How to Choose the Right Flashlight for the Job|
Article- July 2012 By LXFlashlights.com
Explosion Proof LED Flashlight
The choice of flashlight for a particular task is in large part determined by the task at hand. Secondary considerations are usually related to personal preferences such as battery types and brand. In order for a flashlight to be effective it is important to understand that not every flashlight is well suited to every job. A typical household flashlight for instance would be a poor choice for utility worker requiring a beam with long reach or good color rendering, while it might be entirely adequate for working under the sink to repair a leaky pipe. To better match your choice of flashlight to your particular needs, first identify what those needs are and what you expect from your light.
Are you going to be working in close quarters, or will you need to be able to illuminate objects a considerable distance from your position? Will you be needing light for an extended period of time? Will you be outdoors? Will the light be exposed to rain or wet conditions? Do you need both hands free? Will the light be used at home or will it be used in the workplace? Will there be dangerous or flammable materials in the area where you’ll be using the flashlight?
These are a few of the more important questions you should ask yourself when looking for a flashlight that will perform to your expectations. Since just about any flashlight intended to be used for anything besides simple around the house needs is going to cost more, it certainly pays to put a little more thought into your choice. Particularly in the case of choosing a flashlight for work applications, rough handling and exposure of the light to potentially hazardous materials can make the proper choice of flashlight not only a matter of performance, but personal safety as well.
Will you be needing to illuminate an area close to you, or will you need to illuminate objects at a distance?
Although many flashlights are quite powerful and produce a fairly intense beam, how the light is projected plays a large role in how useful the light is for a particular application. For a utility worker who will be inspecting objects, working with wiring, checking the operation of equipment and similar activities, a light that produces a powerful, wide, short beam of light will be the most effective. Flashlights producing beams of this sort tend to have shorter lamp housings and wide shallow reflectors, which allows them to spread the light produced by the bulb more widely and with less unevenness.
Conversely, the utility worker who will be inspecting power lines, navigating access tunnels, or assessing the condition of large tanks and containers will find a flashlight producing a long and well focused beam more effective and useful. Flashlights producing far reaching beams with high intensity tend to have a longer lamp assembly and with a smaller diameter. This allows the reflector assembly to more tightly focus the light produced.
Is good color rendering important to the task at hand?
Different types of light bulbs have different color rendering properties. Incandescent bulbs tend to produce light that is more heavily skewed towards the red end of the light spectrum, while HID bulbs produce light across a more even range, and LEDs tend to produce light higher in the light spectrum towards the blue range. This is why the light from many cheap flashlights appears yellowish, the light from HID flashlights intensely white, and the light from some LED lights appears “cold” or bluish. However, newer LEDs are much more effective in producing more natural appearing light, nearing or matching the HID for even color rendition.
The important facet here concerns how well colors need to be reproduced. An electrician working with many small wires of different colors will need the color of those wires to appear as correct and natural as possible. A cheap incandescent flashlight would tend to make blue wires appear greenish and white wires appear yellow. An HID flashlight would do a good job of reproducing the color of the wires accurately, and most LEDs are fairly effective as well.
How much run time will the flashlight be required to produce?
If a task or job is going to require less than an hour to complete, a flashlight with typical D-cell batteries will probably suffice. For applications where illumination will be needed for extended periods, flashlights with LED lamps and rechargeable lithium-ion batteries provide the best runtimes and cost effectiveness. Rechargeable HID flashlights also offer good runtime versus a single charge, but because of their typically high power output, can still only offer runtimes of a couple hours or so. An LED flashlight equipped with lithium-ion batteries on the other hand can produce runtimes in excess of 7 hours, making them ideal for prolonged use.
Will the flashlight be used in areas where flammable gases, vapors or materials are present?
In many industrial settings it is common to encounter chemicals, liquids and dusts that can contaminate the surrounding atmosphere, causing it to become potentially explosive. Areas such as this are known as “Hazardous Locations” and by law require that any electrical devices used within those areas be approved for those locations. Such areas are classified according to the materials and conditions that are encountered, and any flashlight used in those areas must carry a corresponding classification approval. So, if a work area is classified as Class 1 Division 2 Groups C and D, then the flashlight must carry certification showing it has been approved for use in Class 1 Division 2 Groups C and D locations. Such flashlights are known as “explosion proof flashlights” or “intrinsically safe flashlights"and generally won’t be needed by the average person.
Rechargeable or non rechargeable?
Do you use your flashlight frequently? Do you require extended runtime? Do you leave your flashlight stored for extended periods? If you answer yes to these questions, then it is likely a rechargeable flashlight is a good choice for you. Many rechargeable flashlights offer not only an economical alternative to purchasing new batteries on a regular basis, but they may also include mountable charging stations that allow you to mount the flashlight in a convenient location. This way, anytime you need a flashlight, it is always at hand, charged and ready for use.
These are just some basic considerations that should help in the decision making process when choosing a new flashlight. There are a wide variety of lamp types, battery options, and flashlight designs available than can allow you to narrow down your choice even further. Ultimately, the best flashlight for the job can only be determined by you. However, with a little forethought and consideration, chances are you will find one that suits your needs perfectly.