Why Do Visual Inspections Usually Specify Not To Use An LED flashlight?

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About Ben the Flashlight Junkie

Ben is a flashlight junkie, owning several tactical flashlights from companies such as Surefire, Fenix and Inova! In his free time, he goes fishing, camping, and hunting.

It may be surprising that with the brightness and whiteness of an LED flashlight, that certain maintenance tasks requiring visual inspections specifically forbid the use of LED flashlights. The reason for this isn’t really because these LED flashlights are too bright, but rather because of another reason.

LED flashlights are typically made with white LED lights. These LED lights are made up of the three primary colors of red, green and blue. These colors are combined to make white light. The wavelengths of these colors are as follows: Red at 650 nm, Green at 575 nm, and Blue at 475 nm (where nm = nanometers). As such, LEDs emit light in an extremely narrow wavelength of 475 to 650 nm.

The problem then comes to certain surfaces that reflect light outside of this wavelength. As a result, they would not reflect any light when using an LED flashlight. On the other hand, incandescent light emits light in a very wide spectrum throughout the visible light spectrum (380 to 770 nm), and would pick up visual flaws and issues that a LED flashlight will not reveal.

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