Flashlights are an interesting case study in product design. It’s surprising how much variation there is, because a flashlight is a simple thing: a source of light at one end of a tube. Yet the range of flashlights runs from the brilliant to the dismal.
There are three components to getting it right: having a powerful bulb, putting in good batteries, and reflecting the light forward in an efficient way. These are things any manufacturer can do with reasonable care; yet most flashlights are poor, and some are really awful.
If you look at what consumers actually use rather than what they say they want, you’ll find that the best flashlight has small batteries and puts out only about 40 lumens (a measure of brightness). This makes it compact, light, and durable. It doesn’t strain the battery or burn your hand if you leave it on for hours. It’s bright enough to do most jobs in a house or yard (except perhaps exploring under the house). And it costs about $10.
By contrast, there’s another kind of flashlight which seems to be sold mostly as an impulse buy at checkout counters. These put out 200-300 lumens and cost $15-20. They run on AAA or AA batteries (small), but have a
The flashlight was invented before the battery. It just required a series of technological advances to make it a practical device.
First, in the 1850s, Daniel Drawbaugh patented a “portable electric light.” The problem was that it needed a big primitive battery that weighed 10 pounds. A few years later, David Misell put together portable electric lamps that used carbon-zinc cells (the first batteries that could be bought off the shelf). His lamp was powered by a “D” cell and produced just enough light to read by. He later added an attachment to power an electric fan. At the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair he showed off a portable electric lantern that used two D cells and could produce enough light to read by while walking at night-a major advance in usability.
In 1913, Conrad Hubert founded the American Ever Ready Company, which later became known as Eveready Battery Company-which is why flashlights are sometimes referred to as “Eveready’s”. Hubert introduced alkaline batteries, which have a much longer life than other types of batteries and were better suited for large flashlights. But it took fifty years for technology to improve enough to make small powerful flashlights possible.
When you think of a flashlight, you probably think of the cylindrical tube with batteries and a bulb at each end. But flashlights come in many shapes and sizes, and their designs have evolved over the years. Some are even designed for special purposes or for use by certain professions. Here are some of the most common types:
Aluminum flashlights: These are usually made from aircraft aluminum, which is strong and durable. They can withstand much more power than other types of flashlights, which means that they are brighter. Aluminum flashlights also come in many different designs; some are cylindrical tubes, while others are shaped like a baton or an arrowhead. The best models use LED bulbs instead of incandescent bulbs so that they last longer without having to be replaced.
Keychain flashlights: These small devices often come as part of a set that includes other items such as a pocket knife or screwdriver. They can easily be attached to your keychain and taken with you wherever you go.
The flashlights are the Coolest Tech Toys of the Month, and they are truly amazing. The main product from Shining Buddy is a flashlight that can be charged by USB. It claims to be the brightest flashlight in the world, and it uses a commercially-available light bulb (the P7) which does seem like it could be true. The bulbs are very small but put out an incredible amount of light. They also have a zoom feature that lets you adjust the angle of the beam to fit your needs.
The Shining Buddy has a waterproof casing and is made to withstand any weather condition. The light itself can run for 60 hours before needing a recharge.
The Shining Buddy comes with two lights, a charger, and three AAA batteries. I would recommend getting another pair of AAA batteries as well, because if you only need one light then you’ll want to always have one charged up and ready to use!
Flashlights use electricity. The electricity is supplied by a battery. The flashlight works when you turn the switch to “on”.
The battery is the main part of the flashlight. The case is the plastic thing around the battery. It keeps everything in place. Inside the case there are wires connecting the battery to the light bulb and to the switch.
The part that makes light is called “the bulb”. There are different kinds of bulbs but they all work in basically the same way. Electricity is sent through a wire inside a glass capsule filled with gas. The gas glows, making light, when it gets hot enough.
Flashlight is a small portable light source. It consists of a case, a bulb and a battery.
The bulb in the flashlights can be incandescent or fluorescent. The batteries are usually alkaline or lithium.
Nowadays flashlight can also be digital, using LEDs technology that makes it more durable than incandescent bulbs.
When people had flashlights, they were single-use items. The batteries were permanently built in, so when they ran out of power the whole thing went in the trash.
Modern flashlights are different. They use standard batteries that can be replaced or recharged, which makes them much cheaper in the long run. But there is an even more important change: they are modular. The bulb can be replaced separately from the battery pack and switch. You can even buy a whole new body for a flashlight (the part you hold) with an LED bulb that fits most battery packs. These changes have made flashlights about 100 times less expensive per unit of light delivered, and have increased sales by several orders of magnitude.
The lesson is clear: if you want to make something inexpensive, make it out of interchangeable parts. Then people all over the world can use their local resources, skills, and standards to improve your design at low cost.