Although there has been a surge in popularity for headlamps, flashlights and torches remain an ideal choice for people and situations that prefer a handheld light, particularly when the strongest portable beam possible is required, controlling the light with precision and dexterity is important and the light may also need to be set down to work on a task.
But with so many flashlights and torches available on the market today, how do you choose the type you really need?
Understanding your torch choices
The three main factors to take into consideration when choosing a torch or flashlight are their battery type and run time, their size and weight, and the amount of light that they output.
The price of torches can range from as cheap as just $20 to as expensive as more than $200, even when they seem to be the exact same size, so what’s the difference?
One of the biggest differences is the brightness of the flashlight. A more expensive light will be more powerful because it makes use of advanced battery, bulb and circuitry technology. The cost can also be added to by the inclusion of a rechargeable battery, as well as features such as resistance to water and impact, different lighting modes and effective heat dissipation.
For those who are physically shopping for a torch in a real store, it can be a good idea to check how the light switches on and off and if that means it could be accidentally turned off too easily, and how easy it is to operate with gloves if you will be using it in the cold. Users may also want to check if the torch is light or rugged enough for their requirements, the feel of it in their hand and if additional tools are required for battery changing.
There are a number of ways in which the performance of flashlights is monitored. One of them is light output, which is measured in lumens. This measures the torch’s light intensity on its highest brightness when powered by brand new batteries.
Although this is an excellent tool for comparison, there is still more to consider with brightness such as beam intensity, type and distance, all of which can have an impact on the effectiveness of a light source within different applications. The light output of a flashlight can range from a mere 20 lumens for close work/reading, or 3500 lumens for searching a large area of terrain.
The distance of the beam of light is measured in metres. How far is the light able to share before the diminishing of the brightness? Run time of a flashlight is measured in hours, and impact resistance is also measured in metres.
The majority of torch bodies are either aluminium alloy or plastic, though some may have stainless steel in the torch head for additional impact resistance.
The advances in the efficiency of batteries as well as LED tech also means that flashlights and torches have become brighter, lighter and smaller than was the case even just a few years ago.