A flashlight is something essential to have on-hand, especially when the power goes out, when you’re investigating part of your basement ceiling, or on a camping trip. Typically, different types of flashlights have a light source that gets mounted on a reflector with a transparent. It also has a battery and a switch, and all of the parts get enclosed in a case.
Before modern types of flashlights, people used an incandescent light bulb as the light source. Now you can find several different types of flashlights with light sources that vary from incandescent light bulbs. To give you a better idea, we’ve picked out 15 popular types of flashlights and outlined them for you below.
Picking out a flashlight is something most people don’t think about, but it’s a good idea to try and find one that is going to match your needs. Flashlight by James Savoie / CC BY-NC 2.0
1. Diving Lamp
A diving lamp is a specific type of flashlight that you can use underwater. It’s a waterproof option that can last up to depths of 600 feet or 200 meters. Also, most diving lamps have LED bulbs as the power source, and this makes them very bright. They’re also made with materials that won’t corrode in saltwater or water. So, if you want to go snorkeling or scuba diving, this is the flashlight type that you should have in your kit.
2. Headlamp Flashlights
Headlamp flashlights are very convenient to have because they can help you keep the way lit while your hands are occupied. If you need to use the flashlight to see while carrying something, it can be slightly inconvenient. The solution to this issue is to get this type of flashlight. You can strap them right to your head, and they’ll light up your path.
This is a great thing to have when you want to make it as convenient for yourself as possible. Wearing it allows you to use your hands without compromising your sight. If the car breaks down during the night on the road, having this type of flashlight will be very helpful. You’ll be able to see and work on your car at the same time.
There are many situations where this flashlight could come in very handy. It is also a cost-effective type of flashlight that is very practical. Most of them come with LED bulbs for the light source, and this allows them to last a long time while being very bright. It’s possible to get rechargeable models that offer brightness levels up to 1,800 lumens.
3. Heavy-Duty Flashlights
Heavy-duty types of flashlights are slightly more durable than standard utility flashlights. They come built to last, and they can withstand a bit of a beating. Dropping this flashlight won’t cause much or any damage, and it should keep working. People take these flashlights when they go hunting or on trips.
If you need a regular flashlight that will withstand heavy use, this type of flashlight can be the perfect thing. All you’ll have to do is buy one, keep fresh batteries in it, and you’ll never get caught unawares in the dark. You’ll have it when you need it, and it shouldn’t drain your battery too quickly. It’s important to note that there are other durable options on the market, but this is a very cost-effective way to get a heavy-duty flashlight. The incandescent bulbs aren’t the most convenient thing, but they’re affordable overall.
4. High-Intensity Discharge (HID) Flashlights
HID or high-intensity discharge flashlights can deliver a very bright light. When you compare them to other types of flashlights, this one works because it has an electrical current that runs through an ionized gas ball. These flashlights are much less common than incandescent flashlights. Also, this is a much more expensive option, and it can be up to 10 times as expensive as an incandescent type of flashlight. This is why usually only enthusiasts buy and use them.
However, this is a useful flashlight type, even with the higher price tag. They’re especially nice if you live out in the country. They offer an extremely bright light that can illuminate a larger area. Because of these features, they’re nice to have on outdoor trips or camping excursions.
5. Incandescent Flashlight
This is one of the most popular types of flashlights to have, and they’ve been available to purchase for decades. A lot of people choose this flashlight because it’s very budget-friendly, and it’s great to use around bathroom remodeling projects to light up your dark areas. Unfortunately, a lot of these flashlights can break easily. You can find more durable models that will withstand accidental drops, but they’re more expensive.
This is a very common type of flashlight in many residential settings. It’s also common to see them during fishing or camping trips because they’re very easy to use. This flashlight type can also withstand rough handling, and it’s powerful enough to light up a decent-sized area.
Lanterns are an old-fashioned way to light up an area, but they’re very decorative. Traditional lanterns use kerosene or another fuel type to provide a flame. Today, these types of lanterns have gotten much more common. They work very similarly to LED flashlights, but you do need to set them down near your location instead of pointing them to where you need to go.
You can carry lanterns with you to light your way too. They’re just much more commonly used for camping than they are for walking or hiking after dark due to the larger and heavier size. It works well if you need to see due to a power outage, and people commonly buy them to be prepared for larger storms. They don’t emit a lot of light, and you’ll usually get more of a warm glow. The light actually caps out at 120 lumens.
This is enough light to allow you to read a book or see. If you want to buy something simple to sit on your table in an emergency, this is a solid buy. There isn’t a lot that sets this particular model apart from other lanterns, but it’s cost-effective and reliable.
Lanterns cast a much dimmer and more muted glow, but they can be nice for setting on your tables around the room to use for a little light. Lantern by Leo-seta / CC BY 2.0
7. LED Flashlights
LEDs are becoming very popular today for several great reasons. First, it doesn’t produce any heat when it runs, and it’s a very long-lasting option. Along with this, LED types of flashlights are durable, and they can handle accidental drops. So, this makes this flashlight type great for outdoor use and camping trips due to the durability.
