Understanding Flashlight Bulb Options

Not all flashlights are created equal. The time to find that out is not when all heck breaks loose and you are left in darkness with a lackluster flashlight that can barely light the area around your feet. The number of different flashlights and bulbs available these days is staggering, so to make your choice easier, we want to tell you about those lights that really shine.

There are three common types of lighting elements used in flashlights: Incandescent, Halogen, and LED.


Incandescent bulbs are commonplace in many homes and probably the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “lightbulb.” The three main parts are a glass outer casing, a base, and a filament. The bulb is screwed or pushed into a socket, which connects it to a button that is then pushed to deliver power. When the button is pressed, electricity flows from the battery to the socket across to the base, up contact wires to the filament. The electricity heats the filament to a temperature that produces light. Really, if you think about it, incandescent bulbs are really just fancy lanterns. A “fuel” is “burned” to create a light.

Incandescent bulbs are simple in design and very cheap to produce, which is why they have been so popular for so long. But they offer the least amount of light output when compared to your other options and only have a lifespan of 1,200 hours. They are also very fragile. Even inside a flashlight housing, they have been known to break. Unless you’re truly in dire need of lighting, incandescent bulbs should be your last choice.


Very similar to incandescent bulbs in setup, halogen bulbs utilize a tungsten filament, a small amount of halogen gas, and a quartz case (instead of glass) due to the amount of heat given off. They are typically used in floodlights, but you can buy halogen flashlights. With a lifespan of roughly 3,600 hours, halogen is superior to incandescent for sure, but there are better options available. The major disadvantage of halogen bulbs is that they can break, even burst, when they come into contact with skin oils. They run extremely hot and can cause burns if touched. They also give off infrared and ultraviolet lights that can damage fabric, skin, eyes, and artwork.

While halogen lights are neither the most efficient nor the brightest ones on this list, they are a decent choice.


LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, are semiconductors rich in electrons paired with semiconductors rich in holes. As power is applied, current passes through the junction of the two semiconductors, which produces photons. These photons are the light you see.

Compared to the other three lighting types, LEDs produce little harmful infrared and ultraviolet radiation, unless specifically designed to do so. They don’t heat up very much and use 80% less energy than some other types of bulbs. They also don’t contain anything crazy like mercury, harmful gases, or toxins. Many LED bulbs are manufactured to be shatterproof and shock-resistant. They also light up instantly, so there’s no waiting around for them to reach full brightness.

The small disadvantage of LED bulbs is that they cost a little more upfront. But with a lifespan of up to 50,000 hours, you get a great return on your investment. LEDs can be produced in a limitless number of colors, unlike other bulbs, which get their color from a chemical reaction.


Spend the extra money and get an LED flashlight. The bulb is small, which allows for a more compact, versatile housing; extremely efficient; and really bright. The extra money you spend on LED lighting is worth the instant, extremely bright light output that will last for thousands of hours.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Angelo Pisa

Angelo grew up in California before enlisting in the United States Army in the summer of 2013. After an unfortunate injury, he left the Army in December of 2014. He now spends his time running two growing businesses and is in the process of starting another. His hobbies include sports, anything automotive and firearms.
Angelo Pisa

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