How to choose your torch or portable lamp?

How to choose your torch or portable lamp?

Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter

Guide written by:

Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter

192 guides

For a handy light source to use on the move, a handheld torch is a crucial piece of kit. Between pocket torches, portable floodlights and lanterns, there are many variants on the market.

Important features

  • Type
  • Lighting power
  • Power source
  • Materials and comfort
  • Uses
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Different types of torch

Whether it's for power cuts, searching in the attic or to take camping, a handheld torch is a really useful companion. They can have:

  • a bulb
  • an LED array, powerful and energy-efficient
  • standard batteries, rechargeable or not, or a built-in power tool-type battery
  • a mechanism for manual electricity generation - i.e. a dynamo.

Portable lantern


Easy to use, a portable lantern is the perfect way to maintain an intense light source when there's a power cut or when you're out camping. Available in a range of sizes, there's one to suit everyone. Lanterns can have:

  • batteries, rechargeables or not
  • a proprietary battery, at various voltages
  • gas, in a disposable cartridge or refillable bottle
  • du kerosene, to be poured into a containing reservoir

Portable lanterns are highly practical and valued for their powerful performance and energy efficiency. Electrical power is obviously preferable to gas or kerosene from a safety point of view.

Head torches


Head torches are a favourite with trekking and caving enthusiasts, as well as DIYers and mechanics who want to keep their hands free while working in a dark space. They can be fixed on a helmet or worn on the head on an elastic strap. Most current head-lamps work with an LED array, giving great light at high energy effiency. They can be powered by:

  • a specialized rechargeable battery
  • standard batteries

Thanks to the adjustable headband, a head-lamp can be made to fit any size of head. Note that the light angle can also be adjusted.

Site lamps


These larger lamps are great for DIY and workshop / garageactivities as well as in your garden shed. Site lamps run on electric power and generally need an extension flexeven if their power lead is quite long. Several different types are available:

  • with aluminium reflector
  • with metal protective grille

Site lamps can run on:

  • neon strips
  • LEDs
  • standard bulbs

Portable floodlights


Running on halogen or LED, portable floodlights provide a powerful lighting source, for simple and effective backup lighting. Available in a range of types, portable floodlights can:

  • have a protective grille
  • run on standard or proprietary batteries
  • offer Bluetooth connectivity and integrated speakers
  • have shock protection…

Some models of portable floodlight also have a tripod for improved stability.

These types of lights are typically mains-powered. Like the smaller site lamps, they'll often need to be run off an extension cord.

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Portable floodlights

Key features of a handheld torch


The most important features of portable torches and lamps are:

  • power rating
  • light intensity – either in terms of number of LEDs or lumens
  • energy – standard versus proprietary batteries, etc.
  • autonomy, i.e. use and recharge times (if battery)
  • weight and bulkiness
  • robustness – including whether it has a protective grille
  • materials, comfort and utility.

Other aspects might come into your decision-making, like brand, warranty, level of waterproofing, whether it's adjustable, etc.

Learn more about DIY topics...

To find out more about DIY topics, follow our experts' advice and check out their other guides:

How to choose your light bulbs?
LED: advantages and disadvantages
How to choose batteries for your power tools?
How to choose your garage?
How to choose your garden shed?
How to choose your extension flexes?

See our handheld torches and portable lamps!!

Guide written by:

Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter, 192 guides

Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter

Redo a roof with wooden beams? Check.Advise Mister everybody in the DIY shop? Check.Redo the bathroom plumbing? Check.Fit together, build the walls, paint a partition, throw my hammer in a rage thinking that it will fix the problem? Check. The DIY motto ? Learning is better than delegating… well, it's also a question about your wallet! The satisfaction? The beer at the end of the job! What do the best have in common? The influence of Gyro Gearloose, Mac Gyver and Carol Smiley depending on your generation, a good dose of curiosity, a average hand-eye coordination and a taste for risks… and if it doesn't work, try again! Advise you? I'll do my best!

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