When you compare this type of flashlight to an incandescent bulb that produces a white colored light with a yellowish-hue, the LED light will give you an off-white look with a blue tint. Also, LED flashlights are slightly more expensive, and the price is very close to what you’d pay for a heavy-duty incandescent flashlight.
8. Novelty Flashlights
Compared to other types of flashlights on the list, these are much lower powered. So, they won’t be able to produce a bright light, and this makes them unreliable for a lot of tasks. One example of this flashlight type is the keyright flashlight. It is very compact and small, and it has a AAA battery powering it. Because of the smaller size, you can easily carry it around with you and use it for impromptu tasks. However, you can’t expect it to light up a room.
9. Pressurized Gas Flashlights
There are types of flashlights on the current market that get powered a little differently than others. Some incandescent bulbs are flashlights also come with a pressurized gas to help increase how long the bulb lasts. Gasses like halogen, xenon, and krypton can help the light shine brighter than usual while burning out much more slowly. As a bonus, the battery won’t drain faster than usual if you have a pressurized gas type of flashlight.
Some of these flashlights come with a krypton bulb, and this allows the flashlight to be brighter for you while making it last longer. They also come outfitted with a durable casing that is strong enough to withstand heavy use. Amazingly, this flashlight is also relatively inexpensive, and this makes it a nice pick for people on a budget.
This flashlight features standard D batteries, not unlike most of the traditional incandescent bulb flashlights on the market. People use these types of flashlights to help in emergency situations, and you can find them in drawers or kitchen cabinets across the United States. They will be very useful during a power outage or in any situation where you need quick access to light.
10. Shake Flashlights
Shake flashlights are unique because they don’t run on standard batteries. This may lead you to wonder how they work without a dedicated power source. It runs on magnets that you place inside of the flashlight itself. When you shake it, it causes a reaction that gives you the light you need, as the name suggests.
So, you shake it whenever you want to use it. It’s a very convenient choice because you won’t have to worry about having batteries on hand. The problem with this type of flashlight is that the light itself isn’t very bright. It’s a dimmer light that is just bright enough for you to see where you’re going, but it won’t work well for much over that.
There is a certain amount of convenience attached to this type of flashlight. They may not be able to give you a lot of light, but they’ll always be available when you need them. They’re more cost-effective too, so you’ll be able to get a few without any issues. If you don’t mind it being dim and you like the idea of no batteries, this is one to seriously consider.
11. Solar-Powered Flashlights
There are environmental concerns that have changed the way people look at the world at large. A lot of people are looking for environmentally-friendly options when they buy these tools. Flashlights are no exception to this rule, and there are solar-powered options out there for people who want to go this route. They can be convenient to use and are powerful enough for most uses.
Most solar-powered types of flashlights are going to be much weaker than other choices on the list. There are some models that can be slightly more bright, but they won’t be able to compete with an HID or LED flashlight. When you compare them to incandescent bulb flashlights, this is a cost-effective option when you charge them properly.
Some of them will come outfitted with a hand crank. This crank allows you to generate power on your own to produce the beam of light. It’s convenient for those times when you forget to charge the flashlight with solar energy and you need to use it. It will appeal to certain people, but many people see it as a novelty.
Solar flashlights can be useful if you live in more sunny locations, but you can run into power trouble if you don’t get enough sun to charge it adequately. Bolt + eGear Flashlight by Better Energy Systems / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
12. Tactical Flashlights
Military personnel and police officers usually carry this type of flashlight. There are several different situations where this flashlight type will come in handy. Police typically use them to investigate situations and they can also use them to disorient people when necessary since it’s such a strong beam of light. For this reason alone, a solid tactical flashlight is going to produce a very bright light.
Some of these flashlights can easily produce up to 1,500 lumens of light, and there are many rescue workers and firemen who keep this type of flashlight as a valuable part of their daily toolkit. They’re made to be very rugged, and they should be able to withstand weather conditions and impacts while in use. You won’t have to worry about damaging this flashlight, even in extreme situations. It should always be capable of meeting your needs.
The distance the beam of light generates is great as well, and it can easily reach over 1,100 feet. If you work in law enforcement or you have a contracting job that requires a good flashlight, you’ll want to consider buying this one.
13. USB Charging Flashlights
When you buy a USB charging type of flashlight, buying batteries will be a thing of the past. This technology has advanced a lot in recent years, and you can purchase flashlights that have batteries built right in, and you can charge them the same way that you charge your phone. All you have to do is plug it into a USB port and it’ll charge.
This is the most convenient type of flashlight to have today. You’ll most likely always be charging a device or two in your home, whether it’s your table, phone, or a video game system. This can be just another item you charge in rotation and have for an emergency. When the power goes out, you’ll have a flashlight ready to go.
Also, this flashlight can get very bright too. It can be slightly more expensive, but you won’t have to factor in a battery expense.
14. Utility Flashlight
Most utility types of flashlights are the common incandescent bulb ones. They’re usually some of the least expensive ones on the market, and you can buy one without breaking the bank that works well enough for most projects. They’re not very durable though, and they can break if you drop them or use them roughly.
