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13 Different Types of Flashlights

Beaming flashlight on gray background.

Quicklist: Types of Flashlights

  1. Incandescent Bulb
  2. Light Emitting Diode (LED)
  3. High-Intensity Discharge (HID)
  4. Pressurized Gas
  5. Solar-Powered
  6. Headlamp
  7. Lanterns
  8. Shake
  9. USB-Charging
  10. Utility
  11. Heavy-Duty
  12. Work
  13. Tactical

When were flashlights invented?

The first flashlight was invented in 1899 by English inventor David Misell. It was called “flash” light because the light couldn’t be turned on for long and had to be rested from time to time. That’s because it used zinc-carbon batteries and carbon-filament electric bulbs.

The batteries were eventually improved and the carbon filament was replaced with tungsten. By 1922, flashlights were a hit. Several types of flashlights existed as well as 10 million flashlight users.

Parts of a Flashlight (Diagram)

Diagram showing all the different parts of a flashlight (exterior and interior)

Different Types of Flashlights (List)

Incandescent Bulb Flashlights

Incandescent bulb flashlight

Incandescent bulb flashlights are the most common type found in people’s homes. They have been around for many decades and usually run on D batteries. 

Generally speaking, these flashlights are most convenient for their affordability. 

Incandescent bulb flashlights are made to be weather resistant and will resist corrosion as well. You will be able to make use of this flashlight in rainy situations because it is water resistant, and it is durable enough to withstand being dropped. It should work well for many purposes.

Popular on camping trips, due to their ease of use, they can withstand a bit of punishment and are powerful enough to provide light when needed. 

LED Flashlights

LED Flashlight

 

There are situations where having an LED flashlight is going to be preferable. They don’t work in the same way as  incandescent bulb flashlights – they don’t produce any heat and can last for a long time.

The cost of an LED flashlight should be similar to the cost of a heavy duty incandescent bulb flashlight. 

LED flashlights give off a different type of light: Incandescent bulbs beam a white light with a yellow hue; LED lights give off white light with a blue hue.

High-Intensity Discharge HID Flashlights

Sidiou Group HID Xenon Flashlight flashlight 85w 7500LM flashlight long-range outdoor hunting flashlight Rechargeable flash torch

 

High-intensity discharge flashlights are usually abbreviated to HID flashlights. These types of flashlights will be capable of producing an extremely bright light. They work by having an electrical current run through a ball of ionized gas, so they’re definitely different from either of the models that have been mentioned so far.

These flashlights are far less common than either incandescent models or LED models. The HID flashlights are more expensive due to how they work. In order to purchase one of these flashlights, you may have to pay up to 10 times the price of one of the incandescent flashlights. 

The HID flashlight, shown here, is rechargeable and waterproof. 

Pressurized Gas Flashlights

Rayovac 2D Industrial Yellow Flashlight with Krypton Bulb and Magnet

 

Some incandescent bulbs also include pressurized gases to increase the life of the bulb. Gases such as xenon, halogen, and krypton can help to brighten light while burning out more slowly. 

The flashlight, shown here, comes equipped with a krypton bulb. This will allow the flashlight to generally be brighter while lasting longer. Despite its utility, this flashlight is also very inexpensive, making it a good option for anyone who is on a budget.

This flashlight is powered by standard D batteries, not unlike the vast majority of incandescent bulb flashlights, and are a good choice to have in emergency situations. 

Solar-Powered Flashlights

Solar-Powered Flashlights

It’s no secret that environmental concerns have started to change the way that people look at the world. We need  more environmentally-friendly options when purchasing tools. Flashlights are no exception and there are solar-powered options out there for people who wish to go that route. They can actually be pretty convenient to use and are powerful enough for many purposes.

Most solar-powered flashlights are going to be significantly weaker than the other options on this list. There are some models out there that can get fairly bright, but you shouldn’t expect it to be able to compete with an LED flashlight or an HID flashlight. These are cost-effective flashlights that will be comparable to an incandescent bulb flashlight when they are properly charged.

The model that is being shown here also comes with a hand crank. This allows you to generate some power on your own in order to produce light. This is convenient for when you haven’t charged the flashlight with solar energy and still need to make use of it. 

Headlamp Flashlights

Man wearing headlamp flashlight in the woods.

Headlamp flashlights are very convenient to own because they can help you to light your way while your hands are otherwise occupied. If you need a flashlight to see, but you also need to carry something, it can get a little inconvenient. The solution to this problem is to own one of these headlamps. They can strap right on your head and they will easily light your way.

This is a great flashlight to own when you want to make things as convenient on yourself as possible. Wearing the flashlight on your head allows you to do other things with your hands. If your car breaks down on the road at night, having one of these available to use will be a godsend. You’ll be able to work on your car and you’ll actually be able to see.

