Let’s talk about the top 11 flashlights & best flashlight features that I’ve used in my home inspection business over the years.
- Fenix Flashlight
- Boxer Tools Flashlights
- Voidhawk Flashlight
- Rechargeable Inspection Flashlight
- Led Flashlights
- Zoomable Torch. Flashlights
- Maglite Flashlight
- Ultra Stringer Flashlight
- Rechargeable batteries vs non-rechargeable batteries feature
- Things to consider when choosing a flashlight for you as a home inspector
A Flashlight is most likely the number one piece of equipment that a home inspector relies on to do a thorough inspection. A Flashlight allows you:
- to illuminate dimly lit places
- see things that may not otherwise be visible
- to shed light on distant areas of attics, basements, crawlspaces and darker areas of the home.
Having a good dependable flashlight is crucial. There are a number of different types of flashlights out there that can provide good service for the best main light for a home inspection, such as:
- Non-rechargeable battery-operated flashlights
- rechargeable batteries operated flashlights
- Rechargeable inspection flashlights
- LED flashlights
- flashlights with incandescent light bulbs
- flashlights that are very small
- flashlights that are club like.
Selecting the right/flashlight for you depends on:
- The type of inspections you do,
- your physical size
- what feels good in the palm of your hand and
- what provides an adequate light source for the types of homes you inspect.
When I started in home inspection 16 years ago I started with a Maglite flashlight. This is an American-made flashlight that is very durable. The particular one I had used had three D cell batteries with replaceable bulbs.
The Maglite flashlight served me very well in my home inspections for a number of years.
However, the Maglite flashlight was not rechargeable, so there were costs associated with replacing the batteries. Also the light bulbs would burn out on a fairly regular basis.
Over a period of time, the cost of having to replace the batteries and the light bulbs far exceeded the cost of the flashlight.
The weight of the Maglite was other issue. It was very heavy. I had a nice belt hook on my toolbelt that would adequately hold the flashlight when not in use. However, the Maglite flashlight was still a heavy weight dangling from my toolbelt.
Ultra Stringer Flashlight
After using the Maglite flashlight for several years, I then switch to the ultra Stinger rechargeable flashlight. The ultra Stringer flashlight had approximately the same dimensions as the Maglite, however, the ultra Stinger flashlight was much lighter due to rechargeable batteries. The light bulbs did need to be replaced from time to time but still overall this was a far superior light to the Maglite flashlight.
The ultra Stinger flashlight provided more usable light and was much easier to handle. A fully charged battery would last all day through several inspections a day. The ultra Stringer flashlight was my go to flashlight for a number of years and when one flashlight would quit recharging or quit working properly, I would just purchase another ultra Stringer flashlight.
One of the things I liked about the Maglite flashlight and the Stringer flashlight was the switch. The switch to turn the light off and on was on the side of the shaft making it very easy to hold the flashlight and turn it off and on with your thumb. This was opposed to other flashlights coming out at the time that was more difficult to turn the light on & off.
After a number of years of using the ultra Stinger flashlight, I did switch to a LED flashlight with a rechargeable battery. The LED flashlights had removable batteries that were the 18650 size batteries. These rechargeable batteries come in various amp power ratings and are charged through a separate charger.
The first LED flashlights I had were double battery lights. There were approximately 6 inches in length. The exciting thing about this particular LED light was that it had a zoomable torch.
A zoomable torch allows you to focus the light beam to a very narrow pattern or also spread the light out over a wide area. The zoomable torch was a great feature that allowed a home inspector to see wide area but also zoom in where necessary. This was particularly useful in crawlspaces attics and basements. I found these first LED flashlights to be very good at providing quality illumination with a long lasting battery life.
The particular brand of LED flashlight that I started with was a Voidhawk Flashlight. The Voidhawk flashlights worked well for a number of months but then the LED flashlight would go dim and the flashlight would stop functioning.
In doing further research, I found that that the Voidhawk flashlight was manufactured in China and marketed under a very large number of brand names on the Internet. The Voidhawk flashlights were very inexpensive per (less than $10 each) on the Internet.
