These Flashlight FAQ will give you a little historical background, categorization of user groups, and the questions that get asked a lot! If you have any that aren’t answered here, feel free to get in touch!
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 were the 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: 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.A useful flashlight serves one main purpose. See my FAQ page for more Click To Tweet
Flashlights are used by all walks of life:
A basic flashlight will do the job for many of the users above. However, they’ve really evolved over time and today you can find flashlights that optimize lighting for very specific uses. 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.
For home or everyday use: You’ll want a decent wide beam, light but durable construction material (plastic is cheapest, and these are typically found in big box stores), and batteries that are easy to find in store without having to special order anything.
For outdoor use: Rugged material, not susceptible to damage when dropped or in wet environments. Consider rechargeable batteries and interchangeable battery packs.
For Aviation: Easy on/off, consider a head mount option, a flashlight that 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 Use: Beam focus adjustment, waterproof or water resistant, non-slip grip and/or wrist lanyard, consider a flashlight with an SOS mode.
Two main type of bulbs:
Incandescent – used on standard household flashlights, it’s basically a glass enclosure with a glowing 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 bulbs, 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.
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.