Frequently Asked Questions
I do not mean that my light will "beat" any other light in every possibly category that you might use to compare flashlights. I mean: in terms of balanced design, engineering, features, performance, ease of repair, and sustainability; you won't find another light in this class.
Many products are designed in a way that makes it difficult, if not impossible, to separate an object into it's component parts for repair, recycling, or reuse. Alpha & Delta lights are designed based on the principle of "design for disassembly." This means it's easy to take apart so that it can be repaired, upgraded, or eventually recycled. This flashlight should never need to be thrown away because it can be fixed if something breaks and upgraded when technology changes.
The great thing is, you don't need to be an expert to repair or upgrade our lights. It's designed with the gadget hacker in mind. The entire light can be assembled and disassembled with basic hand tools.
A lumen is the SI unit of luminous flux and is related to the way the human eye perceives light. It is a measure of the total "amount" of light emitted from a source. It does not define how that light is shaped into a directional beam.
Many lights claim output in Watts of power. This doesn't really make sense for LED lights and is a hold-over from incandescent light bulbs. Power is not a measure of brightness, but it's a way to make relative comparisons between light sources. You CANNOT compare the Watts of an incandescent bulb with an LED emitter...apples and oranges.
My lights are tested in an integrating sphere designed to measure OTF lumens. This means you know exactly what you are getting. I test every Blue Label Alpha and Delta light for OTF lumens before I send it out and include the report with each flashlight. OTF lumens are typically 25%-35% lower than rated "emitter lumens" for any flashlight of any kind. It's just physics.
(1) These lights are mass produced, typically in China. That makes them less expensive regardless of the quality. We make every Alpha and Delta in our shop in Mountain View, CA. If you want to spend the least amount of money, buy one of those. If you want to own a unique piece of craftsmanship, made by someone who cares, that makes it especially for you, buy one of ours.
(3) The manufacturing quality of many mass-produced lights is often quite excellent. However, the least expensive lights compromise on less expensive components (specifically LEDs) and they are often sub-standard. The cheapest LEDs, which also have the highest lumen output, produce a light that is very blue/purple. Think of the old fluorescent lights and the nasty "cold" color they produce. We use the most premium LEDs on the market and spend a great deal of effort to maximize the accuracy and color of our chosen LEDs. We don't just buy whatever is the cheapest available at the time. We often wait months for the correct "bin" of LED to become available.
(4) Many manufacturers inflate or lie about their lumen ratings to separate you from your hard earned money. I'm not a conspiracy theorist, it's true. I recently saw an XML based light claiming 10,000 lumens. It's just not possible. Cree, the company that manufactures the XML, claims the maximum output for the LED at 1000 lumens. This is under ideal laboratory conditions AND represents the "emitter lumens." No flashlight in the world is actually going to produce that number "out the front" of the light because there are losses in electrical efficiency, heat efficiency, and optical efficiency. You certainly aren't going to get 10x the manufacturer's rated output.
> I hear a lot about color temperature and CRI but I don't know what it is or why I should care.
Color temperature is a measure of visible light that relates to how "warm" or "cold" the light appears. In the past, fluorescent lights were less desirable because they were too "cold." In contrast, incandescent lights (typical light bulbs) are typically "warm" and have a more natural appearance. Here is a link to a wikipeida article on color temperature.
For me, good color rendition is incredibly important and one thing that sets our lights apart from many other name brand flashlights and virtually all off-brand lights. The flashlight world is shifting away from maximum lumens towards better CRI, and we are the company that has led the way.
The slightly longer answer: because it represents an idea. I think, as a society, we benefit from being more in touch with where our goods come from, how they are made, and who makes them. I'm selling a perspective on life as much as a product. If you are only concerned with the price and features, this light is probably not for you. If you want to spend your hard earned dollars on a product that is meant to last a lifetime, that represents the way you look at the world, and made by a person and not a faceless corporation, then you are in the right place :)
I recently had an interesting conversation where someone told me (I'm paraphrasing) that a $300 flashlight was a display of excessive consumerism and that a $5 big-box special was a more responsible purchasing decision. In my opinion, the situation is exactly the opposite. Buy it once, buy it for life.
Headlamps are great for a lot of special use cases. I have several and I like them a lot. However, a headlamp is is not a replacement for a flashlight and vice versa. You have to have the right tool for the job. If you want massive power, wearing it on your head is not a very good option (blinding others). If you want hands-free, a flashlight is not a very good option (it requires a hand).
One reason I really like flashlights is because I it's the best form factor for use cases that are unexpected. I use my headlamp when I know what I'll be using it for. I carry a flashlight because I don't know when I'll need it or what I'll need it for. It hangs out in my pocket until I drop my keys in the dark, or when I'm trying to fix a broken radiator hose at a rest stop at night, or when I need to make a midnight fridge run and don't want to wake everyone else up. Headlamps are just not very good for every day use.