The world seems to be split into two groups: those who think rechargeable flashlights are a good idea and those who think they’re the worst idea ever!
As ever, there’s a kernel of truth in both opinions, so the simplest thing is to run through the list of pros and cons to discover whether the benefits outweigh the compromises for you.
- In the long run, rechargeables are cheaper than disposable batteries. And the more you use your flashlight, the more you’ll save.
- They’re environmentally-friendlier, in that you’re not throwing out one-use batteries.
- They can have high-capacity batteries individually-tailored for the size and style of the flashlight.
- You don’t have to have a drawer full of spare batteries.
- The upfront cost is higher.
- Rechargeable batteries lose their charge faster than alkalines. If you use your flashlight infrequently, you’ll need to check that it’s still topped up.
- Charge times can be slow, depending on the method user.
- For flashlights with sealed-in batteries, once the power has been drained the flashlight is useless until you charge it again. For this reason, many people prefer replaceable rechargeable batteries which you can swap out and charge separately.
The ideal use-case for a rechargeable flashlight is something like a security guard. Here, the user can charge up their light between shifts, take it out on their rounds and know that it’ll be charged and ready to go. Then, at the end of the shift, they put it back on charge again.
Where a rechargeable flashlight is less suited to the task would be in the situation of having an emergency flashlight that is seldom used, but which will absolutely be a lifesaver in the event of a bad storm, etc. Here, you’d be much better off with an alkaline-powered flashlight, which will hold its charge between uses for much longer.
Another item to consider is the charging method. Some lights come with dedicated, sealed-in batteries and an integrated charger. Others have external chargers, and you take the batteries out to charge them. The latter can be more flexible, if your usage is high and you’re concerned about not being able to use your flashlight while it’s charging.
Similarly, how you plug in the flashlight or charger is another consideration. The heavier-duty flashlights will typically plug into a wall socket to charge, but a lot of smaller flashlights can now be charged via a USB connection. These can be slow to charge, however, so it’s important that you check the specs and decide whether the characteristics of a particular flashlight are right for you.
Our recommended rechargeable flashlights
Streamlight Stinger DS LED HL
The DS LED HL’s optimized electronics provide regulated intensity throughout its battery charge. The NiMH battery used to power the light can be charged up to 1,000 times before needing to be replaced. The flashlight can also take NiCd batteries.
This light is IPX-4 water resistant and 1 meter impact resistant. Its maximum light output is 640 lumens, with a runtime of 1.25 hours. It also has Medium (240 lumens / 2 hours) and Low (170 lumens / 4 hours) light settings. Its strobe setting has a 3 hour runtime.
The DS LED HL comes with a choice of chargers – a120V AC/12V DC charger and a PiggyBack NiMH charger, which will charge the flashlight and a spare battery simultaneously.
At nearly 9 inches long and just under 13 oz in weight, the DS LED HL is a serious flashlight, and is popular amongst security personnel.
Amazon buyer rating 4.8/5
LED Lenser M7R
The German-made LED Lenser M7R is a compact rechargeable flashlight with a dual-charging method. The company provides a wall-mountable charging cradle as well a USB-powered magnetic charging cable.
The M7R boasts an advanced focus system, with a one-handed speed-lock focus function allowing the user to change the shape of the light cone with a single hand. It’s a useful feature that we’d like to see in more flashlights.
The M7R is not the most powerful of flashlights, with a maximum output of just 400 lumens. However, this does enable it to last 11 hours in max mode. In the frugal low mode, its 30 lumen output will last for 40 hours.
In total, there are eight light modes, including SOS and defense strobe.
The M7R is powered by 1 CR18650 Lithium-ion rechargeable battery and comes with a belt clip. lanyard, charging holder and USB magnet charger.
Amazon buyer rating 4.8/5