Flashlight FAQ

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Flashlights have been around since 1899 according to Wikipedia, in one form or the other. They’ve been powered by the dry cell battery in one form or another since the earliest days. For decades, C cells and larger D cell batteries have been a standard power source. More recently, solar panels and handcranks for rechargeable batteries have become options. With the advent of halogen and LED bulbs, the size of the power source has decreased. As a result, flashlights have grown more both powerful (brighter) and smaller over the years.

A useful flashlight serves one main purpose. That is to throw a beam of light. From a handheld device, you can safely light a path; locate an object at a reasonable distance in the dark on land, sea, air, or space; or send a signal.

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Consider that flashlights are used by all walks of life:

  • Campers
  • Home residents
  • Police
  • Fire fighters
  • Pilots
  • Hikers
  • Joggers
  • Rescue teams
  • Cave explorers
  • Miners
  • SCUBA divers
  • Car owners
  • Mechanics
  • Dentists
  • Doctors
  • Surgeons


A basic flashlight will do the job for many of the uses above. However, they’ve evolved over time and today you can find flashlights that optimize the lighting for a specific use. For example, a standard household flashlight wouldn’t serve the police, a diver, or a coal miner due to the specific environments they have to work in. Different users require tailor-made flashlights.


What should I consider when deciding what flashlight to get?

For home or everyday use: Decent wide beam, light but durable material (plastic is cheapest, and these are typically found in big box stores)

For outdoor use: Rugged material, not susceptible to damage when dropped or in wet environments.

For Aviation:  Easy on/off, consider head mount option, easily switches from white to red light to preserve night vision, easy to change batteries (or easily rechargeable from wall power or cockpit, optional beam focus

For Marine and Boating UseBeam focus adjustment, waterproof or water resistant, non-slip grip and/or wrist lanyard, consider flashlight with SOS mode


What are the different types of bulbs used in flashlights?

Two main type of bulbs:

Incandescent – standard household flashlight, glass enclosure with a filament. Flashlights with incandescent bulbs have been around a long time!

LED (Light-emitting Diodes) – solid state, very bright, typical in tactical flashlights and flashlights where a bright beam is needed. (Don’t point these at your eyes!). LED technology has become so advanced that other bulb types are essentially obsolete. LED bulbs are energy efficient, have long run times, and very impact resistant when the flashlight is dropped.

Less used, seen infrequently

HID (High Intensity Discharge)

Xenon, Halogen, and Krypton Bulbs

If you really want to geek out over flashlight bulbs, take a look at the “Flashlight Basic Performance Standard” (ANSI FL1). It covers basic performance of hand-held/portable flashlights, spotlights and headlamps that provide directional lighting. The ANSI/PLATO FL 1-2016 Standard discusses beam distance, peak beam intensity, run time, impact resistance and water penetration protection.


Where can I find the best flashlights out there?

It’s important to find the type flashlight that best suits your needs.  Jump on over to the Products Page to review a general cross-section of flashlight types, or the Products Blog to see flashlights that meet specific uses categories.