First, I would like to point out that this buying guide is to help people buy, beyond brands and models.Trying to be an explanation for users without knowledge.Obviously experts will not find anything new.
Secondly, for tastes the colors, so in addition to what can be said, it is always necessary to understand that the solution that serves to each other does not.(as everything)
Third, there are already specialized and technical manuals on linernas to spare, but I will try to make a kind of “summary of typical characteristics” for most people.It is obvious that professionals and people very prepared, can enter other materials and qualities (batteries, leds … etc.)
Fourthly, this guide can also be used for front lights, light bulbs and in some cases (not all) for battery operated lighting.Although all the features are not found in what is a lantern proper, I think it will also help us.
What are you looking for in a flashlight?
In HACKINGHOMESTUFF we can see a variety of brands, models and features, each with incredible price ranges but what are you going to use your flashlight ?.I think that’s where we should start.
The use of the flashlight obviously affects the features we need.
- Size (Measures)
- Modes – with multiple functions or only one
- With adjustable focus or not (zoom or focus)
- Distance to light
- Amplitude to illuminate
- Number of light
- Quantity of continuous use time
- Type of power supply
- Type of lighting
- Type of lens and reflector
- Type of water protection
- Shock Resistance
- Flashlight body material
- Other features
I am sure that if we fill the list shown above with the data of the lanterns that we are going to buy, we would have a complete comparison.
But we talk about the use, and for that we have to understand these categories mentioned above and in some cases how they interact with their use.
For example we may want the lamp more powerful in terms of light, but we can find that its battery power is small, so it will last a little time.
This may be good for one particular use and bad for another. This does not invalidate a flashlight with these characteristics. You may want a small and very powerful flashlight, which carries only a battery, since you will use it punctually, not for long to look for fallen objects or find the light box in a blackout, in turn, may not serve you if you give a Intensive use for long periods in the usual way.
This example is to realize that the first thing we have to know is what use we will give.
Now let’s try to explain each point to learn how to buy a flashlight.
Size (Measures) and Weight
- Obviously a lantern occupies a place and its size, shape and weight is one of the first considerations.
- In general to carry we will choose lanterns “of keychain”, “of pocket” or “of pencil”
- Then there are the ones that have a higher weight and volume and that we will choose them for the backpack purse, wallet, or belt
- Then there is a special category of extra-large flashlights for specific uses and lanterns and light bulbs.
Modes – with multiple functions or only one
The flashlights may have a single mode power switch on / off or single mode.
And with the same switch (or other alternative) have other alternative modes, these may include:
- Three or more lighting powers (High, medium, low)
- Flashing or emergency
- Stroboscopic (high-end models)
- Alternative red led (for night illumination)
Note: The red light allows to see at night without causing glare in the eye, so it allows to see at night and when turning off the flashlight we do not have to go through the phase of “getting accustomed” eye to the new light condition
Usually you can see on the side of the flashlight, an engraving
With adjustable focus or not (zoom or focus)
Distance to light
Amplitude to illuminate
Number of light
To say that the amount of light are reference measures put by manufacturers, but, although they can be correct measurements and can be used to evaluate a flashlight or another and compare them, the efficiency or not of each flashlight is a set of factors So similar flashlights in measured values can give different results. That is, they serve us to compare, but not so much to know exactly how they will behave.
As I said above, not always the most powerful flashlight is the best option, since it can condition the consumption of batteries unnecessarily for the use that will be given.
The measures we can find in the specifications are:
Lumen (lm): The amount of light emitted by the light source (lamp or led) measured at its output (usually without the head or lens of the flashlight being placed, so that it can be reduced).
Lux (lx): Amount of light measured on the illuminated surface.
Candela (Cd): Power of the light beam or luminous flux in a given direction, relative to the beam opening angle, (bone, how much the light beam is concentrated or opened.)
Equivalences between measures:
= 1 lm / m2
= 1 cd · sr / m2
“Sr” means StereoRadian or StereoRadián which is the radius of emission of the light beam, which comes to be like the radian, but instead of being in 2 dimensions it is in 3 dimensions or hemispherical
Within what is light we could highlight:
Launchers: They are very flashlights with a concentrated beam of light that reaches long distances.
