An LED Torch Buying Guide

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An LED Torch Buying Guide

Whether during camping, night bushwalking, or virtually any low-light activity without the aid of electric lighting, a torch is indisputably essential. The LED (Light Emitting Diode) torch is a solid-state torch of supreme durability and endurance. The newer LED bulbs are extremely powerful with a potential beam range of half a kilometre. They come in various shapes, sizes, and colours from large, heavy-duty varieties to pocket-sized ones.

Unlike the now old fashioned incandescent torch globes, LED are durable and last much longer. In the past, regular torch use meant frequent battery changes, and the need to handle the torch carefully to protect the filament inside the bulb. Today’s LED technology has introduced a new generation of unprecedented efficiency in portable lighting.

The way torches are packaged and sold can mislead customers (most of whom are not lighting experts) with unrealistic expectations about their chosen purchase. LED torches are somewhat more expensive to buy than the traditional variety; however, their overall performance far outweighs the extra purchasing cost. These torches save the customer money in the long run, especially those who have need of frequent torch use. eBay offers an extensive and diverse range of torches. With such a range available, customers needs to know their own requirements and what specifications to look for when looking for the right LED torch for them.

Overview of the LED Torch

Today, LED torches fulfil the range of uses that hand-held torches always have, plus many more with far greater capability. The kind of lighting performance that could once only be expected from large, high-powered spotlights is now available in-hand. In the past, many people would decide on a torch based on its wattage. This was always an incorrect way to determine its beam range, but it nevertheless became a popular way to choose between one torch and another.

LED Torch Lumens

With LED lighting technology, which is still relatively new, light output is measured in lumens, and many people fall for the same myth that is largely fed by manufacturers who boast the number of lumens in a given torch. Lumens measure the total amount of energy that a bulb produces but not how effectively the torch shines on a given distant subject. A torch with fewer lumens may in fact throw light further than another with more. So although lumens give a vague indication of lighting power, the effectiveness of the beam’s range depends more on the design of the torch and its beam-focusing optics.

One thing is guaranteed about LED torches. Although they are energy efficient, the more lumens in a given torch, the greater the energy produced, resulting in fewer hours of use before recharge is needed or the battery is replaced. To find a torch with the best overall performance requires choosing one with a moderate amount of lumens built with the best quality focusing optics.

Most commercially available LED torches have between 10 and 100 lumens, depending on the intended purpose of each torch. There are tiny LED torches designed to dangle from a key ring and ultra-powerful LED torches designed for hunting, law-enforcement, military, and search and rescue operations. It is essential therefore that a prospective buyer understand their own needs.

Rechargeable and Non-Rechargeable LED Torches

The decision to purchase a rechargeable over a non-rechargeable LED torch is not as straightforward as it may initially seem. Rechargeable LED torches do cost more to buy, and the lower operating costs equal greater long-term economy. The convenience, however, is not always preferable. A newly replaced battery nearly always provides greater operating life than a charged-up battery. The customer, therefore, needs to make a decision based on their intended usage.

A high quality rechargeable battery can be recharged up to 1000 times before replacement becomes necessary, so the frequent torch user is going to save considerable money in choosing the rechargeable LED torch. If on the other hand, the customer only requires rare or occasional use, then the non-rechargeable torch may actually be the most economical. This being the case, the customer should remove the battery between use to preserve its life and avoid corrosion.

LED Torch Batteries

LED torches use lithium, Li-ion (LIB), or alkaline batteries, and some can operate with either lithium or alkaline. LIB batteries are rechargeable and use lithium ions that run from the negative to the positive electrode during discharge and back in the opposite direction when charging.

Various Uses of an LED Torch

Light emitting diode torches facilitate a range of uses and are often extremely versatile. There are many LED torches on the market and although uses are varied, some are purpose-built. The following outlines commercially available general purpose and purpose-built LED torches.

General Purpose LED Torches

An LED torch suitable for general use is designed for a broad range of applications, such as camping and hiking, as well as ordinary household tasks. Such torches are widely available on eBay and vary enormously in appearance and specifications. An example of one such torch is the JETBeam PA40, which is a high-performance LED torch and ideal for virtually every domestic purpose.

