The flashlight is a powerful lighting essential that can come in handy in many everyday situations. They’re not only great for camping and hiking, but can be used for self-defence. Simply pointing a 60-100 lumen led flashlight at someone can cause temporary blindness. Some models even feature a strobe mode, specifically designed to disorient the person. The sturdy metal construction can be used in self-defence by itself, while the non-slip grips are great for people with sweaty hands. Flashlights can be a lifesaver during a power outage, both indoors and outdoors, and are much more efficient than your cell phone’s flashlight. The latest models are extremely durable and produce a massive lumen output, while some weigh as little as 35g. However, they greatly differ from the first models that date back more than a century ago.
History of the Flashlight
The first flashlight was created in 1898 by David Misell. This expensive and inefficient product resulted in low sales. It ran on 3 zinc-carbon batteries placed in a tube that acted as a handle. This model couldn’t throw light for long and needed frequent resting because the batteries couldn’t give constant current for a longer period (hence the name “flash” light). Eventually, the carbon-filament bulbs were replaced by the more efficient tungsten-filament bulbs and the batteries were improved. By 1922 there were several types available – the hand-held variety, lanterns, pocket-sized lights and large reflector searchlight-type lamps.
Types of Flashlights
Although led lights existed for decades – mainly as low-power indicator lights, the first led tourch was produced at the beginning of the 2000s. If you’re looking to buy a quality tourch in 2021, this is the best choice for you. Ledtorches quickly rose in popularity and proved to be far more efficient, durable and produced a stronger light beam than other types of flashlights.
Ledtorches have consistent colour temperature and multiple brightness levels which aren’t as efficient with incandescent bulbs. They produce around 60-100 lumens of light for every watt. Small “keychain” type LEDs produce a couple of lumens, while an extremely powerful led tourch can produce more than 100,000 lumens. They also proved to be highly efficient at producing coloured light. This comes in handy for signalling, forensic examination, blood tracking etc. Ultraviolet LEDs can help with examining paper currency and UV-fluorescent marks, while infrared LEDs are used for night vision systems.
LED headlamps are also convenient illuminators for when you have trouble using the classic hand-held model. Headlamps are ideal for situations when both of your hands are occupied and you need something to light your way or help you work at night or in dark conditions. They’re used in outdoor activities such as caving, orienteering, hiking, camping etc. They’re also used by workers in underground mining, search and rescue, surgeons and others that need hands-free lighting.
Traditional lanterns typically used kerosene to provide a flame, while led lanterns use durable led lights that provide more light for a longer time, without the risk of a fire. They can be used to light your way when hiking, but they’re most commonly used for camping. The light they emit is around 120 lumens, so it’s just comfortable enough to do your camping activities and it’s not too bright.
Incandescent Bulb Flashlight
This is the oldest type of flashlight that’s still in use today. They’re very common and easy to find, but don’t give great results. They’re less durable than led flashlights, which are proven to be highly shock-proof and drop-resistant. Incandescent bulb models also produce a weaker light beam, ranging from 10-15 lumens, which is significantly lower than LEDs’ 100-lumen power. This is not to say that they won’t provide moderate illumination in dark conditions, but they’re underperforming and soon to be completely taken over by the led flashlight.
HID (High-Intensity Discharge) Flashlight
High-intensity discharge flashlights are capable of producing extremely bright light beams. They function by having an electrical current go through a ball of ionized gas and require a short warm-up time before they reach full output. The lamp lasts longer and is more durable than a regular incandescent bulb. This flashlight can produce 3,000 lumens with a 35-watt lamp, which is significantly brighter than the light of an incandescent flashlight.
Environmental concerns have urged us to be more conscious about the devices we’re using every day. The batteries found in flashlights are extremely toxic to the soil and hard to recycle. For this purpose, companies have started to develop alternatives that don’t need constant changing of batteries, such as the USB charging flashlights and the solar-powered ones. Solar-powered tourches are a great eco-friendly choice, even though they’re weaker than other flashlights. They take a couple of hours to charge and can last 4 to 6 hours.
This is another type that can be considered eco-friendly. Shake flashlights are unique because they don’t run on batteries, instead, they contain magnets. When you shake them, they cause a reaction that produces light. Their light beams are weaker than other models, but they’re convenient in that you don’t need to buy batteries.
How to Choose the Right Flashlight?
There are several factors you need to take into consideration before deciding to buy a flashlight:
- Brightness – the brightness in flashlights is measured in lumens. There are models with varying brightness depending on the purpose you’re shopping for. 10-20 lumen brightness is commonly found in a small pocket and keychain lights, 100-150 is ideal for everyday home use or outdoor activities, while 200-300 lumen brightness and higher is used as a tactical light, for hunting, exploring larger spaces etc.
- Run time – some flashlights can run up to 100 hours in low output mode. For everyday use, it’s best to choose a model with higher brightness, such as 500-1000 lumens;
- Construction – the model you consider buying should be lightweight, durable and convenient for carrying around. Make sure it’s shock-proof, drop-resistant and water-resistant. Choosing a textured grip will ensure that it doesn’t slip from your hands when hiking or in self-defence.