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Flashlights

Copyright December 21, 2010 and September 2, 2013 by Robert Wayne Atkins, P.E.
All Rights Reserved.



Rayovac LED Flashlight A battery operated flashlight is a critical item everyone should have whenever the lights go out.

During normal times a flashlight could help you find the bathroom in the dark of night without having to turn on the electric lights and waking someone else up.

During a power failure when there is no electricity a flashlight has all the following practical uses:
  1. It will help you see in the dark.
  2. It could help you avoid having an accident or injury by helping you avoid tripping over something in your path.
  3. It could help you avoid bumping into something and knocking it over and breaking it.
  4. It will help you find the "source" of any strange or unusual noises you might hear.
  5. It can provide light so you can perform necessary jobs while the electricity is off, such as finding the paper plates and the plastic forks and spoons so you can fix a simple meal for your family.
  6. It will help you locate your emergency battery operated radio so you can listen to the local news to find out how long the power is going to be off.
  7. It could be used as a "lantern" or as a "candle" to provide light for your family during a blackout so your family will feel safer and more secure.
A traditional flashlight uses a bulb that has to be replaced on a regular basis. The newer flashlights use a L.E.D. bulb (light emitting diode or LED).

The LED bulbs have the following major advantages:
  1. Power Consumption: They consume at lot less power than a normal flashlight bulb so your batteries will operate your flashlight for a much longer period of time.

  2. LED Bulb Life: LED bulbs have a normal useful life of between 50,000 to 100,000 hours (unless the bulb is defective for some reason).
    In most cases the bulb will outlast the flashlight in which it is installed.
    Let's begin with the lowest LED bulb life estimate of 50,000 hours.
    50,000 hours divided by 4 hours per day = 12,500 days.
    12,500 days divided by 365 days per year = 34.25 years.
    If you change the estimated life to 100,000 hours then a LED bulb will last 68.5 years.
    Therefore a LED bulb should last somewhere between 34.25 to 68.5 years if it is used 4 hours every day 365 days per year.
There are three basic types of flashlights that a family should have for emergencies:
  1. A flashlight that has a powerful beam that will allow you to see a long ways in front of you.
  2. A flashlight that is mounted on a strap you can wear on your head so you can use both your hands to do work.
  3. A flashlight that can be used as an area "lantern" or as a "candle" that will allow your entire family to see one another inside one room of your home.
Let's examine each of the above three major functions one-at-a-time.
  1. Brightness: The brightness of a flashlight beam is directly proportional to the number of batteries used in the flashlight.
    A flashlight that only uses one battery will provide enough light to see but it will not be as bright as a flashlight that uses two or more batteries.
    Some flashlights use the C or D size batteries instead of the AA batteries.
    However, the brightness of the flashlight beam does not depend on the size of the battery, such as AA or D.
    The brightness of the flashlight beam depends on the number of batteries in the flashlight and the type of bulb or bulbs used in the flashlight.

    Head Band for Flashligh
  2. Head Mount: Flashlights that use C or D size batteries are too big and too heavy to be comfortably worn on your head.
    Therefore a flashlight that uses one or more AA or AAA batteries is a better choice for this application.
    • Some small compact AAA flashlights are specifically designed as head lamps and they are permanently attached to an adjustable strap that you can wear around your head. The head lamp is mounted on the strap in the front center of your forehead.
    • Or you could purchase a special head strap that is designed to hold a small flashlight on the side of your head above your right ear or above your left ear, such as the headband in the picture on the right.
    • Or you could purchase a normal elastic headband strap and use two pieces of "Velcro" to attach your flashlight to the elastic head band. This is easier to do if your flashlight has a nylon carrying pouch because you can put your flashlight in its pouch and then "Velcro" wrap the pouch to the head band.

  3. Lantern or Candle:
    • Some flashlights allow you to elevate the top of the flashlight so it can be used as an area lantern.
    • Some flashlights allow you to completely remove the top of the flashlight so the flashlight can be used as a candle.
    • Some flashlights can be placed on the floor with its base against the floor and with the beam of the flashlight pointed towards the ceiling and this will illuminate an average size room.
Although it is possible to purchase separate flashlights for each of the above three applications, it is also possible to purchase one flashlight that will do all three of the above tasks.

Recommendation:
The Rayovac Sportsman LED flashlight in the above picture cost approximately $15 at Walmart and it uses 3 AAA batteries.
The flashlight is a very high quality flashlight.
The flashlight is approximately 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) in diameter and 5.25 inches (13.3 cm) long. It will easily fit into the pocket of your jeans.
The flashlight is waterproof.
It can be dropped from a height of approximately 30 feet (or 9 meters) with breaking the flashlight.
When you press the button in the bottom of the flashlight it turns on in High Power Mode. When you push the button again it switches to Low Power Mode. When you push the button a third time the flashlight turns off.
On High Power the flashlight produces 120 lumens of light and it will illuminate objects out to a distance of approximately 530 feet (or 160 meters). The 3 AAA batteries will last approximately 5 hours in High Power Mode.
On Low Power the flashlight produces 19 lumens of light and it will illuminate objects out to a distance of approximately 230 feet (or 70 meters). The 3 AAA batteries will last approximately 40 hours in Low Power Mode.
If you put the flashlight in Low Power Mode, and stand it upright on the floor, then the beam will shine on the ceiling and it will illuminate a room that is approximately 14 feet by 14 feet (4.2 meters) so that everyone in the room can easily see one another.

If you purchase a separate flashlight "adjustable headband" then you could wear this flashlight above your ear so you could see where you were walking or looking. This would allow you to work using both your hands (instead of having to hold the flashlight in one hand).



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