Flashlight solid state home inspections

Home Inspections done to the standards of practice in British Columbia are visual inspections and no tool is more important for an inspector's vision than a trusty flashlight. Flashlights have gone through a revolution in design and technology in the last decade and this is great news for home inspectors.

What to Look for in a Good Home Inspection Flashlight

What makes a great flashlight for a home inspector is a combination of total brightness, a tight beam, and easy portability:

  • Brightness - A flashlight can be helpful in pointing our deficiencies to clients, looking for imperfections in interior finishes, and of course is useful for dark places like attics and crawlspaces. There is such a thing as too bright (such as in a short throw area like an electrical panel) which is why a flashlight with adjustable brightness levels is important.
  • Tight Beam - A tight beam allows the flashlight to throw its brightness a further distance. Home inspectors are looking for both 'macro' and 'micro' issues however it is very helpful for a flashlight to illuminate details clearly. Some flashlights have an adjustable beam which is a big help.
  • Portability - A home inspector only has two hands and flashlights are constantly being shuffled around with other tools like electrical testers on the job. A portable size plus a good holster are great assets for a home inspector.  There are some inspectors who prefer larger handled flashlights for lifting ceiling tiles and attic accesses without finger prints.

My Flashlight Choices

In a past life I worked with a company called Fenix and when I was leaving to start my Home Inspection company, they gave me a gift of a few great flashlights I still use to this day. My primary flashlight is a TK15 tactical flashlight. It is an LED 337 lumen max output light with three lower brightness settings for when I don't need the whole intensity. The flashlight is very compact, water resistant, and has a tight (non-adjustable) beam. I wore the vinyl carry case threadbare in the first 6 months (it goes in and out of a holster likely a dozen times or more each inspection) and upgraded to a leather carry case. I like this flashlight so much I bought and carry a spare with me at all times in case it gets lost or stolen.

My second flashlight I carry is a pinky sized Fenix E05 that I can hold in my teeth if I'm in a dark spot removing an electrical panel or trying to get a photo while holding something open. I carry it in my tool pouch for quick access. It is not very bright this light is more as an area work light than a workhorse and sometimes you need your hands free as a home inspector.

Final Thought - Batteries

Flashlights inevitably burn through batteries. The newer LED based flashlights have much longer lives per lumen than the conventional bulbs of old but a powerful flashlight like I use will burn through batteries in about 90 minutes at full power (it will last tens of hours at lower intensities). The flashlight I use requires a CR123 battery which is more commonly found in cameras to provide power for high flashes. These batteries of course are more expensive and harder to find (I buy them online) but I feel the value to my job as a home inspector is worth the expense. It is not hard to find a good flashlight that uses less expensive AA's or AAA's but all these will have shorter battery life or less light output. Batteries will be a cost of business for any home inspector.

There are many other great brands of flashlights available and you really can't go 'wrong'. Don't be afraid to spend $100 or even $200 on your most important tool and be ready to try a few different flash lights out.

By James Bell - Owner/Operator of Solid State Inspections Inc.