15 Types of Flashlights to Have on Hand to Aid Your Sight
Author: Omar Alonso | Editor: Omar Alonso
Review & Research: Jen Worst & Chris Miller
While we all can wish for sweet, super-hero night vision, we’ve all got to make do with being human and using the various types of flashlights. Thankfully, we’ve got something that comes a very close second to night vision... specialized flashlights for specific needs.
Invented in the late 19th century by David Misell, who received the patent, flashlights have been lighting up lives for quite a while now—nearly 10 million lives, to be precise. There's questions if it was Conrad Hubert who invented the flashlight around the same time, but it's said that Hubert met Misell prior to his use of the device.
15 Types of Flashlights
From zinc-carbon batteries to tungsten, flashlights have evolved over the years and branched into many types well past being candle alternatives for when the lights go out. Here’s the low down on the different types of flashlights that exist.
Let’s start with an extremely convenient option—headlamps. When your hands are otherwise occupied, you can just wear one of these around your head and let it do the lighting work for you.
Headlamps are invaluable in situations such as car breakdowns in the dead of the night. They’re also great for bicyclists and hikers. To add to the allure that their practicality lends them, headlamps are extremely cost efficient.
The bulbs inside are LED types of light bulbs, so you can be assured of strong, steady light that’s extremely bright and will last you a long time.
However, headlamps can feature other types of bulbs too and can be adjusted to different angles and levels of brightness, making them an extremely versatile source of light to have around.
LED flashlights may be the new kids on the block, but there’s been nothing but a rise in their popularity since these guys hit the market.
Unlike incandescent bulbs, LED bulbs don’t produce heat and last much longer, making them the go-to light source for many folks looking for convenient, efficient light.
LED flashlight types are also extremely durable and can make it through tough situations, including being dropped, with just a few scratches to show for it. In addition to their long life and efficiency, this hardiness makes them great for camping trips.
What might put some folks off, though, is that LED flashlights can turn out to be quite expensive—definitely more than incandescent flashlights, at least.
However, though you’ll be paying a bit more than the average shelled out for flashlights, you’ll have a superior product on your hands. All types of LED lights last much longer than your typical incandescent bulbs, by far, and are way more durable too.
It should also be noted that LED flashlights don’t give off yellow-white light like incandescent bulbs—they give off white light tinged with blue, so if you’re particular about light colors, your choice just became easier.
Incandescent Bulb Flashlights
These are the most common types of flashlights available in the market, as well as the oldest. These conventional flashlights have been around for quite a few decades and while they generally run on D batteries, you may find some that run on other types of batteries, too.
Incandescent flashlights are the cheapest flashlights in the market, making them more accessible than other types of flashlights. Some of them may break easily, but newer models have found a way to work around this and are not as fragile as their older counterparts.
Though they may not last you as long as LED flashlights, incandescent flashlights are also quite durable and long-lasting—provided you buy one of good quality, even if it means shelling out a few extra bucks.
From camping to fishing to finding your way, incandescent flashlights are quite versatile and efficient and to make things more fun, also come with different colored lights.
Pressurized Gas Flashlights
These flashlights, unlike conventional flashlights, have different types of pressurized gases—most commonly krypton, xenon and halogen—also powering them. These gases, combined with the incandescent bulb, result in a bright flare that lasts long.
Pressurized gas flashlights are also quite inexpensive and are commonly used in emergency situations.
‘Environmentally friendly’ has also hit tools—and about time. Solar-powered flashlights are increasing in popularity and their power source leads to not much compromise on their efficiency and brightness.
Solar-powered flashlight types are extremely convenient—in addition to the appeal of being environmentally friendly, these flashlights are reasonably priced and there is no need to constantly change batteries.
Though solar-powered flashlights are pretty bright, they cannot compare to LED or HID flashlights. Fully charged, they can compare to incandescent flashlights.
Some models even come with hand cranks, which allows you to power the flashlight when you haven’t charged it on solar juice.
