Best Rechargeable Flashlights Reviewed and Rated
You wouldn’t think that rechargeable flashlights would be a bustling industry, but it turns out that choice is the best way to entice customers! With the move to LED there have been a lot of options for customers that want reliable flashlight options. And with that has come improved batteries with other emergency features. In this guide we reviewed some of the best rechargeable flashlights available out there, to win at the sport’s game.
Our Top 3 Picks
- Streamlight Stylus
- Easy Use
- Streamlight Stinger
- 295 Lumens
- Olight Baton
- Magnetic Tail
What Are The Best Brands?
Streamlight, Olight, Ryobi and ZeroHour seem to be the brands that people flock to the most. With all of their innovative flair, these brands have climbed to the top of the list of noticeable names. Along with their name recognition have come a lot of changes in their core products, which is why some companies may be listed twice on the list.
How to Maintain a Rechargeable Flashlight
The rules for keeping a rechargeable flashlight healthy are a lot different than regular electronic products, and that’s a good thing. Since the rechargeable battery is part of the unit and not removable, there is no worry about needing to remove the battery when it is not in use. In fact the best tip for maintaining the unit is by discharging it. This is done by leaving it on and then recharging it back to full capacity. This method prolongs the strength of the battery for years, and is a commonly used practice with smartphones.
10 Best Rechargeable Flashlights
1. Streamlight 65012
The best LED bulb on the list goes to this model, since its solid state bulb can last up to 100,000 hours. Many users won’t even get to half that time, so expect this to be the last flashlight you’ll ever need. When on it lasts up to 60 hours on a single charge, which is ridiculous when you consider its size and range.
Features and Specifications
Waterproof aluminum case
Nonslip grip with clip
Length is 6 ¼ inches
Glare guard protector is included
Uses three AAAA batteries
Limited lifetime warranty
With a dizzying array of stylus colors and light colors, this is the best flashlight on the list by far. It just misses out on being the lowest priced on the list by a couple of dollars, so is really good on the wallet. There isn’t a better value if you need a long lasting flashlight that can go anywhere.
The Streamlight 65012 Stylus covers all the important points when it comes to a flashlight. If you want rechargeable AAAA batteries, you can always buy them. But with such a long battery life, you won’t need to.
- Available with different base/light colors
- Can fit anywhere a regular pen can
- High intensity LED runs up to 60 hours
- LED bulb lasts a lifetime
- Easy use with push button and rotating tail clip
- Batteries included are not rechargeable
2. Streamlight 78014
There are a lot of options for this model, starting with the multiple color selections. Then from there buyers can choose to get the flashlight with a multitude of configurations with a charger, stand, a fast charger or all of the above. There is even an option for no charger and a single NiMH battery!
Features and Specifications
Xenon-halogen gas-filled bi-pin flashlight
Adjustable focus beam
30 hours of life on one charge
Aircraft aluminum anodized body
Unbreakable polycarbonate lens
Weighs 1.1 pounds
Length is a long 11 ¾ inches
This is about the price you would expect for a product of this quality, and it isn’t too high and is low enough to be accessible to all customers. Since there are different versions that can be purchased, then buyers can stick to what they want. Currently the available models are: 12V DC Charger/Holder, 12V DC Fast Charger, 120V AC Charger/Holder, 120V AC Fast Charger, 120V AC/DC Charger/2 Holders and just the base unit.
You can’t go wrong with this purchase, since you’ll gain control of one of the most powerful flashlights in the world. Even with no LED, it still climbs firmly into number two on the list.
- A LOT of customizable options and accessories when buying
- Lens is the best on the list
- Variable spot to flood beam
- World class Xenon-halogen bulb
- 295 lumens
- Lifetime limited warranty
- Lack of LED will turn off some buyers
3. Olight S10-XML2
This is one of those extra features that some wouldn’t consider a killer feature, but works out that way. Packed with a magnetic tail, the flashlight can sit in any position on a magnetic surface. Professional workers will find a lot of use with this if they work in shops, along with a lot of residential users that need a flashlight for their garage.
