What’s the Best Flashlight to Buy?

With Flashlight technology is changing so fast I’m not sure what is the best flashlight to buy.  What is your opinion?

 

You absolutely right with you comment on the technology with flashlights changing very fast, however the industry is running into a wall that they may not be able to get past anytime soon….that wall is HEAT and POWER CONSUMPTION.


POWER 

Everyone wants a flashlight that will fit in the palm of their hand and will illuminate the sky like a searchlight.  The  problem is to do that you need a power source (battery) to power that light and if you want the light to fit in your hand that power source (battery) is going to have to be pretty small and a small battery will only have a small amount of energy in it so that “searchlight illumination” you would like to have (the LED) would only be operating a few seconds before that little battery would be drained of all of its power.  What good would a very bright flashlight be if it would only give light for 4 or 5 seconds?

HEAT
The new LED technology also depends on electronics to make it operate.  Electrical components are sensitive to heat and when exposed to high heat (>140F) they begin to malfunction or stop working altogether.  When your producing a lot of light your also produces a lot of heat, a REAL LOT OF HEAT.  So the brighter the light is, the more heat it produces and the shorter the time it can remain “on” this “high output mode” before if HAS TO reduce its light output to a lower level (and lower heat output level) or shutdown all together.  Again, what good is this super super bright flashlight that will only remain “on” for 20 seconds before it shuts itself off because it got too hot!  There is a solution to the heating problem tho….they can make the flashlight bigger which would offer more of a “heat-sink” to help dissipate the extra heat that is created from making all of that bright light but then we don’t have our small palm sized flashlight anymore.
So you can see the flashlight manufacturers have a difficult balancing act to perform in making a small light  yet big enough to house a battery with sufficient power reserve to power a very bright light that can remain “on” long enough to satisfy the customers  needs  yet not too long to cause the electronic components to shut down or fail.  A flashlight BIG in size with a BIG battery can be VERY BRIGHT but a tiny flashlight that is small in size has to balance size vs brightness vs run times.  The smaller the package, the less bright the light can be …make the flashlight a littler larger then it can be a little brighter and operate at full light out put a little longer but no too long because it will get too hot and shut itself off.
So with all of that said here are my recommendations  as of December 2019.
AAA Size

The single AAA battery flashlight has a host of benefits going for it.

UltraTac K18 Flashlight

  • First of all it only takes one (1) battery, and a very small battery at that
  • The physical size of the flashlight is small so it can be easily carrier, even on a key chain so its with you and available when you need it.
  • The weight of the flashlight is negligible.
  • With the new LED technology these little lights are BRIGHT considering  their small size.

My choice for a AAA Flashlight is the UltraTac K18 Keychain Flashlight.  It has…

  • 370 lumens* of light output with the included 10440 AAA rechargeable battery (110 lumen with NIMH or Alkaline batteries) – very impressive for its size and weight!
  • 4 modes of operation (low / medium / high / strobe)
  • Side switch operation (vs twisting the head of the light to turn it on and off like most AAA flashlights)
  • Flexibility to use alkaline or other types of AAA batteries (at a reduced light output tho)
  • Ability to be “locked” to prevent accidental battery drain (a simple double click when turned off)
  • Stand-up end cap to convert flashlight to candle lantern mode
  • Red/Green battery charging level indicators
  • Low battery indicator
  • Reverse polarity battery protection
  • Micro USB rechargeable
  • Waterproof (temporarily submerged in water) and impact resistant (5 ft. /1.5 meter drop)
  • Weight 0.56 oz.
  • Size: 3.0″ x 0.55″ x 0.55″ (77 mm x 14 mm x 14 mm)
  • Max Run time 14 hours @ 370 lumens / 40 hours @ 110 lumens

The only negative aspect of the light is that you need to screw on a separate adapter to the flashlight in order to recharge the battery.  If you lose this small adapter you will need to remove the battery from the flashlight and recharge it as you would any other rechargeable battery in a battery charger so this really is not a significant negative aspect of the light.  I assume due to small size of the flashlight it was not possible to incorporate the micro USB port into the light itself.

 

AA Size

The AA battery size also is a good choice but for different reasons…

  • AA batteries are slightly larger in size and therefore can supply more power and more capacity to the flashlight making it both brighter and operate longer.

