Better Flashlights

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The ones I have have a 3W Cree LED, supposedly better than Luxeon, although if the Luxeon are cheaper and you don't need the extra light output, they still may be a good deal
nate

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For black anodized tactical "kewl" that eat batteries, log onto www.ebay.com and type in Xenon light.... plenty to choose from.
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Christopher A. Young
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On 3/9/2010 9:37 PM, Nate Nagel wrote:

Along the same lines I have flashlight with a CREE LED that uses a CD123 battery. Much smaller form factor and I carry it on a small belt holster. It is super rugged and has variable intensity so you can go for extra long battery life if you need to. I also use it for biking mounting it in a molded rubber cradle that has a velcro strap. I used to have a dozen cheepos but decided one really good one works much better.
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DemoDisk wrote:

Generally, flashlights with switches - instead of a sliding contact - are better quality.
Currently, manufacturers can't stoke enough LEDs in a flashlight to equal the output of a 4- or 5-cell monster. But the day is coming.
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On 3/9/2010 10:24 PM, HeyBub wrote:

Look at lights that use CREE LEDs. You aren't going to find them at Harbor Freight but if you want great rugged efficiency in a small form factor its the way to go.
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LED lights are good for close range work. But, if you want to see a racoon in a tree, filament bulbs work better. The exception is the Mag lights with built in LED, those are excellent.
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On Mar 10, 9:03am, "Stormin Mormon"

I have both a 4-D LED Mag-Lite and the aforementioned Task Force 3W Crees, just on brightness and beam pattern alone I far prefer the Task Force. Only downside is it is not focusable like the Mag-Lite.
nate
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On 3/9/2010 4:26 PM, DemoDisk wrote:

