Whether you’re looking to get a UV flashlight for fun, for security, or for intense cleaning, it’s more than just about ordering the first one you come across. It’s going to become an item you use fairly often, so choosing it carefully is something you shouldn’t be skipping.
But how do you choose a UV flashlight? And even when you do know how to choose the best UV flashlight for your needs, which one do you get among the sea of options? These are two questions that aren’t really easy to answer, and if you don’t answer them well, you might make a somewhat expensive mistake.
Well, we’re here to help. We want you to make an informed buying decision, and in order to help you with that, we have two things. The first one is a list of the best UV flashlight models you can find at the moment. They’re all excellent, they’ve been proven in terms of performance and quality, and you won’t make a mistake with any of them.
But when you go over the list, you still have ten options, and that’s nine more than you would like. That’s why, right after the list, we’ve got a buyers’ guide on UV flashlights. We’ll go over how they work, some popular uses, as well as the criteria you’ll want to pay attention to in order not to make a costly mistake. Without wasting any more of your time, let’s kick things off with our list!
The best UV Flashlight options on the market today
1. Vansky 51 LED UV Flashlight
At a Glance
We’re starting things off with the Vansky 51 LED UV flashlight. It’s a budget offering that does make a lot of promises – bright light, large viewing area, just the right wavelength, etc. How does it hold up when we try to test out those claims? Let’s take a look at the Vansky, and see whether it’s worth it.
We’ll start things off on the outside. This isn’t one of those pocket-sized flashlights. With dimensions of 2.2 x 1.37 x 5.7 inches, it’s substantial. It also weighs 0.5 pounds, so it isn’t exactly lightweight either. However, the size does make for a very comfortable grip, and you won’t be worried that it’ll slip out of your hands. But just in case you are worried, there’s a lanyard at the end, to add a bit of safety. As far as the build quality goes, we’ve got no complaints about the Vansky. It’s obviously built to last, and even if you do drop it (don’t), chances are it will survive.
As the name implies, the Vansky comes with 51 LEDs. We’ll talk about this later, but 51 is actually quite good, as it will both give you decent performance, and won’t waste too much battery. In terms of performance, you can use the Vansky for more casual tasks such as revealing stains and urine from your pets or rodents in your home, as well as inspecting your hotel room to make sure it’s safe before you get in the bed. Oh, you can also see whether or not an ID card or currency is fake or not. It’s also a popular choice for people who want to spot scorpions, too. The light that is emitted is at 395nm, and each of the LEDs has an expected lifetime of up to 12 years, which is impressive.
So, how good is it? Well, we’ll be honest, you’ll see a lot of things with the Vansky that you couldn’t see with your naked eye. If you have a smell in your home and you can’t identify where it’s coming from, just switch the lights off at night and shine the light – you’ll definitely see what the issue is. If you don’t mind the fact that it’s a touch bigger than pocket-size, it’s definitely worth having it in your tool arsenal.
2. LOFTEK UV Tracker EVO
At a Glance
LOFTEK is another one of those brands that aren’t too popular, yet have truly great products that are very budget friendly. Their UV Tracker EVO is one of those products. It’s a pocket-sized flashlight with an adjustable focus, one that’s built really well and works admirably. At a very low asking price, we find it hard not to like it. Let’s take a closer look at it, and see how good it is.
On the outside, the UV Tracker EVO is built like a tank. The body is made of a 6061T aluminum alloy, which is sturdy and durable, yet very lightweight. It comes with a comfortable, textured grip area, which opens up into a head that’s honestly not that much wider than the body itself. Unless you’re wearing super skinny jeans, you’ll be able to easily fit this UV flashlight in your pocket. The actual dimensions are 5.1 inches in length and 1.2 inches in width, which is well within the compact segment. Oh, and it weighs 0.375 pounds, which is barely noticeable. The flashlight also comes with a small lanyard which adds a bit of security when you’re holding it. It is powered by three AAA batteries, which you do get in the box and should last you quite a bit.
As far as actual performance goes, you have a 395nm wavelength light, which is the standard and works very well. Unlike the options we had so far, the UV Tracker EVO only comes with a single 3W LED, but that doesn’t make it bad. It’s actually really good, and the focus adjustability makes it even better. You can choose between a tight, focused beam if you want to look at something that’s a bit further away, or a wider spread beam if you’re looking at things that are close to you. Either way, the UV flashlight works really well. The flashlight is made to be very durable as well, with LOFTEK claiming that the life expectancy of the LED itself is around 30,000 hours. Even if you were to leave it running 24 hours a day, that’s still three and a half years, which is very impressive.
