15 Fun Flashlight Facts That Are Guaranteed To Brighten Your Day

Shirin Biswas
Dec 21, 2022 By Shirin Biswas
Originally Published on Dec 22, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Niyati Parab
Read these flashlight facts to know which light bulb is used in flashlights.

Whether it uses an incandescent bulb or an LED, flashlights are amazing!

A flashlight may seem simple enough to construct today but back in the 19th century, the invention of this electronic device was a great feat. It was invented in New York by David Misell in 1899.

The first flashlight was a simple tool that had a primitive design and only a few elements. Over the years, many companies have monopolized through this invention and made sure that light reaches more and more people at an affordable price.

Misell's flashlight had a light bulb, a paper tube, a reflector, and three D batteries. Some of the elements have stayed in place over the years of development and some have been replaced completely but what has remained constant is the intention with which this English man invented flashlights.

The candles and kerosene lamps that were in use back then emitted a lot of heat and smoke, which was a health hazard.

In addition to this, these combustion-based light sources were also a fire hazard. They weren't particularly portable either.

Hence, this invention came in like a breath of fresh air to society. Keep reading to learn more about flashlights!

What are flashlights?

If you love camping or have been to places where the availability of electricity is scarce, chances are that you have already seen a flashlight or two.

These devices run on batteries and were invented in order to wipe away the troubles that came along with having to light candles and hurricane lamps.

These devices are known by two names, depending on the place where you live. If you live in or around North America, you would know the device as a flashlight.

However, if you are from any of the Commonwealth countries, the name that you would have grown up hearing is torch.

As is quite understandable, the name torch is a derivation of the light source used in forests in ancient times - a large flame at the end of sticks which showed people the way.

The name flashlight, on the other hand, is derived from the fact that people had to flash the lights from long distances in the past in order to pass on messages.

This is because the sources of energy were scarce and even the switches were made so.

The flashlight that was invented in the late 19th century, however, is a lot different from the many varieties that are now available in the market.

Understandably, many inventions have taken place, some of which have been able to reduce the manufacturing cost of flashlights, while still others have been able to take some of the bulk away from the initial model.

Facts On Flashlight Invention

Many things such as candles and lamps provide light, but the thing that drew people towards flashlights is the fact that these are portable electrical devices. The flashlight inventions also took away some of the risk factors associated with fire.

The battery-powered flashlights were thus not only preferable over combustion-powered lighting because of the safety factor but also because they were easy to carry around in times of need.

A British man named David Misell was the person who first invented flashlights in the year 1899. This invention gained momentum very quickly because it quite simply was the need of the hour.

This light-emitting device would take away a lot of the stress associated with candles and having to fetch some more every time they ran out.

One of the driving forces behind the invention of flashlights was the invention of dry cell batteries in the year 1897. For the first time in history, the world was introduced to batteries that did not use a liquid that had many risks of its own.

Dry cell batteries, on the other hand, use an electrolyte paste.

Even though battery life was an issue that was to be dealt with by inventors in the future, these small size batteries were able to make the invention of many electronic devices easier and more accessible. The first flashlight that Misell made used three D batteries.

Since then, the dry cell battery has been replaced by several flashlight-inspired electronic devices.

Flashlights are also the inspiration behind intrinsically safe flashlights, which enable people in inspecting places that are full of flammable gas. On the other hand, there are special flashlights that are now available in the market and make use of more sustainable ways of production of energy such as solar power.

The first flashlight used an incandescent light bulb. However, incandescent lamps have now been replaced with the tungsten filament bulb and a light-emitting diode. The invention of these portable electric lights also was the driving force behind the creation of the giant company called Eveready. Let's just say Misell's contribution cannot be measured easily!

A clear lens is used in a torch or flashlight.

Purpose Of Flashlights

Before the invention of small flashlights, the only sources of light output at places where there was no stable source of electricity were candles and lamps. These were undoubtedly useful but were a definite fire risk. They were not portable either, which left people wanting a more sustainable and easy solution.

