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New LED Light Brightness Standards

In October 2009, Streamlight announced the adoption of a new voluntary basic performance standard for flashlight brightness. The company is a leading manufacturer of high-performance flashlights for fire and rescue, law enforcement, military and industry.

Standardized tests and a uniform rating system for flashlight equipment were created when a coalition of 14 prominent flashlight manufacturers performed individual tests and shared their results. After two years of research and testing, and working under the guidance of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) and with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the coalition developed the ANSI-NEMA FL1-2009 Flashlight Basic Performance Standard.

ANSI oversees the creation, publication, and use of thousands of norms and guidelines for a wide range of businesses in a variety of industries. By promoting voluntary conformity to consensus standards, the institute strengthens the marketplace position of the United States in the global economy, protects the environment, and ensures the health and safety of consumers. With six types of membership (Company, Government, Organizational, Educational, International and Individual), ANSI represents the interests of more than 125,000 companies and 3.5 million professionals.

NEMA is comprised of approximately 450 member companies that manufacture products used in the generation, transmission, distribution, control and end-use of electricity. NEMA is a federation of more than 50 diverse product sections that are grouped into eight divisions.

Development of technical standards leads to the determination of legislative and regulatory issues, the collection of economic and market data, and the creation of product-based educational and marketing campaigns. By advocating positions on standards and government regulations, NEMA provides its members with information on market economics, and it promotes the competitiveness of the U.S. electrical product industry.

As the first worldwide flashlight standard, it provides testing methods and definitions for basic performance, in addition to brightness marking or labeling. Before development of these guidelines, buyers did not have access to industry-wide standards to determine which flashlight would best suit their needs. It was also impossible to monitor, and respond to, false or exaggerated claims made by flashlight manufacturers, importers or distributors.

Brad Penney, president of Streamlight, organized the first meeting of the coalition two years ago at the SHOT Show, the world’s largest trade show for law enforcement and shooting products. During the development of the flashlight performance standard, ANSI provided the coalition with a basic framework of standards, while NEMA actively assisted with guidance throughout the process.

After deciding which basic metrics to measure (such as run time and light output), the coalition determined the standards by which to evaluate performance. They discussed individual standards contributed by the participants as a group, which allowed them to fine-tune the end product. Penney pointed out that “The team shared and discussed their individual testing processes, then agreed on what was thought to be the best overall approach to defining the standard.”

The new ANSI/NEMA flashlight standard allows customers to rate and compare important features, such as beam distance and intensity, water and impact resistance, light output and run time. The standard also includes a series of icons that participating manufacturers will use to identify product information and performance rating. These will be displayed on company Web sites, product packaging and in catalogs.

According to Penney, this should result in better solutions to false product claims, “which had been frustrating for companies like Streamlight which have strived to display detailed, validated product testing information on packaging and marketing materials. Now consumers have a way to compare products at the point of sale using a standards-based method of evaluation.”

Susan Geoghegan is a freelance writer living in Naples, Florida.  She can be reached at

Photo credit: Mark C. Ide.

Published in Law and Order, Apr 2010

Rating : 7.5

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