Buying Guide

Types of Flashlights

Lighting Options for Flashlights
incandescent bulb next to an LED bulb

When it comes to choosing the best flashlights for you, there are two main lighting options to consider: incandescent and LED. Which option you choose depends on your budget, as well as your lighting needs.

Incandescent bulbs: Becoming increasingly less common as technology improves and LED bulbs gain popularity. These are the most inexpensive option. Incandescent flashlights need bulb and battery replacements more often and put out a warmer, more yellow-toned light than LED options. If you have an older flashlight, it likely contains incandescent bulbs.

LED bulbs: LED stands for Light-Emitting Diode. This long-lasting lighting option does not require regular replacement and can last up to 100,000 hours. The best LED flashlights use less power than traditional incandescent lighting, so they are best for anyone who values efficiency and cleaner forms of energy. They also put out a cooler or more blue-toned light than incandescent bulbs.

Power Options for Flashlights
A flashlight plugged into a wall outlet and charging via USB.

While most people are familiar with more traditional, battery-powered flashlights, modern models have evolved to use rechargeable batteries, USB ports, solar power and so much more. These power options vary in price as well as efficiency and durability, so consider these factors when selecting the best flashlights for you.

Battery powered: When most people think of flashlights, they think battery-powered flashlights. These models often rely on two or three disposable AA or AAA batteries. Battery-powered flashlights are usually the most affordable option, but they do not last as long and are much less durable than their rechargeable and solar-powered counterparts.

Rechargeable: Also run on battery cells, although these are intended for more than one use and are not easy to dispose of. These flashlight models often cost more than a more disposable option, but they provide brighter light, last longer and are more energy efficient. The best rechargeable flashlights even charge via USB and can be plugged into wall chargers or powered up via your computer, much like a smartphone.

Solar powered: Technically, these fall under the rechargeable category, but instead of plugging them into the wall, you take them outside for a bit. Like rechargeable flashlights, solar-powered lights are energy efficient and convenient. They range in price from affordable to more expensive options, depending on the size of the solar cell and how many hours they can hold a charge. However, if you’re planning to use these flashlights mostly at night and in dark places for more than a few hours, you might want to reconsider. They may run out of power when you need them most.

Pen Light Flashlights
A flashlight powered on lying on the floor surrounded by other tools
  • Pen light flashlights are considered best small flashlights by many users
  • Often powered by AA or AAA batteries
  • Used in medicine for checking pupil reflex
  • May be disposable
  • Budget-friendly, on-the-go lighting

Tactical Flashlights
A tactical flashlight sitting on the ground.
  • Tactical are the brightest flashlights
  • Highly portable
  • More durable than pen flashlights, also more expensive
  • The best tactical flashlight is weather resistant, sometimes water- and weatherproof
  • Recommended for police, military personnel or firemen
  • Produces very bright light that is visible over long distances
A man wears a headlamp flashlight to fix a car engine.
  • Strapped to headgear to provide light while hands are occupied
  • Most headlamps use LED bulbs for durability and longevity
  • High-quality, often rechargeable
  • Reasonably priced lighting
  • Spelunking, mining, rock climbing and more active contexts
A lantern flashlight powered on is used by a hiker.
  • While traditional lanterns used oil or kerosene, modern variants are LED
  • Bright enough to read by, but not much brighter
  • Light does not span across distances
  • Reliable and cost-effective lighting
  • Camping, hiking or outdoor activities
A spotlight shines on a front door and walkway.
  • Spotlights can be handheld, attached or freestanding
  • Feature incandescent and LED models
  • Creating a great deal of light in a small area
  • Rechargeable, portable and easy-to-use lighting
Hand-Crank Flashlights
A hand-crank flashlight being used.
  • Rely on energy generated by physically cranking a handle
  • Emergency use
  • Light without a power source

From power outages to camping trips, flashlights come in handy on many occassions. With so many choices available, we can help you find the right type of flashlight for your needs. The Home Depot delivers online orders when and where you need them.