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Choosing the Right Headlight

Hands free.

Headlights are handy lights to have around. They allow for excellent visibility while providing hands free use which is perfect for working. Today’s LED headlights are lighter, brighter, and have more features than ever before. There are many models to choose from and sometimes the selection can seem overwhelming. That’s why Dorcy uses the ANSI FS1 Flashlight Standards to make it easy to compare the most critical aspects of flashlight design in order to help you choose the best light for your situation. These standards are represented in easy to see and understand icons on the product’s packaging. These icons provide a fast an easy way to gain critical information in order to compare and contrast not only Dorcy headlights, but numerous other leading brands as well. The icons include lumens, run time, beam distance, water resistance, and more. If you’re not familiar with the ANSI FS1 Standards and icons, we have a short article which explains them in detail

No matter how good the light is, if it’s not designed for the level of durability you require in your work, you are going to be disappointed

Perhaps the most important question to ask when choosing a headlight is will the light be used for work or general home use? If you are using the light for work you will want a stronger, more rugged design that can withstand the rigors of the work environment. Also, consider whether you will be using the light to see a hundred or more meters or only a few meters in front of you. You should also ask whether or not the light will be exposed to the elements such as rain and water.

The following lists some of the most important features to look for in a headlight and explains what those features mean. The best way to choose the right light is to become familiar with these features and use that information to choose the best light to fit your needs.


What features do I need?

Type of Light

When people think of headlights they think of one type of light. But there are other types of headlights as well. Dorcy offers cap lights which clip onto your cap, as well as hug lights which wrap around your neck and are perfect for reading.

Physical Size and Weight

Weight is a concern with anything you may be wearing on your head for several hours at a time. Fortunately, today’s LEDs headlights are lighter than ever before. I honestly don’t even feel the weight of the Dorcy headlights I own. Still, some weigh more than others and the goal is to find one that is comfortable for you.


Lumens are the measure of the intensity of the light. If the light has multiple brightness levels, you may see, for example, lumens listed for high, medium, and low. The Dorcy Pro Series Headlight has 200 lumens while the smaller 41-2088 offers 23 lumens. Generally speaking, the more lumens, the more powerful the light beam. If you only need to see a few meters in front of you, you might choose something with less lumens; however, if you need more power, a high lumen headlight would be ideal.

Durability/Impact Resistance

This is important to discuss because it’s an aspect of headlight design that many people overlook. If you’re going to be using your light for industrial or heavy duty work, make sure you buy an industrial headlight. No matter how good the light is, if it’s not designed for the level of durability you require in your work, you are going to be disappointed, and more than likely, you’ll be returning for a new light before long. After a couple of times, you will have spent more money than a durable industrial light would have cost in the first place. If you need a durable headlight, look at the construction materials as well as the impact resistance rating. For example, the Dorcy 41-2606 3AA Industrial Headlight has been tested to withstand a drop test of two meters.

On the other hand, if you plan to use your light for basic, everyday home use, it may not be necessary to purchase a light than withstand that much punishment. Again, choose the right light for your specific needs.

Weatherproof Design

Headlights which are weatherproof will have an IP rating of IPX4. If you would like to learn more about IP ratings we have a short article linked here link here maybe. Weatherproof means the light can withstand water splashing on it from all sides. This means the light will be OK if exposed to rain or if water gets splashed on it. This is important for a work headlight. If you’re outside working and it starts raining, you want to know you can safely gather up your tools and materials with the light still running.

Beam Distance and Peak Beam Intensity

Beam distance refers to the distance of the beam until the light equals that of a full moon on a clear night. An icon on the packaging will show the beam distance of the particular light, making it easy to compare with other models. Beam distances range from several meters to hundreds of meters depending on your need. Peak Beam Intensity, measured in candelas, is a measurement of beam intensity at the center of the light’s beam. Look at both of these, as well as lumens, when evaluating the beam of a particular light.

Run Time

Run time is defined as the amount of time it takes for the light to reach 10% of the rated output on new batteries. Run time tests are conducted with either the batteries that come with the light or the batteries recommended to be used in the light. As a general rule, the more lumens and the longer the beam distance, the more batteries are used, or the shorter the run time. The importance of run time depends on your needs. For work, you might choose a rugged light with a powerful beam, high lumens, and a shorter run time. For safety, a longer run time might be more important than lumens. In a power outage, you’re probably going to be more concerned with how long the batteries last than with how long the beam projects.

Additional Features

Today’s headlights have many additional features that you will find useful. Many have a lens which swivels, allowing you to point the light right where you need it. I’ve learned that where your head is pointing isn’t always exactly where you want the light. So the swivel comes in handy. Another feature offered on some lights is multiple brightness levels. This is useful because you don’t always need the highest power light and it’s nice to be able to switch to medium or low and save battery power.

Some lights offer magnets which allow the light to be attached to anything it attracts, for additional hands free use options. One of my favorite features is the motion detection available on the Dorcy 41-2104 Headlight. This feature allows you to turn the light on and off with the wave of your hand. This is especially useful in the winter when you’re wearing thick gloves and can’t manage the small switches. It’s also great for greasy, wet, or oily hands as well.

Included Accessories

All Dorcy headlights come with batteries and head strap. Any additional features will be listed on the packaging as well.


I hope this article has given you much to consider when purchasing a headlight. With the knowledge you’ve gained, and your understanding of the ANSI Flashlight Standards Icons, you will be able to easily compare and contrast features across multiple brands.

I’ve found headlights to be incredibly useful, especially in an emergency or power outage and recommend them to everyone. With the affordability of modern headlights, everyone should own at least one.

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