You can see that there are many situations where a flashlight such as this one would come in handy. It is something that will prove to be useful and it is cost effective enough to be practical for anyone. Most of these headlamp flashlights will be using LED bulbs to provide light. This means that they will get very bright and that they will last for a long time.

This model here is very high quality and can even be recharged in many convenient ways. With a brightness level of up to 1,800 lumens, this thing can really provide you with a significant amount of light. It’s a good purchase for anyone who wants an easy to use an emergency flashlight. The price is reasonable and it is very useful to own.

Lanterns

Lantern used for reading during camping.

 

Lanterns are another convenient way to light up the area that you will want to consider. Of course, traditional lanterns use kerosene or another type of fuel to provide a flame. In modern times, LED lanterns have become much more common. They work similarly to LED flashlights, except you just need to set them down near your location, rather than pointing them where you want to go.

You can carry lanterns such as this to light your way, though. They’re just more commonly used for camping purposes than they are for hiking or walking somewhere in the dark. This lantern will work very nicely if you need to be able to see when the power goes out. People buy lanterns such as this all of the time just to be prepared for big storms.

This doesn’t emit a lot of light, so it won’t make your area incredibly bright or anything. It only produces 120 lumens of light, but this is enough to allow you to see or even read a book. If you want to purchase something that is simple to use and will be effective in an emergency, then this is a good item to buy. There isn’t a lot that sets this item apart from other lanterns, but it is reliable and cost effective.

Shake Flashlights

Shake Flashlight

Shake flashlights are sort of unique in that they don’t run on batteries. You might be curious how the flashlight would even work without a power source. It’s actually powered by magnets that are placed inside of the flashlight itself. When you shake the flashlight, it causes a reaction and will provide you with the light that you need.

You simply need to shake the flashlight whenever you need to use it. This is very convenient as you will not have to worry about buying batteries for your flashlight. The problems with this flashlight show themselves when you notice that the light isn’t very bright. The dim light of these flashlights is enough to see where you’re going, but it may not be the best option for you.

There is definitely a certain amount of convenience to these flashlights. They may not provide a lot of light, but they will always work for you when you need them. They aren’t too expensive either, so you’ll be able to buy one without breaking the bank. Get one of these if you like the idea of not needing batteries and are fine with it not being all that bright.

USB Charging Flashlights

USB Charging Flashlight

Buying batteries can be a thing of the past when you purchase a USB charging flashlight. Flashlight technology has changed quite a bit in recent years. You can now buy flashlights with built-in batteries that can charge in the same way that you charge your smartphone. Simply plug your flashlight into a USB port and it will charge up for you.

This is the most convenient type of flashlight to own in the modern era. You are most likely constantly charging some type of device in your home. Whether it is your phone, a tablet, or a handheld video game system. This can just be one more item to charge up in case of an emergency. When the power does go out, you’ll have an easy to use flashlight at the ready.

This is a great flashlight that can get very bright, too. It is a bit costly, but you won’t ever have to worry about buying batteries for it. There is a good case to be made for buying a flashlight such as this that will stand the test of time. It’s up to you to decide whether or not the investment is going to be worthwhile enough.

Styles

Utility Flashlights

Maglite Mini Incandescent 2-Cell AAA Flashlight, Black

 

Utility flashlights are your common incandescent bulb models. These flashlights are generally the least expensive of all the different styles. You will be able to purchase one of these at a very low price and it should work well enough for most purposes. They aren’t incredibly durable, though, and may wind up breaking when dropped or handled roughly.

Due to the low price of these flashlights, many people simply buy a new one when they need a flashlight. They’re affordable enough to make this an easy thing to do, but it does seem a little bit wasteful to go about things this way. If you don’t need a flashlight regularly, then you should be able to get by with one of these. When you want something a little brighter that has a better build quality, you’ll need to pay more money.

Heavy-Duty Flashlights

Heavy-Duty Flashlight

Heavy-duty flashlights are a bit better than the normal utility flashlights. These are built to last and will be able to take a bit of a beating. Dropping a flashlight such as this won’t really cause it much harm and it should be able to keep going. People take these flashlights with them on trips and even use them when they go out hunting.

If you need a reliable flashlight that will be able to stand up to regular use, then a heavy-duty flashlight such as this will suffice. Simply purchase one of these and you will never have to worry about being left out in the dark. You’ll have access to the light that you need and you won’t have to worry about things dying out too quickly. This will take batteries as you would expect, but you should get a good amount of battery life out of this flashlight.

There are other durable options on the market, but this is one of the most cost-effective ways to get a heavy-duty flashlight. The incandescent bulbs may not be the most convenient in some ways, but they are very affordable overall. Weigh your options and you will be able to determine if this is the right flashlight for your needs.

