When electricity is unavailable for one reason or another, it may still be necessary to find things, or walk places, when it is dark. To provide vision and security, light is helpful. In such a situation, a simple small flashlight that takes a single AA battery can be the perfect option.
Small flashlights are usually affordable and lightweight. They are easy to pack in a carry kit and easy to drop into a pocket. Some come with pocket or belt clips and some come with lanyards, but even without these additions, these lights are convenient and useful.
The biggest advantage of a flashlight that runs on a single AA battery is the fact that double-A batteries are easy to get and easy to carry. They do not weigh a lot. They are also available in rechargeable varieties, so a single battery flashlight can use one while one charges, allowing one to always have light; however, generally speaking, a rechargeable AA battery gives slightly less amperage than an alkaline. This means that the light may be slightly less bright when using a rechargeable battery. In most cases, it will not be enough of a difference to make using a rechargeable battery a poor choice.
Another difference between rechargeable (Lithium-ion) and alkaline is the voltage. Li-ion cells have 3.7 volts which is more than double the voltage of an alkaline AA battery. Some flashlights cannot use Li-ion batteries without overheating or short circuiting, so be sure to check the flashlight’s features and user manual to be sure before inserting 14500 batteries.
Why would one get a light powered by an AA battery rather than the smaller AAA-powered option? The answer to this is simple – capacity. While both have the same voltage (1.5), the slightly larger AA holds more potential energy. Because they have a greater capacity, AA battery-powered lights tend to be brighter than their AAA-powered counterparts.
Speaking of brighter, the measurement of brightness is lumens. This is based on candles – it measures the entire output (also called “luminous flux”) of a candle’s flame. It is measuring the human-visible light. It is a combination of the intensity (illuminance, or visible brightness) and the area of the light’s output. Determining how many lumens are needed for the situation for which a flashlight is being used can be tricky, but to simplify a little:
- Use up to 25 lumens for close-up tasks. Reading in low light or finding a keyhole would be doable with this much light.
- Up to 100 lumens will handle most household tasks or activities such as walking a path outside in the dark.
- Up to 1,000 lumens are excellent for emergencies and construction. Most tactical flashlights will be in this range – usually between the middle and top (500-1000).
- Over 1,000 lumens are best for emergency services and rescue missions, or for activities such as spelunking. This is not a light to use indoors.
1. Archer 2A V3
The CREE XP-L2 LED bulb in this ThruNight flashlight offers up to 500 lumens at the top of the five brightness settings. It is made of aircraft-grade aluminum and is easy to use with a dual-button user interface. It can be immersed fully into water up to 1.5 meters. It has protection against reverse polarity and overheating. One of its modes is a strobe light to garner attention in case of emergency. This is the brightest single AA LED flashlight on this list.
2. Coast HP1
Coast’s handy flashlight has pure beam focusing that shines its 190 lumens wide or narrow, depending on the preference of the user. It can use a single alkaline AA battery, or a NiMH or 14500 lithium rechargeable battery (purchased separately). This company has been providing useful products for 100 years.
The EagleTac Clicky MKII is super bright; its CREE XM-L2 U4 LED provides a beam of up to 405 lumens. It offers five modes and four levels of brightness make it useful for all types of applications. It includes an alkaline AA battery so it can be used immediately; rechargeable NiMH and Lithium-ion batteries may also be used, if desired.
4. Fenix LD12
This 2017 version of the Fenix tactical flashlight comes with an alkaline AA battery from EdisonBright. It provides up to 320 lumens from its CREE XP-G2 R5 LED, in a neutral white light. The battery can be replaced with a rechargeable Ni-MH or 14500 lithium-ion battery, if desired. A pocket clip on the side aids in keeping the light handy and accessible when needed.
5. Olight I5T
This dual output light offers 15 lumens on low and up to 300 lumens on high. To prevent overheating, the high mode begins at 300 lumens and steps down to 150 after 3 minutes, then to 30 after 25 minutes, after which it will shine up to 122 more minutes. The 15-lumen setting will last up to 20 hours.
This powerful little flashlight comes in a pack of two super bright mini pocket units. Its adjustable focus zooms its 300 lumens into a point or out to a wide beam. It has two modes: on and off. Simple, useful, and bright, it is housed in aluminum alloy and uses an LED bulb.
A handy little one-battery light, this compact light offers three modes: high, low, and strobe. It will last up to an hour and a half on high (350 lumens) or 14 hours on low with a rechargeable lithium battery, and slightly less using an alkaline AA battery. It is 4.5 inches long, fitting neatly into hand or pocket, and comes with a pocket clip to keep it secure when not in use.
Sturdy and uniquely designed from premium aluminum, this light can be a headlamp or handheld. It is waterproof to 2 meters and offers a smart user interface to switch between modes and brightness levels. The LED board is bonded to the aluminum casing for overheating prevention. The brightness steps down from high as battery capacity decreases. Runs up to 41 hours.