Reuben's Home Inspection Blog

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This home inspector's obsession with flashlights

Why are home inspectors obsessed with flashlights?  It's probably because flashlights are one of the few tools that home inspectors just absolutely couldn't do an inspection without, and it's the only tool that keeps getting better and better every year.  Now please excuse me while I geek out.

Every time I get a new flashlight, I swear to myself that it’s the last flashlight I’ll ever need, and nothing could ever top it. The I’m-in-love-with-my-new-flashlight glow seems to wear off around the second month of ownership… but even sooner if I have the misfortune of reading about some other flashlight that would have been brighter and longer running for a similar price.

The flashlight I’m using now is a Fenix TK35, which I’ve had for just over two weeks, and still quite in love with. The day I got it, my wife had to tell me not to take it to bed. I had no plans to write a love letter blog post about it, but after reading a recent review of flashlights in the ASHI Reporter where my flashlight wasn't mentioned, I had to.

Twelve flashlights were compared in the review, but I think this one tops ‘em all. This little light cannon has the power of a spotlight, yet it’s small enough to fit in to your pocket.  It wasn't as bright as the brightest flashlight reviewed, but it's also less than half the price and it's far smaller.  To give you an idea of how powerful this light is, I compared several lights by shining them against a garage a night.

In the photo below, I laid out a three D-cell MagLite for comparision, which is flashlight shown on the bottom.  The middle flashlight is the TK35, and the top one is the TK11, which has obviously seen some wear.

Comparison of Flashlights

In this next photo, I have the headlights on my Silverado shining against the garage as a point of reference.

Silverado

The next photos show the TK35, the TK11, and the MagLite, respectively.

Fenix TK35

Fenix TK11

MagLite

For the past 2 ½ years I've been using a Fenix TK11, and it's been an unfailing light the entire time, even after taking a fall off a two-story roof on to concrete.  I expect to get the same ruggedness and durability out of the TK35.  This flashlight is almost as small, ridiculously bright, and has a long run time - 1 ½ hours on the 820 lumen setting.  I've only done a few inspections with it, but I’m already spoiled.

The batteries are the same 18650 lithium ion batteries that my TK11 took, except it takes two batteries, not one like the TK11.  I've had the same batteries for my TK11 ever since I got it over two years ago, and I haven't noticed any drop in performance.  I use my flashlight all week long, then I put the batteries on the charger over the weekend.

If you’re looking for the latest and greatest flashlight, this is a great choice for the money.  If you know of a better flashlight, I'd love to hear about it.

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections

        

Comment balloon 18 commentsReuben Saltzman • January 10 2012 06:09AM

Comments

Too funny.  Did your neighbor call 911 after watching you shine all those lights on your garage door?  I love your blogs. Waiting for another album of wild inspection discoveries.

Posted by Barbara Tattersall, GRI (Keller Williams Realty Metropolitan (Keene,NH)) almost 7 years ago

Hi Barbara, as it turned out, one of my neighbors was out walking as I was walking out of my house with my arms full of flashlights.  He mentioned that he had seen my blog in the local newspaper and started asking what other stuff I wrote about.  It was quite convenient, as I had a great explanation for what I was about to do :)

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) almost 7 years ago

I am going to print this blog off and give it to my husband, another flashlight junkie.   I think we have one in every room.

Posted by Bud & Beth McKinney, Cary/Raleigh/Apex NC - The Team That Cares, RE/MAX United (RE/MAX UNITED) almost 7 years ago

Maglights are crap.  I have used my rechargeable Streamlights for many years.  I have two, each putting out 185 lumens.  I love my little Streamlight Stinger, small, but also putting out 185 lumens.  It is different light, blue light, though, as it is LED.

I will have to look into a little bugger that gives 850!

When I need my big light, I get out The Illuminator, a whopping 2 mil candles.  It can light up an airliner at 35,000 feet!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

I just looked at the Fenix series and that little 45 looks good too, 450 lumens.  But for $10 more why not go to 850?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

Beth - as you should have! :)

Jay - agreed.  I don't even know why I own a Maglight or where I got it.  I think I've just always had it.  I used a Streamlight UltraStinger for many years, and I thought it was the greatest thing ever... until I got my first LED flashlight.  The only thing I miss about my Streamlight is that it also doubled as a club.

