lighting in front of a light beam to alter its color.
Gobo » A usually spherical glass or metal template containing patterns that are projected by light sources mounted behind or within the gobo.
Gobo wheel » A disc within a moving light fixture that has several gobos placed around its perimeter. A motor steps through each gobo pattern in sequence, or fixtures may be programmable to select custom sequences.
Joystick » A device that allows control of a moving light’s pan and tilt functions. See trackball.
Kelvin » The measurement of a lamp’s color temperature. Incandescent lamps typically range between 600-3200 Kelvin. Arc and discharge lamps range 6000 and 9000 Kelvin. The sun has a temperature of 577See color temperature.
Moving head fixture » A lighting fixture in which the entire optical system, including gobo wheels, lamps, prisms, etc. move with the emitted beam(s).
Moving mirror fixture » Often called scanners, these lighting fixtures employ a mirror to animate and project beams of light. They typically offer faster movement than moving head fixtures.
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