So, is the UV Tracker EVO worth it? Well, considering the very low asking price, yes, we would say it is. Some people may find the single LED not as powerful as they’d like, but keep in mind this is a compact, pocket-size UV flashlight that you can carry with you just about anywhere. If that’s what you’re buying it for, you’ll find the adjustable beam of the 3W LED to be fairly good. Add to that the excellent build quality and durability, as well as LOFTEK’s 12 months warranty, and you’ve got yourself a great UV flashlight.
3. TaoTronics 51 LED UV Flashlight
At a Glance
TaoTronics are a very reputable brand in the budget electronics world. They’re also one of the leading manufacturers of some of the best UV flashlights, and their 51 LED UV flashlight is an excellent example of why this is the case. It’s a great flashlight, with a lot going for it, and a price that’s very reasonable for what you’re getting. Is it worth it, though? Let’s find out.
Starting things on the outside, you have a fairly basic design. There is a slim handle with a textured grip, which ensures that you’ll be able to comfortably hold it without it slipping, and the on//off switch is on a very comfortable place. The otherwise boring black aluminum design is made a touch more interesting with the white TaoTronics logo. That slim handle opens up in a very wide head. Some people aren’t really fans of this, but it is required in order to house the impressive 51 LEDs that are inside the light. The flashlight’s base can be unscrewed, and it reveals the location for the batteries. The flashlight is powered by three AAA batteries, but you’ll get them in the box, so that’s one less additional charge.
While we’re at it, you’ll also get a pair of UV sunglasses in the box. These aren’t too special, though, they’re a plastic pair of glasses that have a yellow tint. However, they do serve a purpose, and that is to allow you to pick out stains and other UV-sensitive areas more easily. They actually block out the blue light, which does help quite a bit. You can see a larger contrast between items that are fluorescent or stained, and the ones that are not.
In terms of performance, the wavelength is 395nm, which is just right. A large number of LEDs results in a fairly wide beam, and in all honesty, this is one very powerful UV flashlight. Sure, some people do complain about the weight and the size. It is 5.75” long and 2.2” wide, and weighs 0.43 pounds, which actually isn’t too bad. You can still carry it around wherever you want to, even though the large head doesn’t really make it pocket-friendly. Another thing that users tend to complain about is functionality. As it says in the quick start guide, the flashlight only works with dried, not fresh urine. This is a common complaint, but it has to do with how a UV flashlight works, and not the design of the TaoTronics.
At the end of the day, this is a very good UV flashlight. It covers all the basics – from the excellent build quality and comfortable design to the large head with plenty of LEDs and just the right wavelength. If you can look past the downsides, which honestly sound like nitpicking, this is a flashlight that you should definitely take a closer look at.
4. DARKBEAM UV Blacklight
At a Glance
The options we spoke about so far are all made to be used preferably indoors. They were all built well, but they didn’t have things such as water resistance or a particularly high-quality design. The DARKBEAM UV flashlight aims to change that, with a compact form factor and a host of excellent features, all at a very affordable price. If this has you interested, read on and see whether this should be your choice.
Let’s kick things off with the outside. Unlike other popular models which have a somewhat slim body and a much wider head, the entire build of the flashlight is more or less equally wide. At the back is a comfortable grip with a slight texture to it, and right in front of it is the on/off switch. It’s a large button that’s impossible to miss, making it great even when it’s pitch black. An interesting aspect is power. Unlike other models that make use of AA or AAA batteries, this UV flashlight is powered by a non-user-replaceable battery. It charges via USB, in a very interesting way. You’ll need to unscrew the rear cap, and inside you’ll find a male full-size USB connector.
To charge it, you’ll want to plug it into a USB wall plug, or a free USB port on your computer, and it starts charging. No cables to lose or take along with you, and you get a lanyard at the back. At the front, you’ll find that you can adjust the beam width, just like with the UV Tracker EVO we just spoke about, by extending the flashlight’s head. Narrow, tight width is excellent for objects at a distance, while the wide beam is good for covering larger areas.
Moving on to the performance, it’s actually fairly good. You have a single LED, but it’s a 5W one, which makes it very bright, and the wavelength is 395nm – just right. The life expectancy of the LED is 100000 hours, which is impressive, to say the least. Combine this with the aluminum alloy body, and you’ve got yourself a very durable UV flashlight. Also worth mentioning is the weather resistance. The flashlight is IPX6 rated, which means that rain or other types of water sprays won’t damage it. Chances are that even if you do submerge it under water for a short period of time, such as if you drop it, it will come out unharmed, but we’d advise that you don’t try this.