Did you know there's an LED adapter you can get for your Streamlight to make it way brighter and last way longer?  Check it out - http://www.google.com/products/catalog?q=Streamlight+ultra+stinger&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=shop&cid=3916778340171101766&sa=X&ei=iy0MT8KYAoWsgwfaoZy_Bw&ved=0CJEBEPICMAY .  I haven't touched my Streamlight for the past couple years, but now that I know about this LED retrofit, I'm going to have to pick one up and start using my Streamlight again.  I think I'll start giving it to my clients to use during the inspections.  I always feel bad when my clients are trying to use the LED flash on their mobile phone as a flashlight.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) almost 7 years ago

We all own Maglights because they were THE flashlight for years!  Even the cops use them still - because of their weight and club ability.  But they do not produce good light, even with the "upgrade" bulbs!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

I use the Fennix TK 40 which I have had for about 2.5 years. It has 4 settings, the brightest 630 Lumens. It was reviewed in ASHI report a while back. Blows away the stinger. It takes 8 AA batteries. I use rechargeables, which are the same batteries I bought with the light. Good rechareables are WELL worth the little extra $. The 35 looks like something I might need soon :)

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) almost 7 years ago

I love the visual sample you provided. Wow. It does make alot of difference.

Posted by Loreena and Michael Yeo, Real Estate Agents (3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Frisco TX Real Estate Co.) almost 7 years ago

I have two Fennix TK 40 (I lost one then found it) I love these lights I have been using mine for 2.5 years also. I do like the size of the 35 and might need to add one to my flashlight collection.

Posted by Brad Gotham (Granite Peak Inspection, Inc. ) almost 7 years ago

Reuben, a big boy has "bigger" toys... my particular fascinations at the moment run from darts to pens, and hot on my wish list is a thermal imaging camera

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) almost 7 years ago

Ditto what that guy Jim said---the TK 40 rocks---all the TK flashlights rock.  I can't understand why there is even a market for the non-LED type flashlights anymore.  Must be people just trying to get rid of stock as far as I am concerned.  One of its huge plusses for me is NO PROPRIETARY BATTERIES!

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 7 years ago

Jay - I'm thinking about getting that upgrade kit for my streamlight just so I won't have an expensive club...

James - what's the life like on the TK40?  Eight batteries seems like kind of a pain, but if you only have to change 'em out once a week, it wouldn't be a big deal.

Loreena - definitely :).

Brad - It seems a lot of people are in love with that flashlight.  At least the batteries are easy to find.

Chris - darts?  Pens?  IR CAMERA?  Just for fun, huh?  I guess I can't say I blame you :)

Charles - that's one thing I love about the TK11 and TK35; the 18650 is a fairly common Li-ion battery, and it lasts forever. 

 

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) almost 7 years ago

Reuben, I have a Fenix knock off that is very bright and durable also, Its a ultrafire. The 18650 is an awesome battery, love it. Last so dang  long.

I have a ultrastinger also I really am not so impressed with. Very expensive for what you get. And battery time sucks.

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

Donald - I've heard ultrafire is very popular with law enforcement... or was it surefire?  Either way, they call Fenix the knockoff :).   

That bulb upgrade might be able to breath new life in to your ultrastinger.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) almost 7 years ago

That is the same "complaint" I have heard from other inspectors. Of course many of those guy LOVE their Stingers. I had one guy tell me, "why do I need such a bright light". Huh? I get a week or sometimes a little more from the batteries. I would have no problem using those li-ions, they are as you say a common standard cell. I think I just found my next flashlight :)

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) almost 7 years ago

Rueben~Great review. My mini-mag just isn't cutting it anymore, and besides its very dated. I don't use a flashlight nearly as much as you inspectors, but there are those times when I couldn't be without one. Thanks!

Posted by Michael S. Bolton, MN Appraiser (Michael S. Bolton,Inc.) almost 7 years ago

January ASHI Reporter has a flashlight comparison. What did you think of it? I can't believe they included a "Dorcy" flashlight in the comparison. The article seems like it's missing some of the ones we are either already using or are aware of. 

Posted by Hank Spinnler, Atlanta Home Inspector (Harmony Home Inspection Services of GA) almost 7 years ago

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