Diving LED Torches

The diving LED torch is a purpose-built light that is well represented on eBay. These torches vary considerably in their specifications and performance capabilities. As underwater torches, various makes and models outperform others in different underwater conditions and are guaranteed to be waterproof to varying depths, depending on the design specifications of each type. Some types are only guaranteed to work up to 60 metres underwater, while others are guaranteed up to 200 metres.

Diving torches tend to have more lumens than land torches to counteract the light-reducing effects of underwater illumination. Another characteristic of underwater illumination is the water’s light diffusing effect, which creates flood lighting rather than spot lighting.

Military LED Torches

For particularly demanding or specialised tasks, the military LED torch may be the most suitable. These torches tend to have the greatest long distance beam range and the most advanced focusing optics to give the ultimate quality beam pattern on distant objects. Many of these torches can be used in both spot and flood modes according to necessity, providing the user with the greatest versatility available in a torch.

Military torches can be bought commercially and used for civilians, but they are designed specifically for military conditions. They are therefore the ultimate heavy-duty torch made to withstand high impact, submersion in water and extreme temperatures.

Mini LED Torches

The mini LED torch is a most convenient item to keep handy, whether in a handbag or the glove box. Although leaving valuables in the car is not recommended, the mini LED torch is extremely convenient for engine inspection, tire changing, or even just looking under the seat for lost items. Naturally, they do not have the power of the larger torches, but they can generate a surprisingly bright beam for their size.

Coloured Beam Lighting

Many LED torches, especially the military variety, have coloured beam options that are additional to the standard white-light beam. The normally three coloured beams are for specified purposes and conditions, which the chart below illustrates.

Beam Colour

White

Red

Blue

Green

Purpose

General purpose lighting for long range illumination

Maintains night vision; suitable when travelling in stealth mode; can be useful to gain attention from emergency crews in smoke-filled environments.

Used extensively by hunters or police forensic units to detect hard to find blood traces; advantageous in foggy conditions.

Useful for hunting and fishing as green light does not startle fish and game

Having colour beam options increases the versatility of a torch. For the above reasons, LED torches with coloured beam capabilities are most popular with the police, military, fisherman, and game shooters.

How to Buy an LED Torch on eBay

Having a sound, practical understanding of the science behind LED lighting is enormously beneficial in choosing your torch, but a basic understanding also suffices, provided you are not sold on a particular torch via marketing hype alone. One safeguard against buying an inferior product is to look for a torch that complies with the "flashlight basic performance standard 2009".

With that in mind, there are a few steps you should take before choosing an LED torch, especially if you need it for a specific purpose. Always undertake independent research on a given torch and read any available reviews on it before choosing. A search of various online forums provides helpful clues about other people’s experiences with the torch you have in mind.

When searching for an LED torch on eBay, always try several different search strings to give yourself a better indication of the range of relevant products available. Depending on your requirements, you can add keywords to your search for LED torches, such as "military" or "high power", which returns a listing of more consistently heavy-duty torches, or "mini-LED torch", which results in a list of miniature torches of various and novel design.

Most listed LED torches on eBay have extensive information on manufacturing and technical specifications. Be astute with these details when making comparisons between listed torches, and always contact the seller if you have any queries. When you have found a suitable torch, see if the seller has an eBay store where additional products of similar quality may be available.

Conclusion

The humble torch has emerged to a light force to be reckoned with since the advent of LED technology. LED torches are considerably more expensive than traditional torches and for good reason. There is no comparison in their performance capabilities. With many different LED torches on the market today, eBay offers the best rates around for the would-be LED torch buyer.

Marketing tactics can lead people astray when it comes to choosing the right LED torch, whereas customer feedback is generally believable and reliable. It is therefore always recommended to read several reviews to get as much feedback as possible on your designated purchase.

As the demand for torch lighting increases, the options are unprecedentedly numerous. There is now a torch for every conceivable purpose, from specialist operations to household lighting. With so much choice, there is certainly no excuse to be left in the dark when the lights go out.

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