Types of Flashlights
These flashlights have been around the longest and are often the least expensive. The lamp produced is usually bright, but this type of light wastes energy by producing heat. Batteries and bulbs don’t last very long in these flashlights.
Light-emitting diodes are a type of semiconductor. LED flashlights have a long life because they waste very little energy making heat. LED flashlights have no glass or filament, making them very durable. Both the batteries and the bulbs in LED lamps have a much longer life than incandescent bulb flashlights, but this may require a higher initial cost. Originally only available in colored lights, LED flashlights are now available in a “white” light (which is actually more of a bluish light). Many people find this light to be very natural, while others are more used to the yellow light of electric lights.
High Intensity Discharge bulbs have an electric current which passes through an arranged ball of ionized gas. HID flashlights aren’t as common as others and are bulky and often expensive, but they produce a very bright light that cuts through the darkness like a knife, with a long lasting bulb.
Xenon, Halogen, and Krypton Bulbs
Some incandescent bulbs are filled with a pressurized gas, which helps extend the life of the filament inside, so the bulb burns brighter without running down the batteries any faster. Currently, these are the brightest flashlights available, although they are not as rugged or long-lasting as LED flashlights.
You may have heard of these Faraday flashlights, which are named after the man who discovered the electromagnetic principle. By shaking the magnets inside the flashlight for about a minute, you get several hours of LED light. The light isn’t very bright, but the lack of batteries means that these flashlights will always be ready, making them perfect for an emergency situation. Be careful with shake flashlights: The powerful magnets can damage computers, credit card strips and pacemakers.
The hands-free convenience of headlamps has made them a popular alternative or addition to flashlights, especially for hikers and bicyclists. Like flashlights, headlamps are available with different types of bulbs. Many headlamps are adjustable to various levels of brightness and to different angles, making them perfect for all sorts of activities that require free hands. Another great small source of light is a penlight, which can be carried in a pocket like a pen.
For a more ambient glow while camping or during a power outage, a lantern can be an efficient alternative to a flashlight.