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Flashlight recommendations

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by kwikrp, Dec 18, 2012.

  1. kwikrp

    kwikrp Feeling the Heat

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    I am looking for some advise on purchasing a new flashlight. I am looking for something that can be handheld.
    I would like no know advantages and disadvantages of the various power sources, bulb types or LEDs, is lumens the only way to rate? I want something that will give me excellent distance and brightness, like to keep price under $100

    Thanks for all advise

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  2. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Brands have all changed since I looked at this....but my advice is get an LED, compare on lumens and shop around...a lot of overpriced units on sale. Avoid flashlights that get lumens with a large number of dim LEDs...you will want a single, high power emitter for distance and high lumens/watt. Rated burn times are sometimes exaggerated.....cheap units might run 100% output for a while and then slowly fade down to zero and spend many hours uselessly dim. Better units will maintain brightness well over time until they quit, it will look like they have a shorter burn time, but they are really the better unit.
    BrianK likes this.
  3. heat seeker

    heat seeker Minister of Fire

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    In my experience, LED lights don't focus all that well, and don't get great range. However, my experience with LED flashlights is not vast, but of the 6 or so different ones that I have, that's the way they all are. None are very expensive, the top being around $30.00.

    However, the battery life is phenomenal compared to standard lights.
  4. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    There are some very cheap LED's on the market. Less than $20 will get a very nice flashlight or headlight that will focus very well over 100 yards.

    If you search CREE LED on Amazon or fleabag, you should have good results. http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_trksid=p5197.m570.l1313&_nkw=Cree led&_sacat=0&_from=R40

    Even though some are under $10, I am very impressed with them. I like my cheapo CREE LED over my Streamlight Polytac LED (pricey :().
  5. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    I like the little LED jobbies for a pocket flashlight. But I have three three D cell aluminum regular flashlights from Harbor Freight that I have had for 10 years and love'em. Nine bucks apiece. Used daily. Ya gotta have a cat to understand.

    The comment about range for LEDs is dead on. Want range, go old style and get ya some rechargeable batteries unless it is for infrequent use. They don't hold a charge like regular ones do sitting around for a long time.
    SmokeyTheBear likes this.
  6. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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  7. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    In general, I have a few LED's that have been really tough, are really bright, and very convenient as they don't suck much juice. However, depending on what you are doing, LED's (at least the ones that I have used/own) don't provide much color definition. For example, I have a shop light that is cordless LED (stick style) that is bright as hell. Grabbed it the other night to clean up after the dog before bed. He took a dump inside of 20 feet from me. Walked over with that sucker and do you think I could see it? You'd think it should stand out on green grass that had frost on it, but it didn't. Walked back to the garage, grabbed the mini-mag out of the truck, came back and found it (and my footprints all around it) right where I knew it was, I just couldn't see it.

    Also, I've ruined 2 LED flashlights as they do hold the batteries for so long, that I forgot to keep up with them by age and they leaked.

    pen
  8. scooby074

    scooby074 Feeling the Heat

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    I got a bunch of Mag LED's. AA's and D's. They have a great warranty and are a "decent" led. Maybe not the highest tech LED light out there but readily available and have great battery life.

    I also have and like Pelican incandescent products. I dont have one of their LED's yet however.
  9. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I can't say I like the new, fancier, mag lite aa's. You twist the head to change modes; seems to have a mind of its own. I liked the old school model, but do like the led bulbs.
  10. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    :eek: From one end zone to the other? This has got to be some sort of typo or something. I've never heard of a handheld flashlight of any description that was effective at 300'. If this is true, I'm buying a couple or three of these...or maybe the company. :p Rick
    PapaDave likes this.
  11. drizler

    drizler Minister of Fire

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    Yea I like the cat comment... Can't remember how many times over the last 18 years shining the light out back trying to get the cat to come back in..............................Bigass 2,000,000 candle spotlight works best for that but a tad bulky.
  12. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    I have 4 LED units that I love, all for different reasons.

    1) My 3 AAA Headlight (will edit with brand and model when I get home). I've mowed golf greens (on a tri-plex) in complete darkness with that one. ==c

    2) My 2 D Mag-Lite that I converted to LED using Mag-Lite's kit. That one rides in the truck at all times. Batteries last indefinetly with that one.

    3) My Blackfire clamplight for a shop flashlight. It stands up on it's own or clamps to any available edge. That one is covered in grease/grime and gets dropped, a lot. <> Battery life has been excellent.

    http://www.blackfire-usa.com/[​IMG]


    4) My Inova High-Output LED flashlight. Thing is absolutely incredible for it's size. The only drawbacks IMO is the CR123 batteries it uses are very pricey compared to AA's. Shop online and buy a box of them. Much better pricing than locally. The other problem is that they do not last as long as my other flashlights but that's due to the high draw of that miniature sun they have stuffed in there.

