A bright idea?

This seems to be an especially prolific time for new product ideas. Some are amazing, while others leave you scratching your head.

The other day, I was working on a machine and needed a flashlight. The batteries were dead so it was off to the hardware store fort some new ones. While I was standing in line at checkout I had plenty of time to peruse the impulse buy items. The one that jumped out was a solar-powered flashlight.

I remember the first time I saw a solar-powered calculator and I thought that was a pretty cool idea. As long as you never needed to perform mathematical calculations after the sun went down, you should be OK. But thinking about the idea of a solar-powered flashlight unleashed my Monte Python side.

I get that the solar cell charges the battery so that you can use the light when there is no sun. I have one of these. It’s a big orange thing that was designed to be given to people living in undeveloped areas so they could read books at night. But it really is not very useful as a flashlight because the lamp is an LED that emits a weird, diffused greenish/blue light that would be totally insufficient in a situation where you needed a strong, bright, focused light.

I know there are some pretty decent solar flashlights on the market that probably work well. But I wish they would call them “solar chargeable” or something because “solar-powered flashlight” just hits my funny bone a bit too hard.



  • Rick L says:

    Even better is te crank recharge kind so you are not limited to the sun as flashlights get put in dark unseen corners. How many times have you reached for the flashlight in the glove box in the car and the batteries were dead? Not anymore with the crank recharge type. Also have the smart phone flashlight app to find the crank recharge flashlight. I even have a crank recharge headlamp for working on machines. No more trying to hold the flashlight while turning wrences with two hands.

  • Dennis says:

    I see your point, it does sound a little goofy. We sell a lot of flash lights in our store and one of them does recharge by any light source and that’s the way signage reads, not solar powered. you mentioned that the LED light you have has a weird look to it. It must be old LED technology. Most of our portable as well as some of the 110v lights we stock (and we stock a lot, I think my purchasing mgr. has a fetish for flash lights!) use LED technology. It is amazing the amount of bright white, almost like daylight, light that can come out of the smallest, longest lasting, LED flash lights these days. They really are the way to go. We have a 4″ long flash light that uses 3 AAA batteries that puts out more light than my 6 D cell, foot and a half long Maglite with a conventional bulb (it doesn’t make a very good “billy-club” though)

  • keith rowe says:

    Used to have a crank-style flashlight. Kept it in the car for emergencies. One evening I needed it – temperature was about 10 below.
    It was frozen stiff, handle broke off. oops! I took it in to a creative-type woodworker friend the next day to see if he could replace the handle. He thought it would be fun to hook it up to a power-drill. That was fun until the whole thing exploded. Wish I had video!

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