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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Gear Review: LED Flashlights and Batteries

Author: Mathiasj

Light is very important for humans. Our vision at night is limited, so we have to rely electricity and light bulbs to light up the darkness. Over the last few years we have seen LEDs or Light Emitting Diodes, come onto the scene. LEDs are far superior to traditional light bulbs that use a piece of resistive wire inside a glass bulb. When a current is applied to the wire, it gets hot and begins to glow; this creates the light. LEDs require no resistive wire, and are simply diodes that produce light when a current is passed through it. LEDs are far superior to traditional light bulbs in that they consume less energy, last longer, are stronger, smaller and faster switching.

Now that LEDs are more mainstream, you can purchase LED flashlights for the same price as regular flashlights. It's a no brainier that LEDs are the only way to go if you're purchasing flashlights for your emergency kit. You can purchase battery powered LEDs, or some companies are now making hand-crank LED flashlights that are powered by a dynamo motor which uses your hand to generate the electricity. A lot of the Chinese made hand-crank lights are cheap and won't last very long, but there is one company that makes quality hand crank lights and that is Freeplay Energy. I have never had any personal experience with Freeplay lights, but I have read good reviews and they're suppose to be quality lights that will last for years. They are somewhat expensive so I opted to just go for battery powered lights.

I purchased my LED flashlights and headlamp from Meritline. Meritline offers great prices on lots of different styles of LED flashlights. They even have some that have 100 LEDs in one flashlight! I have (2) 20 LED flashlights from Meritline, a 21 LED headlamp, and a 24 LED tent light. All of these do take batteries and although they have extremely long battery life, in a SHTF scenario you can't rely on the local store to supply you with batteries. This is why it's important to stock up now on the batteries you need. I have around 400 batteries; 200 AA and 200 AAA. I purchased them in bulk from Meritline for very cheap, around $.25 a piece. This is the only way to purchase batteries because buying them in the store is a lot more expensive, and the cheap alkaline batteries are just as good as the expensive ones.

I choose to go with alkaline batteries over rechargeable ones for economical reasons mainly. Rechargeable batteries can be recharged but without electricity you would have to have a solar charger for them. Even at that, they only have so many charge cycles until they go bad. I figured for starters a few hundred alkaline batteries were good, and in the future I will probably invest in a solar charger and some rechargeable batteries.

LED Flashlight
-20 LEDs
-Use 3 x AAA Battery
-Chrome Metal
-Water Resistant
-1-1/4" diameter x 5" length
-Extensive lifetime of LED (100,000 hours)

The LED flashlight is really a great light for the price. It's super bright, very long battery life, and small enough to fit in your pocket. I keep one in my car and one in the hosue and regularly check them to make sure the batteries are still good.

LED Headlamp
-Silver plastic housing
-Water resistant
-Ultra bright LED light
-Beam projects up to 50-foot
-Extensive lifetime of LED (100,000 hours)
-Alternate between 1 LED, 7 LEDs, 21 LEDs and Flashing Mode
-Adjustable straps
-Tilting lamp
-Use 3 x AAA Battery

The headlamp is another great product for the money. It's made of plastic, and feels a little cheap, but as long as you take care if it it's going to last. I don't keep batteries in it while in storage to keep them from going bad or corroding. It's important to keep batteries out of your electronics when not in use. The beam is super bright, and you can alternate how many LEDs are turned on to keep the light down or save battery life.

LED Tent Light
-24 White LEDs brings perfect illumination indoor and outdoor
-Comes with a hanger, magnet and hanging hole
-Alternate between 15 LEDs, 6 LEDs, & 3 LEDs
-Use 4 x AA Battery
-Extensive lifetime of LED (100,000 hours)
-Battery last for up to 50 hours

The tent light is not only good for outdoor use, but great for indoor use. In a power outage a tent light could light up a whole room; you would need multiple candles to do the job of the tent light. It also has the ability to set the number of LEDs that are on to save battery, and at full power it lasts 50 hours. It has a hook to be hung on the wall, or hung from the ceiling or top of a tent.

Lighting is very important and with today's technology advances, there's no reason to be using conventional bulbs. LEDs are 10x better and when looking for flashlights for your emergency preps, only purchase a quality LED flashlight. And don't forget, flashlights are useless without batteries, so whether you like rechargeables or alkaline, make sure you have plenty of them and the means to charge them!

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