Being able to fit a tool that can illuminate a large area with a few hundred lumens in your pocket is what modern technology is all about. People usually strive for compact yet useful things. A rechargeable flashlight is a neat thing to have when you find yourself in dire situations, rough weather conditions, and dark environments. The older generation of flashlights used batteries that couldn’t be charged again.
Furthermore, most of those batteries leaked often causing damage to the unit itself. However, the new generation uses batteries that are much safer and have more power.
Most of this article will focus on the advancements that come with small and medium-sized rechargeable models. One thing we should note is that purchasing a large rechargeable flashlight doesn't bring a huge performance gain. Smaller models, on the other hand, bring portability and ease of operation without losing too much power.
Some professions might require large rechargeable flashlights, but today's industry has shown us that it's more than capable of packing a lot of lighting power into smaller devices. In the following paragraphs, we'll show you what the most important factors to consider while searching for a rechargeable flashlight that will suit your needs are.
The first factor to consider is the handling, or how easy it is to use a particular model. This covers a lot of things, like charging and changing the batteries, cycling through the model's various modes, and all other extra settings.
As far as we're concerned, no model should have too many switches and buttons on its body, as that leads to confusion and frequent user mistakes. The setup should be relatively simple and therefore allow the user to efficiently operate the torch in the total darkness. Fortunately, this is a feature of most modern models in almost all price categories.
The brightness is the next criteria on our list. With rechargeable models, it's all about the lumens – it’s is an essential term one should be familiar with since each company advertises their model's top lumen level first. A decade ago, people considered 100 lumens of power to be extremely bright. As you can already guess, this number pales in comparison with the lumen power of today's flagship rechargeable flashlights.
For those that intend to use their torches only indoors (in basements or attics, for example), a meager number of 10 lumens will be more than enough. But for the hiking and camping enthusiasts, we recommend getting a model with multi-level settings and at least 700 lumens of lighting power.
Another critical factor is the beam distance. It is measured in meters or feet and tells you how far the light of a particular model can shine before it diminishes (and starts having the same brightness as that of the moon).
All models on today's market differ in terms of beam throwing capability, with some being capable of throwing the light as far as 400 meters away. This is determined by the type of LED used in the model and by how deep the LED is positioned within the reflector.
The maximum beam distance is always shown on the packaging - an excellent range typically begins around 100 meters.
The next typical feature of rechargeable flashlights is that they usually come with multiple levels of brightness. One can shift through these levels by repeatedly pressing the switch, which is present either on the side or the rear of the device. In most cases, three levels of brightness are present - low, medium, and high.
Some models feature the so-called "ultra-low" (or "moonlight") preset, while some sport "turbo" modes. There are also "hidden" modes, which are usually SOS, beacon, and strobe. The reason because of which they are called "hidden" is that they can only be accessed by a couple of extra head twists or button presses.
Some people consider these "hidden" modes completely unnecessary, describing them as "disco lights." In our opinion, they should be a part of every rechargeable flashlight, no matter the price category - the SOS mode could very well save your life one day.
For most LEDs, CREE is the most typical brand name. A decade ago, most of the LEDs were XP-G - their top lumens never went above 200 and their beams had a relatively narrow spotlight center. The technology has advanced since then, and most devices now feature a CREE XM-L LED.
While searching for a model that will suit your needs, you'll bump into terms such as "U2" or "T6". The beams produced by flashlights with these names have a wide center and an extensive spill area, allowing you to easily illuminate a vast space in total darkness.
Most rechargeable models come with built-in lithium-ion cells, which can, as the name suggests, be recharged in a variety of ways - through a solar panel, via AC or DC outlet, or through the USB connection. The higher upfront cost of these models is undoubtedly made up by the low ongoing running cost.
Furthermore, there is no need for disposable batteries, which leads to reduced waste and turns the rechargeable flashlights into the most eco-friendly option.
The most durable and reliable models are those made out of aircraft-grade aluminum. With a rechargeable flashlight made out of this material, you won't have to worry about scratches or breakage. Another great thing about this material is that's low in weight, making the whole device lightweight and easy to carry around.
When it comes to durability, another critical factor is the water resistance, which is rated by using the IPX system. This factor should be of crucial importance if you plan on using your torch around bodies or water or in the rain, i.e., if you're an outdoor enthusiast.