Features and Specifications
400, 85, 5 and .5 lumen modes
CREE XM-L2 LED
Weighs 1.48 ounces
Time based thermal management
Even without the batteries, this turns out to be a good purchase since it is low priced. Think of this as a higher spec S10R. It would have been nice of them to include batteries and a dock, but since only one type of battery is needed it’s not a big deal.
The magnetic tail really is an awesome feature of this mini flashlight. If that doesn’t inspire most customers, then a runtime of 360 hours should be all the motivation you need to make this a top purchase.
- Small in size but incredibly powerful light
- Lowest brightness mode lasts up to 360 hours
- Aviation grade aluminum body
- Can use CR123A or RCR123A batteries
- Magnetic tail and belt clip makes it super portable
- Batteries aren’t included
4. Olight S10R
The S10R is the smallest flashlight on the list, and can completely disappear into your pocket or clip to your belt. A really big person will notice the flashlight is the size of their thumb! There are many situations where this can be beneficial, since not every customer wants to lug around a huge flashlight.
Features and Specifications
Micro-USB charging dock included
650mAh RCR123A rechargeable battery
Overheating protection with thermal management safety program
Memory function remembers last brightness level
Reverse polarity protection when changing batteries
Weighs 2.4 ounces
Dimensions of 3x1x1 inches
The price is perfect for what you get, and since it comes with a rechargeable battery and dock, the value is equally perfect. The S10R has one job and it does that job very well.
Finding another mini flashlight at this price is almost an impossibility. With everything that is included you’re getting a bargain, one that has catapulted this flashlight to number four on the list.
- Smallest flashlight on the list
- Uses standard Micro-USB fittings
- Battery power indicator glows red for low battery
- Automatically drops high output by half to manage overheating
- Can also use CR123A batteries
- Four brightness levels
- Charging dock is lower quality than the light
- Illumination could be better in certain instances
5. Ryobi Light 18V
The biggest feature of the unit is that it doesn’t use the superior LED technology. Not everyone is in love with LED, and this Ryobi model is a good reason why. The brightness of the light is very good in any situation, and heat is handled very well when used for long periods of time. If you are not set on getting an LED light, then this is the next best thing.
Features and Specifications
High intensity halogen filament bulb
Head swivels in multiple directions
Lightweight at only 9.6 ounces
Dimensions of 8.2×3.5×2.6 inches
Lens is removable
Durable for long periods of use
The price is unbeatable since it is the lowest, and the value is incredible since it can be modified as a low cost LED flashlight. The only thing that is debatable about its value is when you’re a Ryobi ONE+ tools user. Because of the compatibility with the entire set, if you’re a user of their other equipment it becomes a much better deal.
This is the most dependable flashlight available for a price this low, and since you can always modify it to your needs, it becomes the most customizable. Ryobi found a really good middle ground with this flashlight and it continues to be an unbeatable bargain.
- The lowest priced flashlight on the list
- Changeable lens allows LED bulb to be put in its place
- Comfortable, lightweight and easy to handle swivel
- Default bulb is one of the better ones on the list
- High capacity rechargeable battery
- Original bulb isn’t LED
- Is a better value if you have Ryobi ONE+ tools
6. ZeroHour Relic XR
The best feature of this model is the compact size and the ability to recharge it through any standard USB port. That means you can charge it on a computer, laptop, television, some appliances and even printers. Any USB device capable of outputting power will be able to charge up the flashlight so that it is ready for use whenever, and wherever.
Features and Specifications
Variable control ring
Waterproof battery backup
18650 lithium-ion battery
CREE XP-1 1,000 lumen LED
Dimensions are 6.2×1.5×1
Weighs 1.5 pounds
Stainless steel strike bezel
Micro USB charging cable
Microfiber carrying case and holster
Even if it is slightly above price, having a mountable mini LED flashlight that can be charged anywhere is an incredible bargain. This one is hard to beat, and if they had pumped up the LED just a tad bit more it would be the best on the list.
