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Choosing your flashlight, what are the criteria to observe?

Flashlights have been part of our daily lives for several decades now. We use them on many occasions. But with the advance of technology, the choice has become more laborious. How do you choose a flashlight today in 2018? What are the criteria for choosing a flashlight? Follow the guide.

Choosing the right type of flashlight for you

As you can see in specialist shops and on the internet, there are different types of flashlights on the market.

First of all, there are the classic flashlights that do not have any options: they only light up and that's it. Generally, these are models that are very powerful and reliable. However, some models allow you to adjust the intensity of the light beam, but nothing more.

Then there are the headlamps. As the name suggests, this headlamp is for those who want to have extra lighting while having their hands free. They are used for cycling, biking, trekking or running. Many professionals also use these models: mechanics, speleologists, mine workers, not to mention electronic engineers. In most cases, the headlamps are waterproof and dustproof to allow use in extreme conditions.

Finally, there are tactical flashlights. They were originally intended for use by law enforcement elements in the United States. The military, police and other professionals used this type of flashlight to more easily neutralize an individual in the event of a problem. The operation of this flashlight is simple: among the many lighting modes, there is the blind strobe effect for a certain period of time, preventing further movement. With the increase in insecurity, these tactical lights have become very much in demand. Today, many households purchase them in order to defend themselves against attacks and burglaries.

Choose according to the use of the flashlight

There are several cases where the use of a flashlight is necessary. This will allow you to choose your lamp according to your needs.

First of all, there is professional use. For example, this is the case for mechanical professionals who use strobe flashlights, or security guards, law enforcement elements or firefighters who use a flashlight throughout their night-time interventions. Speleologists and underground workers are also required to use flashlights throughout their activities in caves.

Then there is domestic use: to go to the power distribution panel when a fuse has blown, to fetch something from the cave or simply when there is a power cut.

Finally, there is recreational use. For example, there are people who hunt at night, others need a flashlight when they go camping or on vacation because it is not always easy to find a source of electricity when you are on the move. The flashlight is also useful for those who engage in night sports activities: mountain biking, trekking, hiking, scuba diving, mountaineering, etc.

How to evaluate the power you need?

We tend to think that the more power we have, the better. However, it is important to take a good look at the question. The reason is simple: the more light power you have, the greater the demand for energy. As you will have understood, a powerful lamp will be greedy and its autonomy will be limited. Afterwards, everything depends on the needs of the lamp. For example, people going into the mountains or on hikes need lamps with a long autonomy, while security guards and police forces need more powerful lamps.

Also, beware of misleading advertisements that some brands may make about the power of flashlights. It is better to have a flashlight that is actually 500 lumens, rather than one that advertises 12,000 lumens, which will be less efficient than expected. There are a few tricks to recognize these suckers. For example, know that a lamp that has only 12 leds and claims to give more than 10,000 lumens. This will mean that each led cell will have to give 1,000 lumens: to give such a power, you would have needed large batteries and not a few aaa batteries. Moreover, if these are offered at less than 10 euros, we will have to be doubly wary.

Autonomy: it all depends on your needs

In some cases the use of the flashlight is only punctual: when the electricity is switched off for example. Autonomy is therefore not important. On the other hand, some uses require a consequent autonomy: when we go hiking, camping, etc.. This is why users are very careful with this criterion when they want to buy a camping lamp for example.

It is important to know that this autonomy depends essentially on the type of technology used. Conventional light bulbs will have a longer autonomy. On the other hand, the intensity of the light beam will decrease as the battery or batteries are discharged. For example, the intensity of the beam will vary from 500 to 70 lumens as the battery or aa batteries are discharged.

As for the led flashlight, it is generally equipped with a regulation system. The principle is simple: even if the battery is gradually discharged, the regulation system will ensure that the light beam remains as strong as ever. Then there will come a breaking point where the lamp will be switched off all of a sudden. Some of the more advanced lamps have a warning light that warns you when this breaking point is approaching, allowing you to anticipate and look for a new battery or replacement lamp.

A battery-operated or battery-powered lamp?

Lighting range and diameter

Often, "range up to 400 meters" can be read on commercial flashlight boxes. But don't be tempted. It is true that a beam can reach several hundred metres, but at what lighting intensity? You can see that this is a marketing argument because the long range of the torch will be of no use if the beam is not powerful enough. You might as well focus on other criteria such as range, light output or other criteria.

Lighting diameter is also often mentioned. Generally, this criterion is given little emphasis by the brands. And yet, the efficiency of the flashlight is at stake. Whether it is a led flashlight or a classic lamp, there will always be a focal point (or point of impact) and a halo called flood. It all depends then on your needs: do you need more flood or rather a bigger focal point? There are some models that are adjustable, which will be able to accommodate your various uses.

Size, weight and ergonomics of the lamp

Ergonomics is a very important criterion when choosing a flashlight. Indeed, it will not be very practical to lug around a flashlight whose size resembles a water bottle when it is supposed to be a "flashlight" and therefore fit in a pocket. However, the search for the minimum size and weight is not always a good thing because logically this imposes a reduction in efficiency. Indeed, having a light and small lamp means cutting back on the autonomy and / or the power delivered.

In addition, it is also important to know that lamps that are too small tend to heat up faster, especially if it is not a good quality led lamp. Indeed, the smaller the body of the lamp is, the more difficult it is for the heat to dissipate.

Before choosing the smallest or largest size lamp, think about your priorities!

Do not forget the standards in force

There are many standards that govern flashlights, just like other products. For example, there is the anti-corrosion standard: it is mainly observed in lamps for outdoor use (sport, leisure, etc.)

There is also the ATEX standard, which is mainly intended for professional use. This standard deals with lamps used in environments where an explosive atmosphere can form at any time. Fire brigades, rescue services and other intervention forces are the most frequent users of flashlights according to this standard.

The most widespread and best known standard is the IPX standard. Specifically, this is a standard that defines the level of rain tightness. It should be noted, however, that this waterproofness will not allow the lamp to be taken for diving. For example, a lamp with IPX-8 standards will be waterproof even when falling to a depth of two meters, but only for a very short time.

With or without guarantee?

This is a question that many consumers ask themselves: should they choose the models supplied with warranty or not? Obviously, flashlights that come with a guarantee are more expensive. However, they may allow you to obtain a repair from the manufacturer if the lamp ever has a problem.

It then remains to consider the conditions of the guarantee. Indeed, it's all well and good to opt for a guaranteed model, but it's practically useless when a clause stipulates that the guarantee only applies in case of a manufacturing defect.

Last but not least: the price

Finally, we will have to look at the price. It is important to consider this parameter last because the criteria mentioned above are more important than the others. By blindly choosing a flashlight by looking at the lowest prices, you may come across a model that doesn't meet your expectations. Be aware that there are flashlights for less than 10 euros, just as there are flashlights for several hundred euros. Faced with this monumental price range, all you have to do is refer to the criteria that are important to you and compare the different brands.