Work Flashlights

Nebo Slyde King 6434 Rechargeable LED Flashlight Work Light with 6274 Holster and Lumintrail Keychain Light

 

Work flashlights are made for professionals that need to have a reliable light source. These lights are important for people who need to work in the dark. In order to be able to see small details and ensure that jobs get done right, professionals will need to have access to a high-quality flashlight. This work flashlight here will fit the bill and make everything as simple as possible.

There are two different flashlights included in a bundle here. One of them is a 330-lumen LED flashlight and the other is a 250-lumen work flashlight. Both of them will work great for different purposes. You’ll want to take both with you every day.

The first thing to know about this flashlight is that it is fully rechargeable. This means that you won’t have to worry about batteries and you’ll always be able to rely on this tool. Workers simply charge their flashlights every day and it is ready to be taken to the job site when it is time to go. This flashlight can fully recharge itself in about three or four hours.

This flashlight also has an adjustable zoom feature. This is convenient when you are trying to focus on something specific. The zoom feature goes up to 4x and it also has a dimmable beam. This will come in handy on many jobs and is one of the reasons why it is so sought after by professionals.

Tactical Flashlights

Tactical Flashlight on a khaki backpack.

Tactical flashlights are usually carried by police officers or military personnel. There are many different situations where a tactical flashlight is going to come in handy. Police officers use the lights to investigate situations and they also use tactical flashlights to disorient people when it is necessary. For this reason, a good tactical flashlight should be capable of producing a very bright light.

The tactical flashlight being showcased here can get very bright. It can produce 1,500 lumens of light, making it a very good option for tactical use. There are many firemen and rescue workers who keep these flashlights as part of their toolkit. It is an important companion to these professionals on many of their most crucial jobs.

As you might expect, these types of flashlights are made to be rugged. They need to be able to withstand impacts and weather conditions in order to be used properly. You won’t have to worry about this flashlight getting damaged even in many extreme situations. It will always prove to be capable of meeting your needs.

The beam distance on this light is remarkable as well. It can reach up to 1,181-feet, making it a very reliable tool for various situations. If you work in law enforcement or another job that requires a good flashlight, then you will want to consider purchasing this one. It can be a great flashlight that will always work well for you.

Top 10 Flashlight Brands

1. Fenix

Fenix E18R 750 Lumen Ultra Compact Rechargeable Flashlight with Rechargeable Battery & LumenTac Battery Organizer

The team at Fenix studies their customers’ needs to create flashlights that provide versatility and durability. Fenix flashlights are often used by members of the military, law enforcement and outdoor enthusiasts. This flashlight brand focuses on the small details to give you a product that works well and also stands the test of time.

2. Imalent

IMALENT MS12 Mini Tactical Flashlight 65000 Lumens, with 12 CREE XHP 70.2 LEDs, Long Beam Distance 1036 Meters, Built-in Cooling Tools

Imalent flashlights are designed for people with a passion for the great outdoors. These ultra-bright flashlights offer high-powered illumination for a variety of functions. Imalent is the creator of the MS18. The 100,000 lumens flashlight is currently listed as one of the brightest handheld flashlights in the world, making it a smart choice for those who need something with an impressive brightness level.

3. Thrunite

ThruNite LED Flashlight Archer 2A V3 500 Lumens CREE Portable EDC AA Flashlight with Lanyard, IPX8 Water-Resistant Dual Switch Outdoor Flash Light for Hiking, Camping, Everyday Use - CW

The Thrunite brand makes versatile flashlights that have some of the best brightness ranges on the market for battery-powered flashlights. Most models include a variety of modes that let you adjust the dimness or brightness level to your choosing.

They can also light up objects as far as 500 feet away, and the two-button design allows you to toggle through each brightness level with just one hand. Thrunite makes flashlights with a strobe mode that’s helpful in an emergency situation, too. The 2A V3 model stands upright and can be fully immersed in water and dropped from one meter without being damaged.

4. AceBeam

ACEBEAM LED Flashlight Rider RX 650 Lumens Portable EDC AA Flashlight with Lanyard, IPX8 Water-Resistant Tail Switch Outdoor Rechargeable Flashlight for Hiking, Camping, Everyday Use (Silver)AceBeam got its start in 2014 and instantly became a popular choice for a range of uses. Its D45 flashlight has received recognition as the best 4,000-lumen flashlight available on the market.

The brand also makes other products, including headlamps, bike lights and a wide selection of accessories highly recommended for hunters, hikers and homeowners.

5. AstroLux

Whether you need something small, high-powered, or standard, AstroLux is another of the top 10 highly recommended flashlight brands. AstroLux was founded in 2018 and continues to grow in popularity.