At the end of the day, this is actually an excellent compact flashlight. With a length of 3.7 inches and a width of only an inch, you can easily fit this inside your jeans’ pocket. Add to that the mere 0.15 pounds of weight, and you won’t even feel it there. The build quality is actually really good, and you have a single LED that has quite a bit of power and a very long life expectancy. All things considered, this is certainly one of the best UV flashlight options you’ll find on the market today.
5. KOBRA 100 LED UV Black Light
At a Glance
The KOBRA UV flashlight is the most powerful one on our list so far, with 100 LEDs. The design is somewhat similar to other options, albeit it’s larger, and this is definitely not one you want to lug around with you. However, if you’re in need of a UV flashlight that is very powerful and has a very wide beam, this just may be the best option for you. Without wasting any more time, let’s take a closer look at the details and see whether this is worth its price tag because it costs twice, or even three times as much as some other options that we’re discussing today.
Let’s start things off on the outside. Even though the style is similar to some of the other options on our list, the KOBRA is much larger, especially in the head. The entire handle is textured, which adds quite a lot of grip and makes sure the flashlight stays in your hand. It’s a very comfortable grip, and the placement of the on/off switch is just right, between the grip and the LED head. Now, about that LED head … honestly, it’s huge. Even though the entire handle is less than 2” wide, the LED head has a diameter of around 3.5”. This won’t fit in any pocket and is only comfortable for carrying around if you do it in a backpack.
However, it has to accommodate all those LEDs, so it’s understandable. Another thing that you’ll need to put up with is weight. It weighs almost 0.6 pounds, which is far from lightweight. There’s also no lanyard for you to put your hand through, so you’ll need to be careful. The body is made of machined aluminum, and the design is supposed to be both waterproof and shockproof. Even though this does add a bit of confidence in the product, we wouldn’t advise testing these claims.
Moving on to the performance, as we mentioned, there are 100 LEDs in the KOBRA UV flashlight. They result in a very wide beam, and one that is very powerful, thanks to the total 18W of power. The wavelength is just right at 395nm, and the LEDs have a life expectancy of 100000 hours, which is very impressive. The downside to all those lights is that the KOBRA is very battery hungry. It uses 6 large AA batteries, which can be installed by unscrewing the rear end and sliding out the battery carrier. While we’re at it, we should also mention that the batteries don’t actually come with the light, so you’ll need to supply them yourself. Once you do, you can expect around 20 hours of battery life per set, which is actually quite decent considering the performance you get from it.
It is a fact that the KOBRA isn’t a UV flashlight for everyone. It’s large, it’s heavy, and it uses quite a lot of batteries. However, there’s a reason it’s a favorite amongst law enforcement agencies and forensic teams – it performs really, really well. All those LEDs result in a very powerful beam and you can easily pick up stains or animal urine. It also helps that KOBRA give you a 1-year money back guarantee. If you have any issues with the flashlight within the first 12 months of owning it, you’ll be getting your money back. If you don’t mind the size and weight, and all the money you’ll be spending on batteries, the KOBRA is definitely one of the best UV flashlight options you’ll come across on the market today.
6. Findway 5 UV 12 LED (5 pack)
At a Glance
The Findway 5 is quite possibly the cheapest UV flashlight on our list. Just check the price, and then divide that by 5, and you see how much it costs. Yes, you get five UV flashlights for that price, which is quite impressive. The thing is, it’s not that cheap because it’s bad. It actually works really well and is one of the best values you’ll find on the market today, and that includes our list. If this piques your interest, read on as we take a closer look at the Findway 5 UV flashlight.
On the outside, the Findway is a very unassuming flashlight. It’s all black and has two thick bands of textured metal, one at each end. The middle is smooth, but it’s the ends you’ll need to hold on to, and we have no complaints in terms of grip. This is a very compact light – it comes in at 3.6 inches long and a mere inch wide. Similarly to the UV Tracker EVO we spoke about earlier, it’s made to fit inside your pocket jeans, and you won’t even feel it there.
The weight is equally impressive – it tips the scales at less than 0.1 lbs.! The entire five-pack of UV flashlights weighs 0.4 lbs., which means you could throw all five of them in a backpack and you won’t know they’re there until you need them. One more thing to note is that the entire flashlight is splash resistant. It is not waterproof though, so if you get caught out in the rain, make sure you put it safely away before you permanently damage it. The base of the light can be unscrewed, and below you will find the battery compartment. It slides out and houses three AAA batteries.
