How to choose flashlight

Mini LED Flashlight

A small flashlight is a useful everyday gadget that takes up very little space and only weighs a few grams. Often, a large, cylindrical flashlight is too cumbersome when you just want to do something simple- like find your car keys, read a sign, or pull a thorn from your dog’s paw when you’re taking him for a walk.

For those people who need both of their hands in the dark, like campers, climbers or fishermen, a headlamp is ideal. Similarly, a mini flashlight on the handlebars of your bicycle increases your safety in traffic and – albeit unconventional – most small flashlights can double as keyrings.

The most affordable mini LED flashlights are produced in China and sold in multipacks of 10 units. However, customers often complain about poor workmanship, so these are not good candidates for use as emergency lights.

It is therefore recommended that you consider the quality when choosing a mini LED flashlight: lights with a waterproof aluminum housing, a bright, focusable beam of light, and with economical energy consumption are available from as little as EUR 7. In the price range from EUR 15 to EUR 20, you will find pocket flashlights in an attractive stainless steel design.

Penlights are used as technical and medical diagnostic lights. These pen-shaped flashlights offer various features such as floodlight, flashing light, a broad-angle lighting field, a swiveling clip or a magnetic mount.

 

Tactical Flashlight

Tactical flashlights can do more than simply illuminate. The term “tactic” is derived from the Greek word “taktikos”, which means “ to arrange”, or “to put in order”, which in this case refers to the ability to focus on an object or event in the environment, for the purpose of affecting a certain outcome- commonly for self defense.

In combat, peculiarities of military tactics are projected onto the flashlight: it should be ready to use quickly, easy to grasp and have various functions in a discreet, functional design. The latest LED technology provides very high lighting power with extremely economical battery consumption.

The added value of tactical flashlights over regular flashlights is that they can be used for survival and outdoor activities,  police work, and technical relief agencies. A multifunction switch often enables one-handed operation, even when wearing thick gloves.

The robust material, most often highly stable aerospace-grade aluminum, lends itself to making the LED flashlight into a weapon of self-defense. If the flashlight is shaped like a baseball bat or has hidden switchblades, the flashlight might fall under certain weapons laws, and unauthorized private persons may be forbidden to own them.

But, even small models can give you a feeling of security. The stroboscope/blinding functions can effectively fend off attackers, both human and animal. The Navy Seals LED flashlight, known as the Shadow Hawk X800, is one such flashlight and has now been adopted by the Coast Guard.

For outdoor use, an LED flashlight has to be waterproof.  The red, green or blue LED flashlight is a great help to special forces and hunters.

The battery-free flashlight has several additional tactical features: turning a crank handle provides the dynamo flashlight with power. Alternatively, the flashlight is also available with a rechargeable battery and an integrated USB connection, so that it can be recharged quickly when necessary.

 

Points to consider when buying an LED flashlight

Which LED flashlight is the best in the world? Generally, there is no answer to this question, because the choice depends on the intended spectrum of use. The following advice is intended to help you to find a good LED flashlight that will suit the purpose for which you are going to use it. Every buyer should ask him/herself the following five basic questions:

  1. What is the material?

Housings of stainless steel or aluminum are robust, but they are heavier than plastic. Tempered aerospace aluminum is used in the more expensive models for everyday use as an outdoor flashlight or at work.

Ensure that the reflector is made of glass. Plastic gets scratched easily, which has a considerable effect on the illumination, especially when long distances are involved.

  1. Is the LED flashlight waterproof?

The International Protection Code, IPX, denotes the level of protection against moisture.

  • IPX-0 = no protection, for indoor use only
  • IPX-4 = protected from splashing water, an allrounder, mainly intended for indoor use
  • IPX-6 = protected from powerful jets of water (e.g. rain), for walking the dog, outdoor sports, guard duty
  • IPX-7 = protected from brief immersion in water, for leisure activities and camping
  • IPX-8 = protected from extended immersion in water (LED flashlights for diving), for survival, jobs with frequent water contact
  1. Is it easy to handle?

