If you’re looking to buy a flashlight and you’re tired of buying the plastic variety that barely illuminates the ground a few feet in front of you, there are a few things that you should know.
If you are somebody who loves the outdoors, then you will require the brightest flashlight to move through the darkness, particularly if you are on a camping trip or if you are hiking up the mountains or if you are cycling on the mountain trails. This means you need a flashlight that is not only technologically advanced and of top quality but also one that is highly reliable and durable.
The light that a flashlight puts out is measured in “lumens.” A lumen is a measure of how much light is produced by a light source.
To give you some perspective:
A 50 watt light bulb has about 540 lumens.
A 60 watt light bulb has about 850 lumens.
The typical cheap flashlight that you can buy at any corner store only has in the area of 30-60 lumens. They’re not very powerful, and if it’s truly dark out, they’re not going to help you much at all.
Need to see what’s rattling around in the garbage cans outside your house? A drugstore flashlight with its weak pale beam is not going to help you until you’re already outside and practically right on top of those garbage cans.
Want to take a walk at night? If you want to be able to see more than a few feet in front of you, a cheap flashlight will, pardon the expression, leave you in the dark – and likely to trip. You certainly won’t know what’s out there in the dark until you’ve walked right up to it.
So how bright is the brightest flashlight in the world?
One of the top contenders is the Vector Power on Board HID Spotlight, which has a blazing 3,500 lumens, marketed by Black & Decker. In fact, it may be one of the brightest HID (which stands for High-Intensity Discharge) flashlights in the world.
So the next question is this. Will it fit in your survival kit?
When looking for a survival flashlight, there are many factors to consider. But brightness is at the top of the list. And I’ve found that there are four ways to come up with the brightest flashlight.
- Flashlight Brightness: Lumens Explained
First of all, brightness is measured in lumens. A lumen is a standard measurement of light seen by the human eye. So imagine this. You are standing in a 1-meter x 1-meter cardboard box. And you are holding a birthday candle. One lumen is the light that falls on the cardboard box. The more candles you hold, the more lumens you will shine onto the board and the brighter the light gets.
- Flashlight Performance: Comparison
Now let’s look at performance. If you are looking for the absolute brightest, then check this out. How about the Titanium Innovations L70 with 7,000 lumens. The L70 has a 70-watt discharge bulb that shoots out an adjustable beam for miles. It isn’t cheap, though. The cost is $1000. And now there is a rumor that the XeRay/XeVision people have an 8,000 lumen light prototype in the works.
But wait! Here’s the REAL, brightest flashlight in the entire world. The 48 XML U2 LED Flashlight with 32,000 lumens. This thing is so bright that it generates enough heat to need its cooling system.
As a matter of fact, you can use a 4,000+ lumens flashlight to light a fire, just by aiming it at the paper. If you think about it, who needs matches? What do you need a fire starting kit for? During a rain storm, just aim this thing at some soaking wet wood and dry it out!
- Flashlight Bulb Comparisons
Another way of comparing the brightest flashlight is by bulb type. The big differences between them are the output of light and the durability of the bulb rated in lifetime hours. For instance LED lights typically last 100,000 hours whereas Xenon lasts about 20,000 hours. Let’s talk a little about each.
- XML Type Flashlight
The winner in the XML department goes to 4Sevens. Their XM18 proof of concept light puts out 160 lumens per watt which are unprecedented. The result is their 15,000 lumens light. It’s made out of 18 tree lights.
What’s cool about this is you can bolt a bunch of these XM18’s together to make a big virtual light. Also, you can insert shims in the connections and create a parabola shaped beam from the interconnected units. Runtime on low setting is 24 hours at 600 lumens. High settings of 15,000 lumens will run for 1-1/2 hours. This is probably the highest powered handheld commercial flashlight available.
- Incandescent Type Flashlight
A standard 100 watt incandescent light bulb uses 100 watts of power to put out about 1500-1700 lumens. I’m not even going to try to compare an incandescent bulb with LED’s, HIDs and Xenon lights.
- LED Lights
LED lamps are brighter than incandescent bulbs. So much that they have been measured up to 60 times brighter than their filament brothers. LED’s also last longer. They use 2-10 times less power, and they are more efficient.
- High-Intensity Discharge Lamps (HID)
HID stands for High-Intensity Discharge Lamp. It’s a type of arc lamp made out of tungsten electrodes in a quartz tube. The tube is filled with gas and metal salts. As the arc starts, it heats and evaporates the salts. This results in forming a plasma which increases the light intensity. This also reduces the power consumption. What’s unique about HID lamps is that they are more efficient than fluorescent or incandescent lamps.
- Xenon Type Lights
In a xenon bulb, the gas itself glows rather than a metal filament. The light emission from a xenon bulb is brighter than for any other type of lamp, and it uses less energy than most. Because there is no degradation of a heated filament, xenon bulbs also have a long life.
So there you have it! A bunch of the top brightest flashlights in the world. Some are homemade. Some are in the prototype stages. Some are products that are sold on the market. If you are looking for an existing product, I will choose the 32,000 lumens 48 XML U2 as your best bet.