Last updated on June 4th, 2021
A throw flashlight is one that can provide an extended range beam. This kind of flashlight has the ability to shoot a beam at a long distance but does not actually light up all of the areas around it, so the light is streamlined towards a certain target. A throw flashlight is made using different methods, and its goal is to get many rays of light that will travel in a parallel way.
A parabolic reflector is what makes this possible with a throw flashlight. When the LED is at its perfect focus, the light will hit the parabola that will travel parallel and reflect off to that particular direction. There are other ways on how to increase the flashlight’s throw, which usually involve TIP optics and aspheric lenses.
The throw of a light source of fixed power is often defined by the surface brightness of the light emitter, and the shape, diameter, depth, smoothness, and reflective efficiency of the reflector surface. A flashlight with good throw characteristics is called a “thrower” and generally has a narrow beam that is best for illuminating objects at a distance (hundreds of feet).
More “throwy” lights are useful outdoors, where 500m or more throws can come in handy for seeing things far away. Mega throwers can throw over 1000m (1km or 2/3 of a mile).
When shopping for a long throw flashlight, there are a few factors you should consider:
- You’ll need to consider the shape, texture, and size of the reflector. This will have a huge impact on how far the throw is.
- Many modern throw flashlights use LED lights. These are extremely popular and are great at increasing the throw of a regular flashlight.
- You should also consider the shape and patterns of the lens. The lens is responsible for the distribution of light, so certain patterns and shapes can have different effects on the light produced.
While shopping around for the perfect flashlight, you’re likely to notice the terms “throw” and “flood” thrown around a lot. While throw flashlights are specifically designed with the purpose of optimizing the distance in which the beam of light can reach, flood flashlights provide a wide-angle beam that provides a more even distribution of light, hence the namesake.
Throw flashlights are great if you require a focused, hot spot of light in a certain area, without lighting up the rest of your surroundings.
When would I need to use a throw flashlight?
If you work in law enforcement – If you’ve ever witnessed a search party, you’re probably aware that law enforcement officers tend to opt for long-throw flashlights. This gives them the ability to fully inspect a situation while still keeping a safe distance. This is great for investigating crime scenes or hunting for something or someone in particular.
Search operations – Whether you’re a law enforcement officer searching for a missing person, or you’re just a regular person on the hunt for a missing possession or family pet, a long-throw flashlight can be a great asset. Long-throw flashlights can illuminate areas far away, allowing you to cover more ground quickly and effectively.
In addition to this, a far-reaching throw flashlight can also serve as a beacon to those you are searching for and make the whole operation a much quicker and safer experience.
SOS situations – In the case of an emergency, a long-throw flashlight can literally save your life. For example, if you’re injured and trapped in the wilderness, you can use it as a signaling tool to get help. Many good-quality flashlights come with pre-fitted SOS and flashing modes that are specifically designed to attract the attention of those that can help you.
If you’re ever in a position where you need to use your torch as an emergency beacon, you’ll appreciate the longer throw distance which can increase your chances of being spotted.
If you own land – Farmers and those lucky enough to live in the idyllic countryside are likely to understand the importance of having a long-throw flashlight. If you own a lot of land, inspecting all of it can be time-consuming and even costly if you employ others to maintain it. Throw flashlights can allow you to search and inspect over greater distances.
This can improve safety as you won’t have to get up and close to emergency or intruder situations, but you can still get a clear view of what’s unfolding.
How to calculate flashlight throw
The flashlight wiki page gives a simple example on how to calculate Throw in meters from candela (candela):
“An actual distance for throw can be directly calculated from the candela value and will be given in meters. The FL-1 standard does just this by providing a light intensity reading in candela and converting this to throw in meters by calculating the distance at which the light will generate 0.25 lux. The throw is just the square root of the light intensity in candela divided by 0.25 lux which gives meters.”
In a nutshell, the simple formula is LUX x DISTANCE x DISTANCE. Once you wrap your head around the formula, it’s pretty easy to test the throw of any flashlight. However, if you’re still confused, you can save yourself the headwork and stress by using an online calculator to help you. Flashlight specs sometimes mention their throw in meters (m) or their intensity in candela (cd or kcd for thousand candelas).
These measurements are both about how bright a flashlight hotspot is, rather than the total brightness, which is measured in lumens.
Before making a purchase, you should keep in mind that flashlights that are equipped with lithium-ion batteries are more powerful than AA flashlights of the exact same size. They’re extremely powerful and very strong “throwers” and have the potential to be dangerous. For this reason, lithium-ion powered lights should be kept away from the reach of children and should not be regarded as toys.