This is one of the potential downsides – there are no batteries supplied with the flashlights. But when you consider that fifteen batteries for all of the lights cost about as much as the lights do themselves, we couldn’t blame Findway for not including them. An interesting design quirk is the power button. It’s located at the bottom of the light, and can only be turned on if you have the batteries inserted. Oh, and you’ll also get a belt clip, so you can attach it to your belt, or pocket, or bag, or anything else for that matter.
Let’s discuss the performance of the Findway. We’ll be honest, at this price, you should have your expectations quite low. But even if you don’t, performance is actually quite good. Inside the head, you will find 9 LEDs, which is quite impressive considering the size and the weight. The beam is fairly wide and quite powerful, and actually much better than what we would’ve expected. The wavelength of 395nm is alright, and this is a perfect everyday carry UV flashlight, one you can use for checking currency or ID, or your hotel room if you don’t have a larger one at hand.
All things considered, even though the Findway is extremely cheap, it’s actually very far from bad. The performance is very respectable and the flashlight does its job very well. You also get a decent build quality. There is one complaint though, and that is that if you do drop it, you might find that the wiring is dislodged and the flashlight no longer works properly. If this does happen, though, you’ve still got four more to use. If you want something that’s small, lightweight and cheap, yet doesn’t compromise on performance or build, the Findway is more than great.
7. Morpilot UV 12 LED UV Flashlight
At a Glance
Another one in the line of compact UV flashlights, the Morpilot is a great budget option. It comes with a simple design, batteries that are easy to source, and excellent performance. Morpilot as a brand may not be too popular, but they’ve actually done a great job. This isn’t the most powerful UV flashlight on our list today, far from it, but as a compact option you can take along with you, it’s great. If you’re interested in the details, read on as we see whether it is worth it.
On the outside, the Morpilot is simple but doesn’t cut any corners. It’s a cylindrical black tube, with the LED head a few millimeters wider than the rest of the body. You will find a textured, grippy surface on the area where your hand would normally be, which does add a fair amount of grip.
The dimensions, at 3.78 inches long and 1.18 inches wide, make this one of the best UV flashlight options for people who want something larger that they can still carry in their pockets. It may not be as small as others, but it’s still pocket size, and the weight is excellent – a mere 0.11 lbs. You definitely won’t feel it in your pocket. The entire construction is aluminum, and the back of the light can be unscrewed to reveal the battery holder. This is where you should place the three AAA batteries that the Morpilot requires in order to work. The back must be screwed back on in order for the flashlight to work. There’s also one thing you must keep in mind, never attempt to unscrew the head of the flashlight. This can easily damage the LED’s, and will most likely distort the entire beam of light.
Moving on to the inside, and the performance, the Morpilot does punch a bit above its weight. There are 12 LEDs in the head, and this does provide a fair bit of illumination. The wavelength is 395nm, as we would expect. Unlike with other options, the Morpilot doesn’t allow you to adjust the beam’s focus. Instead, you’re stuck with one option, but fortunately, it’s excellent. It works both nearby, and at a distance, and you won’t have any issues spotting any stains on any surface whatsoever.
So, who is it for, and is it worth it? For the fairly low asking price, yes, the Morpilot is definitely worth it as a great UV flashlight. However, it is certainly not for everybody. To begin with, 12 LEDs isn’t too much. There’s also the fact that there is no mention on weather resistance, so we would advise limiting things to indoor use. If you don’t mind that, though, you’re getting an excellent, compact option that you can carry around with you. The use of AAA batteries also allows you to carry spares whenever you think you may need extra battery power, which is another bonus. Overall, a great value.
8. YOUTHINK 100 LED UV Flashlight
At a Glance
One more “unknown” brand on our list, the fine folks at YOUTHINK give us another one of those extremely powerful 100 LED UV flashlights. They also make the bold claim that the beam is effective at 50 feet, which may make this the most powerful flashlight on our list. It’s certainly more powerful than the 12, or 50 LED options we mentioned, but is that additional power worth the extra weight, and the higher price?
As you’d expect, we’ll start things off on the outside. There’s no denying that the YOUTHINK is a very large flashlight. At 8” length, and 2” width for the body and 3” for the LED head, it is massive. The benefit here, though, is that you have a very comfortable area to hold it. The grippy, textured surface on the area where your hand would be is another welcome addition, as it makes it very difficult for the flashlight to slip out of your hands. Even if it does, there’s a lanyard that will make sure it doesn’t hit the floor. The LED head is significantly wider than the body, which is understandable given the 100 LEDs it hosts inside.