ZeroHour has created a flashlight that should be purchased by customers even if they have a regular LED flashlight. There is no better ‘companion’ flashlight that money can buy. And even when used as a regular flashlight, the Relic XR still ranks pretty high.
- 1,000 lumen LED is brighter than regular flashlights
- Mounts to bikes or weapons
- Small size
- Uses the same charging cable as Android smartphones
- Can charged anywhere where there is a power outlet of USB plug
- Uses the included 18650 lithium-ion battery or two CR123 batteries
- 1 and a half hours on a single charge
- Slightly expensive for its size
- Some regular flashlights beat it head to head
7. Olight SR96 Intimidator
The coverage of the 3 LEDs is incredible, with a brightness that really delivers what you would want from a top line flashlight. Wide areas will be covered instantly once you turn it on, and there really is no comparison when going from a regular filament bulb to LEDs.
Features and Specifications
3 CREE MK-R LEDs
Charger and 7800MAH battery pack included
Aluminum body with anti-scratching anodizing finish
Weighs 2.6 pounds
Dimensions are 10.9×3.5×3.5
Includes carrying case and shoulder strap
This is the Porsche of flashlights, and should be higher up on the list. But the lack of a pivoting head and the price will definitely put it out of the range of a lot of people looking for flashlights. The value is still good, and if it was a little less it could have easily been a top 3 product.
It’s hard to overlook the price of SR96 Intimidator, which lives up to its name. Customers that want a tough, bright flashlight with an unstoppable built in battery will love this product. For a more affordable option without sacrificing quality, check further down the list.
- Bright light capable of a high of 4800 Lumens
- 3 built in LEDs instead one 1
- IPX-6 water resistance
- Hard body lets it double as a self-defense device
- Precision reflectors are the best in their class
- Great heat dissipation
- Incredibly long lasting battery
- Double the price of the SL-20X
- No pivoting head option
8. Streamlight 26010 SL-20X
Streamlight offers three different styles for the SL-20X. One with a Charger which is 120 V, and one with the 12-Volt DC Charger and the aforementioned 120 V Charger. The last option is just the base unit, which is helpful for people who already have the accessories.
Features and Specifications
Aluminum which is aircraft graded with anodized finish
Unbreakable polycarbonate lens with coating that resists scratches
13 inches in length
1 and a half hours of runtime
100 hour lifetime per bulb
2 optional sleeves are included
Three position push button switch
Weighs 1.9 pounds
This is a high priced flashlight for a reason, and it at least gives you the option of purchasing the materials you want to come with it. When factoring in the cost of all available models, there is indeed a lot of value with this unit. This is what the pros use, and it’s easy to see why.
Customers that want to fork out the money to get the best will have to dig deep for the SL-20X. This won’t be the only time Streamlight is on the list and there are fewer products that are better.
- Tough professional grade materials that will last a lifetime
- Lens is as tough as the handle material
- Powerful filament keeps the light shining strong
- Comes with 2 sleeves rather than 1
- Battery comes WITH the unit
- Optional styles available so you only pay for what you want
- Push button is strong and won’t wear over time
- One of the most expensive flashlights on the market
- Battery might develop a memory issue if it isn’t drained full before each charge
- Not LED
9. Makita ML902
The included carrying strap and storing case might not be appreciated at first. But when you’re doing a lot of packing for a trip and the flashlight has its own little space, then it begins to make a lot of sense. Makita threw in a pretty high quality case, one that should last just as long as the flashlight it’s carrying.
Features and Specifications
Storing case and carrying strap included
1 year limited warranty
Replacement bulb bundled
6 voltage battery compatible
Weighs 7.2 ounces
Dimensions are 12.5×2.5×3 inches
Without the inclusion of a battery or charger, the price does go up a bit if you don’t already have it on hand. The ML902 is a low priced rechargeable flashlight on its own, even when you factor in buying the needed accessories. It just so happens the deal is better when you already own Makita branded 9.6 pod batteries!
