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What are infrared lights good for?

Posted by Best Light on

To describe what infrared lights are good for would require an understanding of infrared technology. Infrared technology is described as invisible radiant energy, electromagnetic radiation falling within specific wavelengths, typically longer than the wavelengths than visible light. The typical range for infrared wavelengths are between 700 nanometers at a frequency of 430 terahertz (THz) to 1 millimeter at 300 gigahertz (GHz).

A Brief History of Infrared Radiation

Infrared radiation was discovered by Sir William Herschel, a British astronomer who is most famous for discovering the planet Uranus. Herschel observed a type of invisible radiation lower in the spectrum than red light, and it typically affected thermometers. Herschel then observed that half of the Sun's energy that reached Earth was in the form of infrared radiation. This also had an effect on the study of Earth's climate and climate change, a controversial topic today.

How does infrared radiation work? What are its applications?

Infrared energy is emitted or absorbed by molecules when they change their rotational-vibrational movements. Infrared energy excites vibrations in a molecule through a change in the dipole moment. The applications for infrared radiation are numerous; they are widely used in industrial, scientific and medical contexts. Night vision goggles make use of infrared technology, allowing people to see people or animals at night without being seen. Infrared radiation is also used to observe clouds in space and other extremely distant objects. It is also used to detect heat loss, observe blood flow, and to detect overheating in appliances. It is also used to sense temperature and for short-range wireless communication as well.

How would I use an infrared light?

Today, the primary use of infrared light is in remote controls for televisions and other electronic devices. The remotes send infrared pulses and your television, stereo receiver, DVR or computer which has a sensor that observes those pulses and translates them into commands. These commands activate your electronic device to change state which includes turning it on/off, changing channels or even switching slides during your presentation at work. However, you don't actually need a light to send commands to these sensors. The infrared radiation given off from your body is enough to be detected by some sensors. These sensors can detect your passing hand and translate that into a command as well. 

Infrared light is also used to enable vision at night without announcing your presence via visible light. For example, one use is in tactical situations using infrared goggles paired with an infrared light like the Nitecore CI6. This allows scouts to gather situational awareness without being detected or an attack team to have an advantage over those without night vision goggles. In this scenario an infrared flashlight illuminates more of the area than the natural infrared radiation. You might also use infrared for observational situations where you are trying to observe your backyard to see what critter is knocking over your trashcans. 

What flashlights use infrared technology?

For a handheld solution, one should use Nitecore's CI6: its primaryNitecore CI6 light can project up to 440 lumens for 90 minutes, but its secondary light, an infrared LED light, can also be used for up to four and a half hours at 120 lumens. These can be adjusted for use as well. At the lowest settings, the infrared light can last up to 55 hours at 12 lumens. Its strong aerograde aluminum build will ensure it lasts for a long time. Nitecore's CI6 retails at only $79.95.

If you are looking to keep your hands free one should consider Olight's H15S Wave. The infrared sensor in this particular flashlight allows you to turn the headlamp on and off for the ultimate in hands-free experience. This is particularly useful if you're hiking across rivers, marshes, or other wetlands. You don't need to break the bank for this one either: Olight's H15S Wave only retails for $49.95.
Olight H15S Wave
For those with bigger budgets, one should consider Olight's H25 or H35 Wave. Similar to the H15S Wave, you can swipe your hand in front of the light and the infrared sensor will turn the light on or off. Both come with a 5200mAh battery pack that can also be used to charge mobile devices as well as the light itself. The H25 Wave retails for $119.95 and the H35 Wave retails for $159.95.


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