A model that has an IPX4 rating is splash resistant, and therefore can be carried in the rain without worries. Models with IPX7 and IPX8 ratings can be submerged under water - up to 30 minutes and up to 4 hours, respectively.
Most modern models come with a number of accessories, and these can include things such as batteries, chargers, holsters, belt clips, lanyards, USB cables, as well as lens diffusers and filters. One of the best accessories you can get is the hard plastic case - it allows easy storage and transportation of your rechargeable flashlight.
With the above mentioned factors in mind, finding the perfect rechargeable flashlight shouldn't be a problem. Keep these criteria in mind, and you will undoubtedly end up with a model that will serve you for the years to come.
The battery is the heart of your flashlight. Before finding a decent flashlight, you need to know a lot of things about its power source. A battery can make or break a flashlight, and that’s why it’s important to get a better insight into the capabilities of different batteries.
Although Li-Ion batteries are on the market for quite some time, they are still considered a new technology. They usually have a higher output than other rechargeable ones, making them one of the best choices for any flashlight model. However, the thing people don’t like about these is their price. Most Li-Ion batteries are more expensive than any other, but many people think that the extra cost is worth it.
The Ni-MH is a good choice for a rechargeable battery. They work great in harsh conditions, and in high-drain devices such as flashlights. This type of battery replaced the NiC type which was far more toxic and hazardous for the environment. The Ni-MH type also has a much larger capacity than its predecessor. One of the disadvantages of these batteries is the lack of voltage. Due to that shortcoming, the cheaper flashlights aren’t able to deliver a whole lot of brightness. Also, the units that need four and more batteries tend to drain the Ni-MH ones pretty quickly.
The AAA batteries are the standard ones you stumble upon every day. While they are the cheapest solution, they are also the worse solution. They can be used as a temporary source of power until you recharge the main battery, but that’s it. The low-quality ones even tend to leak thus jeopardizing the overall integrity of the flashlight.
Try using Lithium batteries as your primary source of power. If you’re having problems with your budget, opt for Ni-MH. The AAA batteries should only serve as a backup solution rather than a primary one.
A: This belongs into the category of user discretion. Charging a particular battery to its full capability before its use is done with the purpose of keeping the battery fresh. Misuse over the years is guaranteed to degrade the battery's optimal performance.
A: A vast majority of today's rechargeable batteries slowly lose their top capacity during years of use - it's simply unavoidable. But this isn't such a bad thing, seeing as it takes several thousands of recharges to reach the loss of top power.
A: This varies, since not all models come with removable batteries. Some devices will allow you to charge them just like you charge a smartphone - they have built-in USB connectors. On the other hand, most models with removable rechargeable batteries come together with special chargers, but not all of them.
A: Rechargeable batteries are prone to explosions and leakage, which is something that happens when you store them at extremely hot places. Avoiding this is certain to prolong their lifespan.
A: Other than using a microfiber cloth to keep the lens clean, the only other thing you should take care of is cleaning the contacts on the batteries. Do this once a month by taking out the batteries and cleaning their contacts with some white vinegar.
A: This depends on the manufacturer and the price category of the particular model. Fortunately, most models are tightly packed and have sturdy cases, so you shouldn't have any problems with using them in the rain. Submerging them into water is another story - look for the models with IPX7 and IPX8 ratings.
A: There are two reasons behind this - the energy efficiency and the long-lasting life of LEDs. They have become the most common bulb type found in today's rechargeable flashlights, and that's not likely to change in the next couple of decades, at least.
A: A crack in the glass won't render your flashlight useless, but it will undoubtedly have a negative effect on its effectiveness. It will introduce fog and pose a serious risk when it comes to using the device in wet conditions. We advise getting it repaired as soon as possible - it's the only way to avoid further damage.
The most versatile model on our list is the Maglite RL1019 LED Rechargeable Flashlight System. It packs a ton of useful features as well as an ultra-bright LED bulb. Its 680 lumens of brightness are more than enough for any outdoor activity during the night. The battery is excellent, and the unit can run up to 4 hours on high mode. To put that duration into perspective, other models can run only for about an hour until the battery dies.
This model is a perfect solution for people who are looking for a top-quality unit made in the USA. Warranty conditions are excellent, and the price is more than acceptable.