A high-quality flashlight has an ergonomic (designed for efficiency and comfort in the working environment) shape. The handle is sheathed in profiled rubber, making it pleasant to hold for extended periods, even in winter. Once again, this will appeal to dog-walkers, hikers, hunters, and task forces.

The convenient one-handed operation, even when wearing gloves, enables you to easily change modes or focus.

  1. Which model?

Examples of things to look for

A flashlight with a tail stand can be positioned on the cap of the handle. A lanyard also serves as a halter or a belt clip,    ensuring safe carrying and preventing the flashlight from being lost.

Round flashlights can roll or be dropped. Take the shape of the lamp head and the handle into account, and find out whether square rubber sleeves are available as an accessory.

For joggers, headlamps might be the right choice.

  1. Far-reaching or bright – what are the illuminating properties like?

Compared to a halogen light, a powerful LED flashlight provides brighter light with less energy consumption. The Cree LED flashlights, which contain xenon in their LEDs, are particularly effective.

Illumination power of 1000 lumens in an LED flashlight is equivalent to 100 watts. A flashlight that has 7000 lumens is brighter than the bright headlights of an automobile: ideal for photographers, cyclists, hikers and fishermen.

Lumens determine the volume of light produced over a wide area. If you need to illuminate a distant area, you also need to choose a model with a high lux value. An LED flashlight with 1000 lumens can illuminate an area approx. 230m away, which is adequate for a normal hiker.

If an LED flashlight is “regulated”, the illumination power is not reduced as the charge in the battery drops, which provides for more predictable illumination.

 

LED flashlights for special uses

There are precise legal standards and special features that denote the areas of use for some types of LED flashlights…

Explosion-protected LED flashlights

The European ATEX standard certifies explosion-protected flashlights. The level of danger from dust, fumes or gases is divided into three categories, although not all explosion-protected flashlights are suitable for use in all situations. Explosion-protected LED flashlights are used by firefighters, the military, and in industry.

LED flashlight, colored light

The usual white, an LED flashlight can also have a red, green or blue light. Either a four-colored LED is integrated, or color filters can be placed in front of the lamp.

1.Red light is used as a signal – stop and go are denoted by interchanging red and green light. Subdued red-green light is suitable for reading cards at night.

2.Green light is used for observing animals and in hunting. The eyes of animals react to movement, rather than to color.  The observers then appear to be invisible.

3.Blue lights used by the criminal police or hunters to pick up traces of blood – which appear black – in the field. It makes contrasts more visible.

Using the blinding function of the LED flashlight

A very bright strobe flash is a very effective form of defense, especially for smaller and weaker people. An LED flashlight test showed that situations of conflict could often be averted with just this one feature.

Directing the beam of an LED flashlight into the eyes results in short-term loss of orientation. So does an LED flashlight make a better weapon than other forms of self-defense? It might just be, considering that you could put an attacker out of action without even having to put up a physical fight.

Is an LED flashlight permitted in carry-on luggage?

A call to the airline will give you concrete information in this regard: you might need to remove the batteries and the lamp and put them in your suitcase. But some airlines insist on you putting them in your hand luggage so that any smoldering batteries would be quickly noticed.

Large cylindrical flashlights are generally not permitted in your carry-on luggage because they could be used as a weapon. However, you will usually make it through the checkpoint without any trouble if you have a Mini LED flashlight on your keyring.

Summary

First, think about how you are going to use the flashlight. A flooder illuminates the immediate area widely and a thrower illuminates in the distance, with a zoomable beam.

Consider the following selection criteria:

  • How often will the flashlight be used, and where?
  • Is it rechargeable and is the housing waterproof?
  • What modes of light are available?
  • Are size and weight well proportioned?

Read our advisory, where we address special features. Armed with this information, you should be able to find a suitable LED flashlight at a good price-performance ratio.

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