There are many light bulbs out there, but let’s look specifically at the ones used in flashlights. After all, a flashlight is always there for you. You use it to find loose change in your car, see during a power outage, and tell a scary story.
Are you in the dark about flashlight bulbs? Do you know which one is best? It’s time to shed some light on everything you need to know!
What Are the Different Flashlight Bulbs?
Flashlights use many different types of bulbs to glow bright. Each bulb has different characteristics and is classified as either:
Bulbs: Xenon, Krypton, Argon, Halogen
Incandescent lights are made with wire filaments that are enclosed in a bulb without oxygen. These lights glow when the filament inside the bulb is heated.
Bulbs: CFL, Axial
Fluorescent lights rely on gases and mercury vapor interacting inside of a glass tube to create light. This type of bulb tends to be more affordable than LEDs and incandescent bulbs.
Bulbs: COB, Edison Screw
LEDs, or light emitting diodes, are often considered more efficient than incandescents. They work via an electrical current that passes through a microchip, resulting in visible light.
Not every flashlight is made the same, and the bulb largely influences how well it works. It’s an important thing to keep in mind when searching for your next flashlight.
The good news is most of the time you can find a replacement at any hardware store if your bulb shorts out or breaks. Overall, there’s really no wrong choice when you’re deciding on which flashlight to use.
#1: Understand the Letters and Numbers
The first step is figuring out which type of bulb you need. It comes down to knowing what all those letters and numbers stand for in the description.
#2: Find the Right Bulb
Now that you know the options out there, the next step is recognizing the bulb. The type isn’t always listed on the label, so you might have to go on looks alone.
Finding a lightbulb for your flashlight should be a super easy process. It comes to recognizing which type and size you need. Hopefully the guide featured above makes your life a little easier. At least now you know what all those letters and numbers mean on a lightbulb’s label!
What Are Lumens?
A lumen is used to measure the amount of light produced from a bulb. Watts measure how much energy is used, but lumens are more important in determining the power of your flashlight as the more there are, the brighter the light.
Are you interested in knowing how many lumens your bulb will emit? This handy watt to lumen chart can help you out!
*The chart is a product of Rapid Tables, which also provides a handy watt to lumen calculator.
You want a bulb with enough wattage to last a long time, but a high amount of lumens to shine bright. Ultimately, the best flashlight will cover both bases.
Which Flashlight Bulb Lasts the Longest?
You want your flashlight to shine through thick and thin. According to an article in The New York Times, a standard incandescent bulb will last 1,000 to 2,000 hours in its lifetime, while an LED will last 25,000 to 50,000 hours.
This doesn’t explain, though, how long a flashlight will stay illuminated at one time. Five custom flashlights from Quality Logo Products® were put to the test to see which bulb would outshine the others. The results are in the chart below.
Visible Light Emitted
*This test was conducted using flashlights at Quality Logo Products® with generic brand batteries. The effectiveness of each bulb will ultimately depend on the lumens, the model of flashlight, and the type of batteries used. Results may vary.
A standard LED bulb will last an average of 50 hours in one shot while an incandescent bulb runs for about 3.5 hours. Both are good choices – it just depends on your project and the price you’re willing to pay.
Generally speaking, you’ll get the most bang from your buck if you use an LED bulb. These bulbs burn the longest and the brightest and are great for home improvement projects, fixing your car, or long nighttime walks or hikes.
Incandescent bulbs, on the other hand, emit a standard light for a shorter amount of time, but are usually more affordable. They’re great for quick projects and activities, like photography, home inspections, and games with the kids.
Looking for something fun to do with the kids? Try any of these fun flashlight games!
Ghosts in the Graveyard
It’s part hide-n-seek, part tag. You can play with a large group in an outdoor setting and have two seekers for extra fun.
Flashlight Freeze Dance
Show off your sweet dance moves with a game of Flashlight Freeze Dance. The “DJ” shines a light on the dancer and they must freeze or they’re out.