    [​IMG]
    Mine is most similar to the current X2 in size but if I were buying again, I'd pick the X03, has a low power option that will really eliminate my gripe about battery life.

    http://www.inovalight.com/x/features_x03.php
  13. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    I have a couple SureFire lights that work good. Under $100 and pocket sized but far far exceed the light output of any MagLite I've owned.
  14. OhioBurner©

    OhioBurner© Minister of Fire

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    You can get LEDs for just about anything. High color rendition, long throw spot beam, etc. Your just going to spend a little more.

    I really love my small Zebralight headlamp that is a single AA flashlight that goes into a headband. I love you can use it both ways, and its so small in the pocket that its my every-day-carry. And when I need to work with my hands, throwing it on the headband frees up both hands for stuff. Of course you can't get a ton of output with a single AA but somehow they manage to get up to 200+ lumens! My version is the neutral white so its a little less, 172 lumens. But honestly I use the lower modes just as much if not more, medium down to sub 1 lumen. Great for seeing around in the dark without blowing out your night vision or waking anyone up next to you.

    Sticking with AA's I wanted a bit more power and got a 4sevens Quark-X AA2 which with energizer ultimate lithiums is rated around 400 lumens, a little less with good nimh. I got the neutral white version of that one too (I hate the 'cool blue' tint) but unfortunately 4Sevens is known for random less than ideal tints and I got a yellowy/green one. Just fine for outside but inside against white walls it looks a bit ugly.

    There are tons of quality LED lights out there if your willing to spend up to $100. What kind of batteries do you prefer? How many modes? Do you want a super simple like 2-mode user interface or are you willing to learn a more complex one? Do you really want more throw than more flood? And how much? Are you trying to spot wildlife in a field, or are you just talking 50-100'? Waterproof?

    Lumens are the standard for rating, but realize not all lumens are created equal. For one thing, a tighter beam pattern will make a brighter hotspot for the same lumens (it will seem brighter to most). The wider flood beam will spread those lumens over more area making it look dimmer. But your lighting more area. So it depends what you want. CRI is how well it will reproduce colors, good LEDs are 85+. Most will have bluish tinted LEDs with crap CRI. I look for neutral white or many prefer warm white. But you do get a few more lumens out of the bluish ones but realize they dont produce as nice of colors and create more glare so the extra lumens are sort of lost. Also realize some of the ratings are WAY off. Look for an ANSI rating which tells you they followed certain rules to measure the actual out the front (OTF) output. Some claims are 50% higher or more just because they measure the LED output under best possible conditions, not the actual light output through the front lens under normal conditions.
  15. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    No typo and the light cost less than $20. The technology has come a long way from the lights that had 25 LED's. You want a single emitter.. One I have is less than $10 and will outperform most larger lights.

    My Poly Tac was $60 shipped and is a damn good light (waterproof, durable as hell, compact but has a rather large O.D. for the head) but wont preform like these el cheapo's from the link above.
  16. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    For a headlamp, this little gem is the same way. 3 AAA and it emits a Beam that is Unreal!!! These are what we use at work and where I found these amazing cheap little lights.

    http://item.mobileweb.ebay.com/viewitem?itemId=390511469805&index=2&nav=SEARCH&nid=55991092584:

    If you want a Quality product, thats durable, waterproof, and gonna hold batteries for a year or better, look elsewhere.

    For a cheap model that will not hurt when you have to throw it away? Buy a box of 10 :)

    We have tried every Headlamp on the market. Upwards to $50-$75 for some and now we get these by the case at under $10 a piece.

    For the cost, its hard to beat. (Notice where it ships from/gonna take some time) :(
  17. ROVERT

    ROVERT Member

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    I'd recommend a Surefire. I have a G2 Nitrolon and it is the best light I've ever owned. It is an amazingly tough light. I use a flashlight a lot for work and routinely do things like drop them onto concrete floors from ladders. If you don't need one too compact, I'd look to something like the G3 which is even brighter.

    I'm currently trying a rechargeable LED light from Interstate batteries. Even though I can buy 123 bats cheaply locally ($1.60 ea.), I was just getting through too many of them using the Surefire for work. The Surefire is now used as my around-the-house and recreational light. I like the Interstate light and it is very bright but I don't think the same durability is there. I'm starting to notice some touchiness in the switch after just a few months on the job.

