Choosing an LED Flashlight: The Importance of Power Switches

HP7 LED FlashlightWhen purchasing an LED flashlight, there are several things to consider, such as beam distance, run time, lumens or light output, water resistance, the intensity of the beam and the flashlight’s resistance to impact. What shoppers often neglect to notice, however, are the power switches on LED flashlights. The type of switch, its location and the design help determine how you interact with the torch – which can make a big difference in a wilderness or emergency situation.

The following is a look at the different types of LED flashlight power switches and some considerations to keep in mind.

LED Flashlight Power Switch Types

Bezel twist switch. This type of switch is commonly found on consumer LED flashlight models. It works by twisting the flashlight’s bezel, or the front headpiece that holds the lens.

Side click switch. This type of switch on an LED flashlight is located on the torch’s body in the form of a button that you must compress to turn the light on or off. You often hear a click when you press the button.

  • Pro: You only need one hand to operate a side click switch.
  • Con: If LED flashlights with side click switches do not have a rubber seal, they are generally not waterproof.

Tailcap click switch. This type of switch works similarly to a slide-click switch, but the switch is on the very end of the LED flashlight.

  • Pro: The position of the switch is good for those want to hold the flashlight at eye level with an inverted grip.
  • Con: Those with smaller hands may find it difficult to operate a tailcap click switch on LED flashlights using just one hand.

Tailcap twist switch. This switch is similar to a bezel twist switch, but you twist the tailcap end of the torch to turn it on or off.

  • Pro: The location of the switch prevents accidentally opening the battery compartment of an LED flashlight.
  • Con: LED flashlights with tailcap twist switches require two hands to operate.

Membrane press switch. A plastic membrane covers the switch; compressing the membrane allows you to turn the flashlight on and off.

  • Pro: Membrane press switches prevent you from accidentally turning on LED flashlights.
  • Con: If the membrane is made of cheap materials, it is more likely to crack with use or time.

Side slide switch. This traditional flashlight switch is located on the side of the torch’s body. Sliding the switch causes the LED flashlight to turn on or off.

  • Pro: LED flashlights with side slide switches are easy to operate with one hand.
  • Con: Flashlights with this type of switch are generally not waterproof.

Magnetic reed switch. LED flashlights with this type of switch have a magnet attached to a sliding switch on the outside part of a torch, as well as reed surrounded by glass inside the body. To operate, shake the flashlight and slide the switch to make the magnet move. The magnet then attracts the reed and closes the circuit.

  • Pro: The LED flashlight is sealed completely and there are no openings, making the torch waterproof.
  • Con: You must shake the LED flashlight for at least 30 seconds to charge the capacitor. The battery life of an LED flashlight with a magnetic reed switch provides up to 20 minutes of useable light.

Choosing the Right LED Flashlight

When shopping for an LED flashlight, consider how you plan to use it and determine which features matter the most to you, such as battery life, light color and intensity, beam distance and water resistance. Bear in mind that LED flashlights with more features are generally larger.

When comparing prices, keep value and quality as priorities. When comparing different power switches, see which are the easiest for you to operate by simulating real-life conditions. For example, if you plan to use the torch outdoors during cold weather, see which LED flashlight switch is the easiest to use while wearing gloves or mittens. Using your preferred method of holding a flashlight to find out which size and switch locations are most accommodating for your needs and the size of your hands.

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