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Flashlight Moonlight Mode? Is Firefly Mode Useful? Why Have It?

Are you in the market for a new flashlight? You might have noticed that newer models have a new feature: moonlight mode or firefly mode

It’s a setting wherein the bulb produces a lower light output. For example, most flashlights have an output of around 100 lumens. If it has a flashlight moonlight mode, you can decrease the lumens significantly.

Some people have reservations about firefly mode. What purpose does this serve? 

Isn’t brighter better? If you are looking for brighter then check our brightest flashlight buyers guide right here. Some of these also have moonlight modes.

As with any other tool, varying scenarios require different levels of brightness. You won’t always need a powerful bulb with a whopping 100 lumen output. If you’re ever placed in those kinds of situations, it would be helpful to have the flashlight with a handy moonlight mode.

For us, unless we are specifically looking for a super bright beam we will always want a moonlight mode. Not having a really low firefly mode makes the flashlight hard to use in some circumstances. Most of the lights we pick for our buyer’s guides have some kind of really low mode. Check out our full list of buyers guides here.

Evolution of Firefly Mode

Flashlights have not always had a moonlight mode, but past models were often adjustable. Older models usually had two to three levels of brightness, for example. If the brightest was at 100 lumens, you could dim the output to a lower setting.

If you are interested in measuring the lumens on the lights that you have check out this article which shows a couple of methods.

Most models can’t go lower than 30 lumens, though (which is still bright).

Flashlight brands noticed that the demand for adjustable flashlights increased, so moonlight mode was commercialized. Now, you can dim flashlights to somewhere around 3 lumens (ten times weaker than the dimmest setting on conventional flashlights). You can also find models as low as 2, 1, 0.5, or even 0.2 lumens, which are a bit pricier.

When Should You Use Moonlight Mode?

Here are some of the situations where you might find firefly mode helpful:

1. Using the Bathroom in the Middle of the Night

Surprisingly, the most common use for firefly mode is for late-night bathroom trips. Imagine it’s three in the morning, and you suddenly get the urge and you don’t want to turn on the lights. You need a flashlight to see where you’re going.

After turning your flashlight on, you’re greeted by a blinding light, so you search frantically for a dimmer setting, even though you’re already on the lowest output. While trying to dim your flashlight, you realize that the bright light has already irritated your eyes and woke up everyone in the room (maybe even the neighbors). 

Does this sound annoying?

Let’s go through the scenario again, but with moonlight mode. You wake up and realize the halls are too dark, so you take out your flashlight. You don’t want to be blinded by a sudden bright light, so you set the flashlight to the lowest possible output at 1 lumen. 

You’re greeted by a warm, gentle light you can use to safely navigate toward the bathroom. No blinding, annoying, or irritating lights waking up the neighborhood. Problem solved

2. Going Camping

Camping in the woods or mountains is always a fun activity. You get to bond with your loved ones, take a break from technology, and practice your wilderness survival skills. 

The trip is not all fun and games, though. You have to be alert at all times, or you’ll fall prey to the different wild animals or compromising situations. You’ll need to equip yourself with a complete set of tools to prevent accidents, including a flashlight with moonlight mode. 

You can use your dimmed flashlight during a camping trip when you:

Need to Use the Toilet

A dangerous misconception about going to the bathroom when you’re on a camping trip is that you should urinate near your campsite. The theory behind it is that wild animals won’t go near a scented territory, but the reality is the opposite.

Bears are drawn to the strong odor of feces and urine, for example. If you fill your campsite with the odor, you’ll be more susceptible to these wild animals during your trip. 

What you can do is to relieve yourself far away from the site. Turn on your flashlight, dig a little hole, do your business, cover it up, and return quietly to the campsite. If you want, you can urinate in a sealed water bottle. You’ll need a dim flashlight to help you with either task. 

Don’t Want to Disturb Your Fellow Campers

Are your fellow campers asleep, but you suddenly need light? Rather than using a strong, bright lamp or campfire, opt for a dim flashlight. It is discreet, and it gets the job done. 

Shining bright bulbs in the middle of the forest for extended periods puts you at risk of insects, pests, and other wild animals that are drawn to the light.

3. When Fixing Something Small and Intricate

Fixing something like a watch, phone, or electrical board wiring requires precision. One mistake can cause a huge mess, so most technicians have small, precise tools that are able to make accurate movements in confined spaces.

If you like to work on these kinds of items, it’s best to use firefly mode for light. Here are the advantages:

It’s easy on the eyes. 

Given that you’ll be working on a single project for an extended period, you’ll need a delicate source of light that won’t irritate the eyes. Otherwise, your eyes will tire quickly and compromise your accuracy.

Bright lights might reflect on the surface of the items. 

For example, if you’re fixing the wiring on an electrical board and you use a bright lamp, the light will bounce back on the shiny chips and pieces of the board, hindering your line of sight.


Is moonlight mode in a flashlight a desirable feature? Yes. 

A normal, nonadjustable 100-lumen flashlight is great in various situations, but its uses are limited. In some cases, the bright light can be more of a hindrance than a help.

Adding a feature where you can dim the bulb makes your flashlight a more versatile tool in various situations. Whether you need to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night or you are camping with your buddies and don’t want to disturb them, a dim flashlight is useful.

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