Unlike other flashlights we discussed earlier, this one actually unscrews to separate the head and the body. Inside is the battery carrier, two of them to be exact. Both require three AA batteries inside in order to run the flashlight and combined, they give you an impressive 18W of power. There’s one thing you should be careful about here, though. When unscrewing and screwing the parts back together, make sure the O-rings are put back into place. They are what ensures the YOUTHINK is waterproof, not just splash resistant. That’s right, you could potentially drop this in water, and it wouldn’t get damaged, but don’t risk it. Last but not least, we should mention that the entire body is made of aluminum alloy, which is both strong and lightweight. Even though it is massive, the weight of the entire flashlight is 0.75 lbs., which is great.
Let’s discuss performance for a minute. The 100 LEDs actually have a very powerful beam, so the promise of 50 feet of range isn’t all that impossible under ideal conditions. The beam is also fairly wide, so you can see a large surface area. The wavelength, as expected, is 395nm. It’s actually a very solid performer.
So, who is it for? Well, to get one thing out of the way, it’s certainly not for people who want a compact UV flashlight to carry around with them in their pockets. This is something you’d need a backpack for, but if you’re traveling and need it to check your hotel room, or check foreign currency, you can take it with you. The impressive power and the very durable, waterproof construction make this one of the best UV flashlight options out there, and the price is very well worth it. If you need something large and powerful, definitely consider it amongst your options.
9. Lighting Ever LE Small UV Flashlight
At a Glance
Back to those extremely compact, pocket-friendly UV flashlights, we have the Lighting Ever or LE UV flashlight. It’s very small, it’s very lightweight, it performs great, and it is quite durable. The price at which it comes is also fairly reasonable, to say the least, so it does look like it checks all the boxes for the best UV flashlight out there. Unlike other options, it also comes with some certification which should give you a little peace of mind when you’re using it. But should you order it? Let’s take a closer look at it and find out.
On the outside, you have a fairly common sight. The entire flashlight is completely black, aside from the white LE logo right in the middle. We’ve gotten used to this, as it’s a subtle design that looks good. The flashlight does have two grippy, textured surfaces, one at the back, behind the logo, and one on the ever so slightly wider head. Holding it is very comfortable, and no, it does not slip out of your hands easily, even though there’s a fair bit of smooth surface in the middle. The lanyard does add a bit of extra security, too.
The dimensions, for those who are curious, are a 3.7” length and a 1.18” width, which certainly qualifies as pocket-friendly. Even those with skinnier jeans will be able to fit it in their front pockets. It also weighs less than 0.2 lbs., so you’ll barely feel it there. The batteries are inserted in the battery slots that reveal when you unscrew the back, and you’ll need 3 AAA batteries to power it. Fortunately, they’re included when you buy it, but you may want to get some extras.
Also, when you first purchase it, check if there’s a protective layer that you need to remove in order for electricity to flow before you insert the batteries. Make sure the rubber seals are set up well, too, as this may impact the water resistance. Speaking of which, there’s an IP44 rating on the flashlight, so you should be good with it in the rain or in otherwise less-than-ideal conditions.
So, how does it perform? Well, with 9 LEDs, all operating at 395nm, it works great actually. The beam is just right, both in terms of width and maximum distance, and we’ve found that it works admirably for smaller tasks such as checking ID or currency. If you use it to check out a hotel room or something similar, you may need to work a bit harder, as 9 LEDs aren’t all that much.
When you consider the 12-month warranty, as well as the ROHS Certification, you’ll find that you’re actually dealing with a very high-quality product. We’ve found that both the performance and the durability of it are excellent, and we have no complaints in either regard. Factor in the low price and this is a strong contender for the best UV flashlight if you’re looking for something that’s compact, easily pocketable, and lasts a good while.
10. McDOER 100 LED UV Flashlight
At a Glance
We’re wrapping up the list with another budget-oriented powerful option, the McDOER 100 LED flashlight. It’s priced at, or below the price point of the competition, yet it performs really well. It’s also built like a tank and comes with an ultraviolet ink marker in the box, so you can easily mark any stains you may find. But even at that price point, is it worth it? Let’s take a closer look at the build and performance, and find out.