The company makes a variety of flashlight products including EDC (everyday carry) flashlights, keychain lights, camping and tactical flashlights and more. They also manufacture models in various sizes to suit your needs. Some models are waterproof, making them a smart choice for outdoor use, and most are also rechargeable to help you save on batteries.

6. Lumintop

LUMINTOP FW21 Pro LED Flashlight Super Bright 10000 Lumens By 3*Cree XHP50.2 6500k LED with Cooling Fins, Programable Anduril UI, IP68 Waterproof Flashlight Lumintop, founded in 2006, specializes in LED waterproof flashlights as well as waterproof headlamps and lanterns. 

Today, Lumintop has achieved recognition for many of its impressive flashlight designs and has over 200 distributors worldwide. You’ll find headlamps, bicycle lights, lanterns and much more from the brand. The D2 Flashlight has 1,000 lumens of brightness and can withstand being dropped into water up to six feet deep.

7. Olight

OLIGHT Marauder 2 Rechargeable Flashlight 14,000 Lumens Ultra Bright Flashlight with 3X Build-in Battery Pack for Home and Outdoor

Olight designs flashlights that help you see clearly at night. The brand’s S2R II Flashlight has a dual-direction belt clip that allows you to use it hands-free. You can also adjust between a variety of settings, including low, medium, high, turbo, moonlight and strobe.

8. Zebralight

Zebralight focuses on providing high-quality flashlights and other products at economical prices while continuing to improve upon their design and quality. 

The SC600w Flashlight gives you brightness of 2,300 lumens along with the ability to be submerged in up to six feet of water.

9. Wuben

WUBEN C3 Rechargeable Flashlights 1200 High Lumens Super Bright, LED Tactical Flashlight Powered EDC Flash Light IP68 Waterproof, 6 Light Modes for Camping, Emergency, Outdoor Wuben is a newer brand that has gained attention with its reliable and affordable flashlights. The company’s C3 Flashlight offers easy USB-C recharging and an impressive amount of power to do almost any job. The lightweight, durable flashlightcosts approximately $30 with a five-year warranty.

10. Armytek

Armytek New Wizard C1 Pro Cool White 1000 lm LED Headlamp USB Rechargeable

Armytek was founded in 2010 and focuses on tactical flashlights as its main product line. The brand builds top-quality tactical flashlights with a matte coating for a firm grip.

You’ll also find headlamps and keychain flashlights from this brand. Most models are USB rechargeable with an impressive range of lumens output for maximum brightness.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the brightest flashlights?

Just like any other technology, flashlights continue to evolve with how bright they can be. Measured in lumens, which is a unit of measurement for the amount of light emitted, the brightest flashlight today can shine at around 100,000 lumens. Currently, the MS18 Flashlight is recognized as the brightest flashlight available on the market in 2022, with an asking price of around $650.

Can you bring flashlights on a plane?

According to TSA.gov, you are allowed to bring a flashlight in your carry-on and checked baggage. However, it must be placed in your checked baggage and it typically needs to be seven inches or less. It may also be up to the discretion of the TSA officer if you have a tactical flashlight because they often look like weapons. The general consensus is that everyday flashlights under seven inches should be OK to bring aboard a plane.

What flashlights do police use?

Police officers typically use flashlights that are at least 1,000 lumens. They need to be able to see in low-light conditions, but they also need a flashlight that can blind an attacker if necessary. They also consider other factors, such as the battery, which needs to be able to last a long shift and easily replaceable. They also consider the size, which needs to be small enough to fit in a pocket, but bright enough to do the job.

Why do flashlights have strobe lights?

Strobe lights on flashlights are beneficial for several reasons. One of them is that it can be used as a form of self-defense. When shone in the eyes of an attacker, it can disorient and momentarily blind them, giving you time to escape. It can also be used as a signal for help, whether you are lost in the woods or stranded on the side of the road. 

Do LED flashlights last longer?

LED flashlights last longer than your typical flashlight because they are more energy-efficient. They also don’t produce as much heat, which can cause damage to the bulb over time. You can typically expect an LED flashlight to last at least 50,000 hours, with some lasting up to 100,000 hours. In comparison, incandescent bulbs may only last roughly 2,000 hours.

Do flashlights work in space?

In case you’re deciding on a trip to outer space, you’ll want to know that flashlights work just fine in space. However, since there is no air in space, the light from the flashlight will just keep going until it eventually hits something. Outer space is a vacuum, so the light doesn’t have anything to bounce off of like it does on Earth.

Will flashlights work underwater?

The answer here depends on the type of flashlight you buy. Standard flashlights will not work underwater because they are not waterproof. However, there are dive lights and waterproof flashlights that are made to be used underwater. These special flashlights use a sealed O-ring to prevent water from getting in and damaging the light.

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