The invention of the first flashlights was monumental since it gave people the option of inspecting areas in the dark without running the risk of burning something or even themselves. Can you imagine the woes of the police and other officials as they went to investigate a dark alley with a candle in hand!

The incandescent light bulb used in the first flashlights did have the capacity of providing a very limited amount of light, but the invention was enough to spark a new movement, which would then lead to greater inventions. The glass bulb in the first flashlight ever made was very small and was powered by a dry cell battery.

These very moderately-sized batteries were not at all tough to carry around.

The first flashlight consisted of a paper cylinder, reflector, battery, and bulb.

The reflector was used to focus the light beam and is something that is still used in modern flashlights as well. Although, much of the rest of the mechanism has changed and has been modified according to the nature of the task that the flashlight is intended to perform.

New Changes Made In Flashlights Since Their Invention

Modern flashlights are very different from the ones that were invented back in the late 19th century. From the use of a very small bulb to using large incandescent bulbs and light-emitting diodes, flashlights have changed for good. However, the fact that this invention was monumental for the industry, as well as the society, can never be denied.

In the 19th century, David Misell did not have access to light-emitting diodes. They were invented much later.

Hence, he made use of incandescent light bulbs in order to carry out his experiments and eventually invent something great. This model of a flashlight was very basic, and easy to handle, which made it accessible and less intimidating for the masses who were in dire need of such an electronic device.

Since the light source was not powered by combustion, the flashlight was a sigh of relief for many.

In the present day, however, flashlights no longer use primitive designs. Some use rechargeable batteries.

These rechargeable batteries could either be charged through electricity or through solar power. The incandescent bulbs and light-emitting diodes used in flashlights today provide much more light.

The covers now used in the production of flashlights are also lighter and easier to carry around. What has remained constant between the first flashlights and LED flashlights and novelty flashlights that we use today is the fact that they all have a very simple on/off mechanism.

The electrical circuit is completed when we press ON, and the light source starts working. When we press OFF, the circuit is broken and hence the incandescent light bulb or light-emitting diode would no longer get any power.

In the present day, we have helmet-mounted flashlights for campers and archaeologists, incandescent lamps for homes, and novelty flashlights for kids among many other varieties.

Did You Know...

Flashlights help us in observing the refractive index of diamonds, therefore telling us if they are real.

The Titanic did not have any flashlights, however, the movie does.

Phone batteries have similar flashlight principles as other portable ones.

To put AAA batteries in your flashlight, firstly turn the end cap on the base of your flashlight counterclockwise to open the battery case, then remove the battery holder. After that insert the batteries into the battery case. Make sure that you insert the batteries so that the + and – match the symbols to the right.

A flashlight uses a convex lens.

You can make a flashlight reflector out of aluminum foil.

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Written by Shirin Biswas

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Language and Literature

Shirin Biswas picture

Shirin BiswasBachelor of Arts specializing in English Language and Literature

With a degree in English from Amity University, Noida, Shirin has won awards for oratory, acting, and creative writing. She has a wealth of experience as an English teacher, editor, and writer, having previously worked at Quizzy and Big Books Publishing. Her expertise lies in editing study guides for children and creating engaging content.

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Fact-checked by Niyati Parab

Bachelor of Commerce

Niyati Parab picture

Niyati ParabBachelor of Commerce

With a background in digital marketing, Niyati brings her expertise to ensure accuracy and authenticity in every piece of content. She has previously written articles for MuseumFacts, a history web magazine, while also handling its digital marketing. In addition to her marketing skills, Niyati is fluent in six languages and has a Commerce degree from Savitribai Phule Pune University. She has also been recognized for her public speaking abilities, holding the position of Vice President of Education at the Toastmasters Club of Pune, where she won several awards and represented the club in writing and speech contests at the area level.

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