This home inspector’s love affair with flashlights

This home inspector’s love affair with flashlights

By In Flashlights On January 10, 2012


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 Washington home inspector Rick Bunzel’s 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 – Email – Maple Grove Home Inspector

        


About the Author

Reuben

Reuben is a second generation home inspector with a passion for his work. He grew up remodeling homes and learning about carpentry since he was old enough to hold a hammer. Reuben has worked for Structure Tech since it was purchased by Neil in 1997, and is now co-owner of the company. Reuben’s favorite customers are the ones who have a lot of questions; he grew up thinking he was going to be a school teacher because he enjoyed teaching others so much. In a sense, that’s a lot of what home inspections are about, so Reuben truly does what he loves. Reuben has an A.A. degree in liberal arts and has attended most of the Building Inspection Technology classes at North Hennepin Community College. Reuben and his wife are the proud parents of two young childen, Cy Alexander and Lucy Nicole, and have a German Shepherd named Stanley. With two young children Reuben doesn’t have much free time, but he still tries to play disc golf as often as possible during the summer. Reuben lives in Maple Grove, MN. Professional Qualifications / Memberships: *ASHI Certified Inspector *President, ASHI Heartland Chapter *Member, Minnesota Society of Housing Inspectors (MSHI) *Licensed Minneapolis Truth-in-Sale of Housing Evaluator *Licensed Saint Paul Truth-in-Sale of Housing Evaluator *Licensed Maplewood Truth-in-Sale of Housing Evaluator *Licensed Hopkins Truth-in-Housing Evaluator *Licensed Robbinsdale Point of Sale Evaluator *Affiliate Member, Southern Twin Cities Association of Realtors

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13 Comments

  • Reuben Saltzman 2 YEARS AGO

    No favorite brand; I have used both UltraFire and Tenergy, and they both work fine.

  • Adam 2 YEARS AGO

    Any particular brand you like?

  • Reuben Saltzman 2 YEARS AGO

    Hi Adam, I use the 18650 batteries. They're great.

  • Adam 2 YEARS AGO

    What li ion batteries do you use. I haven't found good reviews out there so I've stuck with the disposalables.

  • Scott Warga 3 YEARS AGO

    A good flashlight it a treasured tool. I use a streamlight HD LED and love it but I also carry a cheap Coleman I bought at Walmart for $25 on my home inspections as a back up. It has 200 Lumens and uses 3 AAA batteries. Works great. Nice job on your blog

    • Reuben Saltzman 3 YEARS AGO

      Thanks. I've started letting my clients use my backup flashlight - I feel bad when they're tagging along trying to use the LED light on their phone :)

  • Louisville Home Inspector 3 YEARS AGO

    The TK35 is my tool of choice as well. Great article. The fall from 2 stories high must have left a mark? What happened?

    • Reuben Saltzman 3 YEARS AGO

      Just a little ding on the tailpiece of the TK11. No big deal :)

  • Reuben Saltzman 3 YEARS AGO

    BigguyZ - the TK35 definitely has a good dollar-to-lumens ratio. Milind - the TK21 has a rating of 449 lumens. This could only end in tears.

  • Milind 3 YEARS AGO

    I'll bring the epic TK21 for a showdown.

  • BigguyZ 3 YEARS AGO

    I was at Home Depot yesterday, and I walked past the flashlights. Since I read this post yesterday, I checked them out to compare. The 200 lumen ones were very bright- and $50 at that. So I can't imagine how bright 820 lumens is! but for the output, that seems like a decent deal for $110 comparably....

  • Reuben (not the inspector) 3 YEARS AGO

    Sounds like a good flashlight! But I gotta ask... what's up with the siding on your garage? Looks like you had to replace a few panels and couldn't find an exact color match.

    • Reuben Saltzman 3 YEARS AGO

      Oh man, you got me Reuben. This house had hail damage which the previous owners chose not to fix. I had heard that hail damage could be a show stopper on an FHA appraisal, and I didn't want to be stuck without a house, so I hired a company to replace the damaged pieces of siding just before the appraisal... before I even owned the house. It was very short notice, so I told 'em to use whatever they could find - just get the job done. That they did, and there was no problem with the appraisal. Some day I'm going to replace all the siding in that section, but I haven't got around to it yet. I'm sure it bugs my neighbors a lot more than it bugs me :)