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The role of a UV flashlight, unlike that of a regular flashlight, isn’t so much to provide you with a light in the dark but rather to reveal what is missed with the naked eye. It is easy to forget that what we see in our everyday life isn’t quite the objective fact we like to think of it as, with colors being somewhat of a subjective interpretation. What we see is directly tied to how light refracts off objects, creating the color we perceive. While the color of a wavelength is an objective measurement, the colors we perceive are not. The perception of color is even different between species.
Sometimes we need a bit of help at seeing things that may not be highlighted or made visible through traditional wavelengths of light. A UV light does a great job of being able to provide us with a visual insight into refraction that we don’t see from regular sunlight or lighting that falls outside of the extreme ends of the light spectrum. You’re no doubt familiar with the term fluorescence, which is the word given to something that exhibits traits that cannot be seen through regular light. Fluorescent objects will require a UV light in order to ‘decode’ – and its uses range from simple fun to exploration and even security.
UV flashlights may be able to offer you a glimpse into a world usually hidden from sight, but they can be acquired for an affordable price and bring with them unique and useful functionality that cannot be achieved with other devices.
TaoTronics 51 Ultraviolet Flashlight
The powerful ToaTronics 51 Ultraviolet Flashlight is a great all round product at a reasonable price.
Overall Best Pick
The TaoTronics 51 UV flashlight features an impressive 51 LED diodes which offer excellent brightness and overall quality. The cherry on top is the pair of free goggles that come with this flashlight.
The Morpilot 12 comes in at less than an ounce, but don’t let the light weight fool you, this compact option still manages to offer good illumination and durable design. A great option for hikers and campers.
Best Budget Option
The Findway 5 is an excellent budget option that will give you quality UV flashlight performance without hurting your wallet. It consists of 9 LED diodes and weighs in at just under 7oz.
How UV Flashlights Work
UV (Ultraviolet) is a form of electromagnetic radiation that falls outside of the visible spectrum, with a wavelength between 10 nm and 400 nm. UV lights like the above-mentioned UV flashlights don’t offer a visible beam of light, instead, it gives off photons which react with the phosphorous in a way that then makes the phosphorous visible. What you’re seeing under UV lights is the reaction of the phosphorous creating visible light.
Understanding the Difference Between UVA, UVB and UVC
Before you can purchase the right UV flashlight it is important to understand what nm is and how it affects the light you purchase. Nm is short for nanometers. Ultraviolet light, or ultraviolet radiation as it is also known, covers the range from 10nm’s to 400nm’s. It can be broken down into specific segments:
Covers the range 315 – 400nm’s. Known as long wave UV and is not absorbed by the ozone layer.
Medium wave and covers 280 – 315nm’s. The majority f this is absorbed by the ozone layer.
Covers the range 100 – 280nms. This is short wave and is completely absorbed by the ozone layer.
You can discover more about the entire range here.
The only range that humans are able to see is the top part of the long-range; hence why an ultraviolet flashlight should be within the top end of this range. All the UV flashlights on this list are rated at 395nm’s as this will allow you to see the stains while maximizing the efficiency of the light and life of the batteries.
In the image above, you’ll notice the visible spectrum separated from the rest of the electromagnetic spectrum. UV light falls just to the left of the visible spectrum, with infrared on the right. Below, we can take a further look into the UV side of the spectrum in more detail.
The Purpose of UV Flashlights
We now have a basic understanding of how they work, but what exactly are they used for and why would you need one?
Fluorescence is used in the manufacturing of government documents and banknotes in order to help detect fraudulent copies or counterfeit cash. You may have seen when you go to the bank, that the teller will wave the notes under a light while processing them, the light being used is a UV light. In bills, there will typically be fluorescence within the security strip that won’t be picked up on with the naked eye but will show clearly under UV light. Similarly, with documents like passports, there are also fluorescent fibers embedded in it that will become visible under UV light.
