How to Choose a Flashlight

How to Choose a Flashlight

, by Chas Waters, 8 min reading time

How to Choose a Flashlight

Flashlights are handy tools when you need a handheld light source that produces a strong beam. They are also great when you want to control the light and have the freedom to set it down as you work on a task. The invention of portable, brighter and more energy-efficient flashlights makes them desirable for people looking for a lighting solution for home, work and outdoor applications.

There are various factors and features to look for when buying a flashlight. Below, we discuss some of these factors and highlight how they affect your choice of a flashlight.

Light Output

Light output is the most important feature when choosing the right flashlight. It refers to the amount of light your flashlight produces on its highest brightness setting when powered by new batteries. The light output for modern-day LED flashlights is measured in lumens, which typically vary between 20 and 3,500 lumens.

Generally, the more lumens on your flashlight, the brighter it will be. The exact brightness or lumens you need depends on how you'll use your flashlight. Here's a quick guide to help you choose the right flashlight when guided by lumens and application:

  • 20 - 150 lumens: These flashlights are ideal for indoor close-up activities, like reading a book or searching for things not further than 100 meters away.
  • 100 - 200 lumens: These are perfect for everyday activities such as household applications, navigation, camping and hiking.
  • 200+ lumens: Flashlights with more than 200 lumens plus a low and high setting are great for tactical uses, hunting, search and rescue operations. They're also the best options in emergency kits as they can help you easily navigate hazardous situations.

Beam Type

A light beam's pattern, adjustability and distance are more features you must consider when choosing a flashlight. The beam distance is the range your flashlight can illuminate with full-moon brightness. It's determined by the brightness of the bulb and the reflector. The shape of the reflector also determines the beam intensity and pattern of the light beam.

There are three common beam types you'll encounter when shopping for a good flashlight:

  • Fixed or flood beam: This single, wide beam lets you illuminate short and broader distances produced by orange peel (OP) reflectors. It works well for camping, on-site surveillance and reading.
  • Focused or spot beam: A single, narrow light beam produced by a smooth reflector (SMO-reflector) that illuminates specific areas several feet away. It's ideal for applications like search operations, law enforcement and hunting.
  • Adjustable beam: It produces a sweet balance between a flood and spot beam, letting you illuminate things close, far and in between. The standard shape SMO reflector creates the adjustable beam, and it's what you need for hiking and trail running in the mountains.

Battery Type and Run Time

The battery type of your flashlight determines its longevity, while the battery's energy capacity determines the run time — the amount of time your flashlight takes to drain to 10%. Your run time is also affected by the power draw setting, which increases as you move up from low to medium and high light modes. Lower lumens and more batteries in a flashlight can also give you a higher run time.

There are different types of batteries you find in flashlights today. Some of the major categories you'll come across when exploring your flashlight options include:

  • Disposable batteries: These have up to seven to 10 years of shelf life, but once you start using them in your flashlight, you must switch them out every few months. They are available in small AAA and AA cell sizes. Disposable batteries have a low initial purchase price, but the need to change them every few months makes them expensive in the long term.
  • Rechargeable batteries: These are nickel metal hydride (NiMH) or lithium-ion batteries built into your flashlight and can be recharged using a USB connection from a solar panel, computer, AC or DC outlet. USB rechargeable flashlights have a high initial purchase price but low operating costs. They are convenient because you can recharge them on the go.
  • Renewable batteries: These are built-in batteries energized by a solar panel or hand crank. Flashlights with renewable batteries are perfect for emergency kits and can last up to two years.

Bulb Type

There are two main types of bulbs used in flashlights. Incandescent bulbs are outdated due to numerous drawbacks, including consuming a lot of energy and having a short life span. Light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs are now more common thanks to their long-lasting battery power and exceptional energy efficiency. They can last up to 100,000 hours on very little power without periodic replacement.

Flashlights with LED bulbs are often smaller, lighter and brighter than incandescent bulbs. They may be more expensive upfront, but you save money in the long term. The cost savings result from LED flashlights requiring fewer batteries that last much longer — up to seven hours on high light mode and 50 hours when on low. They boast low energy consumption, which also reduces your carbon footprint.

Panther Vision has a great selection of LED flashlights with a unique flat or “UNROUND” design. FLATEYE™ Flashlights are available in various lumen options ranging from 100 lumens to 2,175 lumens, therefore being ideal for a variety of tasks, including work and hobbies. They're available in rechargeable and non-rechargeable models and have an ergonomic grip. Check out the revolutionary FLATEYE™ flashlights:

Other Factors to Consider

Apart from the above features, a few other details are crucial in helping you choose the best flashlight. Some of these include:

  • Size and weight: This is often determined by personal preference and need. For portability, purchase a flashlight with a compact battery size and lightweight. 
  • Body material: Most flashlights are made using plastic or aluminum alloy. Plastic flashlights offer great electrical conductivity and chemical resistance. Aluminum offers great durability thanks to superior impact resistance and heat dissipation.
  • Impact resistance: The impact resistance of a flashlight is representative of the distance in meters you can drop it onto concrete without breaking. It's tested against the ANSI/NEMA FL-1 and depends on the quality and material used.
  • Water resistance: This is an important feature when you need a flashlight for outdoor activities like camping, hiking, fishing and trail trekking. Water resistance is measured according to the IPX scale that classifies flashlights as water-resistant, waterproof or submersible.

End Your Search for the Best Flashlight With Panther Vision

Panther Vision is a leading manufacturer of portable lighting solutions for your work, household and outdoor needs. We have a collection of LED flashlights with a rating of up to 1,200 lumens that illuminate the darkest environments for hours before a battery change or charge is necessary. Our flashlights are made using the finest recyclable, waterproof and impact-resistant materials to extend their battery life.

Browse our collection of LED flashlights and accessories and accessories that improve usability. Contact us to learn more about our products and how we can meet your needs.

About the Author:

Chas Waters

As the VP of Sales and Marketing for Panther Vision, Chas Waters has played a pivotal part in helping Panther Vision continue to create innovative lighting products. As a true outdoorsman, Chas brings a wealth of expertise into what lighting solutions are the most useful for our customers. He has been a key member of the Panther Vision team, starting in the business when he was 16 years old, and prides himself in finding the best solutions to help our customers experience the outdoors and make their lives easier with our products.


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