Due to the lower price point, a lot of people just go out and buy a new one when they need it. If you’re someone who doesn’t need a flashlight a lot but you want something in the event of an emergency, this is a great option. If you want something that is more durable and a little brighter, you’ll want a different option.
15. Work Flashlight
The final type of flashlight on the list is the work flashlight, and it’s made for professionals who want a reliable source of light. They’re important if you find yourself working in the dark a lot because they allow you to see all of the small details and ensure that you do your job correctly. This work flashlight will make this all possible, and you can purchase bundles that have dual flashlights.
If you do, they typically have one flashlight that is 250 lumens and one that is 330 lumens. You’ll typically use both when you work, and it’s nice to have options that you can scale to your needs. These flashlights are usually fully rechargeable, and you don’t have to worry about packing spare batteries to rely on this tool. All you have to do is charge your flashlight for each day and it’s ready to take with you to your worksite. It can be ready to go in three or four hours.
Many of them also come with an adjustable zoom feature, and this is convenient if you’re trying to narrow down to something specific. It can zoom in up to four times, and they come with dimmable beams. This is why so many people choose to use this flashlight type on their work projects.
Criteria to Help You Choose a Type of Flashlight
As we outlined, there are several types of flashlights on the market. Because of this fact, it can be challenging to pick out the one that is going to work best for your needs. To help you narrow down your search, there are a few features that you need to consider. Flashlights by Roxanne Sutton / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Before you buy any type of flashlight, you want to consider the batteries. A lot of people like to have flashlights that come with high-quality rechargeable batteries because they’re very convenient. You can also choose flashlights that have non-rechargeable alkaline batteries as the power source, and this is nice if you tend to have longer stretches of no power. However, these batteries aren’t environmentally-friendly and they can be expensive.
If you don’t want to deal with batteries, you can choose a solar-powered type of flashlight. This allows you to charge it by sun exposure, just like solar panels. Shake flashlights also work well.
We touched on the fact that different types of flashlights have different price points. If you want to get a simple flashlight that you can use around the house, you can pick out a cost-effective incandescent flashlight. But, if you have a bigger budget, you can pick out a USB charging or LED flashlight. Along with being much brighter, these flashlight types tend to be far more durable with accidental drops than incandescent models. Any flashlight that is designed for a specific purpose is going to be more expensive than your average counterpart.
You should heavily consider the flashlight’s construction. Flashlights can come made out of several different materials, including aluminum, plastic, and PC or polycarbonate. Plastic flashlights are very lightweight and easy to maintain, but it’s not as durable as a metal one. If you drop it, plastic flashlights can split and crack.
On the other end of the spectrum, most LED flashlights are made out of aluminum because it gives a much stronger shell while maintaining a lightweight feel. Headlamps usually feature PC materials because they’re lightweight, but they’re not quite as durable as aluminum.
There are two main things that you should consider when it comes to light output on your flashlight, and these are brightness and beam intensity. You measure the brightness of any flashlight in lumens, and this will tell you how much light your flashlight can produce. As you may have guessed, any flashlight with higher lumens is typically brighter. Going for a flashlight with 2,000 lumens isn’t recommended, and most people find that 800 to 1,2000 lumens is more than enough. If you want to light up far-away objects, you’ll need a higher lumen count.
Beam intensity for flashlights gets measured in candelas. A flashlight with a higher candelas rating will give you a more focused beam of light, and those with lower candelas will have a less noticeable center point or beam when it’s on.
One of the most important factors that you should consider when you’re looking at flashlights is the purpose. If you’re going to use it around the house for remodeling projects like building a staircase or for walking your dog at night, a smaller model is usually powerful enough. For anyone who hunts, you want a flashlight that will let you see far-away objects with a tight beam. Lastly, any law enforcement professional will want a type of flashlight with higher lumens to help with search or search and rescue operations.
Your flashlight’s run time will help determine how useful it is. The run time for most standard types of flashlights will drop by 10% after you use it continuously for 15 minutes. Flashlights that are equipped with stronger batteries will have a longer run time, so you have to double-check the battery requirements. The flashlight’s size will also impact how long it runs.
Size and Weight
The weight and size of your new type of flashlight is something you want to consider if you plan to use it for extended periods. Larger flashlights offer a longer run time because they come with bigger batteries. They’ll also produce a brighter light. However, smaller flashlights can be powerful too, and they’re more lightweight. This makes them easier to lug around.
Finally, you have to consider your flashlight’s ability to withstand being around or in water. If you’re going to use it outdoors, there is a chance that it could get soaked by water. This is why getting a flashlight that is water-resistant is a great idea. Generally speaking, any flashlight with a waterproof rating of IPX4 can survive rain. If the rating goes up to IPX7, you can submerge it roughly three feet into the water without a problem. The IPX8 rating means that you can submerge it beyond three feet without any damage.
We outlined 15 types of flashlights you can use to light up your path or projects around your home, and we’ve also given you several important criteria to consider when you shop. You can use this list to pick out the perfect flashlight to have on-hand when you need it.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.