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What defines "a good flashlight" these days?  Portability?  Brightness?  Extra features? 

I never really thought about what would be my "ideal flashlight", until I happened upon something unexpectedly great.

Here's my review of the Makita DML802.

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The Makita

It's one of those flashlights that goes along with a complete line of power tools.  They made it so you can interchange the same battery with all the other tools in the line.  Makita has these, Dewalt has their own version, and so on.

The DML802 is part of the 18-volt LXT series.  These take a rechargeable 18-volt Li-ion power pack.  You can get batteries of anywhere from 1.5 amp-hour (I think) up to five or six amp-hour. 

Now, let's jump right into why this is such a good light. 

Sure, it's about ten times heavier than the flashlight I thought I wanted.  And sure, this is not something you can carry in your shirt pocket.  But I'll tell ya what: when you light this one up, it shines.  It's bright enough that you can point it at the ceiling-- if it's the typical ceiling-- and it actually lights up the room to a usable extent.  Great for power outages.

Favorite feature:  it stays put without falling over.  Doesn't matter if you're working on lawnmowers or hooking up stereo cables;  the DML802 is so much better than a regular flashlight.

It actually sits on the battery pack, which is flat on the underside.  The weight of the battery gives it a low center of gravity so it's very convenient:  just set it there, and you can work.  You can rotate the lamp portion of it until it's shining right where you need it.

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Batteries & Pricing

The light itself is usually about $50 to $60, shipped;  try this link or this one.  Sometimes they'll have it for a lower price. 

You'll also need an LXT rechargeable battery and a charger for it.  These are the batteries that interchange with the rest of the LXT cordless tool series.

At the time I write this, a genuine Makita 5.0 Ah LXT battery can be had for $50 to $75 (try this link or this one).  Figure on another $30 to $40 for the battery charger (try this link). 

That might seem like a lot for "just a flashlight".  But consider this:  with some rechargeable lights, when the battery goes bad the whole light becomes useless.  The DML802 lets you swap out a new battery in seconds. 

Another advantage:  there's that whole Makita product line that uses the same type of battery. 

Later, you might want the portable LED floodlight.  Or perhaps this popular and versatile light.

Then there's the Makita LXT jobsite radio, and the whole line of Makita LXT power tools.  The LXT series may be the most comprehensive selection of cordless power tools in the world.   These are quality tools built for daily use by professionals. 

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Brightness & Range

160 lumens.  I realize there are LED spotlights that are 2,000 lumens or more.  That said, the 802 is actually a fairly good short-range spotlight.  There are many times when 2000 lumens would simply be too bright. 

The Makita will easily light up something 100 feet away or more.  It's a good all-around brightness.  That faceted reflector (see photo) really helps the 160 lumens seem really bright.

The color temperature is also quite a bit warmer than the typical blue-white LED light.  Many of the lower-cost LED lights have too much blue in them.

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The flashlight head is made of aluminum, with a clear plastic lens that appears to be polycarbonate.  Both seem quite solid;  not flimsy at all.

The flashlight has a metal ring so you can hang it up.  This, too, is quite robust;  it's unlikely to break and dump your good flashlight on the ground.

The build quality is solid, precise.  I'm not saying it's indestructible, because it is largely plastic.  But as molded-plastic lights go, this is one of the toughest I've seen.  It's still working after a lot of careless, heavy use. 

The detents for the pivoting top do wear after a while and develop some play, but then again I've subjected my DML802 to a lot of frequent, careless use.  It still works.

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Some manufacturers like to inflate the runtime specs for their LED flashlights.  I don't think Makita is one of them.  An LXT battery pack provides way more juice than you'll ever get from two or three AA batteries.  (Or ten of them.)  So, when Makita says 22 or 23 hours from a 5 amp-hour battery, I believe it.

Most headlamps-- even the ones that advertise 100+ hours of runtime-- are noticeably dimmer after a couple hours of use.  I've found the Makita flashlight stays at full brightness for as long as I use it.  It's all about the amp-hours.

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About 2 pounds, with battery.

This is not a shirt-pocket light.  And it's probably not a backpacker's light.  For short walks, yes.  For long ones, maybe you'll want a good headlamp, instead.  (Read my review of that light here).

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One Good Flashlight

We all know someone who has a whole drawer full of non-working flashlights. 

Cheap lights can start to flicker, lose continuity, have broken solder joints, etc., etc.  Some of them use metals that corrode quickly, going intermittent.  Others can't seem to get the mechanical tolerances right, so the batteries don't even reach the bulb holder. 

When I reach for the Makita flashlight, it works every time.  I also like that they gave it sort of a classic design;  it just looks right.  They didn't try to be all futuristic or "extreme". 

Even for as dinged and scuffed-up as my flashlight now is, it still looks like a nice flashlight.

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It's not the cheapest flashlight on the block.  If we're comparing it to a $10 or $20 light, then of course it will seem rather expensive.

But there's a reason for that.  It's a serious, dependable light that takes substantial battery packs.  These packs are interchangeable with a whole system of power tools. 

Is it worth it if you're not planning to get any other Makita tools?  Perhaps.  But it's definitely worth it if you think you ever will.  They make everything from leaf blowers to angle grinders to LED floodlights, all powered from the same type of LXT battery.  So, I would recommend it on that basis, for certain.


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