If you have recently lost or broke a flashlight, or if you are in the market for a new, better brand, then you are probably facing a lot of decisions about what kind of flashlight to purchase, and what will work best for your various needs. LED flashlights have risen in popularity, as have batteryless flashlights. So what kind of flashlight is best for you and your family?
A traditional flashlight
These days, traditional flashlights use batteries to power light bulbs. Depending on the type, these lights can be weak or strong, with professional quality lights putting out better beams than the cheap flashlights that you might find on the racks of a home improvement or department store. The bulbs are not terribly energy efficient, meaning that they go through batteries a lot faster than LED lights, and the bulbs burn out a lot faster than LEDís as well. Overall, these are not recommended if you are buying a new flashlight. Spend a couple extra dollars on some quality gear.
Manual power flashlights
Manual power flashlights do not use batteries. Instead, they use cranks, triggers (which you squeeze repeatedly) or are simply shaken to create the power needed to run an LED light. (Usually, these flashlights do not produce enough power to get a reliable beam out of a traditional incandescent bulb.) These good for quick uses like taking a quick look at the fuse box, but require a lot of shaking, turning, or squeezing to make them continue to run. Users usually tire out quickly, so donít plan to use them for nighttime walks or other long-term applications. On the plus side, you will never be caught without batteries again.
Flashlight Size matters
If you are looking for a light to stow in your car or emergency kit, you will want a small light that still puts out a bright beam. LED flashlights are best for this application, hands down, and manual power lights are great for emergency kits as a backup for when batteries run out. Keep both kinds of light stocked so that you will have a stronger light if you need it. Use the manual light for brief uses, like checking on your childís skinned knee, and the battery powered light to scan for danger or signal for help.
If you are looking for something good for hunting or camping, you will likely want a more powerful light that will illuminate a good area brightly or present a focused beam on whatever you want to see. These lights work great for signaling at a distance, or even better for late night walks or treks to the toilet hole. LED is, again, hands down the best choice, but only if you can find a professional quality light that presents the features (broad vs. narrow beam) that you need.
All in all, it is almost impossible to beat an LED light for applications ranging from pen lights to LED camping lanterns. There are many features available, so choose your LED flashlight with care, and be prepared to use it for many years to come. You too will soon find that these LED flashlights are made to last.
-Ben Anton 2007
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