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We may not use flashlights all that often, but they’re critical when we do need them. Most of us have a few old-school flashlights stashed away with batteries that haven’t held electricity in ages. That’s a problem for two reasons. First of all, you’re putting yourself in position to not have a working flashlight in a dire moment. Second, you’re throwing money away every time you replace batteries that discharged most of their energy over time. You can solve both problems with a rechargeable flashlight. No more searching for the right size of battery, no more overpaying for batteries, and no more dim flashlights letting you down.
We found several options that you should consider. In addition to handheld flashlights, this list includes rechargeable options for the campsite, garage, and survival situations.
The Anker Bolder is just the thing to round out your survival kit or camping gear list. This versatile rechargeable flashlight fits in one hand easily and has a metal clip to keep it within arm’s reach the rest of the time. It offers three power settings of 20, 120, and 400 lumens. Full power is capable of reaching 100 meters into the darkness and lasts up to six hours. You can also stretch your battery life to 50 hours of continuous use on the lowest setting. An SOS mode is included to create a hands-free beacon during emergencies. A depleted battery can be fully recharged in six hours using the provided micro USB cable. The aluminum exterior protects this flashlight against drops, and seals tightly enough to keep out water and dust. The whole flashlight weighs less than five ounces. Throw in the 18-month warranty, and you’ve got yourself a winner.
When the power goes out, you need to be able to rely on a reliable backup like this emergency light from Energizer. Unlike the other recommendations on our list, this isn’t a light you’d take camping or include with your tactical gear. This one plugs directly into a wall socket, where it stays until you need it. That ensures that the battery is constantly being charged and will be at maximum capacity when you need it. A red LED will let you know everything is working correctly. As soon as your home stops receiving electricity, the 40-lumen light activates, making it easy for you to find in the dark. From that point, you have 3.5 hours of light available to you–plenty of time to get your act together and take care of business. Track down more flashlights (from this list, of course), fire up that generator, and start forming a plan.
One of the most popular additions to any home defense firearm is a tactical light like this one from CCKO. Adding a light to your weapon allows you to see what’s in front of you and maneuver more efficiently. To get the most out of this kind of light, we highly recommend choosing one with a remote switch that doesn’t require you to adjust your grip to turn your light on. Not only does this light have a remote pressure switch, it can be used to activate the light in normal mode for maximum visibility or flicker mode for a disorienting strobe effect. The connecting cable is coiled to stay out of the way and avoid getting caught, but we’d still advise securing it. The flashlight itself is built from black anodized aluminum. Its 1,200-lumen beam has a maximum range of 200 meters. The rechargeable battery lasts up to six hours. It attaches to any standard picatinny rail with the provided mount.
This Streamlight is a premium option for those who need a rechargeable flashlight that’s compact and well-built. At less than four inches long and only 1.2 ounces, this light is small enough to be part of your EDC. Coyote brown anodized aluminum makes it a great addition to your tactical gear, too. Its removable metal clip can even be used to mount it to the brim of a baseball hat for hands-free lighting while you work–no expensive headlamp needed. In its highest setting, the 250-lumen beam of light reaches up to 68 meters. Low mode produces a 50-lumen beam that reaches 31 meters. Battery life ranges from 1.5 hours in high mode to 3.5 hours in low mode. That’s less than many alternatives, but it’s a predictable tradeoff for something this compact. This isn’t the light we’d want to rely on long-term in the field, but it’s a great tool to have in the car or garage so you can always be prepared.
This LE searchlight is a powerful option that’s ready for almost any kind of emergency. When you need to cut a path through the dark, this rechargeable flashlight delivers with a 1,000-lumen output and 500-meter range. The spotlight can also be set to produce 400 lumens for close-range work. The white side light produces a wide dispersion of light between 70 and 130 lumens to illuminate your work area without hurting your eyes. The red side light can be used in an emergency to signal traffic or mark a hazard. Charge it using the included USB cable or one of several aftermarket options. This flashlight’s size makes it more of a chore to carry, so it’s probably not something you want in your backpack. On the other hand, having one in the car or around the house is a great idea.
The Nebo Slim rechargeable flashlight might be just what you need to turn frustrating struggle sessions in the garage into productive projects. The compact aluminum housing uses a single LED to produce up to 500 lumens of bright white light. Power can be reduced to 50 lumens when less light is required. Each time you turn this light on, it will revert to the last settings you used. Expect battery life to reach two hours on the highest setting and ten hours on the lowest setting. Charging is accomplished via a provided micro USB cable that you can combine with a wall adapter or plug into a power bank or another device. To go hands-free, attach this light to yourself, your car, or a nearby wall using the clip, magnet, or hook. Durable construction makes this flashlight resistant to impacts and water. At this size and weight, it’s also a compelling candidate for your EDC.