With the same light coverage as the ML120 and a longer operating time, this is the better choice if you want a Makita product. The only reason to choose the ML120 over the ML902 is if you already own 12 volt pod batteries from Makita.
- Smaller than the ML120 but provides same coverage
- 6 volts uses less power
- Angles at 0, 45, 90 or 110 degrees
- Storing case is sturdy enough to take some drops
- Up to 2 hours of use on a single charge
- Replacement bulb stores in head
- Battery and charger not included
- Not LED
10. Makita ML120
The replacement bulb that can be stored in the head of the unit is a very good emergency option in case the original one goes out. It’s also convenient, and keeps you from having to carry around an extra case or bag. Changing bulbs on the ML120 is one of the most painless experiences you’ll go through.
Features and Specifications
Pivoting head with the option for multiple positions
Space bulb is included with the packaging
Shoulder strap comes bundled
Powered by 12 Volt Makita pod batteries
Resistant against moisture with sealed switch
Weighs 0.57 pounds
Length is 10 11/16 inches
This one is a little hard to gauge, because the price is low on the base product. But since the flashlight doesn’t come with a battery or charger, that is an extra cost that has to be accounted for. Even when factoring that in this is still a good deal for most people. Just be aware that extra purchases have to be made after the initial one.
With the many choices on the list, the ML120 is still a great buy. Owners of previous Makita products will get the better deal, since they are more likely to have the extra batteries lying around. For everyone else it is still a great choice, but check out the other items on the list to get a better grasp of what’s available.
- Makita pod style batteries are incredible
- Uses any 12 volt Makita pod battery
- 130 minutes of continuous use on one charge
- Flashlight has 4 positions (0, 45, 90, 110)
- Replacement bulb is stored in the head
- Lightweight and can be stored in most emergency cases
- Batteries and charger are sold separately
- Flashlight head is smaller than their other flagship model
- Not LED
Criteria For Evaluation
Most of the list focuses on the advancements made with small to medium sized rechargeable flashlights. There are no big performance gains by going large, and the user gets portability without losing too much power. In many professions the larger rechargeable flashlight would be the better choice, but the industry has shown that it can pack a lot of light into smaller cases. The top three performers on the list were Streamlight Stylus, Streamlight Stinger and Olight Baton. Just with the top three, you get a good idea of what brand made the biggest impact on the top ten list.
Ease of Use
The first criteria that we looked at was how easy it was to use the flashlight. This covers cycling through the various modes, changing and charging the batteries and of course any extra settings. Flashlights shouldn’t have too many buttons on the surface, with a fairly simple setup so that they can be used in the dark. In rare cases, two handed operation was more comfortable than a single hand setup. When this happened, we excluded the product from the list. With all of our flashlights needing only one hand to fully operate, we met the ease of use criteria without any problems.
Brightness was next on our list, and we didn’t show any favoritism based on the size of the product. That means a flashlight that was the size of a pen was held to the same standard as a medium sized flashlight. This was a hard criteria to go through when you factor in the brightness settings needing to be matched up. We went through all available brightness settings, matching each products lowest, mid (if applicable) and highest settings. There was a difference in them all, with some making a big jump from the lower settings. Weight was factored in with the rankings, with some size criteria sneaking in. Since we rated brightness and power settings based on the product rather than its size, then lower weight equaled a higher ranking. The previous brightness criteria made ranking the products by weight much easier.
We added in a size requirement with our weight rankings, but restricted it to length. This ensured that most of the products in the list were capable of going into pockets, small bags and other carrying items not provided by the manufacturer. The weight criteria also explains how the Streamlight Stylus made it so high up the list.
We looked at durability but didn’t put all of the focus on resistance to elements like water. So being waterproof didn’t guarantee a high ranking, even if it is a desirable quality. Durability was all about how much of a beating the housing of the flashlight could take. Scratch resistance ranked high, and little things like buttons worked their way into our final decision in the durability criteria. The tougher the flashlight was to roughhousing, the higher a score it got. Some of these flashlights gained great favor for being usable in hunting sessions, proving that you didn’t need a specialized model for the activity.
