When you need a super-bright, far-reaching light, a spotlight works best. Navigating a boat at night, viewing wildlife after dark, frog hunting and emergency signaling are all tasks for which a spotlight is well suited. Before buying a spotlight, however, study these facts that will help you choose a product best suiting your needs.
Power options are important considerations when selecting a spotlight.
Some spotlights, like the Q-Beam Marine Blue Max and Dorcy’s Weather Resistant 1-Million Candle Power Spotlight, work on 12-volt systems, with a plug adaptor for hook-up in a cigarette lighter. These must be constantly plugged in to work, so they must be used in a boat, truck, RV, ATV or other place where a plug-in is available.
The user's mobility is limited by the length of the cord (usually 6 to 10 feet), but the light will come on instantly and shine continuously as the long as it's hooked up to a viable power source.
Rechargeable spotlights also are available. Some, like the Q-Beam Performance Night Vision 682 Rechargeable Spotlight, have both 12V (auto or boat) and 110V (home) chargers. Others, like the Coleman CPX 6 CSP7O Spotlight, operate on D-cell batteries or a rechargeable power cartridge (usually sold separately).
The user's mobility is unlimited with any of these cordless, handheld models, but run-time varies considerably, from three hours (on high) for some halogen-light models to eight hours for an LED spotlight.
If the spotlight loses its charge, you might have to wait several hours during recharging until you can use it again. As a result, these models aren’t well suited for extended-use scenarios such as long nighttime boat rides.
Several deck- and rail-mount spotlights for boating applications also are available, like the Golight Gobee Stanchion Mount Light with wireless remote control and the RAM LED Spotlight with 1" Ball, which is easily placed where you want it using one of several RAM mounts. One model from Blazer International is made especially for use on an ATV.
Lumens and Candlepower
Spotlights typically incorporate one of two types of illumination: halogen lights or LED lights.
Halogen models have long been the most popular because they offer the brightest light at moderate prices. Some are so bright they can easily illuminate the eyes of a frog or alligator at distances of a half mile or more.
Each is rated in terms of candlepower, varying from 400,000 candlepower on the Optronic Marine BlueEye model to the Cyclops Colossus 18-Million Candlepower Spotlight.
LED spotlights, like the Coleman CPX 6 Folding LED Spotlight, have brightness levels measured in lumens – the more lumens, the brighter the light and the greater the distance at which the light will illuminate objects.
LED lights aren't as bright as halogen lights, however, and won’t illuminate objects at comparable distances. On the plus side, LED bulbs almost never need replacing, and the lights stay cool to the touch. A halogen light may get hot enough to cause serious burns if touched. Choose accordingly.
Today’s spotlights offer features that make them much more versatile than spotlights available in decades past. For example, several such as NoCry’s Waterproof Rechargeable 1000LM Spotlight and Dewalt’s MAX Cordless come with red or amber filters or LEDs that provide better night vision and aren’t as likely to spook wildlife.
Lockout switches on models like the High Noon 4C Light prevent accidental power-ups. Folding handles that allow easier storage in a smaller space are available on some Coleman models.
The best spotlights also have durable, water-resistant or waterproof housings that are less likely to chip, break or succumb to an accidental plunge in a lake or stream.
Some good rechargeable models like the CREE LED from Usteller offer multiple brightness modes. These allow using less light for up-close tasks like tying knots or camp set-up, thus extending the battery charge considerably.
Trigger locks also are valuable features, allowing the light keep shining without constantly applying fatiguing finger pressure to the trigger.
Other useful features include momentary-on switches, integrated carry loops, built-in storage compartments for chargers and adjustable swivel stands for hands-free lighting.
In the end, you should consider all the pros and cons of each type of spotlight before deciding which is best for you. Fortunately, there are many different models from which to choose, and one of them is sure to be just right for your needs. Make your selection and let there be light!