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Action-Lights Frequently Asked Questions

What do I look for in an LED Flashlight?
Currently there are two different styles of LED flashlights on the market today, low wattage and high wattage. Below is a brief description of the difference between the two to help aid you in selection of the proper LED flashlight:

Low wattage (Discrete) LEDs In general, low wattage LED’s (less that 1 watt) are good for close range and walking (10 feet or less). More specifically, most low wattage LED flashlights do not give a “beam” of light; instead they give a volume of light – like turning on a light bulb. In addition to eliminating the need for replacement bulbs, most low wattage LED flashlights offer extremely long run times and make for perfect emergency or close proximity lights.

High wattage (1, 3 & 5 watt) LEDs Most high wattage LED flashlights (1 watt or more) do give a beam of light. It is generally a smooth circle of light with no clearly defined edge and does not feature a true center “hot spot” when compared to a standard non-LED flashlight. Because of the increased brightness, the run times of high wattage LED flashlights are usually significantly shorter than low wattage LED flashlights. High wattage LED bulbs also offer a 10,000+ hour life eliminating the need for costly replacement bulbs. The higher the wattage the brighter the LED.

Color temperature of LEDs The color temperature of white LED light can look noticeably whiter, closer to sunlight, when compared to the light from a standard non-LED flashlight. In fact, standard non-LED light often looks yellow in comparison. However, the color of white LED light will vary from flashlight to flashlight and sometimes has a slight blueish or greenish appearance.

Final thoughts LEDs are power-efficient, virtually impact and vibration proof, and can provide variable lumen output, but they are currently limited to a much lower maximum lumen output compared to incandescents and HIDs. Although LED flashlights have made tremendous advances in the last several years they are not yet able to replace incandescent (Xenon, Halogen) flashlights when compared toe to toe. The 3 & 5 watt Luxeon or xlamp LED bulbs are approaching similar performance of the lower end incandescents and at some point the high power LED’s may soon be equivalent as the technology in this area is rapidly developing. The two leading high performance LED manufactures to look for in a flashlight are the Phillips/Lumiled’s “Luxeon” brand or the Cree “xlamp” brand of LED’s.

What is a Hazardous Location?
Hazardous Locations, or potentially explosive atmospheres, are areas where fire or explosion hazards may exist due to the presence of ignitable concentrations of flammable gases, liquids, vapors, dusts or ignitable fibers or flyings. These locations are classified or “grouped” according to the properties of the flammable materials that may be present and the likelihood of flammable concentrations.

The National Electric Code (NEC) defines hazardous locations classifications and protection techniques. The basic designation is by “class” and “division”. There are three classes characterized by the type of material present.

  • Class I locations are made hazardous by the presence of flammable gases, liquids or vapors.
  • Class II locations can be described as hazardous because of the presence of combustible dusts.
  • Class III locations contain easily ignitable fibers or flyings.

Division refers to the likelihood that ignitable concentrations of flammable materials are present in a given area.

  • Division 1 designates an environment where ignitable concentrations of flammable gases, liquids, vapors or dusts can exist some of the time or all of the time under normal operating conditions or where easily ignitable fibers or flyings are manufactured, handled or used.
  • Division 2 locations are areas where ignitable concentrations are NOT likely to exist under normal operating conditions or where Class III materials are stored or handled.

Hazardous atmosphere classes are further defined by “groups”. Combustible materials are grouped by their relevant physical properties. These groups include (but are not limited to):

  • Group A – Acetylene
  • Group B – Hydrogen
  • Group C – Ethylene, carbon monoxide
  • Group D – Propane, gasoline, naphtha, benzene, butane, ethyl alcohol, acetone, methane
  • Group E – Metals including aluminum, magnesium (Div. 1 only)
  • Group F – Carbonaceous dusts including coal, carbon black, and coke
  • Group G – Dusts not included in E and F including wood, plastics, flour, starch or grain dusts

Disposable or Rechargeable Batteries?
Disposable batteries, either Alkaline or Lithium, have excellent storage life, 70 to 10 years respectively. They generally offer longer runtimes for a given bulb power and are typically lower in initial purchase price and easier to keep spares on hand. Their operating costs are considerably higher than rechargeables (see chart) and they are seldom as bright. Lithium cells have higher energy density, but are even more costly then alkaline.

Rechargeable flashlights using nickel cadmium or lithium ion batteries feature extraordinarily low operating expense and are well suited for frequent use. They can often support a brighter bulb or LED and store conveniently in custom charger holders. Their initial purchase price is higher and they self discharge at a higher rate when in storage.

Typical Costs of a Rechargeable vs. Disposable Flashlight

Year
Rechargeable
D-cell
1st
$97*
$103**
2nd
$0
$78
3rd
$0
$78
4th
$0
$78
Total
$97
$337

* Average suggested cost of a rechargeable flashlight ** Includes $25 flashlight purchase and a years worth of replacement batteries.