A UV flashlight in turn is a great way to scan over bank notes or documents to see whether or not they are legitimate. A useful tool for someone who wants to ensure that they are never in the possession of counterfeit banknotes; something that happens every now and then through the circulation of currency outside of the bank.
Finding Traces of Body Fluid
Perhaps not the most pleasant of uses, but one that can offer some extremely useful insight into the quality of a particular garment or even hotel room. Urine, semen and saliva all contain traces of fluorescence which can be picked up under a UV light. A common use is looking for pet urine stains or finding body fluid in a shared space.
Crime Scene Investigation
UV light has become an extremely useful tool for forensics detectives who need to comb a scene for evidence. Not only are bodily fluids detected via UV flashlight but so are tooth and bone fragments. Of course, the professionals in the FBI are going to be using state of the art equipment which uses UV light, but a UV flashlight can definitely still offer some of these functions in a reliable manner and are sometimes employed by private investigators.
Gemstones & Minerals
You may wonder how something that in so many cases already looks spectacular directly from the ground could get even cooler. Well, some gemstones and minerals have a few hidden tricks up their sleeves that we just never get to see. There are actually over 500 different types of minerals that have been found to contain fluorescence.
Aside from just seeing the stone in a new light (no pun intended), a UV flashlight will also allow you to identify fake gems that are supposed to contain fluorescence. Once again UV light comes to lend us a hand in avoiding getting scammed, by providing a method of verification.
While the presence of fluorescence exists in a number of species, a UV flashlight isn’t going to be of much use for something like the Flying Squirrel which while glowing under UV light, probably isn’t going to be within arms reach of the curious flashlight holder.
Instead, UV flashlights are often used to detect Scorpions or certain insects. Scorpions glow a bright blue under UV light, for reasons that science has yet to uncover. While these mysterious little Arachnida species are often hard to detect, heading out to the desert at night with a UV flashlight could give you a whole new experience.
In addition to the Scorpion, insects like centipedes, millipedes, and crickets can all respond with color changes under UV light thanks to their fluorescence.
Is UV Light Dangerous?
The dangers of UV is something that most people are aware of, or have at least heard discussed. But just how well aware are you of what poses the risks and what it takes in terms of exposure, in order for it to have a negative impact on your health?
Thankfully, using a small handheld UV light such as a flashlight is unlikely to have any real impact on your health, assuming you use it in a practical manner and avoid looking directly into it for extended periods. In fact, we recommend always avoiding looking directly into flashlights of any kind. Though as far as the carcinogenic nature that has been studied in relation to UV exposure, the sun remains our biggest threat. While most UV flashlights will primarily be UVA, the sun radiates UVB light which is both stronger and at higher risk of causing skin cancer. Tanning beds are another man-made application that has shown to increase cancer risks among those who frequent them.
For a more in-depth look at how UV rays can impact your health, you can always visit cancer.org for a deep dive on the topic.
Our Selection of the 10 Best UV Flashlights:
There are other uses for these flashlights but for now let’s take a look at the best 10 UV flashlights currently available:
1. TaoTronics 51 Ultraviolet Flashlight
The first offering from TaoTronics takes things up a notch. The basic design of this UV flashlight is similar however the slim handle opens into a large head. The reason for this is because there are 51 LEDs in this powerful offering. Once again the TaoTronics name is embedded neatly down the side of the handle; a flash of white against the all black light. The handle is textured to provide the best possible grip and the on / off switch is situated just in front of this; perfectly positioned for your index finger without losing grip of the light.
2. Escolite UV Flashlight Black Light
The second offering on our best UV flashlights list is also black and simple in design. The handle is comfortable and the LED head is much larger than on the TaoTronics offering. This has largely to do with necessity; this black light flashlight has 51 LEDs. The main handle of the light is designed to be anti-slip. After all, you don’t want to drop the light into the urine once you know it’s there! The elegant black handle has the Escolite name and logo imprinted on one side. This is a nice touch as it doesn’t detract from the visual appeal.