On the outside, the McDOER is very similar to all the other 100 LED flashlights. You have a large body and an even larger LED head. To be exact, it is 7.2” long, which is huge, and the LED head’s diameter is 3”. The body is slimmer, which does make it easier to manage. There’s also a grippy, textured metal surface all along the body, which ensures the UV flashlight won’t slip out of your hands. Even if it does, there’s a lanyard at the end to keep it from smashing into the ground. The entire body is made of aluminum, which keeps the weight reasonable at 0.5 lbs.
Note that this weight is without the 6 AA batteries that are required for the UV flashlight to run, and they’ll add quite a bit of weight. They’re installed inside a battery holder which you’ll find if you unscrew the flashlight. With continuous use, you can expect around 12 hours of battery life. This may not sound like too much, but when you consider that you’re powering 100 LEDs, and you’re getting a wide, powerful beam, this is to be expected. At the end of the day, you can get spares fairly cheap, and just replace them when necessary.
A great thing to know is that the UV flashlight has IP65 certification, which is very good both in terms of solid particles resistance, and waterproofing.
When it comes to performance, the McDOER is great, as expected. It works at 395nm, and it provides 18W of power, which is quite a bit. The beam can go up to 30 feet when it’s dark, and it gets around 6 feet wide. This does include a fairly big surface area. The life expectancy of the LEDs is an impressive 100000 hours, meaning this is a very durable product.
All things considered, we wouldn’t have an issue recommending the McDOER to anyone who needs a powerful UV flashlight that will last them a good while. You won’t be carrying it in your pocket, that’s for sure, but if you have a backpack with you, it will surely fit inside. If you’re a frequent traveler, the wide, powerful beam will let you quickly check your hotel room without wasting a lot of time. It’s certainly not for everyone, but if you can manage the size and the weight, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better alternative, especially at this price.
The Buyers’ Guide
We’ll start things off with the basics – what exactly is a UV flashlight? It’s a flashlight that emits ultraviolet radiation. That’s a type of light energy that the human eye can’t see. However, when the ultraviolet light hits certain objects, they fluoresce. To the human eye, that looks like a bright glow.
Fluorescence is exhibited by quite a lot of substances and objects, from paints and dyes to animals and body fluids. This means that the presence of these substances and objects can only be detected when you have a UV light source shining on them.
From the most basic one to the best UV flashlight out there, they usually look just like a regular flashlight. However, instead of emitting white light, they’ll emit ultraviolet light, usually via LEDs. With that out of the way, let’s see what you could use it for, and what factors impact what a UV flashlight does and how it performs.
What would you use a UV flashlight for?
In the past, UV flashlights were generally used in criminal investigations. They’re a great way of finding a huge variety of human substances and identifying, you’ve surely seen this on TV – all crime drama shows have a forensics expert with one of these in their hand. But chances are you are not one of those people, so what would you use your UV flashlight for?
The first and most common use case scenario for a UV flashlight is if you have pets in your home. Chances are your pets have urinated in your home at some point, and they’ll very likely do it again. Now, if you notice them while things are still fresh, you’re good. But what if the urine dries out? You can smell it, but you aren’t able to see it. This is frustrating and will show your pet that it can do things like that again. But with a UV flashlight, you’ll be able to see these stains, as well as any other stains that may be there, such as bacterial residues or vomit. You can then proceed to clean them.
The second most common reason for owning one is if you’re a frequent traveler. If you are, chances are you spend quite a lot of time in hotels and hotel rooms. We all know how well they’re being cleaned, and you wouldn’t want to sleep in bed sheets that aren’t clean, would you? To make things worse, it’s not just the bed sheets, it’s the entire room that may not be as clean as it appears. With a UV flashlight, you’ll be able to easily identify any stains, whether its urine, body oils or even beer or wine that might’ve spilled inside the room.
There are also those that need a UV flashlight for environments that are home to scorpions. Scorpions, even the ones that aren’t poisonous, can still be dangerous, and many people live in areas that do have quite a bit of them. Unless you know what you’re looking for, they can be near impossible to spot with a naked eye. But with a UV flashlight, you will easily be able to find them.
Last but not least, another common use is to check whether or not a currency is fake. Most currency notes worldwide will come with a security strip that shines when a UV light is pointed at it. If you don’t work with cash a lot, this may be meaningless. However, if you’re taking a large payment, or more of them, in cash, you’ll want to check the bills – better safe than sorry. That’s one more thing that’s out of the way, and we can now dive deep in our UV flashlight buying guide.