Branding is why Streamlight is on the list multiple times, with a strong showing with their Stylus and Stinger. Both products made Streamlight the best company to buy rechargeable flashlights from. They are consistent in quality and with the type of LED’s they use, lasting for years without losing its top quality. The Streamlight was also a rare inclusion on the list, using a non-LED bulb. This is proof that when a company packages their flashlights with top tier products, it can still succeed even without the use of LED. With this being a rechargeable flashlight top ten, we put major points toward how effective the batteries were.
Battery effectiveness was based on how quickly the batteries charged, their ease of removal, cost of batteries and of course whether they dulled the brightness when they were running low. Automatic dimming of a flashlight when the batter is low is both unnecessary and annoying. Not every product does this, but we adjusted the list in favor of the products that don’t. We were able to balance the list, putting the flashlights with the best performing batteries in their proper place.
Features and Modes
Products that had the most light modes review better with customers that have multiple uses. This is excluding brightness settings, and is about looking at flashlights with SOS, strobe and other modes. Surprisingly, there really wasn’t a lot of variation between all of the models. Every now and then a flashlight would introduce a unique light mode, but nothing that could be considered innovative. We broke down this criteria into a ‘how well does it work’ category and had much better success. Flashlights that have a laundry list of features can still fall short of expectations if those light modes are not executed well.
The design criteria looked at various attributes of the flashlight products and how well they worked in everyday settings. Small things like clips, lanyards and even rubberized material were factored in. Some of these designs made it easy to hold, while other designs were purely for aesthetics. We looked at the designs that would have the most impact with a buying decision. So while aesthetics didn’t add anything to the usefulness of the product, it still shouldn’t be ignored as a primary criteria.
The last thing we looked at was any included accessories. Products that gained a lot of points with this criteria included everything out of the box like the charger, batteries and even a case. When a case/pouch wasn’t included, we didn’t penalize the product since this wasn’t always needed. Flashlights like the Streamlight Stylus including a case would have been pointless. The Stinger is a different story, and would greatly benefit from having a case or pouch included. Our accessory criteria was weighed in favor of having everything in the package. The less a customer had to purchase separately to enjoy their new flashlight, then the higher the rating. Accessory prices also helped in the rankings, with the lower prices driving better products to the top of the list.
Do You Have To Fully Charge Rechargeable Batteries Before Using Them?
This is at the user’s discretion. Charging batteries to their full capacity (or discharging them then charging) before use is done to keep the battery fresh. Like all battery, misuse over the years will slowly degrade their optimal performance.
How Long Do Rechargeable Batteries Last?
Rechargeable batteries lose their top capacity over time the more they are used, and this is unavoidable. The loss of top power isn’t really that bad since it takes thousands of recharges to even get to that point. And even when it loses the ability to be topped off, the batteries still maximize at a good portion of their power, around 80%. The drop off isn’t really that noticeable unless you are using them for hours at a time per day. But the bottom line is that it doesn’t bother the brightness of the light or its normal functions other than total runtime.
How Many Times Can You Recharge A Rechargeable Battery?
Although not brand specific, you should refer to the brand of batteries you’re using for a better idea. Even then, it is not an exact science since they can’t factor in how much you use the batteries and if you’re discharging them correctly. Some rechargeable batteries last a lifetime if they are discharged properly, while others may begin to rapidly lose charge within a year. It all comes down to how you take care of it.
What Features Are Most Important In A Flashlight?
Lumines, run time, bulb life. Pay attention to those three, and you’ll always get the necessary model.
Why Are LED’s Preferred?
LED’s have long since been the preferred bulbs for portable flashlights due to their long lasting life and energy efficiency. They are found in more than just flashlights, and have become the default bulb type for a variety of home and office products. A home fitted with LED lights can save a significant amount on the energy bill, and it is so noticeable that some governments offer rebates as an incentive to switch. So how well does this work in portable form? The smaller housing of the LED flashlight gains even more efficiency, and it pretty much lasts for the lifetime of the device.
Do You Need An Extra Product To Recharge?
