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When I covered a cigarette lighter flashlight a while ago, many people commented that it was a cool idea, but it just wasn’t executed very well. Maybe rather than having your flashlight live in your cigarette lighter, it might be more practical to take a regular-looking flashlight and build in an auto adapter so it can be recharged right in your car without any special cables. Out of the few entries in this category, I looked into two that looked the most promising: an OEM flashlight from Duluth Trading Company and a model from Dorcy.

The 7½” black aluminum Dorcy model shines with 50 lumens for about an hour and takes 4 to 8 hours for a full charge — as with any rechargeable battery your mileage will probably vary.  Annoyingly, they warn you shouldn’t leave the flashlight plugged in after it’s charged. A tail cap protects the charging plug while it’s not charging.

Unlike the Dorcy Model, the Duluth Trading Company flashlight can apparently be left in charging in your dash, although having most of its its 6¼” length sticking out of the dash might be somewhat awkward.  At least charging the flashlight only takes 20 minutes. They claim the 1W LED shines with 45 lumens and should run for 3 hours on one charge. One under-appreciated feature is the auto plug cover, which looks like it’s attached to the flashlight so you can’t lose it.

You’ll pay $15 for Duluth Trading Company’s Flashlight and around $20 for the Dorcy.

Auto Rechargeable Flashlight [Duluth]
Auto Safety Light [Dorcy]
Street Pricing [Google Products]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]

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11 Responses to Flashlight Dead? Plug It Into Your Car

  1. ToolGuyd says:

    I don’t think this is something I would ever find to be useful. For one, what type of rechargeable batteries are in these flashlights? At $15-20 per flashlight, I doubt that they’re Li-ion.

    If one of these is stowed in a vehicle for emergencies, it could be dead when you need it most if hasn’t been charged recently. The flashlight would be ready to go for 3 hours after spending 20 minutes or so charging up, but a conventional flashlight would be ready to go right then and there.

  2. jeff_williams says:

    As far as emergency flashlights go, I always go with crank or shake lights. In a few seconds I have all the light I need.

  3. lens42 says:

    Crank or shake lights are not great for emergency use because the battery dies and shorts out after sitting around for a year and then can’t be charged. That’s what happened to the ones I bought at Costco. No amount of cranking will get them to light now. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a crank light that said what type of battery it had, but I bet most use really cheap and crappy NiCds.

  4. Adam R. says:

    The last crank light that I took apart had a CR2032 battery in it.

  5. Toolhearty says:

    I wonder how long one of these lights would last sticking out of a cigarette lighter. With me it would probably be a couple of minutes before I hit with a knee or something and it broke into a half dozen pieces.

    I’ll stick with regular flashlights with Low Self Discharge Nimh batteries that get charged twice a year (if the light hasn’t been used).

  6. Jerry says:

    Toolhearty missed the real issue of hitting this with his knee – the light being tougher than the lighter socket and plastic dash parts of the vehicle!
    As others mentioned, the type of battery could be a real issue. I have a couple of crank lanterns from HF. They worked really well for about 2 months and now cranking them generates a great light – so long as you keep cranking! Stop cranking and they now “glow” for about 2 or 3 minutes. Still haven’t pulled them apart to see what batteries are hiding in there but we all know about those “rechargable” batteries from HF. Maybe a battery upgrade will do something for them.

  7. Jerry says:

    Okay – just looked at HF site regarding the lantern. They say, “The Dynamo Lantern uses a rechargeable NiCd battery. Do not attempt to replace battery. Remove all screws from case and open. Cut wires from battery with insulated wire clippers and remove battery.”
    Maybe this is why they have cut the price down to about 10 bucks?
    Of course, never one to pay mind to such instructions, I will open these up and play with the power source.

  8. jeff_williams says:

    @lens42 My shake light has a capacitor and not a battery. On on my 6th year with it and it works every time. I realize that mileage my vary though.

  9. John_aaron says:

    Built in car flashlights have long been a feature in Euro cars. My 318is had a built in flashlight that lived in the glovebox and charged on a special prong. VW audi makes a little LED flashlight that swaps out with the cigarette lighter, and is small enough to fit in the ashtray. sure, its not a huge flashlight, but works well for finding the random item that rolls under the seat at night or for topping off the oil. The VW audi has the benefit of being small enough to being held between the teeth for impromptu tire changing sessions…

  10. Shopmonger says:

    Chrysler did this in thier PT cruiser and some of the Nissans had them also, not too bad an idea but i still just carry a 2 AA maglight……. Much Easier, and i check the batteries when i change the oil..


  11. Fullcourt says:

    I have a cheap squeeze flashlight that works every time. It sounds like the squeezing starts a dynamo, like the old car or spaceship toys that you would push on the ground and then let them go across the room.
    It might not even have a battery.

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