Friday, April 07, 2006

A flashlight that never needs batteries

If you're going camping or traveling for an extended period, a flashlight (torch) is an essential item. The problem is, they go through a lot of batteries, meaning you have to carry spares or run the risk of your flashlight fading out at an inopportune time. For me, that time came when I was halfway up a Java volcano during a hike that started at 3:00 a.m.

If you're concerned about the environment or just get tired of buying new batteries, one easy solution is to switch to a perpetual flashlight. A flashlight that needs no batteries. There's not even a crank to deal with: you just shake it back and forth for about 30 seconds and the charge lasts a good 20 or 30 minutes. When it starts getting low, you shake it again and you're recharged.

I'm no engineer, but they work through a coil and magnet mechanism that, in theory, should not wear out. I have had one of these die on me, but I think it was a faulty on/off switch, rather than the charger. I've had another one I've been using for three years, with not one acid-filled battery to dispose of.

These flashlights used to be curios you saw in the Sharper Image catalog, but now they're everywhere. I've bought a few on eBay as gifts for as little as $10 and have even seen them for sale on those little gift flaps on a credit card bill envelope. If you want to be more secure about the quality, however, you can get one from
Magellan's (Freedom Flashlight) or (search for Nightstar) for $25 to $30.

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