Go to Harbor Freight and pick up several of their LED flashlights when they're on sale, which is frequently. You can sometimes get a flashlight for just 3 bucks or so and they are amazingly handy and bright.
Jay
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What's your application? Walking the dogs? Repairing computer equipment? Blinding burglars at night? Potty runs during power cuts? Eating dinner during power cuts?
Once we know your use, we can be a lot more helpful with ideas. There are so many reasons for a battery light. I have several different types of battery lights for different reasons.
Minimag for the pocket, 4D mag light near the front door for chasing racoons, and blinding burglars, Xenon light in the vehicle for reading signs and house numbers at night, fluorescent lantern for night camping meals.
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Oookay. The Radio Shack flashlight wasn't particularly 'handy,' being 11 inches tall, but it cast a strong beam 2 3/4" wide. Surprising for such a lowly flashlight! Now that it's gone, raccoons and burglars have a new lease on life. ; )
But it also helped out during storms and, like me, it was cheap. So I'm leaning toward replacements that cast a strong, wide beam, don't cost nuthin' (y'know sorta) and won't crap out after a few moderate bumps. Forget about $30 per flashlight; that should buy four plus batteries for each. Is that doable?
If the reflector on the Radio Shack C-cell had even been *tin* I wouldn't be asking here. A penny or two per unit would have made it a truly Golden Giveaway.
Thanks for your help, Jm
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They made 5D givaway flash lights for years. The early ones were grey, with red screw on end, and the later ones were black with yellow. They had some which were blue, and four C cells, I may still have one of those. Sadly, I've not known of RS to do give away flash lights recently.
The closest I can reccomend, is that Harbor Freight has twin pack, 3d and 2 AA which you can get on sale for ten bucks. Includes first set of cheap batteries. Metal lights, in case you want to bop a racoon.
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http://www.backwoodshome.com/articles2/yago97.html
Flashlight! Flashlight! Who's got the flashlight?
By Jeffrey Yago, P.E., CEM
If the standard procedure for turning on your flashlight includes pounding 10 times on a table top, removing, then reinserting the same old batteries, and finally staring blankly into the unlit bulb, then perhaps it's time to rethink how well you are prepared for the next power outage or emergency.
after the current rash of wild fires, hurricanes, and power outages, All of these articles suggest that your emergency preparedness supplies include a battery-powered flashlight and extra batteries. However, there are hundreds of different flashlight types, using all sizes of batteries. Some have incandescent bulbs, some have krypton bulbs, some have LED lamps, and some have fluorescent tubes. In addition, there are flashlights designed to operate on 6-volt lantern batteries, multiple AAA, AA, C, or D cell batteries, plug-in rechargeable batteries, and mechanical motion recharging devices.
Flashlight testing
Five new technology flashlights tested against standard 2 "D" cell flashlights. (Left to right) MagLite, Garrity, Mini-MagLite, Garrity LED, Dorcy LED, and Eveready 2 "D" cell flashlight
Ever wonder just how long a flashlight will operate on a set of batteries? During a real emergency, it is possible that not only your neighbors, but also everyone in your entire city or state may be without power. Your flashlights may be your only source of emergency lighting for a week or more. Even if you can find a store that is open, I assure you the flashlights and batteries were sold out days ago.
You need at least two real emergency flashlights, and expect to pay up to $20 each, plus another $20 for an extra supply of good quality batteries and a few extra bulbs. Rechargeable do not hold their charge long. Without electricity they cannot be recharged.
I no longer buy any flashlight that uses the older style incandescent bulbs and cheap slide switch, as these never seem to work when you need them and quickly discharge their batteries. Some use a much brighter krypton bulb. These are a good choice when you need to shine a spotlight a very long distance, but they will use up batteries fast.
New flashlight technology The newest generation use one or more light emitting diodes (LED) as the light source. Advancements have made a vast improvement in both their white color quality and brightness. LED does not have a filament to burn out. LED lamp has polarized positive (+) and negative (-) terminals. The theoretical life of an LED lamp is in excess of many thousands of hours of operation when used with the proper power source. In addition to long life, an LED lamp greatly extends how long a given set of batteries will last.
General Electric fluorescent lantern provides room-filling light using four "D" cell batteries. Another new lighting is the fluorescent lantern. Most of these battery-powered lights look like a small version of an old camping lantern, not a flashlight.
battery-powered fluorescent light can provide really good lighting levels throughout an entire room, and are ideal to illuminate a kitchen or living room during evening meals. I recommend having at least one battery-powered lantern to go along with any other emergency flashlights you have, and limit its use to only a few hours each evening during a power outage as they consume more power than any of the other flashlights we tested.
Unless you want to stock 10 different sizes of batteries, I suggest limiting all your battery-powered flashlights, lanterns, radios, and electronic games to just two or three basic battery sizes. This makes things much simpler when they can get complicated really fast, and limiting battery sizes allows stocking more of each. Since newer lighting and electronic technology is moving to higher voltages and smaller sizes, many of today's battery-powered devices may require three or four smaller AA or AAA batteries instead of one or two of the larger C or D size batteries typically used in older devices.
How to select a flashlight To help demystify the process of buying a flashlight for real emergency preparedness, I recently tested five of the most popular battery-powered flashlights and lanterns currently being marketed against a standard two D cell traditional flashlight. During a lengthy power outage, you are primarily interested in finding your way around an otherwise dark house, so I have not reviewed those foot- long D cell battery-powered flashlights that can shine a spotlight a mile away. We want to illuminate a small room, not blind a deer in the next county. I would like to point out that this was a less than scientific testing process, since we are interested in the relative differences between models and not specific individual performance. Whatever flaws there were in my testing, it affected all models the same.
Testing setup in photography studio shows tripod-mounted light meter and measurements of distances for flashlight under test.
Since a flashlight that provides a large or very bright area of illumination may have a shorter battery life, I have included a very rough measurement of illuminated area along with light brightness. I also noted how long the particular flashlight operated on a single set of batteries. All flashlight tests started out with the same brand of good quality fresh batteries. Note that some flashlights require more batteries than other designs, which will also affect useful operating life. I am using the term "useful operating life" to mean that point at which the light output is no longer bright enough to provide an adequate lighting level, not the point when the light goes completely out.
