Follow up: Flashlight Testing
After posting the short write up and link to the OutdoorGearLab article on Headlamp testing and marketing claims, I did a little homework. While I was looking at a number of manufacturer websites, I saw mention of PLATO and not ANSI FL1. I was concerned that the already confusing landscape of flashlight test standards had become even worse!
Here is the good news, I talked with our Energizer rep and this was their response:
PLATO recognizes that the ANSI/FL-1 standard is a voluntary standard. However, when a company does report to it, that company is expected to do so in a transparent and accurate way. Through the Oversight Committee, PLATO self-regulates the portable lighting industry for compliance with the ANSI/FL-1 testing and reporting requirements. It is widely recognized as the only true flashlight standard.
You can view a current list of PLATO members at http://plato-usa.org/member-list/.
We wanted to call out that several of the companies you listed as part of the original 14 that developed the standard have since left PLATO, including Princeton Tec, Petzl, Black Diamond, The Brinkman Corporation and Duracell.
We can’t speak on behalf of Surefire, but we do know that the company is in good standing as a corporate voting member of PLATO and it includes ANSI claims on product packaging.
Also of interest, PLATO has asked Energizer to Chair the ANSI/FL-1 update committee. Every five years ANSI standards need to be reviewed and updated where appropriate. We are in the early stages and plan to reach out to experts and interested parties for consideration on improving the FL1 standard. We are appreciative of the recognition that comes with leading this committee and are excited to help move the industry forward.
– Energizer Rep
The short version of this is that while ANSI FL1 is a voluntary standard, if a company joins PLATO they are obligated to follow ANSI FL1 test procedures and reporting guidelines.
While shopping for running shoes for my son last night I came across a display for headlamps from Princeton Tec, which is one of the companies that left PLATO and does not follow ANSI FL1 test guidelines. They make quality products, and we’ve even tested a few in the past. They list power and battery life next to each other, and while they aren’t explicitly making the connection, I think they know that consumers naturally will. This is the concern that OutdoorGearLab raised in their article.
If you look at this package, you might think you get 100 lumens for 200 hours! I will admit that HOPEFULLY, most of us know that batteries lose strength over time but what should you expect? This model is actually one of the units OutdoorGearLab tested. The distance claim on the package vs actual is worth a look. The issue here isn’t so much that they show these two specs side by side but that they are not connected. In our test the Remix tested far shorter, in real world testing, for beam distance than what is stated on the package . If they were following ASNI FL1, those numbers would be different and a true representation of what a consumer can expect from the product.
Playing by the rules
I was at Home Depot this week and took a quick look at their headlamps. Home Depot isn’t an outdoors store, but they do carry a number of lower end, utility headlamps including some from Energizer and Coast which are members of PLATO and follow ANSI FL1 according to their websites.
Both Coast and Energizer represent their ANSI FL1 compliance well. Coast only showed the Lumens icon on the front, clearly stating it was following FL1 Standard and they did not show battery life anywhere near the Lumens.
Energizer shows the ANSI FL1 icons right on the display packaging as well as on the shelf signs to explain what ANSI FL1 is and why you should care. The Energizer product clearly showed different battery life on the back of the package for each mode – and did not show any claims of Lumens nearby. Energizer does show 3 graphics on the front under FL1 for lumens, battery life and beam length on some of the packaging. While there still exists a potential for confusion, at a minimum, the stated specs are based on ANSI FL1 and not some other non-standard metric.
Read the fine print
You can see a RAYOVAC headlamp on the shelf and while I see a number of icons on the package that look like ANSI Fl1, they are not a member of PLATO and were not part of the ANSI FL1 standard creation. Don’t be fooled by fancy icons. Look for ANSI FL1.
Kudos to Coast and Energizer (and other PLATO members) for playing by the rules and keeping the consumer in mind. Make your voice heard by those that are not playing by the same rules and support brands that follow ANSI FL1.
[ct_alert type=”info” title=”UPDATE: “] Since we’ve reviewed a few OLIGHT products recently, I wanted to mention that they DO follow ANSI FL1 test procedures. http://olightworld.com/about/ [/ct_alert]