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Thread: Cheap but decent-ish build quality USB-rechargeable light for home/garden/few trips

  1. #1

    Default Cheap but decent-ish build quality USB-rechargeable light for home/garden/few trips


    I'm planning to buy something like a Nitecore MH12GTS for EDC, but first I wanna get a cheaper secondary light for home usage as my first "proper" flashlight.

    I was looking at Amazon but with those cheap 20€ lights I'm kinda worried about their noname batteries exploding at some point. Previous cheap flashlights also broke.

    Can you recommend me a cheap, USB-rechargeable flashlight from a trusted manufacturer?
    Around 1000 lumens would be nice, but lower would also be ok. Most use will be at home and outside the windows, but I also wanna take it outside sometimes. Not sure how many lumens I actually want. Bright. xD
    Multiple light levels. Memory mode would be nice.
    Also it would be nice if it has that... "tactical" look to it. I know it sounds stupid, but I really dislike flashlights where the bezel is noticeably bigger than the rest of the light. Probably the least important aspect. I noticed the Nitecore NM01 as a cheaper alternative, but the non-removable battery is kind of a bummer, having to throw away the whole light if the battery wears out too much...
    No idea what brands of flashlights are good either. Is Nitecore even recommendable? I have no idea what I'm doing, help. :P

    ==================Flashlight Recommendation Checklist================

    1) How would you prefer to purchase the light?

    ____I would like to purchase the light in person from a brick and mortar store. I am located in ______________.
    __✓__This will be mail-order or Online (location doesn't matter).

    2) Budget: An easy question, but you may change your mind after answering the rest! :-)

    __✓__I don't know yet
    ____Up to $25.
    ____Up to $50.
    __✓__Up to $100, but preferably much less...
    ____Up to $200.
    ____Up to $300.
    ____Essentially unlimited.

    3) Format:

    ____I am not sure, please help me decide.
    __✓__I want a flashlight (hand held/self contained).
    ____I want a self-contained headlamp.
    ____I want a headlamp with an external pack/power source.
    ____I want a mounted light (typically for a bicycle or vehicle)
    ____I want a lantern/area light.
    ____I want a portable spotlight (it may have an external power source).
    ____Other ____________________________________________

    4) Size:

    ____MICRO - Keychain size.
    ____TINY - Every day carry (2-4 inches).
    __✓__SMALL - Every day carry (4-7 inches).
    __✓__MEDIUM - Holster/belt ring carry. (>7 inches)
    __✓__LARGE - Big enough to need its own travel case.
    __✓__I don’t know/I don't care.

    5) Emitter/Light source:

    __✓__LED (known for efficiency, longevity, and compactness)
    ____Incandescent (known for superior color rendition)
    ____HID (known for max output, but often at the expense of size)
    ____I don't know.

    6) Manufacturer:

    __✓__I want to buy a light from a large/traditional manufacturer that is ready to go out of the box.
    ____I would like a light from a specialty manufacturer (Possibly limited run/Custom).
    ____I am interested in assembling my own components. (for example a “host” or flashlight body from one manufacturer, and a “drop-in” emitter from another source).

    7) What power source do you want to use?

    ____I intend to use "Primary"/Disposable Alkaline batteries based on the usual AAA/AA/C/D sized cells common to most stores.
    ____I intend to use "Primary"/Disposable Lithium batteries based on the usual AAA/AA/C/D and CR123 sized cells common to most stores (often a cold weather or long storage choice).
    __✓__I intend to use Rechargeable cells (NiMH or NiCD) based on the usual AAA/AA/C/D sized cells common to most stores.
    __✓__I intend to use Rechargeable cells based on less common formats (18500 or 18650 Li-Ion, RCR123, et-al).
    __✓__I want a light with an integrated rechargeable battery pack.
    __✓__I don't know/I need more information on power sources.

    7a) If you have selected a rechargeable option
    ____I want a light that plugs directly into the wall (literally with prongs built into the light)
    __✓__I want a light that has a recharging adapter (your typical "wall wart")
    ____I want a light that snaps into a cradle (usually mounted on a wall)
    ____I want a separate/stand-alone charger (this involves removing the batteries to charge)
    ____I don't care

    8) How much genuine out the front (OTF) light do you want/need? Sometimes you can have too much light (trying to read up close up with a 100 lumen light is not a happy experience).

    ____I want to navigate a dark room or read a map (1-10 lumens).
    ____I want an indoor "blackout" light (15-50 lumens)
    ____I want to confidently walk around an unlit/unpaved rural area (60-150 lumens).
    ____I want to illuminate my entire backyard or a campsite (150-300 lumens).
    __✓__I want to illuminate an entire field, the neighbor's front yard several houses down, impress my friends and neighbors, etc. (300-700 lumens).
    __✓__I want search and rescue type illumination (800+ lumens).

    __✓__SPECIAL NOTE: Burst/Turbo mode Category - There are several lights that will run at a super bright maximum for a very limited period (usually 5-10 minutes) and then will "step-down" to a lower level for thermal control. Check here if this is acceptable.

    9) Flood vs Throw: Flood covers an area, Throw reaches out to a distance.

    ____All Flood: I am doing "arms length" tasks like reading and campsite cooking.
    ____Wide Flood: I want a defined flood area for semi-close tasks like after-dark campsite tasks or working on a car.
    __✓__Narrow Flood: I want a sharply defined flood area that will project some distance for tasks like trail walking.
    __✓__Wide Throw: I want a beam with a noticeable hot-center for distance throw and a significant amount of "side-spill". Good for rough trail hiking, search and rescue, and general distance work.
    __✓__Narrow Throw: I want a beam with a very tight "hot center" and minimal "side-spill". Good for distance viewing, fog, and looking through dense undergrowth.
    ____Turbohead: I want a far-distance projector with a sharply focused spot of light and minimal or zero side-spill. Good for extreme distance and impressing your friends.

