There is nothing more annoying than a light going out right when you need it most, and then not knowing what kind of bulb it requires or whether one kind of bulb is better than the other. This can be especially frustrating when camping out in the wilderness, with no artificial light present. With this guide, buyers will get a crash course is the kinds of flashlight bulbs, how to check power and bases, as well as how to find the ideal bulb for the perfect price on eBay.
Type of Bulb
There are several different kinds of bulb available for flashlights, from the traditional incandescent lighting on halogen, xenon and krypton through to the more modern LED lights favoured by new legislation and environmental attitudes. The main types of flashlight bulb available are:
Halogen is the most familiar kind of bulb, and is still used in many household ceiling lights, as well as lamps and flashlights. Filled with halogen gas, these are in the process of being phased out in the EU in favour of other methods of lighting.
- Halogen produces a very clear, bright light.
- Replacement costs for bulbs are quite low.
- Due to the phase-out being enacted in the EU, these bulbs will grow increasingly difficult to find.
- Halogen bulbs grow hot very quickly, and power conversion is very poor – much of the power of the bulb is spent creating heat, not light.
- The production process used to create halogen gas bulbs uses some toxic chemicals, which will not please environmentally concerned buyers.
Xenon bulbs are made using xenon gas instead of halogen, and are most frequently seen in car headlights though they come in all sizes – including for flashlights.
- Xenon bulbs produce a much whiter light than halogen bulbs, which is easier to see clearly by.
- The energy conversion for xenon bulbs is quite efficient, as they produce less heat.
- These bulbs have a much longer life span than halogen bulbs too.
- Xenon bulbs are much more costly than halogen bulbs.
- The production process for xenon also involves a toxic chemical, in this case predominately mercury.
Krypton bulbs are in the family of incandescent bulbs like halogen and xenon, and are filled with krypton gas.
- Krypton bulbs produce a very bright light, usually much brighter than halogen lighting, and are also whiter in appearance.
- The bulbs themselves, while quite high on power consumption, also have a longer service life.
- Energy consumption is quite high, meaning that batteries will need to be replaced more frequently.
- Much like halogen bulbs, krypton bulbs can grow quite hot.
- They are much more costly than some other types of bulb.
LED – standing for ‘Light Emitting Diode’ – are considered by many to be the future of lighting, with flexible designs, colouring and uses.
- LED bulbs are extremely efficient, using most power for light and wasting very little on heat – unlike standard incandescent bulbs.
- Power consumption on LED bulbs is low compared to other bulbs, meaning that batteries will need to be replaced less often.
- With a much longer life span than other flashlight bulbs, LED bulbs are the most cost-efficient.
- Single LEDs do not tend to be quite as bright as other bulbs, so quite often LED bulbs tend to be several LEDs together, rather than just one large LED.
- LEDs can have a slightly higher initial cost compared to other bulbs.
Whatever kind of replacement flashlight bulb the buyer decides on, they should bear in mind that power consumption, output and brightness changes from type to type. Some bulbs are more costly than others, and some may be favoured for certain factors above all others – LED bulbs, for example, are considered the safest to be left alone for long periods due to low power consumption and heat output. The buyer should consider what they will be using the flashlight for, beside factors like power and brightness.
When buying replacement bulbs, it is important to consider the power output the bulbs are built for; purchasing the wrong kind of bulb for the wrong power source can prevent the bulb working or even damage it. The measurements the buyer is likely to encounter whilst looking at flashlight bulbs on eBay are:
Volts and Watts
Many listings on eBay vary between using volts and watts as a way to measure power, volts being the strength of the electrical current, watts the amount of electrical power the circuit produces. With both measurements, a higher number will likely indicate a stronger light from the bulb; however, power consumption will also be a higher and whether a bulb is able to cope with the power output is also necessary.
Standing for ‘lumen’, this indicates the power of the light output of a bulb. This is often included in a listing for a flashlight complete with bulb, but some replacement bulbs may include this number to indicate the light output the bulb is capable of when attached to a suitable source of power.
Buyers should also consider the power source of the flashlight, as some bulbs – in particular LED lights – are made to suit a particular size of battery cell, and therefore a particular power output. Ranging from AAA through to C and D size batteries, if there is a particular kind of battery suitable for a bulb it will often be given in the listing title.
It is also important for buyers to make sure that the base style of the flashlight bulb matches that of the flashlight socket; otherwise there is no chance that the bulb will fit in and work as it should. The two common types of bulb base are screw and pin, and the buyer should check the bulb type their flashlight requires, either by checking the bulb that needs replacing, or by examining the shape of the socket that the bulb screws in to.
Things to Consider
Apart from all the factors of bulb, base and power type, the buyer should consider the other factors that may affect their choice of bulb. Such as:
- Strength: the illumination strength of a bulb is measured in lumens, and this can be used to give a basic idea of the strength of a flashlight. However, needs may change depending on how bright the buyer wants the bulb to be, as well as keeping in mind that a stronger bulb requires more power and therefore more frequent battery changes. With bulb strength ranging from 270lm to 1600lm and upwards, the buyer should consider what they will need the light for, and therefore how strong it will need to be.
- Size – in particular, the size of the space that requires lighting. This varies depending on the bulb and design of torch, with some torches designed either to create a small beam or a broad range of illumination. Whilst xenon and krypton bulbs are capable of producing bright lights, often LED bulbs are used on big flashlights due to their small size and low heat output, allowing a large design of bulb – like hanging lights.
- Safety: there are some who are very concerned about the safety of certain bulbs, in particular, the gas-based incandescent bulbs, because of their high heat output. If the buyer is concerned about the environmental or heat problems, they may do better to focus on LED bulbs.
- Spare: buying spare bulbs is a good way to plan in advance, particularly if going away or camping in a remote place where replacements may not be easy to find. An extra bulb or a 2-pack of bulbs is an ideal purchase for those wanting to be sensible.
Whether buying a bulb to replace a broken one, or planning in advance for a camping trip, it is important that the buyer makes sure they understand the various advantages and disadvantages of bulb types, strengths and power outputs. With this guide, buyers will be able to make an informed choice about the kind of bulb that is ideal for them in terms of strength and cost.
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