HID or high-intensity discharge flashlights are known for the extremely bright light that they produce.
These portable types of flashlights are great for camping trips and hikes, with an electrical current running through a ball of ionized gas to produce bright light.
They’re also great for people living in sparsely populated/rural areas where things get dark real soon and real quick or in areas where there are no street lamps.
HID flashlights are rarer than both their LED and incandescent cousins, owing to the fact that they’re also more expensive—up to 10 times higher than incandescent flashlights. However, many folks find these reliable flashlights well worth the price.
Hand Crank Flashlights
Hand crank flashlights rely on the physical motion of cranking the handle for power. These are different kinds of flashlights great for emergency uses, giving you light sans a power source other than your own body.
Spotlights are great when you want to light a huge area or light a small area very brightly. They’re portable, easy-to-use and rechargeable and can either be freestanding, handheld or attached. The bulb can either be an LED bulb or incandescent.
Like hand crank flashlight types, shake flashlights don’t rely on batteries for power. Instead, they’re powered by magnets inside the flashlight—when you shake it, the resulting reaction provides the required light.
Shake flashlights are super convenient, as you don’t have to worry about batteries or a power source. This makes them great for emergency situations but it should be noted that the light isn’t very bright, barely enough to light the way.
That said, these lights can be very handy when all other options fail. They’re also quite affordable, so purchasing one as a backup is quite a good idea.
Commercial settings and facilities require flashlights that are significantly more powerful than everyday flashlights. Industrial flashlights are heavy-duty and extremely bright flashlights generally used in warehouses and factories.
These types of flashlights, depending on the model, can range in brightness and strength. However, regardless of the model, the most important necessity of these flashlights is a high safety rating, since the wrong flashlight could cause a dangerous chemical reaction or explosion.
Therefore, three different factors are looked into to determine these flashlights’ safety levels—division groups, temperature codes and classes.
Penlights are different kinds of flashlights that are encased in bodies that resemble pens, if not pens themselves. These flashlights are widely used in the medical field, used for checking patients’ eyes, noses, throat and so on. However, since their major use is on the eyes, the light is not blinding.
Like spotlights, lanterns provide ample ambient lighting. Earlier, lanterns used kerosene or other fuels to burn; today, LED lanterns are much more prevalent and commonly used. These function like LED flashlights, with the only exception being that you can’t point them or direct light.
This makes lanterns great for lighting up whole areas, especially while walking or hiking or in case of a power outage.
However, it should be borne in mind that these types of lamps do not emit a lot of light—they only produce around 120 lumens—but you can comfortably find your way or even read a book. These flashlights are all kinds of cost effective and reliable.
Tactical types of flashlights are commonly used by members of the defense and armed forces. These come in handy during investigations or when disorientation is necessary, thanks to their extremely bright light and a beam that reaches over 1,000 feet.
Tactical flashlights are designed to withstand rugged conditions—harsh weather, impact and long usage. These flashlights are hard to damage even in extremely rough situations.
If you’ve ever hunted at night, you know that spotting your prey isn’t obviously the easiest thing to do. Aiming can be extremely hard, but with a hunting flashlight around, the job gets easier.
Hunting flashlight types emit red beams—the animals don’t suspect a thing as they cannot see the color red. These flashlights have powerful, far-reaching beams—some up to 200 lumens—for the hunter to easily spot prey.
Hunting flashlights are easy to grip, but can also be clipped on to the rifle and are durable and waterproof, ensuring weatherproof hunting.
With a USB flashlight, you don’t need to worry about batteries—batteries come built-in and you can just charge them through a USB port, just as you would your phone.
This makes USB flashlights extremely convenient to own and the bright light and durability also add to the appeal. However, these flashlights can be on the more expensive side.
Types of Flashlights for Every Outing, Situation, or Need
Flashlights exist in many forms and shapes, meant for different settings and purposes. Having one of these around is extremely handy—whether emergencies or everyday business, you never know when you may need one. So pick one of the different types of flashlights and invest in your vision now.