The beam angle of a light seldom makes headlines. You often have to delve deep into the technical specs to this figure (if it’s even listed at all). That’s too bad because beam angle tells the story as to what kind of light you have. Some lights are purposefully designed to be wide angle while some lights are intentionally made to be narrow and focused.
Beam angle can make all the difference in what you’ll actually see. For example, let’s imagine you are standing at the tee box on a dark golf course at night and are holding a 200 lumen light. If your light had an 8 degree beam, you’d probably be able to see the flag for that hole. If your light had a 45 degree beam, you wouldn’t see the flag but you’d be able to tell if there were any trees, coyotes or hazards in the periphery. In other words, you’ll see completely different things even though the light output is identical.
Beam angles are as important a factor to consider when buying a light as width options are for shoe purchases. It’s possible that 80% of people don’t care much either way (about shoe widths or beam angles) but it matters a great deal to 20% of you. A person with a wide foot will be miserable and get blisters in narrow width shoes...especially if they ran a 5k or marathon in them.
Not all shoe manufacturers offer shoe width options (narrow, standard, wide) but those that do make sure it’s easy for all to see. Similarly, not every light manufacturer offers a wide array of light beam but here are the main three beam categories:
WHY IT MATTERS:
Failure to consider beam angle (or the light type you need) may lead you to selecting the wrong light for your needs. If you’re looking to avoid tunnel vision, then don’t buy a spotlight. If you’re for a focused flashlight that throws far, then steer clear of wide beam lights. The wrong light beam (like the wrong shoe width) can lead to a great deal of frustration.
THE TAKE-HOME LESSON:
Lighting companies are generally consistent with how beam angles are reported. Find out the beam angle of the lights before you buy and make sure it’s in line with the type of lighting you’re looking for. Make sure it fits your needs.
DO NOT just buy a light and hope for the best as you might regret it later.