With winter nights fast-approaching and daylight hours dwindling, it’s time to think about investing in a rechargeable torch. Rechargeable torches are becoming increasingly popular and come in a variety of shapes and sizes from bright little pocket torches that tuck into the smallest of spaces, to monster beams so bright that at full power they can illuminate an entire football pitch.
The best rechargeable torches, which rarely use traditional alkaline batteries and instead are powered by lithium-ion batteries, can be charged without even having to unscrew the housing – the charging station can be mounted in a fixed place at home and powered through the mains power supply.
Alternatively, most rechargeable torches now come with an in-car charger and/or USB connection and cable, meaning you can easily recharge your torch using any USB port. Some high-end models even have a floating charge system where you can choose to charge your torch using magnetic contact charging. Indicator lights on the casing show when charging is required and, during charging, gives you the battery status and signals once charging is complete.
It is worth bearing in mind that as a rechargeable torch has a reduced runtime when compared to battery-powered types, and requires a power source to recharge, this type of torch may not be suitable if you intend to use it on a high brightness mode for long periods of time.
Only got 5 minutes
When choosing which rechargeable torch is right for you, there are three main design features you need to consider:
- Model type
- Housing material
- Bulb type & strength
Rechargeable torches come in a range of shapes, sizes and prices. If you just want a rechargeable torch for peace of mind – in the case of a power cut at home or trying to guide your front door key to the keyhole in the dark – then don’t underestimate the humble little keyring torch. These models may be small but they are more than capable of illuminating small spaces and the area immediately around you.
If a keyring torch isn’t what you’re thinking of and you’d like something for day-to-day use capable of emitting more light over a slightly larger area, consider a pocket model torch. They are around 7cm in length but with a variety of beam strengths from 10 and 800 lumens; they emit more than enough light to illuminate pathways and the area immediately around you. Starting at around £7, they won’t break the bank either.
If you intend on using your rechargeable torch in more challenging conditions, then it’s worth considering a larger pocket-sized model, usually measuring around 12cm in length, with a higher beam strength of around 1,000 lumens.
If you’re planning on using your torch for physical activities i.e. sport, cleaning, DIY, then a hands-free, head-mounted model will be the best rechargeable torch for you.
The monsters of rechargeable torches are the heavyweight floodlight-type models. They can have a beam strength of in excess of 1,500 lumens. These beasts are heavy and large (measuring in excess of 20cm in length) but they are capable of turning night into day at the flick of a switch. They can usually be set to provide either a football stadium-like super-wide beam or a lighting mode that is capable of highlighting a focus point up to a 1000 metres away
The best rechargeable torches will be strong, light, durable and water-resistant, made of metal, plastic or rubber.
Many modern metal torches are made from an aluminium alloy which, although not as strong as steel, is much lighter. More expensive models may be made from titanium which is both strong and light.
Plastic torches are generally lighter and cheaper than aluminium models but cheaper plastic models are far less robust. Go for a model which is made from tough shock-resistant plastic, which shouldn’t break if it is dropped or accidentally stepped on.
There are four main types of bulbs used in rechargeable torches with each offering different levels of light output, projection length, beam strength, battery consumption and light colour.
- Incandescent/filament – cheapest; give off warm light; short burn time
- Halogen – an improved version of incandescent bulbs; give off bright white light; can get very hot
- Xenon – generate brightest light with a bluish tint; less energy efficient than LED; fragile
- LED – most energy-efficient bulb but expensive
Rechargeable batteries v disposable batteries
We all remember unscrewing our torches and trying desperately to line up the chunky AAA batteries to get at least a faint glow from our trusty plastic torch. Many LED flashlights still use disposable batteries however there are plenty of models now available that have moved with the times and are rechargeable.
Disposable batteries come in two main types – alkaline batteries (AA, AAA etc) and lithium batteries, which are longer lasting than alkaline but needless to say, more expensive.
Disposable batteries are not only costly but also damaging for the environment, with the majority ending up in landfills. Rechargeable lithium batteries are becoming increasingly popular which is understandable when they’re so easy to use – they can be recharged using a simple Micro USB cable attached to a mains power source; computer; or portable USB power bank. When shopping around for a rechargeable torch model that meets your needs, you may struggle to justify the higher price tags but reassure yourself that, in the long term, you’ll undoubtedly save money and help save the planet too!
Lithium batteries will hold their charge longer than alkaline batteries and are not affected by cold weather. Alkaline batteries are likely to perform poorly (with reduced power and runtime) in cold conditions, which isn’t ideal when winter evenings are the most likely time that you’ll be needing that extra bit of light.
Regardless of bulb type, the brightness of all bulbs is measured in lumens. The higher the number of lumens, the brighter the light. An average pocket-model torch, designed for general day-to-day use, will output around 50 lumens, with heavyweight, floodlit-type models capable of 1,000+ lumens.
There are four main types of bulbs used in rechargeable torches with each offering different levels of light output, projection length, beam strength, battery consumption and light colour:
Incandescent/filament bulbs are the most familiar type of bulb. They work by passing an electric current across a tungsten filament in the presence of argon and/or nitrogen gas. They are relatively cheap however they are fragile and not as efficient as the other bulb types, only lasting for between 750-1000 hours. Filament bulbs can also become hot when in use.
Very similar to incandescent bulbs, but instead of using argon and/or nitrogen they use halogen. Halogen bulbs last a lot longer than incandescent bulbs; the filament also runs hotter, meaning that although halogen bulbs generate more light, they will also generate a lot more heat.
Xenon bulbs are more energy-efficient than halogen bulbs. They produce more light for a longer period but aren’t always the bulb of choice for consumers due to the bluish-coloured light these bulbs produce due to the presence of the gas Xenon.
Light-emitting diode bulbs (LEDs) are incredibly energy-efficient compared to the old-style filament bulbs or even halogen. The average LED bulb consumes just 12% of the energy used by halogen and filament bulbs to emit the same amount of light. LED bulbs are also brighter than halogen bulbs, producing a brighter ‘whiter’ light. As well as using less energy and producing brighter light, the average LED bulb has a massive burn time of up to 50,000 hours. Compared to a filament bulb which fizzles out after around 2000 hours this shows just how efficient LED light bulbs are.
When choosing your model, keep an eye out for these additional features, many of which may come as standard. Some will be more relevant to you than others but, as with any new purchase, you’re aiming to get the most for your money.
- Battery-status indicator
- Easy-grip handle
- USB charging dock
- Detachable adjustable shoulder strap
- Waterproof housing
- Adjustable beam
- Power bank feature
- Low-temperature resistance
- Wrist strap
- Manufacturer’s warranty
- Multiple lighting modes
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does a rechargeable torch cost?
Rechargeable keyring torches start at around £5 with high-end rechargeable flashlights ranging anywhere from around £30 to £260.
How long does the battery in a rechargeable torch last?
How long the battery in a rechargeable torch lasts will depend on the model type and what mode you are using the torch in – ultra-low, moonlight, low, mid, high, turbo, strobe or SOS. The battery of a basic keyring rechargeable torch with only one mode will last up to around 30mins; top-end flashlight models can last for hours, even days when used in ultra-low mode.
How long does a rechargeable torch take to recharge?
A rechargeable torch takes between 45 minutes and 5hrs to fully recharge. Exact recharge time is dependent on the model of torch you have and the lumen capacity of the bulb.