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Tips for Choosing the Right Flashlight

Flashlights are useful and versatile tools that are needed and found in pretty much every home. However, thanks to an almost overabundance of different types and models of flashlights available on the market today, it can be quite a daunting or confusing task just choosing the right one for your own household or personal needs. So, to make things a bit easier, here are some key factors you may want to consider when buying a flashlight.

Why Do You Need a Flashlight?

The first thing you need to consider when purchasing a flashlight is, of course, why you would need it. And, there are as many situations where a flashlight could come in handy as there are flashlight models on the market. For starters, a flashlight is an essential emergency tool for power outages and emergency situations. No household should be without some sort of flashlight to illuminate the darkness during powerless stormy nights. Emergencies are also why you also want to keep a flashlight in your vehicle, as well. Nobody wants to be stuck alone on a deserted stretch of road with a broken-down car, in the dark. In any emergency situation, a flashlight is handy not only for illumination, but also for signalling, too.

In addition to emergency situations, flashlights are essential gear when exploring the great outdoors. In fact, flashlights likely top the list of gear people think of bringing on a camping trip. Any outdoor adventure benefits from bringing a good flashlight along, though, from fishing and hunting, to hiking, climbing and more. Even shorter outdoor nighttime excursions, such as taking your dog for a walk, benefit from the safety and light provided by a good flashlight beam.

Types of Flashlight

You can differentiate flashlights by whether they use disposable or rechargeable batteries, and by the type of light they use. Some flashlights use disposable batteries, either alkaline or lithium, which have excellent storage life, seven to about ten years usually. They generally offer longer run times for a given bulb power, are typically lower in initial purchase price and are easier to keep spares on hand. Rechargeable flashlights, on the other hand, use nickel cadmium (NiCd), nickel metal hydride (NiMH) or lithium ion batteries, and offer low operating expenses and are well suited for more frequent use.

In terms of bulb/light types, you will find flashlights with incandescent bulbs, LED lights, Halogen lights, etc. The best camping flashlights will typically feature LED lighting, which have tremendously long lives compared to traditional incandescent lights. A typical LED bulb can last for as long as 50,000 hours. Finally, there are also Shake Flashlights, which use electromagnets inside, which when shaken, give you several hours of LED light. The light isn’t usually very bright though, however the lack of batteries means that these flashlights will always be ready, making them perfect for an emergency situation.

How Bright a Flashlight Do You Need?

The brightness of a flashlight bulb is measured in “lumens.” Lumens of a bulb is a measurement of the entire output of the bulb. (Focus is not considered.) Lumens of LEDs is a measurement of all the light inside the "beam angle". When looking for a flashlight, the best ones for outdoor use have multiple modes that offer different levels of lumens, or the total amount of visible light the flashlight gives off. However, using a flashlight’s highest setting will certainly affect the life of the battery charge. In general, the brightness you need from your flashlight depends on how you are using the tool. For in-home power outages, you won’t need an ultra bright focused beam for distance. Outdoor uses do demand a brighter beam that can reach farther distances, so those are important factors to keep in mind when choosing your flashlight.

What Size Flashlight Do I Need?

Different sizes of flashlights are used for different purposes. The most common-size light for camping and hiking, however, is anywhere between four and six inches, which is an ideal measurement that fits your hand but won't stick out too far on either side. If you’ll be using it for backpacking and hiking, the lighter, the better, of course. For home use, you may prefer a small penlight for storing in a drawer, or a larger police or tactical style light to use for security. Again, size and weight all depends on what you’ll be using it for.