    9a) Distance: How far away will you typically need to see with this light (check all that apply)
    __✓__Less than 1 yard/meter (reading, other close work)
    __✓__Less than 5 yards/meters (looking for something inside a dark shed/garage/basement)
    __✓__5-20 yards/meters (check out a noise in the backyard)
    __✓__30-50 yards/meters (I have a big backyard)
    __✓__50-150 yards/meters (I live in a very rural area/farm with wide open spaces)
    ____150+ yards (I am searching from a helicopter)

    10) Runtime: Not over-inflated manufacturer runtime claims, but usable brightness measured from first activation to 50% with new batteries (Measured on maximum continuous output).

    ____Up to 30 minutes (I want the brightest [and potentially smallest] light for brief periods)
    __✓__30-60 minutes (I have plenty of batteries just ready to be changed)
    __✓__90-120 minutes (Runtime is moderately important, but still not critical)
    ____3 hours + (I critically need this light to run on max for extended periods in between battery changes/charges).

    11) Durability/Usage: Generally the old phrase “you get what you pay for” is very accurate for flashlights.

    ____Not Important (A “night-stand” light).
    __✓__Slightly Important (Walks around the neighborhood).
    ____Very Important (Camping, Backpacking, Car Glove-box).
    ____Critical (Police, Fire, Search & Rescue, Caving, Survival).
    ____I don’t know.

    12) Switch Size, Type, and location (choose all that apply):

    ____Any size switch will do.
    ____I need a BIG switch (I'll be using gloves or have very large hands or coordination issues).
    ____I want a forward clicky (Helpful for momentary activation and signaling).
    ____I want a reverse clicky (For use with multi-mode/level lights).
    ____I want a momentary switch (Predominantly for use with signaling and short bursts of momentary light only).
    ____I want a twisty switch (Tighten the head/tailcap to activate, and the light will stay on until the head/tailcap is loosened).
    ____I want a body mounted switch (near the head, like on a Maglite).
    ____I want a tail mounted switch (found on the majority of today’s high end lights).
    ____I want a remote switch (usually found on high-end bicycle headlights)
    __✓__I don't care.
    __✓__I don’t know.
    ____Other, please specify____________________.

    13) User Interface (UI) and mode selection. Select all that apply.

    ____A simple on-off with only one output level is fine for me.
    __✓__I want 2 light levels. (Brighter/short runtime and Dimmer/long runtime.)
    __✓__I want multiple light levels. (Some lights have 5-16 light levels.)
    ____I want a programmable light.
    ____I want a selector ring.
    ____I want a strobe mode. (Oscillating pattern to confuse/blind aka "Police Mode")
    ____I want SOS mode. (blinks in ...---... emergency pattern)
    ____I want a beacon mode. (Regular flashes at full power to show location.)
    ____I don’t care.
    ____I don’t know.


    ____Plastic/composite body (this may limit your choices significantly).
    __✓__Anodized Aluminum – either type II or III (Hard Anodized) (Aluminum, specifically HA, is the most common material/finish for today’s higher end flashlights).
    __✓__Stainless steel (durable, but much heavier than aluminum)
    __✓__Titanium (durable and nearly as lightweight as aluminum, but can be moderately to significantly more expensive).
    ____I don’t care.
    __✓__I don’t know.
    ____Other, please specify____________.

    15) Water resistance
    __✓__None needed
    ____IPX4 (Splash resistant)
    ____IPX7 (Waterproof to 1 meter/30min)
    ____IPX8 (Submersible to greater than 1 meter for 4 hours)

    16) Storage conditions
    __✓__In house (temperature/climate controlled environment)
    ____Emergency kit (long standby periods)
    ____Automobile glove-box (wide temperature swings, long standby periods, critical reliability)
    ____Other_________________________________________ ____

    17) Special Needs/extras: Is there anything else you want or need that hasn't been mentioned? Select any/all below.

    ____Red filter (for preserving night vision).
    ____Other filter colors (Amber, Green, Blue, _________).
    ____Dedicated R/G/B secondary LEDs.
    ____“Hybrid” light (bright incandescent combined with long running LEDs)
    ____Pocket/belt clip
    ____Wrist/Neck Lanyard
    ____Crenulated bezel
    ____Non-sparking, Intrinsically Safe (IS) for use in explosive environments
    Last edited by Prof.Dr.FlashlightNewbie; 04-09-2020 at 01:45 PM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Cheap but decent-ish build quality USB-rechargeable light for home/garden/few tri

    And in general, what are the most recommendable brands of flashlight manufacturers?
    Last edited by Prof.Dr.FlashlightNewbie; 04-05-2020 at 10:49 AM.

  3. #3
    archimedes's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    CONUS, top left

    Default Re: Cheap but decent-ish build quality USB-rechargeable light for home/garden/few tri

    Would you like me to move this to "Budget Lights" subforum ?

    Although that is usually for a budget under ~ $30-40, you might get more interest and advice with this topic there.
    Last edited by archimedes; 04-09-2020 at 06:47 PM.
    ... is the archimedes peak

  4. #4
    Flashaholic* Dave D's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Andalusia, España

    Default Re: Cheap but decent-ish build quality USB-rechargeable light for home/garden/few tri

    You can enter the details of the type of light you want in this search engine, it'll narrow the options down for you.

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