The most important factor is the wavelength
With a UV flashlight, you’ll want to get the correct wavelength. UV light, as a term, actually covers a very wide range of UV wavelengths. Like you can measure the visible light along a visible spectrum, you can also describe UV light along a spectrum, and its wavelength is measured in nanometers (nm).
When you’re buying a UV light, you’ll want to know what wavelength the light is emitting at. We already mentioned that a UV light needs to induce fluorescence. The problem is that not all UV wavelengths are capable of producing sufficient effects. Therefore, buying the wrong wavelength can mean that you won’t be able to see any of the things you expected to see.
As far as the optimal wavelength goes, it actually varies across objects and materials. However, fluorescence tends to be strongest in the wavelengths around 360nm. When you’re choosing the best UV flashlight for your needs, get something that’s around that number. That way you won’t end up with a completely useless UV flashlight.
Because of how the LED manufacturing process works, and the trends that go with it, it’s much easier and more cost-effective to manufacture higher wavelength LEDs. Therefore, you often have 415nm LEDs (visible violet light), as well as 405nm LEDs (barely visible violet light), which are both used as “ultraviolet” LEDs. When purchasing, try to get something with a specifically listed wavelength, otherwise, you may be getting a violet or purple LED light that is very far from the best UV flashlight. Another very popular wavelength option is 395nm. Since the definition of UV is <400nm, these are, technically speaking, UV lights.
However, they’re too close to the cut-off, and much of their energy is emitted as violet light. Using such a flashlight will result in many of the objects you’re looking at being illuminated in violet color. The flashlight won’t give you enough UV light at a lower wavelength to induce fluorescence.
There are three segments that we can observe here:
• Ultraviolet A, which covers the range from 315 to 400nm. This is known as long wave UV and isn’t absorbed by the ozone layer.
• Ultraviolet B, which covers the range from 280 to 315nm. This is known as medium wave, and the majority of it is absorbed by the ozone layer.
• Ultraviolet C, which covers the range from 100 to 280nm, and is completely absorbed by the ozone layer.
Since the human eye can only see the top part of the Ultraviolet A range, the best UV flashlight for you should certainly be within that range.
Consider the radius of illumination and the power
Thinking that you just need to get the wavelength right and that’s it is not really the right way of thinking about a UV flashlight. The correct wavelength is very important, but without enough of it, you aren’t getting anywhere. It’s not just about quality, it’s about quantity as well.
The first thing to consider here is the radius of illumination. There are some users that prefer a smaller radius of illumination, but commonly, a bigger radius is a bit better. This is simple – the more LEDs you have, the larger the radius.
On the market, you’ll find a couple of popular options. You’ll find 12 LED models, 51 LED models, and 100 LED models. With only 12 LEDs, you won’t get illumination further than your standing point. This is only good for things such as authenticating money or checking documents but not much more. With 51 LEDs, you’ll get a bit further, and this is what you want if your use case Is insect spotting or scorpion hunting. However, with 100 LEDs, you’ll get a lot of illumination. In this case, even if you do have your regular light in the room switched on, there will still be a lot of fluorescence from items around you.
This is becoming a pattern in our guide but no, this is not all you need to consider. The power, as we mentioned, is also important. Unfortunately, most UV flashlights don’t list this as a number, since it’s a tricky specification. White flashlights can use lumens to describe brightness, you can’t do that with a UV flashlight since the light is invisible. This is why most manufacturers won’t give you too much information here.
Yet there are two things that you should pay attention to if you want to determine the power. The first thing is the power consumption. This is usually expressed in watts. Smaller flashlights tend to go at around 1W or 2W, and you have larger flashlights that easily operate at 3W or even more. You’ll find many brands advertising more LEDs, as we mentioned earlier, but it’s the total power that counts. A single LED that runs at 3 watts will be more powerful than four LEDs running at 0.5 watts each.
The other thing you’ll need is LED efficiency. LEDs are different, and not all of them will convert the same amount of electrical energy to UV light energy, so the ratio may be different. This is a key factor when you want to determine how much UV light energy is emitted at the end. With a low-efficiency LED, you may have a very powerful flashlight but it will still not produce a lot of useful output. Determining this when shopping isn’t easy at all, and you should especially be wary of cheaper, budget-oriented options. The LED chip is commonly the most expensive component in a flashlight, and with cheap models, you usually have a low-cost or an over-driven LED chip.
