Reuben Saltzman

This home inspector’s love affair with flashlights

Why are home inspectors obsessed with flashlights?  It’s probably because flashlights are one of the few tools that home inspectors just absolutely couldn’t do an inspection without, and it’s the only tool that keeps getting better and better every year.  Now please excuse me while I geek out.

Every time I get a new flashlight, I swear to myself that it’s the last flashlight I’ll ever need, and nothing could ever top it. The I’m-in-love-with-my-new-flashlight glow seems to wear off around the second month of ownership… but even sooner if I have the misfortune of reading about some other flashlight that would have been brighter and longer running for a similar price.

The flashlight I’m using now is a Fenix TK35, which I’ve had for just over two weeks, and still quite in love with. The day I got it, my wife had to tell me not to take it to bed. I had no plans to write a love letter blog post about it, but after reading Washington home inspector Rick Bunzel’s recent review of flashlights in the ASHI Reporter where my flashlight wasn’t mentioned, I had to.

Twelve flashlights were compared in the review, but I think this one tops ‘em all. This little light cannon has the power of a spotlight, yet it’s small enough to fit in to your pocket.  It wasn’t as bright as the brightest flashlight reviewed, but it’s also less than half the price and it’s far smaller.  To give you an idea of how powerful this light is, I compared several lights by shining them against a garage a night.

In the photo below, I laid out a three D-cell MagLite for comparision, which is flashlight shown on the bottom.  The middle flashlight is the TK35, and the top one is the TK11, which has obviously seen some wear.

Comparison of Flashlights

In this next photo, I have the headlights on my Silverado shining against the garage as a point of reference.


The next photos show the TK35, the TK11, and the MagLite, respectively.

Fenix TK35

Fenix TK11


For the past 2 ½ years I’ve been using a Fenix TK11, and it’s been an unfailing light the entire time, even after taking a fall off a two-story roof on to concrete.  I expect to get the same ruggedness and durability out of the TK35.  This flashlight is almost as small, ridiculously bright, and has a long run time – 1 ½ hours on the 820 lumen setting.  I’ve only done a few inspections with it, but I’m already spoiled.

The batteries are the same 18650 lithium ion batteries that my TK11 took, except it takes two batteries, not one like the TK11.  I’ve had the same batteries for my TK11 ever since I got it over two years ago, and I haven’t noticed any drop in performance.  I use my flashlight all week long, then I put the batteries on the charger over the weekend.

If you’re looking for the latest and greatest flashlight, this is a great choice for the money.  If you know of a better flashlight, I’d love to hear about it.

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections – Email – Maple Grove Home Inspector


No responses to “This home inspector’s love affair with flashlights”

  1. Reuben (not the inspector)
    January 10, 2012, 8:18 am

    Sounds like a good flashlight!

    But I gotta ask… what’s up with the siding on your garage? Looks like you had to replace a few panels and couldn’t find an exact color match.

  2. Reuben Saltzman
    January 10, 2012, 6:21 pm

    Oh man, you got me Reuben.

    This house had hail damage which the previous owners chose not to fix. I had heard that hail damage could be a show stopper on an FHA appraisal, and I didn’t want to be stuck without a house, so I hired a company to replace the damaged pieces of siding just before the appraisal… before I even owned the house. It was very short notice, so I told ’em to use whatever they could find – just get the job done. That they did, and there was no problem with the appraisal.

    Some day I’m going to replace all the siding in that section, but I haven’t got around to it yet. I’m sure it bugs my neighbors a lot more than it bugs me 🙂

  3. BigguyZ
    January 11, 2012, 9:36 am

    I was at Home Depot yesterday, and I walked past the flashlights. Since I read this post yesterday, I checked them out to compare. The 200 lumen ones were very bright- and $50 at that. So I can’t imagine how bright 820 lumens is! but for the output, that seems like a decent deal for $110 comparably….

  4. Milind
    January 16, 2012, 5:52 pm

    I’ll bring the epic TK21 for a showdown.

  5. Reuben Saltzman
    January 16, 2012, 7:30 pm

    BigguyZ – the TK35 definitely has a good dollar-to-lumens ratio.
    Milind – the TK21 has a rating of 449 lumens. This could only end in tears.

  6. Louisville Home Inspector
    January 19, 2012, 2:41 pm

    The TK35 is my tool of choice as well. Great article.
    The fall from 2 stories high must have left a mark? What happened?

  7. Reuben Saltzman
    January 19, 2012, 2:49 pm

    Just a little ding on the tailpiece of the TK11. No big deal 🙂

  8. Scott Warga
    January 29, 2012, 7:57 pm

    A good flashlight it a treasured tool. I use a streamlight HD LED and love it but I also carry a cheap Coleman I bought at Walmart for $25 on my home inspections as a back up. It has 200 Lumens and uses 3 AAA batteries.

    Works great.

    Nice job on your blog

  9. Reuben Saltzman
    January 29, 2012, 8:06 pm

    Thanks. I’ve started letting my clients use my backup flashlight – I feel bad when they’re tagging along trying to use the LED light on their phone 🙂

  10. Adam
    December 6, 2012, 9:56 pm

    What li ion batteries do you use. I haven’t found good reviews out there so I’ve stuck with the disposalables.

  11. Reuben Saltzman
    January 2, 2013, 5:53 am

    Hi Adam,

    I use the 18650 batteries. They’re great.

  12. Adam
    January 2, 2013, 8:32 am

    Any particular brand you like?

  13. Reuben Saltzman
    January 2, 2013, 8:58 am

    No favorite brand; I have used both UltraFire and Tenergy, and they both work fine.

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