Published On: Wed, Feb 6th, 2019

How Flashlight Is Made – History, Used, Parts, Components, Structure

It’s a well-known fact that torches predate the invention of electricity or the dry cell battery. After all, torches were just sticks with flammable material near the end. A torch is nothing more than a portable light source. Eventually, with the use of technology, we’d have to refine this concept and we did through the invention of handheld flashlights. It’s almost unfathomable that flashlights are over a century old. We went from flashlights that required a rest period to shake flashlights that work largely off of kinetic energy. If you’re looking for the brightest flashlight on the market, there are plenty of helpful guides from websites like Flash Light Guides.

The First Flashlight

The first flashlight was invented by the British inventor, David Misell in 1899. It was made up of an incandescent light-bulb which was powered by three D batteries placed in a tube that also acted as its handle. Much like modern torches, it had a simple contact switch that would turn the light on and off. What made this invention possible was the prior invention of the dry cell battery in 1887.

The first flashlights did not sell well because of their inefficiency and unreliability. They were more of a novelty than a necessity. It was the Carbon-Filament bulbs and very unrefined dry cell batteries that seemed to let them down.

With the development and release of the tungsten-filament in 1904 in conjunction with more improved batteries, flashlights became more accessible and popular. By the 1920s there was an even greater variety of flashlights introduced. There was a lantern style that could be set down, a pocket-sized lamp, a large reflector searchlight-type lamp for lighting distant objects and the traditional cylindrical type.  

The Incandescent Flashlight

Incandescent flashlights use incandescent light bulbs which commonly consist of a gas bulb and tungsten filament. The bulbs are usually under a vacuum or they may be filled with gracious chemicals like argon, xenon,and krypton. Some high powered incandescent flashlights use a halogen lamp where the bulb contains a halogen gas such as iodine or bromine to improve the life and efficacy of the bulb.

The LED Flashlight

Powerful light emitting diode flashlights have steadily been replacing incandescent bulbs since the early 2000s. Before this, flashlights had been improving in very subtle but (still) noteworthy ways. The first company to introduce LED flashlights was the Lumileds Corporation. The first LED Flashlight to be introduced was a high powered white light LED named the Luxeon LED. The first model of the Luxeon LED was the Arc LS which was designed in 2001.

Unfortunately, these early LED flashlights weren’t able to produce the same lumens as Incandescent lights at that time. But they are more efficient in terms of running time because they took less power. If you fast forward to the present day, you’ll realize just how many flashlights there are. Many people don’t know how to choose best flashlight or discern between an incandescent flashlight and a LED torch. Luckily, there are plenty of helpful resources on the internet to shine a light in the right direction?

The LED Flashlight can be considered as the modern day flashlight. Although incandescent flashlights are still extremely popular, because of their efficiency and affordability, LED flashlights are steadily rising in popularity and use.


High-Intensity Discharge flashlights are relatively rare. HID gas discharge lamps use a combination of metal halide salts and argon as a filler. HID lamps produce more light than a normal incandescent flashlight and they use less electricity to do so. HID lamps will also last longer and are more shock resistant than any regular incandescent bulb because they lack the relative fragility of electrical filaments found in incandescent light bulbs.

So why aren’t people using them more? The greatest reason for their lack of popularity is their unaffordability. They are expensive to make because of the ballast circuit required to start and operate the lamp. An HID Lamp also needs a short warm-up time before it reaches full output. A regular HID flashlight would a thirty-five-watt lamp and produce more than three thousand lumens.


The light and energy source aren’t the only aspects of the flashlight that have evolved over the years. A number of accessories have been developed to optimize and customize flashlight usage. There are accessories that alter the color of the light that the flashlight outputs. There are also accessories that force the light to disperse differently.

For instance, there are translucent colored plastic cones that can be slipped over the lens of a flashlight to increase the visibility when looking at the side of the light. These marshaling wands are used to direct motor vehicle traffic or aircrafts at night.

There are also lenses that can be slipped over the front end of the torch. These are generally used for signaling in places like railway yards. Hunters also use colored light to stalk or track injured prey.


Flashlights have come a very long way over these years. It feels as if society takes certain inventions like the flashlight for granted. We hope that through this article you’ve learned more about flashlights and appreciate them and their history a little more. Thank you for reading.

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