This will vary, since not all rechargeable flashlights come with removable batteries. If the product allows it, you can charge their batteries by plugging in the flashlight, just like you would with a smartphone. It’s an idea solution for consumers that don’t want to take the batteries out. When dealing with removable batteries that can be recharged, you have the option of putting them in a supplied charger. Not all products come with a separate charger, and it may be necessary to purchase one separately. All of these differences with power options introduces a lot of customization for informed customers.
What Are Some Of The Most Favorable Modes?
Moonlight, strobe and SOS are the usual modes you’ll get when purchasing a rechargeable flashlight. A con of many of the products on the market is that you have to switch through the various modes one by one until you find the correct mode. If there are only three modes then it isn’t a big deal, and can be done in one smooth motion. But when you get a product that is equipped with a lot of modes, then it can get a bit tedious until you get the hang of it. This applies to a lot of the top tier products too, so it isn’t simply related to lower tier rechargeable flashlights.
Will A Crack In The Glass Make The Flashlight Useless?
It won’t make the product completely useless, but it does lower the effectiveness of the flashlight tremendously. This is most noticeable when the cracks start to introduce fog. They don’t have to be deep cracks for this to happen, so even a small break could spell trouble. When the lens fogs up, the light is dull, losing a lot of the brightness needed in dark situations. You also introduce the flashlight to possible damage if water trickles down into the cracks and hits the bulb. It is recommended to always repair a crack in a flashlight as soon as possible so that it can’t do further damage.
Is There A Way To Prevent Shortened Battery Life?
There is no foolproof way to guarantee that a rechargeable battery will keep 100% of its charge for a lifetime. But you can keep it from degrading too fast, and even escape the possibility of it destroying the flashlight. Just like normal batteries, rechargeable ones are prone to leakage or explosions. This is likely to happen when it is stored in conditions where it is extremely hot. It is also likely to happen when they are left in the device for a long time without being used. Leakage due to unused batteries is common, although less likely than past types thanks to technical improvements. If you’re not going to use a flashlight for weeks at a time, it is best to remove the batteries (if they’re removable) and put them in a safe place.
How Do You Clean A Rechargeable Flashlight?
Other than keeping the lens clean with a microfiber cloth, the only thing you should worry about is the contacts for the batteries. Once a month it isn’t a bad idea to take the batteries out and clean the contacts with a small solution of white vinegar. This isn’t just a great tip for getting rid of corrosion from exploded batteries, and it works well in general cleaning situations to keep the contacts in good shape. Make sure to get it as dry as possible with a separate towel that is lint free. Small checkups like this once a month can prolong the life of the flashlight in multiple ways, and at minimal cost.
Are The Flashlights Waterproof?
Only some flashlights are waterproof, and some have such low resistance to water that they get damaged from condensation. A good balance to strike is between those two types, unless you are primarily going to use it in wet conditions. Rechargeable flashlights are tightly packed with a good housing, so at the very least it will provide some shielding when the weather gets out of hand. Even if a product doesn’t mention specific waterproofing features, you will get decent protection if the build quality is high.
Is It Important To Have A Carrying Case Or Pouch?
It doesn’t hurt to have a carrying case or pouch, but it isn’t always necessary. Some of the rechargeable flashlights available are so small that they can fit in your pockets. They also contain various things to help with carrying like lanyards and clips. With smaller devices having as much brightness as the larger ones, it only makes sense to worry about a case or pouch when you have a bigger device.
How to Make the Best Decision
Budget concerns come into play since not all the models on the list come with batteries. If money is a bit tight, then investing in a rechargeable flashlight that comes with all you need is a must. Size is something else that needs consideration, and is the reason some people have a ‘main’ flashlight and a ‘companion’ flashlight. Now companion flashlights have become just as powerful as their bigger counterparts, so investing in a small model is a good idea since you can always have your best flashlight on you. Lastly, LED is the standard, but that doesn’t mean it is a must. The second best item on the list is not LED, so don’t let it be a deciding factor on which type you choose.