Are you looking for info on picking the best flashlight? Then you’ve come to the right post!

You’ll learn about:

  • what makes a flashlight bright
  • the best battery option, and
  • the highest performing light types.

man holding pen flashlight


Lumens and candela:

Lumens and candela are technical measurements that help define the performance characteristics of a lighting tool.

close up shot of vulcan 180 flashlight being held by a firefighter's hip These features can help you find the best flashlight with a bit of knowledge.

  1. Lumen: A measurement of the entire output of the light emitted. Focus is not considered.
  2. Candela (or peak beam intensity): A measure of the brightest spot in a focused beam.

More about lumens

A lumen is a measurement of raw light output.

For example, imagine a lamp with no shade on it.

The lamp makes a lot of lumens, but without something like the shade to direct the light, it goes everywhere.

Lumens without direction, shape or shade can be hurt people’s eyes.

Better candela = more distance

Candela (sometimes called candlepower) is a measure of beam concentration. Candela directly impacts how far away you can see with a beam of light. A reflector, lens or shade built into the flashlight creates candela.

For example, the headlights on a car. The reflectors in the headlights direct the light to illuminate objects on the road.


stringer switchblade being used to illuminate car engine

Choosing the right flashlight for your tasks:

When choosing the right flashlight for your job, make sure the beam distance rating — usually measured in meters — is adequate for the job.

For example, if you’re inspecting a utility distribution line, you’ll want a light with a long-distance rating of 1,000 metres.

Close-up tasks like inspections or repairs, a light with many lumens is important but too much can be blinding. Instead, choose a light with a distributed beam that doesn’t have much distance capability.

Streamlight work lights often don’t have a distance or candela rating because they have a soft beam to eliminate shadows and reduce eye fatigue. Their flashlights for close-up tasks will also have softer colour LEDs for better colour differentiation and to further reduce eye fatigue.

Low to medium lumens with low or no candela/distance capability

Performance Characteristics Typical UsesExamples of Available Products

  • Even, soft 'flood' beam

  • Low or no candela/distance rating

  • Good close-up illumination

  • Reduced eye fatigue


  • Detailed maintenance and repair operations

  • Up close quality inspections

  • Vehicle maintenance


Medium to high lumens with medium candela/distance capability

Performance CharacteristicsTypical UsesExamples of Available Products

  • Good illumination

  • Good distance capability

  • Delivers balanced performance

  • Provides a good level of candela


  • Confined space

  • Mining

  • Fire and EMS

  • Construction


Medium to high lumens with high candela/distance capability

Performance CharacteristicsTypical UsesExamples of Available Products

  • High candela beam

  • Delivers long range lighting

  • Sheds a bright peripheral beam

  • More light on your target at a distance


  • Search and rescue missions

  • Marine transportation

  • Structural firefighting


Battery type:

Streamlight flashlights come in rechargeable and disposable battery options.

streamlight disposable AA batteriesDisposable batteries: Disposable alkaline or lithium batteries have excellent storage life (7 and 10 years respectively). While they have a lower initial purchase price and are easy to keep spares on hand, they have a much higher operating cost than rechargeable lights.

streamlight rechargeable batteryRechargeable: Rechargeable batteries using nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) or lithium-ion batteries have low operating expenses and are great for frequent use. Their initial purchase price can be higher but save money over the total life of ownership.


Light type:

Most flashlights are equipped with LED lights today. LEDs are cost-efficient, long-lasting and produce an exceptional amount of light.

Streamlight flashlights adjust the output and beam pattern to meet a customer’s needs by using LEDs.

LED: Lasts 100,000 hours and does not require periodic replacement. Can run for long periods on little power. Streamlight flashlights create an intense beam of light by pairing LEDs with reflectors.

‘Chip on Board’ (COB) LED: Multiple LED chips (usually nine or more) packaged together as one lighting module. The LED looks more like a lighting panel than multiple individual lights when lit up.

Combination LED/COB LED: Combines the intense brightness of an LED for distance lighting and a COB LED for a smooth, flood beam for up-close work.


Find the best flashlight for you:

The first place you should go is our flashlights product page. We’ve grouped many of the Streamlight flashlights we carry by industry.

Then, using the information you’ve learned on this page, you can narrow down the choice to the best flashlight for your needs.

Have a question? Contact us. We’re always here to help answer any questions you may have.

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Leslie Molin

Market Segment Manager - Personal Safety

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