Testing procedures I set up my photography studio with an off-white flat background that covered an entire end wall. I took a light level meter that measures three different ranges of foot-candle illumination levels and mounted it in the center of this background. I then positioned a stand to hold each flashlight with the lens exactly six feet from the light meter and background. Although I could have achieved different readings at other distances, I felt this would be a good average of working distance. The measurements of the area being illuminated were taken in a totally dark room, with the flashlight under test being the only illumination. All of the flashlights produced a very bright center area, with a larger outer area that was much less bright. The outer areas still had adequate illumination for finding your way around a dark room, but only the primary center areas were bright enough to read or work by.
Final results The table summarizes the tests of six flashlights and one fluorescent lantern. Although any of these would easily light your way down a dark stairwell or rural road, several models provided much better lighting quality and longer battery life. All of the incandescent flashlights produced a slightly yellow light, while all of the LED flashlights and the fluorescent lantern gave off a white light. The 1- watt "super bright" LED flashlight I tested by Dorcy was actually almost blinding, and provided the largest overall illumination area.
Measurements being taken in totally dark room of flashlight's illuminated circle area. Each flashlight tested had a totally different illuminated area even though all were mounted the same distance to background.
When reviewing the results of this testing, note the extremely long time all of the LED style flashlights lasted, compared to the incandescent. In fact, I called it quits after four days of continuous operation, as both LED flashlights were still providing enough light to find your way in a very dark room, but their light levels had dropped to a tiny fraction of their original illumination. The Garrity white LED was the overall winner in operating hours, and did this with only three tiny AAA batteries.
All of the flashlights illuminated a very bright round circle directly in the center of focus. However, the fluorescent lantern was able to illuminate all areas of my entire 12-foot x 20-foot studio, although no areas were illuminated as brightly as a flashlight. I strongly recommend owning at least one of these fluorescent battery lanterns. I think the traditional slide switch flashlight with two C or D cell batteries is not suitable for extended power outages due to their shorter operating life and difficulty with their switches and battery connections making good electrical contact.
All of the LED style flashlights tested had an anodized aluminum housing, a sealed push button switch, and machine-threaded parts with waterproof rubber seals. I selected these six "finalists" due to their smaller size and rugged construction, and all would make a good general purpose flashlight. My hands-down favorite was the Dorcy "Metal Gear" 1-watt LED model. The Garrity LED was my second choice, which actually lasted far longer than the Dorcy LED model due to the less bright LED. Both were small with a single LED lamp, and both required three small AAA size batteries. I really like the metal belt clip on the Dorcy, but some of you may prefer the nylon pouch with belt loop that comes with the Garrity.
The 1-watt LED Dorcy "Metal Gear" model produced a very bright center area, with a large outer area that was also fairly bright. The Garrity LED model produced a large diameter center light with very little lighted area outside this circle, which gave the appearance of a brightly focused stage spotlight.
Most of the incandescent type flashlights are focused for much greater distances than the LED types, but for compact size and excellent battery life I believe your emergency flashlights should be LED design with a gasketed, moisture-resistant, metal housing. Most flashlight manufacturers are starting to add an LED model to their product line. I liked the Dorcy 1-watt LED model so much I purchased three for myself after the testing ended. Most of the flashlights in this article are available from Lowe's, Home Depot, and Wal-Mart.
Battery considerations During an extended power outage, you may need to operate a flashlight or fluorescent lantern for up to six hours per night, for a week or more. This is much longer than most standard flashlights are intended to operate, and could consume up to 24 batteries depending on what type and size flashlight you purchase. This is still more batteries than you normally keep on hand, so you will need to change your thinking about stocking extra batteries, and be sure to check their expiration dates every few months.
Buying the best flashlight in the world is still a waste of money if you are not willing to stock lots of spare high-quality batteries to keep it operating. The more expensive alkaline batteries will last much longer than standard batteries and are well worth the cost for your emergency preparedness. I like to vacuum-pack my emergency batteries in multiples of four, for each flashlight's battery count. A flashlight requiring three batteries will need several packs of twelve batteries per pack. This way you will not need to open more sealed packs than necessary at one time, and I keep them stored with my emergency flashlights. Do not store batteries in a freezer as some people suggest, but you do need to keep them in a cool and dry location.
Again, this was a somewhat subjective test, but should still provide a good idea of what to look for. Be sure to keep in mind the area of illumination when deciding which model is right for you, and do not be surprised if you need more than one type to meet all of your emergency lighting requirements.
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Find an item lighting. The flashlight in your hand, looking for something.
Friend or foe lighting. When you need to see what's that noise in the pasture. Or in the first floor at 3 AM.
Work lighting. The headlamp strapped on your head. So you can see what you're doing while you fix something.
Walk around lighting. Most ceiling lights and lights in parking lot are walk around lights.
Reading lights. Nice to have a good book to read. Or you have to do your paper work for your employment.
Information lighting. Indicator panels, television, weapons fire, etc.
Route lighting. Street lights, airport runway lighting, hallway lighting.
Supernatural lighting. Orbs, ghosts, ball lightning, UFOs, etc.
Decorative lighting. Christmas lights, fireworks, lava lamp, stage effects, etc.
Sign lighting. Street signs, billboards.
Security lighting. Electric eye, infrared motion detectors, lighting for security cameras, etc.
Scientific lighting. Light outside the normal visual spectrum artificially observed and/or artificially produced for forensics, night vision, scientific inquiry, etc.
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Cosmic, man!
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Please be sure to add any I missed.
Photon squeeze light. Carry on keyring for occasional light needs. Like when I dropped my mini mag last week outdoors at night.
Mag or Garrity 3 or 4 D cell light. Slice the night. Read house numbers. Beat off muggers and burglars. See what is that noise in your chicken coop.
Tactical Xenon light. Expensive light with expensive bulbs and expensive batteries. But it does a terrific job of lighting house numbers for night service calls. Also good for spotting racoon in trees. Actually small enough to put in pocket.
Closet light. Runs on D cells, some run on AA cells. Can be fluorescent, filament bulb, or LED. Stationary applications, for short term light. Many closet lights are bright enough to light up an entire room enough to walk around.
Camping lantern. Mine is fluorescent and runs on D cells. Some have LED, and some have filament bulbs. I suspect LED are less light, and filament bulbs are more light.
Dorcy single AAA LED light. Fits nicely in the coat pocket, and provides light when everything else is broken.
Spotlight that plugs into the lighter socket. Light up the entire side of the house. Make burglars go into V-fib. Spook the horses. Signal alien space ships, and confuse airplane pilots. A bit too bright, some of them. And plenty fun to play with.
Mini Mag light. My daily work horse. Use it several times a day, every day. Nite Ize and Terralux conversions are an excellent idea.
Headlamp. Used when working, so as to keep both hands free.
I'm Christopher Young and I approved this message. . .
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Are you dissing my house?

