Different Types of Flashlight Bulbs

Jacob Moore

Last updated April 15, 2021

Whenever you go to purchase any type of product, there are always several features that need to be considered. Even with something as seemingly simple as a flashlight, there is a whole lot to think about.

Sure, the size, durability, and battery life are all important, but then again, this is a flashlight, and perhaps the most important aspect of all is how good that bulb is. How bright is that bulb? How long will it last? How far does the beam of light actually travel?

They’re all fair questions that you need to ask yourself before buying a flashlight, and in case you didn’t already know, the answers there will all be determined (mostly) by the type of bulb the flashlight in question has.

So, what are the different types of flashlight bulbs, how do they perform, and what are their advantages and drawbacks?

  1. Incandescent Bulbs

The first type of flashlight bulb to think about is the incandescent bulb, which also happens to be the type of bulb and flashlight that has been around for the longest amount of time.

Now, this type of flashlight bulb doesn’t cost much to purchase in the first place, which is nice, and sure, they are fine for basic and occasional use around the house, such as for those couple of hours where the power goes out, but that’s about it. Incandescent flashlights might be the oldest kind, but certainly not the best.

For one, those incandescent bulbs just don’t last very long. With regular use, you will end up replacing that bulb in no time at all, and that is going to cost you money. There is also the fact that this type of bulb is not efficient in the least. In terms of how much power they use, they aren’t all that bright. Sure, they’re bright enough to provide a bit of illumination, but they don’t rival modern LED and HID lights, not even close.

These things waste a ton of energy, which means that they drain batteries fast, and will require replacement batteries often, something else that will end up costing you. There’s also the fact that incandescent bulbs are not very durable. Drop an incandescent flashlight and it’s almost certain to break. Finally, these things just aren’t eco-friendly either as they waste a lot of energy.

In essence, if you need a good flashlight, you probably want to stay away from incandescent bulbs.

  1. Xenon, Halogen, & Krypton Bulbs

The next type of flashlight bulb to be considered is the xenon, halogen, or krypton variety. Now, this type of flashlight bulb is actually still an incandescent one, with one major difference. That difference is that inside of the glass, along with the filament, there is also pressurized gas, usually xenon, halogen, or krypton.

This is a step up from your regular incandescent bulb because that pressurized gas allows the filament in the bulb to burn brighter and longer without wearing down as much, and all without requiring more juice to power it.

In fact, when it comes right down to it, these are the brightest types of flashlights that you can buy. However, in all reality, they don’t make for great survival flashlights, as they are still very fragile, their battery life still isn’t great, and their overall lifespan still doesn’t compare to other flashlight bulb types, mainly LED.

Different Types of Flashlight Bulbs

  1. High Intensity Discharge Bulbs

In terms of uncommon flashlights bulbs, high intensity discharge, or simply HID bulbs, are the least common. This type of bulb features a sealed ball that is filled with ionized gas. An electric current is then passed through that gas, which through the miracle of science then lights up.

This type of flashlight bulb is also very bright, almost as bright as the xenon bulbs discussed above. The bulbs also tend to be quite durable and long-lasting.

However, when it comes to portability and survival purposes, they aren’t exactly ideal due to their bulkiness. Moreover, HID flashlights tend to be very expensive, usually way more than people are willing to spend.

  1. LED Bulbs

The final type of flashlight bulb to consider is the LED bulb (light emitting diode), and when it comes to survival flashlights, this is what you want to go for. LED lights, for one, don’t have any kind of glass or filament such as the other bulb types, and this helps make them very durable and long lasting.

Some LED flashlights can last 100,000 hours or more. LED flashlights often have good impact resistance, so they won’t break if they are dropped (to a reasonable extent anyway), and many are even shockproof and waterproof (also to a certain extent).

There is also the fact that LED flashlights waste much less energy than incandescent and other bulb types. A lot more of the energy coming from the batteries is used to produce light, whereas other bulb types usually produce a lot of heat. Heat is just wasted energy in this sense. On that note, due to the fact that LED lights don’t get hot, it’s another thing that allows for a greater lifespan.

Moreover, LED lights are the most efficient around, both in terms of energy usage and conversion. In other words, you won’t end up replacing the batteries in an LED flashlight nearly as often as with other bulb types, not to mention that the most modern options sometimes come with rechargeable batteries.

Now, LED flashlights can be relatively expensive, although the price across the board has come down a lot in the last years, but that said, due to the fact that they last a long time, produce a lot of light, and don’t use much battery power, they can be seen as being very cost effective in the long run. Simply put, if you need a good survival flashlight, the LED bulb is what you want to go for. It’s durable, bright, long-lasting, and energy efficient.

Final Thoughts

There you have it folks, everything you need to know about the different types of bulbs that flashlights might come with. Now you can make your own informed decision as to what is best for you. Once again, when it comes to survival flashlights, we strongly recommend LED.