Use the beam of light across the dark space as the limbo pole. From there, see how low you can go!
Capture the Firefly
This is a twist on the classic game of tag. The kids are all the “fireflies” and they run around with flashlights as the person who’s “it” tries to catch them.
Hold the flashlight against a wall and have the kids play a game of charades. They must guess based on the shadow, which makes it more challenging.
How to Choose a Good Flashlight
You want to get the best flashlight for your money. Choose one that checks all these boxes:
The bulb should be super bright and emit a beam that goes a long distance. You should be able to see everything in front of you with ease.
You want a flashlight with a long-lasting battery. The best options have a higher voltage and produce a lot of milliamps per hour. These numbers are usually included in the flashlight’s description.
Comfortable to Hold
Some flashlights come with a textured handle, wrist strap, or are even connected to a keyring. The one you choose should be portable and shouldn’t feel super heavy in your hand.
Your flashlight should be able to withstand a lot of damage without breaking. This is especially important for adrenaline junkies who are cave diving or hiking through the mountains.
Save your money for more important things like bills, education, and of course, tropical vacations! Your flashlight of choice should always fit within your budget.
You don’t want to rely on your cell phone’s light forever! Your flashlight will be part of your toolbox or emergency kit for years. It’s worth making some effort in finding the best one.
The Bottom Line
A good flashlight will shine bright and stay up and running long enough for the task at hand. It all comes down to which bulb is inside of yours. Now you should feel illuminated and ready to go flashlight shopping!
Do It Best. (2019). What Are the Different Types of Light Bulbs? Retrieved July 2, 2019, from
Quan, R. (2015). Electronics from the Ground Up: Learn by Hacking, Designing & Inventing. Published by McGraw-Hill Education: New York, NY.
Rapid Tables. (2019). Lumens to Watts Calculator. Retrieved July 2, 2019, from
Energy.gov. (2019). Lumens and the Lighting Facts Label. Retrieved July 2, 2019, from
Lumens. (2019). What is a Lumen? What’s the Difference Between It and a Watt? Retrieved July 2, 2019, from
Bright Ideas. (2018, February 16). What Are the Different Types of LED Bulbs? Retrieved July 2, 2019, from
Thiele, T. (2019. May 25). 3 Types of Fluorescent Light Bulbs. Retrieved July 2, 2019, from
Sculimbrene, A. (2015, August 19). Power Cells: How to Choose a Flashlight Battery. Retrieved July 2, 2019, from
REI. (2019). How to Choose Flashlights. Retrieved July 2, 2019, from
Energy Star. (2019). Learn About LED Lighting. Retrieved July 2, 2019, from
Cyr, A. (2016, July 12). What is Fluorescent Lighting? Pros and Cons of Linear Fluorescents. Retrieved July 2, 2019, from
Lumen.com. (2019). Brightest Flashlight of 2019. Retrieved July 22, 2019, from
Oney, H. (2019). Uses for Flashlights. Retrieved July 22, 2019, from
KinderCare. (2016, October 27). Lights Out! 6 Totally Fun Flashlight Games to Play After Dark. Retrieved July 22, 2019, from
Duncan, A. (2019, April 29). 9 Kids’ Flashlight Games for Fun After Dark. Retrieved July 22, 2019, from
Taub, E. (2009, February 11). How Long Did You Say That Bulb Would Last? Retrieved July 22, 2019, from
RBLT Direct. (2012, August 22). Light Bulb Base Types. Retrieved July 22, 2019, from
Levison, S. (2019). All About Light Bulb Caps and Bases. Retrieved July 24, 2019, from
Superior Lighting. (2019). Bulb Reference Guides. Retrieved July 24, 2019, from
Daylite. (2019). A Cheat Sheet to the Different Types of Lighting, Bulbs, and Light Bulb Bases. Retrieved July 24, 2019, from