    I'm sure there are other excellent lights out there but I can certainly vouch for the Surefire.
  18. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    Lots of good info here. Q1: What do you want to use it for? spot, flood, focus or both? Q2: What beam distance do you need? Q3: How frequently to you need to use it? Q4: When used, what length of time will it be "on"? Q5: How physically big do you want it to be? Q6: What type of bulb/emitter? Q7: What type of batteries? Q8: Price? at $100 you have lots of options. Q9: Are you frustrated by so many questions? if so, punt.

    Review http://www.candlepowerforums.com/ for more info than you might want, excellent resource.

    I just bought a flashlight, and for me the answers were: Q1: general purpose, plus being able to use it for a bicycle light, thus both spot and focus. Q2: far enough to light the road for night bicycle riding. Q3: occasional. Q4: usually short "on" times, but up to about 1 hour for night bicycle riding. Q5: pocket size, able to mount of the handlebars. Q6: led, Cree XM-L. Q7: li-ion rechargeable, and this boosts the price up considerably. Q8: $10 was what I thought, before I had to buy the li-ion batteries and a charger; about $50 in the end. Q9: candlepower forums plus "battery university" gave me the info I needed.

    For hi-power led (hi output, Cree-type) flashlights, flashlight internal electronics are really important. You will want voltage regulation to maintain maximum output for the longest time, until batteries need to be replaced/recharged. You will want electronics, either in the flashlight or integral with the batteries, that provide short-circuit and low voltage shut-down protection if you use li-ion batteries. You will want electronics that prevent the emitter from over-heating and self-destructing (dim the light automatically), or better yet both the electronics plus a physical design that dissipates the heat without requiring dimming of the light. You will want multiple light output options, probably hi-medium-low at least.

    Or, simply buy an led bulb (about $8) that is a direct replacement for the bulb in your flashlight of choice, which may be a good way to "punt."
  19. scooby074

    scooby074 Feeling the Heat

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    Happened to me too. lost 2 Mags that way. A "AA" and a "D". Mag tubes are notoriously tight and the slightest swelling and the batteries are stuck. Thankfully Mags warranty covers this if you use name brand Batteries.
  20. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I love my LED flashlights and headlamp. All single emitter and bought based on lumens from walmart type stores. My big herkin 3 d mag lite sets lifeless but maybe that is a great option.

    So what's the skinny on LED bulbs? Can you still focus the beam for flood/spot like with a OEM maglite? Good output? Is it worth it? I kinda like to be able to beat somebody or something with the flashlight if needed so the maglite is double duty as a baseball bat.
  21. scooby074

    scooby074 Feeling the Heat

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    Yes the Mag led's will focus.

    Are they the most powerful LED, no, but still bright enough to blind and have great throw and flood. Plus it can double as a hammer!!

    Only supposed issue with the Mag LED is it's control circuitry isnt as advanced or efficient as some of their competitors. Has it been an issue in practice? NO.
  22. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    Dang...I had no idea how long it has been since I paid any attention whatever to flashlights. Now you guys have me all intrigued. I feel some dollars slipping from my wallet. !!! Rick
    DexterDay likes this.
  23. seige101

    seige101 Minister of Fire

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    I bought some 2d cell led mag lites on black friday weekend at depot or blowes 2 years ago and i love them! Battery life is great. They were 50% off so like 17 bucks. Also picked up the 2aa size lights for 50% off so like 12 bucks. When we had the week long power outage due to the halloween nor easter that dumped 2 feet of snow, we used the 2d cell lights for general lighting in the house. Simple turn the light on and aim it at the ceiling and it was almost like having a normal light on. The batteries i had put in them the christmas before handled being used for almost a year including that week of heavy use. We were using them for 3-5 hours each night before bed..

    For my every day in my tool bag i use Milwaukee m12 and m18 rechargeable LED flash lights. Since i had the batteries the lights weren't to spendy. The 12 volt one lasts 6-8 hours on a full charge in constant use. The 18v about 14-16 hours (2 full work days).

    So if you have a decent set of cordless tools, look into a LED flashlight that works with your batteries.
  24. gmule

    gmule Feeling the Heat

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    I have the INOVA X2 and use AA 2500Mah rechargable nimh batteries in it. Hands down this is the best flash light I have ever owned. Over the summer we were dirt riding after dark and the headlamp on my mororcycle burned out. I was able to use a a couple of zip ties and attached it to the handle bars and was able to ride it back to camp. The light was brighter than what the bike has.

    http://www.inovalight.com/x/techspecs_x2.php.

    I would like to try the X03 to see how much more light 50 more lumes is. Maybe after Christmas I will buy one.
  25. PapaDave

    PapaDave Minister of Fire

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    Got the big Newfie trained to come when I shined the million power light at her in the yard......finally. Then she died.
    Damn dog.

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