Solar Powered Flashlights as a Survival Tool

When it comes to getting proper survival gear together, one of the most important items to secure is a good and reliable flashlight. Darkness only makes survival situations more difficult and dangerous, and that bright beam of light can be an instant lifesaver in numerous situations. While there are many survival flashlights available on the market, a solar powered flashlight could be your best option for various survival situations.

Advantages

The benefits of solar-powered items have been enjoyed for various household items, but it’s important to cover the specific benefits that solar power offers for survival gear such as flashlights.

Always Usable

One of the main issues with traditional flashlights in survival situations is the fact that they’re completely useless once you run out of batteries. You can only carry a certain amount of disposable batteries with you in your survival gear, and many people forget to stock up on backup batteries in their gear. However, a solar powered flashlight will always be usable as long as the sun stays shining in the sky.

Less Weight and More Space

If you do remember to stock up on plenty of batteries for your flashlight, you’ll quickly notice that they take up a lot of space in your backpack or storage container. In addition, they can make your backpack much heavier depending on the size of the batteries. A solar powered flashlight doesn’t take up any additional space for backup batteries, and they not only lighten the load in terms of extra batteries but many solar powered flashlight options are lighter than traditional flashlights.

No Pollution

Disposable batteries create a lot of pollution as they aren’t biodegradable and contain hazardous materials. In a survival situation or even during minor power outages and sitting on the shelf, batteries can quickly die and corrode. They need to be changed out quite frequently whether you use them regularly or not, which creates a lot of waste both in landfills and in nature. However, solar power uses clean and efficient energy. The batteries within a solar powered flashlight can typically go for over seven years before they fail to hold a charge. You can change the battery in a solar powered-flashlight, but you’ll do it much less frequently than a traditional flashlight.

Disadvantages

No matter how good something may seem, nothing is perfect. There are some disadvantages of solar powered flashlight options that you should consider before buying one.

Recharging

The biggest disadvantage to solar powered flashlights is the fact that they do need to be consistently recharged even if they’re not currently being used. If your battery runs out of a charge, you’ll need to take a few hours to get it back to a reasonable charge. In addition, if you lose your charge in the middle of the night you’ll need to wait until morning or find a suitable alternative light source that can be used to get a charge. In the middle of a survival situation, especially outdoors, you’d be very hard-pressed to find any alternative light sources for a charge. You can use regular batteries for instant power if your flashlight has a battery backup, but you’ll be left without a light for several hours if you don’t have one.

Unreliable Power Source

Some solar-powered devices can soak up a bit of a charge in situations with very little sunlight such as cloudy or rainy days, but it’s not uncommon for solar batteries to be unable to get a charge unless the sun is actually shining for long periods of time. This can be both frustrating and dangerous if you’re in an area that has very inconsistent weather conditions.

Shorter Run Time

The average run time of traditional battery-powered flashlights varies greatly depending on the battery type, light bulb type and more. However, the average run time typically runs between 30 hours and over three days. The average run time for a solar powered flashlight is around 15 hours. The severity of this negative varies. On one hand, traditional flashlights last longer in terms of continuous use and can instantly be restored to full power with a simple battery change. On the other hand, you have a limited amount of batteries and may not be able to purchase more anytime soon.

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When is a Solar Powered Flashlight the Best Option?

A solar powered flashlight is best used in survival situations that involve being out in the wilderness with little to no availability of modern power sources such as generators. It is also most beneficial in areas that are well-known for having plenty of sunshine and good weather. A wide-open area with little tree cover also provides better charging ability.

However, these flashlights may not be as useful in situations where you may have frequent poor weather conditions or where there is a lot of tree cover and other obstructions to sunlight. For example, these flashlights would be a very poor choice for an emergency flashlight if you were intending on using it while spelunking.

How to Choose the Best Solar Powered Survival Flashlight

If you find solar powered flashlights to be an appealing option as an addition to your survival gear, you’ll need to be particularly mindful of a few aspects in order to ensure that you a high-quality flashlight for your needs.

Run Time

While the average run time for most solar powered flashlights is around 15 hours, some only run for about 10 hours or less. A run time of 15 hours is a good amount for survival flashlights, but it’s a good idea to seek out flashlights that run for as long as possible to get the most for your money.

Bulb Type

Most solar powered flashlight options run on LED bulbs, which are very bright and efficient for maximum effectiveness. However, you may find some that run on incandescent bulbs, which burn off more energy through heat than they do through light and tend to not be nearly as bright as LEDs. It’s very easy to tell LED lights from incandescent bulbs, but most packages display this information either way.

Recharge Time

The time that it takes to fully charge the flashlight is important, especially in survival situations. Generally a solar powered flashlights needs around six hours of direct sunlight in order to achieve a full charge. However, remember to not sacrifice run time for recharge time. If you can find a lower recharge time with a good run time, that would be greatly beneficial.

Charge Life

Like any battery, solar-powered batteries will also start to lose their charge after long periods of time without use. Most emergency supplies are kept stored away until they’re needed, which typically means your flashlight may be left sitting for quite a while. A good average charge life for a solar powered flashlight is around two years or more.

Conclusion

A solar powered flashlight can be a great asset in numerous survival situations, but they may not be the best choice in some conditions. Consider all of the pros and cons of a solar powered flashlight before deciding to buy one for your survival gear. If you do decide to buy one, ensure that you focus on finding a flashlight with good specifications that provide the best in quality and effectiveness for your needs.

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