Torches have improved significantly over the last 10 years due to technical advances in bulbs, batteries and lenses. The main result for the buyer is that battery duration has been extended and very bright, compact torches can be purchased for just a few pounds. At the top end of the market there are professional quality torches that can literally turn night into day. To save money on batteries some of these torches are now rechargeable, either by using a mains charger or by wind up or pull cord dynamo generator.
The dynamo torches are ideal for emergency or irregular use as you can avoid the scenario of finding your torch, but with flat batteries. For regular use standard batteries or mains rechargeable will be more suitable and give a more stable output of light.
The most popular torches are the small hand torches that run off a couple of AA size or similar batteries. Maglite is a brand synonymous with high quality metal bodied torches who have now been joined by companies like Led Lenser who use LED bulbs and advanced reflectors to increase both brightness and battery life. Although they are not replaceable LED bulbs are very long lasting and more durable than conventional bulbs. They vary in performance with the CREE LEDS often found in the top end professional torches.
The traditional Maglite is still available with replaceable Halogen, or superior Krypton bulbs and now non replaceable LED bulbs.
Companies like Lighthouse and Stanley Tools also make torches with replaceable bulbs of Xenon, Halogen, and Krypton
The Lighthouse company make innovative low cost torches with a variety of Xenon Halogen, Krypton and LED bulbs. One Lighthouse torch even has both Krypton and LED bulbs.
Stanley Tools produce tough, no -nonsense torches for tradesmen and those looking for durability.
Rolson specialise in the budget price torches and worklamps using LED bulbs.
The brightness of a torch is usually measured in Lumens, although a few still like to use “candle power” which now considered to be obsolete but sounds impressive when 1 million candle power is mentioned on the spec sheet.
When choosing a torch don’t just consider it brightness. The type of battery and features like focusing and switching options are important and may be more relevant to your needs.
Work lamps are another type of torch that has been improved by the use of LED bulbs as they last longer both in terms of battery and bulb life. Some work lamps use hooks, magnets and flexible legs to help you locate them in the best position. Black & Decker make multi LED worklamps that are highly shatter resistant and have power saving settings. This sort of lamp is popular with campers as well as motorists.
Head torches have also benefited from the LED revolution as they are now very light, tougher and brighter. The aptly named Led Lensor Headfire torch can be seen from 3000m away and runs off 3 AAA batteries.