I started to buy these Voidhawk several flashlights together on a fairly regular basis.
After using the Voidhawk flashlights for several years, I found that the Voidhawk flashlight really did not last long, were not durable even though the manufacturer claimed that the Voidhawk flashlights were made out of aircraft aluminum and were high quality and would last a long time. The Voidhawk flashlight would just quit working whenever so I found that I needed to carry more than one light when going into a crawlspace.
Due to their relative inexpensive cost, I found that I could replace the lights many times over and utilize the same batteries from one flashlight body to the next. So if a Voidhawk flashlight only lasted for five months, I was happy to replace it and go on.
After purchasing probably 18 or 20 Voidhawk flashlights, I became very disillusioned and began searching for a better & more durable flashlight to use. The one thing that I really did like about the Voidhawk flashlights was the ability to zoom the beam. Unfortunately, I was not able to find a suitable replacement with the zoom feature.
At the recommendation of one of our termite inspectors, I transitioned to a compact size one battery LED light with tail switch. These small lights also use the 18650 rechargeable battery. The particular flashlights that I purchased were from a company called Fenix and the Fenix have been serving me very well for three or four years without any incident.
While these flashlights do utilize the 18650 rechargeable batteries, they will also work properly utilizing non-rechargeable 123 lithium batteries which can be purchased at a number of locations. I carry a set of these Energizer 123 batteries with me just as a potential backup.
I’m planning on continuing using the Fenix flashlight in my home inspections. These flashlights are purchased were in the $70-$90 range dependent on the specifics. The Fenix flashlights measure approximately 5 inches in length and three quarters of an inch in diameter and are very lightweight. I do not feel the additional weight of the Fenix flashlight in my tool pouch when doing a home inspection.
This has been my journey with the flashlights that I have used in my home inspector career. Your journey may take you in slightly different direction. One thing to be aware of is that many of the internet ads for LED lights claims tremendous lumens 10,000, 20,000, and 50,000lm and are largely exaggerated. A flashlight which produces between 1000 and 1800 lm should provide adequate light.
When LED lights came on the scene, I was hesitant to make the switch. The color of the light was very different from the Maglite flashlight and I wasn’t sure if I would ever get used to the white light from the LED.
Another type of flashlight which I find to be extremely useful in crawlspaces, basements and attics is a battery-operated headlamp. Headlamps strap around your forehead and can give you hands-free light which can be beneficial if you’re crawling through a crawlspace or trying to work on electrical panel in a dimly lit location. I also purchased a very high quality headlamp from Fenix. I believe that headlamp was around $60 but has served me well for a number of years.
I have seen other inspectors utilize a handheld lantern type flashlight that uses a large square six volt battery. These lantern flashlights tend to be rugged, durable and oftentimes waterproof. However the cost of replacement batteries can be overwhelming.
Selecting the Best Flashlight for You as a Home Inspector
Other issues to think about in selecting the best flashlight for you as a home inspector are the:
- light output
- operating expenses
- size and
- Fits comfortably in your hand
- Easy to access on & off switch
In the early days, I found that I could use the 1 foot length of the handle of the Maglite Flashlight as a crutch for ease in getting up off the floor which a home inspector typically has to do a dozen times or more during every home inspection. I thought that not having that feature would be an issue when I switched to the smaller compact format. However, I really didn’t miss that feature.
One other critical issue is the light output. The flashlight needs to provide enough light for you to do your job and provide light that is uniform in nature.
A high quality, extremely reliable flashlight is a critical piece of equipment for a home inspector. So consider the flashlight to be a long-term investment. Many of the better brands of flashlights may offer a lifetime warranty. Consider a lifetime warranty as home inspector’s flashlight is put through a torture test daily and needs to be very durable and always reliable.
The cost of a flashlight becomes very minimal
- When spread over a number of years,
- Has rechargeable batteries and
- Has the LED bulbs which never need to be replaced.
In searching for a suitable flashlight for your home inspections, ask a trusted field associate or other home inspector what flashlights they are using. These field tested recommendations can put you on the right track to finding a high-quality, suitable, and cost-effective flashlight for your home inspection business.