LED Flashlights

I’ve never had good vision, particularly at night, so I’m a big fan of great flashlights. In recent years, we’ve seen a surge in LED technology improvements accompanied by a drop in prices. A Light Emitting Diode, or LED for short, is made up of semiconductors that light up when you apply a voltage to them. Manufacturers have been achieving higher output, better light distribution, and more color accuracy from LEDs. LEDs also consume much less energy than incandescent equivalents, translating to longer battery life. Battery life has always been my pet peeve with personal luminaires such as flashlights and headlamps. The strong desire to ween myself off the quick-draining two-AA and three-AAA battery flashlights led me to the latest generation that use powerful LEDs and nontraditional battery types.

Recently I purchased some LED flashlights off the Amazon website. Given some prior bad experiences, here are the criteria I looked for in a flashlight:

  • LED: CREE brand, T6 form factor, light output of 1,000 lumens or more
  • Lithium Ion battery, 18650 battery size. Genuine NCR/Panasonic batteries are recommended because they actually match the mAh (milliamp-hour) rating listed on the side of the battery. The 18650 size is a big fat battery that lasts quite a while between charges.
  • Multiple flashlight modes such as different power settings (high, medium, low) in the interest of prolonged battery life

I’ve had good luck with the flashlight pictured. It meets my criteria above and adds the bonus of a zoomable front piece that goes from a wide-angle, diffuse circular pattern down to a very bright small white square of intensity. Click the image to view more details about the flashlight on Amazon.com. It costs about $10.

This unit takes one 18650 style Lithium Ion battery per flashlight. The genuine NCR/Panasonic brand are the verified best…there are a lot of 18650’s for sale that are just shaped like an 18650 but they put a smaller, lower-capacity recycled battery inside it. This is a 4-pack of the correct ones. It costs about $23.

Last, but not least, you want a smart charger with these batteries so they last a long time and won’t get overcharged.  This is what I use. It costs about $21.