3. LE Ultraviolet Flashlight
Black is always a fashionable color as well as being a discreet one. These flashlights seem to confirm this theory as the offering from LE is also jet black and a similar size and shape to the last two UV flashlights. It measures 3.7 inches long and 1.18 inches wide; matching our first offering perfectly. This is just the right size to slip virtually unnoticed into your hand; allowing you to inspect any room at home, in the hotel or even at a friend’s home.
4. Kobra UV 100 Black Light Flashlight
This blacklight flashlight adopts a slightly different style to the previous entries n this list. Although it still has a slimline black handle, the LED end is much larger than the rest of the light. The handle is textured to ensure you have a comfortable grip and it won’t slip out of your hand. The on / off button is situated just past this grip at the base of the bulbous head. This is actually the perfect place to allow you to flick the light on and off as you need to.
The VICOUP is a direct competitor to the earlier examples of the ultraviolet flashlight. It is slim, black and has the name and logo emblazoned near the base of the light. There is a small amount of textured metal to improve grip, this is in two separate circles. One of these is very slim and near the base of the light while the other is approximately the same width as your thumb and runs round the middle of this UV flashlight.
At first glance this stylish black UV flashlight looks much the same as any other flashlight. The logo is stenciled ionthe side of the light and the handle is textured to ensure a good grip no matter what else you are doing.
The flashlight measures 3.74 inches long with a diameter or 1.18 inches. This makes it perfect for carrying with you. You can easily slip it into a pocket or even attach it to your wrist using the wrist strap which comes with it. The flashlight weighs just 2.4 ounces and has 12 LED’s.
The Findway UV flashlight is black with a thick band of textured metal at each end of the light. This is designed to ensure your grip remains secure even when you frighten yourself by seeing how many stains are present in your home, hotel room or public restroom. In fact, this light is very good at showing scorpions; if you live in a scorpion area then you might be surprised at how many are near your home at night.
Surprisingly the ultraviolet backlight offered by Morpilot is black; this is definitely a common trait on these types of light. This flashlight can be purchased for under $10 which is another common trait with this type of light and puts it in direct competition with most of the other UV flashlights on this list! The light follows the standard format, a cylindrical back tube with the name embossed horizontally across it in white.
The next entry in our top ten UV flashlights list is the powerful YOUTHINK. Unsurprisingly this is a black UV flashlight. It is the second offering in the list which has 100 LED’s creating significantly more power than the standard 9 or 12 LED offerings. As usual, it operates on the 395nm frequency. It offers 18 watts of power and the beam is supposed to be effective at 50 feet, potentially making it the most powerful UV flashlight in this list.
This black, cylindrical shaped flashlight has two strips of textured metal to provide an anti-slip grip area. One band is around the middle of the flashlight and the other is at the base. This is the section that unscrews to allow you to add the 3 AAA batteries; which are included with your purchase. As usual, the batteries are held in a carrier and must be fitted the correct way round to ensure the light works correctly.
Your Guide To Buying The Right UV Flashlight
There are several other factors you should consider before committing to a specific UV flashlight:
Most of the flashlights on this list are small, approximately 4 inches long. This means they are very easy to carry with you. The size of your hand and the position of the grip on the flashlight can also influence the best size of flashlight for you. Larger flashlights may be able to offer you more power through the use of more diodes though, so make a pick based on what is required for you.
Most of the flashlights in this collection have wrist straps, this is a valuable addition as it will prevent you dropping the light and potentially breaking it.
It is quite possible to purchase a black light flashlight for under $10. In fact this is probably you preferred price range as you can afford to damage or lose it without breaking the bank. However, the saying ‘you get what you pay for’ does carry some weight.
The more expensive UV flashlights will have more power and will generally be robust enough to survive drops and bangs; which the cheaper ones may not survive.