Innundators: They are flashlights with the ability to cover a large area, but with a smaller distance, extending the beam of light.
But most flashlights look for an intermediate, looking for a good light and opening at a certain distance. That is why many brands put in their catalogs the distance of illumination, not as a maximum, but mark the relation of efficiency.
Zoom, focus, focus, focusable: They allow adapting the light beam, concentrating or enlarging it, giving us the possibility of obtaining more concentrated light or more area of illumination. Clearly this is a great advantage for most users, unless you are looking for a flashlight for specific use.
Quantity of continuous use time
It is the amount of minutes or hours of continuous use of the flashlight, measured by the manufacturer, which allows to use the flashlight without failures. Avoid confusion with the number of hours of use of the flashlight with a charge of batteries or batteries.
To give an example without reference, a flashlight can have 80 hours of use, but can only withstand 1 hour of continuous use, leaving a time between use and use.
These factors influence when to buy according to the use that is expected to give.
Type of power supply
I will simply name the most used but in this there are no limits
- Batteries type AA, AAA
- CR2032 and LR44 button type batteries
- Rechargeable Batteries with Normal Battery Formats and Rechargeable Battery Packs
All rechargeables require external or built-in charger, and / or solar panels and / or dynamo chargers.
Comment that the nomenclatures in rechargeable batteries are very simple to understand with a simple example:
Code 14500, is a battery of 14 mm of diameter by 50,0 mm of length, that squares with the measures of the battery AA
Code 10440, is a battery of 10 mm of diameter by 44,0 mm of length, that squares with the measurement of the battery AAA
And so with all models.
Type of lighting
Incandescent lamp : The lamp of the whole life, which is now falling into disuse by its consumption, temperature, and low resistance to blows, compared to the LEDs. It is still used in applications where a certain intensity of light is required, as in reflectors.
Led : It is the most widespread technology today, given its long life, low temperatures and very low consumption. A technology that grows day by day.
When we read “Led Cree” we should know that “Cree” is a brand of LEDs, nowadays perhaps the most widespread, but there are other LED brands.
As they are the most widespread we will explain their nomenclature. Although we will usually only read Led Cree Q5
XR-E = Series o
Q5 = Indicates the lumens (higher letter alphabetically speaking and higher number, higher light emission, ie a Q5 is more than a Q4 and a R1 is more than a Q5) (in the catalogs can appear as “binning”)
In some catalog we can find that we also put the color of the led (warm white, cold white, etc.) for example “1B”
And the working range of the led in lumen (lm) and the milliamperage (mA) of the same. (Measured at 25 ° C in the LED semiconductor)
There is a nomenclature more or less like this
Led Cree XR-E Q5 1B 107-114 lm @ 350 mA
(A device that consumes 200mA and the capacity of the rechargeable battery is 1000mA / hour we can calculate that 1000/200 = 5 hours of approximate use)
Considerations on the temperature of the led:
An LED working cold is extremely important for 2 reasons:
1º – The performance low with the temperature. If a white XR-E Cree LED gives us 110 lm / w (lumens per watt consumed) at 25 ° C if we set it to 100 ° C, that performance can drop by 20%. That temperature may seem high but in bad designs of lanterns and other types of luminaires it is very easy to get such high temperatures. And I assure you that a lot of trash is being sold…
2º – The duration of an LED in hours working at temp. High is lower. The LEDs are not usually fudir like the light bulbs of tunsgteno but if they diminish much the yield with the hours of use. A cold working LED at 50,000h of equal use still gives us 80% light when it was new. If you do it to work at high temperature because with 50,000h, you still have a miserable 50 or 60%. Anyway 50,000 hours for a flashlight are many hours.
A powerful LED flashlight that after a few minutes of operation does not have the case at a slightly warm temperature can be bad signal. It means that the heat stays all the LED and does not evacuate it to the outside.
Hid (high intensity discharge) is a technology with specific uses (also more expensive) that allows a very bright and powerful beam of light, with a format of “bulb” or lamp, raising high temperatures and with some fragility. To get an idea, it is not recommended to send directly to human eyes less than 10 meters.
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