The typical flashlight has a light source mounted in a reflector, and a transparent cover (sometimes with a lens) to protect the reflector and the light source, a battery and a switch. Ever-Ready Company founder Conrad Hubert made the first flashlight in 1898.
Back then, flashlights looked entirely different as they do today. They were hand made from fibre tubes, crude paper, a rough brass reflector, and a bulb. However, since the batteries used were weaker, and the bulbs primitive, the flashlights produced a small light, hence the name flashlight.
You may think that flashlights are made the same, but there is so much to know about flashlights than meets the eye. Today, you can find flashlights of all sizes, shapes, and designs. In this article, we look at everything you need to know about flashlights.
Five Categories of Flashlights
There are five types of flashlights that you will find in a hardware or camping store. They are:
The keychain flashlight is typically 3 inches or less in length. They are an essential part of everyone’s everyday carry (EDC) kit. Their small size allows you to keep one in the pocket or stash them in your bags. However, the easiest option is to attach them to the keychain, hence the name.
They do not produce much light, and they are meant to be used as an emergency backup. The keychain flashlights run on coin batteries, similar to those you find in a watch. For this reason, it is better to replace the entire torch rather than bothering with changing the batteries.
However, some slightly bigger keychain flashlights use a single AA or AAA battery. With that said, these types of flashlights are inexpensive and easy to maintain.
Most homes have a utility flashlight for general use around the homestead. It gives off more light than the EDC flashlights and will last longer. They are also lightweight and gives off enough light to get the job done.
Since they are made of plastic, they are cheap, and they will give you several years’ worth of use. However, you need to avoid dropping it often as this can affect its usability.
A tactical flashlight is designed for military or police use. They are designed to be mounted on a weapon for shooting in low light. They are smaller than the utility flashlight, but they emit much more light. Tactical flashlights are made from weapon-grade aluminum to ensure maximum durability.
Despite that, the tactical flashlight is also available to civilians and is the best one to carry along on your next camping trip. They are usually between 3 and 7 inches in length and should be carried on the person and a defence tool.
Industrial or Heavy Duty
Industrial flashlights are heavy, and they are made from aluminium. They are perfect for use in the house, shed, workshop, garage, and anywhere else you like. Since they are heavy, some people carry them as a self-defense weapon.
They give immense light and power, and they are between 5 and 14 inches long. This makes them too big for the pocket, but you can carry them in your hand.
Emergency flashlights, on the other hand, are solar-powered or hand-cranked so they do not have to rely on batteries or electricity. You are sure to find them in emergency kits. You ought to keep one nearby, just in case your other flashlight fails.
With the advancement in technology, we have seen some exciting flashlights. There have been flashlights in radios among other places. However, most people today only need to launch the flashlight app in their smartphones, and they are good to go.
Functions and Options to Consider When Buying a Flashlight
Buying a flashlight is not as easy as most people like to think. While preference plays a huge role in the purchase, we will look into the various functions and options necessary to make the right purchase.
Type of Battery
Most flashlights run on either AA or AAA batteries. However, others run on C, D, and even 9-volt batteries. Other flashlights run on lithium batteries, which are better since they stay charged up for longer and can operate in the cold.
In addition, flashlights with multiple brightness level settings tend to have longer run times. The bottom line here is that you need to be armed with extra batteries.
You also need to ensure that the lithium powered flashlights are fully charged. However, avoid putting them on while they are plugged into the mains since the LEDs can burn or the motherboard. With that said, you also need to consider the ease of changing the batteries.
Flashlights are made from one of two materials, aluminium or plastic, while some brands have stainless steel in the head for higher impact resistance. While aluminium has more durability, they tend to get very hot and cold, and they are heavier than a plastic model.
While the choice of material depends on your preference, you should go for aluminium if the store does not have high-quality plastic.
The traditional bulb has been faced out in the flashlight industry by the more efficient LEDs. The LED bulb can last up to 100,000 hours, are durable, brighter, and use between 20 and 25% of the energy used by incandescent bulbs.
Incandescent bulbs, on the other hand, have a softer light and are cheaper, more fragile, and breaks easily when the flashlight is dropped. What’s more, they are not long-lasting, and they drain the battery much faster than LEDs.
Reflectors and Lenses
The reflector on a flashlight is parabolic in shape, and it focuses the light from the bulb to a focal point. Deep and narrow reflectors will have a concentrated beam of light over a long distance, which is called a throw beam. Flashlights with a wide and shallow reflector give a wider and less concentrated beam, like in floodlights.
Some manufacturers go to the extent of adding a lens to the transparent cover. Most lenses are made from glass since plastic tends to get discolored over time. When choosing a flashlight, ensure to establish the quality of the lens to gauge its impact and scratch resistance.
There you have it, all you need to know about flashlights. However, with so many brands, and types in the market, picking one is a challenge for most people. To help you out, here is an informative article that contains the top headlamp for outdoor activities analysis.