That's an interesting light!

Perfect. Need at least one.

Yeah -- got one, but never use it.

Now you're dissing my neighborhood!

Thanks for your input, Christopher Jm
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Are you dissing my house?
CY: yes! Cut back on the chickens, please.

That's an interesting light!
CY: Lot of fun.

Perfect. Need at least one.
CY: Walmart, in the electrical section.

Yeah -- got one, but never use it.
CY: Maybe some day.

Now you're dissing my neighborhood!
CY: Nah-noo, Nah-noo. (If you don't get that, google search Robin Williams, in Mork and Mindy.)

Thanks for your input, Christopher Jm
CY: Y'welcome.
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And again, wow! More answers and opinions than I could have hoped for!
Thanks to all for your recommendations and links.
Jm
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wrote:

I wasn't here for your original question, but I trust that some recommended looking for lights that use Cree LED's. They're usually much brighter than any off the shelf flashlights, including those that have a zillion LEDs.
Here's an example of one that uses a Cree Q5: http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.14909
I have one of those. Compared it with the 'tactical' flashlight of a friend on the police dept (xenon bulb). Mine won. Also checked it against one of those large-headed commercial flashlights with about 20 LEDs. The Cree light killed it. Really surprising projection.
The vendor above is pretty reliable, and known well among the laser/flashlight hotrodders (yes, they exist), but they're in China, so expect shipping time. Sometimes they get here quick... other times a few weeks. If you search the site, you'll find a lot of other models and brands that use high-efficiency LEDs.
Or you could search Ebay for "Cree" and hope they're not fake (most probably are OK).
Also be aware of the type of batteries used. Many (including my bud's tactical) use CR123's or 14500's which deliver current, but are expensive. The light above uses AA's.
Also, some have various switching schemes, like alternating between high, medium, low brightness and a couple blink patterns. I never had much use for that, so I look for just on-off.
And...if you are using AA cells and want rechargeables, Sanyo Eneloops are known for maintaining charge over very long shelf times. Good for when you want to stash the flashlights for emergencies. Then again, you may want to go with regular alkalines if you want max shelf life and they're not being used much.
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I'll hafta check it out. I know LED technology is making huge leaps in progress. I also like the fact it's reasonably priced, not a total rip-off like those ridiculous tactical LED flashlights that cost in the hundreds of dollars. They're just flashlights, ferchrysakes.
nb
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