    ThruNite TC15 Flashlight

  • Many battery operated devices use AA batteries so if you flashlight also used this size you can swap batteries between devices if one set does dead in one of your devices.
  • AA batteries are the more common batteries available and can be found at most all stores throughout the world, even the most remote and obscure outposts.
  • Flashlight that use AA batteries can be SIGNIFICANTLY BRIGHTER than AAA flashlights

My choice for a AA Flashlight is the Thrunite TC15

  • 2300 lumens with include IMR 3100mAh 18650 battery
  • Beam distance of 807 ft / 246 m @ 2300 lumen light level
  • 6 modes of operation (firefly /low / medium / high / turbo / strobe)
  • Built-in micro USB recharging port
  • Side switch operation (vs tail cap push switch to turn flashlight on and off like many AA flashlights)
  • Waterproof down to 6 ft. (2 meters) and impact resistant (5 ft. /1.5 meter drop)
  • Battery charge indicator
  • Weight: 4 oz (113 grams)
  • Size (length x body diameter x head diameter): 12.25cm x 2.7cm x 2.4cm.
  • Run Times:
    • Turbo (2300 lumens for 2 min. then auto switch to 820 lumens for 83 mins),
    • High (1050 lumens/90 mins),
    • Meidum (250 lumens /6.5 hrs),
    • Low (25 lumens /68 hrs),
    • Firefly (1 lumens /41.5 days),
    • Strobe: (830 lumens /180 mins).

 

Propritary Battery Size

For a “Bug Out Bag” or “Survival Situation a flashlight using a propritary battery (ie a battery that is not a common size and usually available only through the manufacturer of that specific product) is not a good option because if the attery becomes defective you can onlu get a replacement from the manufacurer.  With that said, if the negative is not of great concern to you or you want to take advantage of the small size/high power capacity of proprietary #10180 battery the “Peanut Light” by Maratac might be perfect for you.

  • Very, very small size (1.2″ x .5″ x .5″)
  • Weight .48 oz.
  • 145 lumens for 25 minutes / 12 lumen for 6 hour

This light also needs a seperate adapter to replace the tailcap inorder to recharge the battery but thats mainly due to the fact that a micro USB port place on the flashligh body would nearly be as large as the flashlight itself!

 

Battery Chargers

Olight USB Battery Charger

Most of the flashlights are capable of using rechargable batteries.  Rechargables are great for devices that will be used often since these batteries can be recharges and reused hundreds of times (for devices that will be stored for extends lengths of time and not often used the non-rechargavle lithium batteries with their 20 year shelf-life and 9x the power capacity of alaklin batteries is the best choice)

My recommendation for a battery recharger would be the Olight UC Universal Magnetic USB Charger.  Its not only is small and inexpensive (under $15) it can recharge most any rechargable battery from AAA to AA to CR123R or 18650’s just to name a few.  It has magnetic connections, reverse polarity protection, overcharging protection and color coded led charging lights.  Just plug it in to any USB port (from your computer, car cigarret lighter, portable power battery of 100 to USB wall plug) and your ready to recharge most any rechargable battery.

*Lumens is a measurement of light output.  The higher the number the brighter the light. lashlights typically have several brightness’s or “lumen” levels.

The lowest brightness is something called “moonlight mode” and is very very low something like a nightlight and would be around 5 to 15 lumens.

Next is a low level (many would say this light is “dim”), enough to see at a close distance (5′) and would be around 30 to 50 lumens.

Next is the medium setting with a reasonable brightness level that will be enough to walk a trail at night (many would say this is an adequate light) and would be around 100 to 150 lumens.

After that level we get to “high” and what people would say “that is a bright light”.  Most would considered this a very bright flashlight with its lumen levels between 300 to 500 lumens.

After that are the “WOW, now thats really bright” group.  These lights have light outputs in the 1000 lumens levels and are extremely bright and would illuminate a residential backyard pretty well .

Beyond that are the 2000 lumen lights.  Although this is double the 1000 lumen light there is a diminish return in your perception of the light the flashlight projects.   While the 2000 lumen light will be brighter it will visually seem to only be about 25% brighter tha the 1000 lumen light and not double the brightness as the numbers would lead you to believe.

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