If you and your friends spend much time around a campsite, you know that making everyone hold a flashlight or staring into each other’s headlamps gets really old; you’re better off letting a Holababy rechargeable lantern do the work for you. The expandable lantern casts 200 lumens of light in all directions, and a small flashlight in the base provides 350 lumens for more focused tasks. The rechargeable battery can power the lantern for 35 hours or the flashlight for 30 hours. When it’s time to recharge the battery, you have options. If you have access to a power source, the included charging cord is the fastest option. If electricity isn’t available, you can either hand-crank the generator or place the lantern in direct sunlight to take advantage of the solar panel. For backcountry adventures or preparing for worst-case scenarios, this one’s tough to beat.
Types of rechargeable flashlights
- Handheld rechargeable flashlights: Handheld rechargeable flashlights work just like a normal flashlight, but without the hassle and expense of single-use batteries. These flashlights are small enough to carry in one hand, toss in your glove box, or add to your tactical equipment or camping pack. Many include a clip for mounting the light to a hat brim or MOLLE loop. These do-it-all solutions should be your first stop when shopping for a rechargeable flashlight.
- Rechargeable lanterns: When you need extra light in a fixed area, reach for a rechargeable lantern. These are fantastic additions to your camping equipment or emergency kits. Lanterns put off light in all directions so you can cook, pitch a tent, or relax around the campsite without trying to juggle a handheld flashlight along with everything else you’re doing. Most aren’t as bright as a handheld or tactical flashlight, but they do put off a nice glow that won’t burn your eyes.
- Rechargeable work lights: If you’ve ever been yelled at by your dad for not shining the flashlight in the right place while he struggles to fix the family car, these lights are for you. Rechargeable work lights are designed to be at home in the garage or workshop. Look for features like hooks and magnets that let you put the light exactly where you need it while keeping your hands free to work. Stop the cycle of yelling. Take responsibility for your own light.
- Rechargeable tactical flashlights: Tactical flashlights need to do more than be bright, they need to be durable, reliable, and function without occupying your hands. This kind of light typically features variable power output and can be controlled to illuminate a wide area or produce a focused beam. The best options incorporate mounting hardware and a remote switch that let you attach them to a rifle and operate the power switch without repositioning your hands.
- Emergency rechargeable flashlights: Rechargeable flashlights intended for emergency use need to be ready at all times. Yes, all rechargeable lights have an advantage over battery-powered alternatives, but even they can go dead if you don’t charge them once in a while. Emergency lights plug into an electrical outlet where they stay until you need them. That means they’re actively topping off the battery every second of every day. When the power goes out, you’ll have a fully-charged battery to start with. If you’ve ever had to fill and start a generator by feel, you know how important that is.
Key features of rechargeable flashlights
- Rechargeable battery: What sets rechargeable flashlights apart is their ability to reuse the same battery. Rather than stocking up on batteries that will probably die in your junk drawer, you can plug your flashlight in for a quick recharge and be on your way. Versatile charging options mean you can charge them from a wall socket, cigarette lighter in your car, or another device. Any of these options are more convenient and less expensive than buying batteries.
- Plug-in adapter: Older rechargeable batteries had to be removed and loaded into a charging dock that plugged into the wall. Those were inefficient and didn’t work that much better than disposable batteries. The flashlights we picked for this list recharge by plugging them in, so you never have to remove the battery. That’s less hassle for you and less wear and points of failure on your flashlight.
- Hand crank generator: We found some rechargeable flashlights in the camping segment that have a backup hand-crank that can be used to generate electricity when plugging in isn’t an option. This is certainly the hard way to top off your battery, but it’s a fantastic option to have when you’re camping or preparing for an emergency situation when wall sockets and power banks aren’t an option.
Benefits of rechargeable flashlights
For starters, rechargeable flashlights have an extended lifespan compared to their battery-operated counterparts. The lifespan of a rechargeable flashlight is determined by high-quality materials, not a battery that started losing power before you bought it. As long as you’re able to recharge your flashlight, you’ll have a reliable tool. Pack a rechargeable flashlight in your camping or bug-out bag, and you have the ability to have light as long as you can find a place to charge it. Some can even generate power by hand. Compare that to a supply of heavy disposable batteries, and the choice is easy.
This leads to an overall reduced cost: disposable batteries are incredibly expensive, and even though they’ve gotten more efficient over time, they’re still no match for a rechargeable battery. Plugging your flashlight into an outlet and drawing power from your house is far cheaper than buying new batteries.
Rechargeable flashlight pricing
Basic rechargeable batteries that run for less $20 tend to prioritize the power source and may not use the most durable materials or brightest bulbs. They’re still a great backup, though. For options between $20 and $40, most rechargeable batteries present a great value. Options in this price range are tough enough for outdoor use and affordable enough to keeps spares anyplace you might need one. Premium rechargeable batteries that cost more than $40 usually offer longer-lasting power, brighter bulbs, and more robust construction. In the big picture, they’ll still pay themselves off when you no longer have to buy batteries.