With the increasing development of LED bulb and advance battery power technology, the flashlight market turns to the LED flashlights which is smaller, lighter and more powerful. If you are interested in LED flashlight and wanna buy one, there are some important things you need to know. Because you might get loss in the market of flashlights since there are various products from different brands. But don’t worry. Just read this beginner’s guide to LED flashlights before you go ahead. It will guide you to find the best LED flashlight.
Basic Structure of a LED Flashlight
Unlike the old flashlight that is big, bulky and heavy, the LED flashlight usually has a compact structure. Take the tactical flashlight for example, it usually consists of several parts including a bezel, convex lens/reflector, cooling fins, zoom O ring, Tail O ring and switch (side or tail). Most of them will equip with a pocket clip or lanyard for easy carrying.
Understanding ANSI FL1 Standard
A LED flashlight contains a lot of paramers which is one of the key factors to judge whether it’s good for you. These parameters usually follow the ANSI FL1 standard. ANSI FL1 is a well-known flashlight standard released by American National Standard Institute that is the most commonly used standard in the industry.
- IPX4 – water-resistant, or water splashed from all directions
- IPX7 – water-proof, or temporary submersion at 1 meter for 30 minutes
- IPX8 – submersible, or continuous submersion at some specified depth for 4 hours
Tips: Most tactical flashlights in market rate at IPX8 water resistant.
LED Flashlight Buying Guide
There is a lot of choices in the market and definitively all of them are not good in quality. If you are completely a new user and going to buy a new LED flashlight for your purposes, you should carefully read the following guides before you buy.
- Tactical size: Tacitical flashlights are generally designed in 4 to 6 inches average size. They are small to carry and convenient to use.
- Mid sizes: The available mid sizes of the flashlights vary from 6 to 10 inches. They have also the portable features. Use of both the head and tail switches is another fascinating feature of these lights.
- Regular sizes: These ones are more than 10 inches and a holster is along with them for the ease of carrying. They also offer more light intensity and greater capacity.
- Mini (Keychain) Sizes: Some modern EDC flashlight is designed in a mini and stylish keychain size, and also can be used as a necklace.
Another factor we should be careful of is the building material of the flashlights as the durability of the lights depends upon the quality and components of the building materials of the flashlight’s body. Aluminum is one of the most popular options while constructing the body of the flashlights. It’s light wight and well conductivity of electricity and heat dissipation. In addition, other materials, such as stainless steel, titanium, Zinc and brass are also common to find in the market.
About the body design, most LED flashlights are designed in cylindrical bodies. But some of them have the anti-roll body design for preventing the flashlights from the rolling around. Moreover, some LED flashlight are available for various color options.
We should also consider the position of the switch. Generally, it might be on the side of the light or in the back side on the rear tail cap. In addition to switch, the design of bezel is also important to look for. You can choose the simple flat design or crenellations.
Run time depends to a large extent on the used power supply, the batteries. We know batteries by their conventional names — AAA, AA, D, and C cell. But actually, there is a range of other types you should know, including CR2, CR123a, and 18650.
- AA or AAA: These most common used in general purposes. They might be the cheapest option in batteries.
- C or D: These larger ones are suitable for the heavier uses. But not a smart choice for the portable flashlight. Thus, their popularity is going down day by day.
- 123A: More preferable choices as they are small in sizes and also more capable than the other alkaline batteries.
- Li-ion batteries: These rechargeable batteries are considered as the most reliable and the smartest choices at the present time. They are more durable than other options and also have impressive performances. The average life time of these batteries are more than 1000 cycles.
- Other options: Apart from these popular choices, there are many more other options available as the power sources of the modern flashlights. Examples of such ones are disposable lithium batteries (CR123A, CR2), rechargeable batteries (RCR123A, 18500, 18650), integrated rechargeable batteries, Nickel Metal Hydride cells (NiMH), Nickel Cadmium cells (NiCd) etc.
- Alternative power sources options: Sometimes alternate power sources might be helpful as the backup batteries, especially when the rechargeable batteries get their charge ended. Alkaline C-cell batteries or the other Lithium batteries might be the good options for this purpose.
For rechargeable flashlight, you can use a USB to Mini USB cord to connect your laptop to your phone to charge. Besides, a battery charger is also an ideal choice especially you need to charge more than one battery at one time.
- Single output: switch on / off, light on / off.
- Multi-level brightness mode: Different levels of brightness for different environment, such as low, mid, high, etc.
- Strobe mode: Suitable for the quick flashing.
- SOS mode: Helpful for sending Morse code.
- Beacon operation: Relatively slower flashing process.
- Programmable operation: Different mode sequences. Easy to enable or disable.
The mode switching is usually operated by the switch. You can choose a flashlight with Twisty or Clicky switch, or the one combined both.
If you need a flashlight for a close work or activity, a floody flashlight will be great for you. If you want to see objects from far, a long throw flashlight will be helpful to light up distant objects.