It is unlikely that you need to create a budget for your purchase even the most expensive UV flashlights on this list can be had for less than $30. However, it is worth considering how much you wish to spend as this will assist you in making your decision.
The more powerful your ultraviolet flashlight is the easier it will be to see stains or scorpions. Of course more powerful lights will be more expensive and use more battery power. It is common for the black light flashlights with 100 LED’s to use 6 AA batteries while the lights with just 12 LED’s can perform adequately with just 3 AAA batteries.
This might not make much difference if you only use your black light flashlight occasionally but if you are using it every night then your batteries will quickly drain. Purchasing batteries every few days will quickly increase the cost of using your UV flashlight.
It is possible to opt for the mid-range UV flashlight and choose a light which has 51 LED’s, such as the TaoTronics 51 and potentially get the best of both worlds. The real question is how much power do you need?
Perhaps the most relevant important part of your decision is to consider what you are planning to use the ultraviolet flashlight for.
For example you might wish to opt for the most powerful option if you are hoping to see scorpions in your backyard. Just be warned, you might be surprised how many are actually there!
Or, if you wish to check your hotel room before you stay you may find that a smaller, less powerful black light flashlight is the right answer. This will be more discreet when you arrive at the hotel.
Once you consider your intended use you will be able to narrow your search parameters to the more powerful or less powerful options.
Almost every UV flashlight in this list has a wrist strap; this ensures you can easily carry it and, perhaps more importantly, avoid dropping your light. This is perhaps the most practical way to carry your ultraviolet flashlight.
However there are some which come with belt clips; this can be an effective way to carry your light and is worth considering. There is no correct answer to the most convenient ultraviolet flashlight; it is simply the one that will fit your needs best.
You must consider the reputation of the UV flashlight you are intending on purchasing. The better known brands are more likely to supply a quality light. They are also the ones which should have the better customer service and support if you need it.
One of the best ways to verify the reputation of a UV flashlight is to check the website of the manufacturer and see what positive reviews have been left on the site. In addition it is worth checking Amazon and other social media sites to see what people who have purchased the UV flashlight think of the product. You are likely to have honest opinions through these types of sites as there is no reason to restrict the comments. Of course, there will always be some customers who are not happy with their purchase. Before you accept their opinion and base your decision on what they have said it is important to look at the general consensus. This will tell you how good the ultraviolet light really is.
It is also worth considering what the flashlight is made from. All the ones which made this top 10 UV flashlight lists are made from aluminum which ensures they are tough enough to be carried with you and can even survive being dropped. However some lights are made from plastic. You need to decide if this is the right material for your needs. In general plastic flashlights will be damaged easier; ruining your investment.
A UV flashlight can help to ensure you have a clean home. As well as being a fun item it has a practical and serious benefit. Whether you have animas or not you will be surprised at just how much dirt is present in your home that is not visible to the human eye.
It is important to consider your options before you decide which UV flashlight is the right one for your needs. One factor that has been mentioned but can make a huge difference to the effectiveness of you black light flashlight is the radius of the beam. In general the more LED’s you have in the light the larger the head of the light needs to be and the wider your beam of light will be. However, to be effective this must be coupled with enough high quality batteries. This will help you to cover any space much faster than with a lower powered flashlight.
However, if you are dealing with smaller items such as washing powder residual on clothes or even dried cat urine you may prefer to use a smaller radius light. Of course, the larger the radius the brighter the beam will be when used in close quarters. This can help if the space is exceptionally dark but can also confuse the issue if there are too many other items which will also be picked up by the light; such as fluorescent strips in the carpet.
A UV flashlight is an essential item for every home. In fact you may prefer to have several options available. Select your preferred one from this list and order a UV flashlight today!
TaoTronics 51 Ultraviolet Flashlight
The powerful ToaTronics 51 Ultraviolet Flashlight is a great all round product at a reasonable price.