Look at the power source
Both the battery requirements and the battery life of a UV flashlight depend on how many LED bulbs you have in the flashlight. Most of the UV flashlights you’ll find on the market are powered by AA or AAA batteries which are disposable. This is usually the lowest cost option, and it’s also very practical because you can get these batteries pretty much anywhere. They’re best if you only use your flashlight every once in a while, and for short periods of time.
If, on the other hand, you use the flashlight quite a bit, you may want to consider something with a 18650 battery. This is a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, and one of them can hold up to 2500mAh at 3.6V, or sometimes more. This equals the power of three to four of the disposable AA batteries we mentioned above. If you use a rechargeable battery such as this, you’re saving quite a bit on battery costs in the long run, and you’ll get a bit more battery life from it, too. As far as charging goes, most flashlights will make use of a USB port, or something similar, for charging.
There’s one more thing to note with 18650 batteries, and that is whether it’s a protected one, or an unprotected one. A protected cell will come with an integrated circuit that will give the battery protection from things such as overheating, leaking, or even exploding, as well as a few other things. Sure, a protected battery may cost more when you’re buying a UV flashlight, but the risk is often not worth it.
Size and convenience
Even though some only buy a UV flashlight to keep it at home, it’s no secret that most of us will get one to carry around with us. Whether we’re checking out our hotel room before we actually go to sleep in a new bed, or you want to go scorpion hunting, you can’t do this with some flashlights. This is where the size of it comes into play.
Most of the flashlights that we recommend are small, often at or below 4 inches. This makes them very easy to carry around – you can literally throw them in your pocket. On the other hand, the grip with such a small flashlight isn’t too comfortable, and they’re terribly easy to lose. This is where a larger flashlight may be a bit better – it’s more comfortable to hold, and much more difficult to lose.
A thing that most manufacturers do in order to combat the losing issue is to attach a wrist strap on the UV flashlight. Just push your arm through it and even if you let go, it won’t drop. This is quite possibly the best way of carrying your UV light. The other thing is a belt clip. If you don’t think you’ll need it too often, maybe you can clip it to your belt so it’s out of the way, yet easily accessible when you need it. At the end of the day, this is just a matter of personal preference.
Last but certainly not least, consider your budget
Like with just about anything that you can buy, the prices for different models can vary wildly. Fortunately, with UV flashlights, things aren’t all that scary. You can often find some truly great options that cost less than $10 (as you can see in the list above), and even some high-end UV flashlight with a lot of great features and a good reputation won’t set you back more than $30 or $40. How much do you want to spend, and where you want to end up in this price range, is completely up to you.
Making your choice – where should your priorities be?
When you’re shopping for the best UV flashlight for your uses, the first thing you should ask yourself is what you’ll be using it for. If you only need it for your home, or for when you’re traveling, chances are you can allow yourself something larger. You won’t be carrying it in your pocket every day, so weight and size aren’t that much of an issue. If you need it daily, something small and compact is right.
Once you’ve got that out of the way, see how much you can afford to spend on it. Even though most aren’t too expensive, you may find it hard to justify spending money on a higher-end model if you aren’t going to use it all that often.
Then, it’s all about the specs. Most of the options on our list are at 395nm when it comes to wavelength, and even though we said that’s cutting it a bit close, it’s still the go-to number, especially if you’re on a budget. The beam width varies, but something that has 51 LEDs, for example, is great, without being too bulky. If, however, you need one you’ll carry in your pocket day to day, don’t get a UV flashlight with more than 12 LEDs, they’re big and don’t really fit regular pockets. Well, that’s unless you’re trying to make cargo pants fashionable again.
At this point, you most likely have a favorite already. But if you’re choosing between two or three models, you should consider the power source. The standard with UV flashlights is AA or AAA batteries, but you will also come across some models that have a lithium-ion battery that you can recharge via a micro USB port. Even though a rechargeable option may seem great, note that when the battery is empty, you’re done. You can’t just remove it and throw a new one in like you can with AA or AAA batteries.
With today’s options, this is how we would make our decision. See what you need it for, see how much you can spend on it, get the best specs possible for the money, and if you still have multiple options, see how they’re powered and what suits you best.
Wrapping things up
At the end of the day, which is the best UV flashlight for you is somewhat a matter of personal choice, but there are a lot of things that you need to consider. Are you getting the correct wavelength? Is it powerful enough? Does it have a long battery life? These are all questions that we discussed as a part of our buyers’ guide, and we spoke about what the best case scenario is with all of them. All you need to do is set a budget, one you can stick to, and see what you’ll be using your UV flashlight for. Then, go through our list again and see what the most suitable option for you is, and voila, problem solved!