The 10 Best Spotlights

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This wiki has been updated 33 times since it was first published in February of 2015. Whether you’re looking to illuminate a workspace, highlight some landscaping elements, or add safety to your nighttime walks, there’s a spotlight that's well equipped for the job. They come in models that can be plugged in, run by batteries, or powered by the rays of the Sun. Our list features handheld, freestanding and mountable options, so you’re sure to find the right one for your needs. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Streamlight 44910 Waypoint

2. DeWalt Max DCL043

3. Goodsman C102

Editor's Notes

February 03, 2021:

During this update we decided to remove the two solar-powered landscape lights that we had previously included as we didn't feel they really fit the category. Plus, we already heave a dedicated list of them for people who are in need of this kind of illumination. We also chose to add a few more waterproof options. For example, we replaced the Streamlight 44904, with the slightly more expensive Streamlight 44910 Waypoint, which is fully submersible. We also replaced the Larson Electronics 16CPCC with the Goodsman C102. While both are equally waterproof, the former simply seemed overpriced when comparing the performance and specs between these two. Another model we eliminated was the Titan M10, but this was mostly due to availability issues. In its place came two other budget-friendly options, the Energizer LED and Black & Decker WPAK5B.

May 27, 2019:

In this update, we removed the Cyclops Flare Sport and the Erligpowht Patio, both of which are not available at this time. We added in the 30-watt, LED Goodsmann Submersible, which emits a super bright light that covers a distance of 1,200 feet. It’s great for hiking, camping, boating, and more, since it’s waterproof and floats to the surface if accidentally dropped. In addition, we added the energy-efficient Lemonbest LED, which plugs into a standard outlet and provides warm, white illumination to landscaping elements or your home's facade.

Retaining high spots on the list are the DeWalt Max and Larson Candlepower, which both provide adjustable heads for versatile positioning. They also produce a generous amount of light, at 1,000 and 2,000 lumens, respectively. For those who prefer the convenience of a battery-powered unit instead, the Rugged Camp Titan can run for an impressive six hours between charges, on its lowest setting. It conveniently can be charged in 3 different ways: With the AC/DC adapter (included), the 12V DC car plug charger (also included), or with a simple USB cable.

Special Honors

Sharper Image Motion Activated This LED spotlight detects movement from up to 30 feet away and sends out a 300-lumen beam of white light, shutting off 30 seconds after motion has ceased. It can be installed in minutes, without the need for cords or an outlet, since it runs on four D batteries. It’s ideal for use around driveways, alleys, back doors, patios, delivery entrances, and more.

4. Rayovac Sportsman OT6AASP

5. Energizer LED

6. Brinkmann QBeam 800

7. Goodsmann 3000

8. Hallomall Outdoor GD-929

9. Stanley Fatmax SL10LEDS

10. Black & Decker WPAK5B

On Lighting Up The Night

If you are looking for a spotlight, your first considerations should not be the actual light source, however, but should depend on why you need the light in the first place.

Our ancient ancestors first harnessed fire as long as a million years ago. Evidence found in South African caves points to the controlled use of fire by populations of Homo Erectus hominids, who evidently used fire to cook meats and vegetables. This early fire control was not only an important step in the ever more rapid physical evolution of early man (foods can be digested much more rapidly when cooked, allotting more time for the development of language, tools, and culture in general), but it also, for the first time, would have enabled these ancient beings to conquer the darkness of the night.

The world was lit only by sunshine, star and moonlight, and by the flickering flames of fire from those prehistoric times right up until the 19th Century, when brilliant, inventive minds finally managed to harness yet another awesome power: electricity. With control of electricity established, it was not long before the electric light afforded mankind yet another way to illuminate the world after dark. Yet even the inventor of the first electric light, British scientist Humphrey David, and the creator of the modern incandescent bulb, Thomas Edison, would be awestruck to see the array of lights available to the common consumer today. So too would these and many other brilliant minds be amazed at the affordable price, efficient batteries, and multiple functions of the lights we take for granted.

For years, the incandescent bulb perfected by Edison was at the apex of illumination technology. Today, there are two light sources that vie for the claim to brightest and most efficient light generation source. LED -- or light emitting diode -- bulbs work by releasing photons, AKA light, when an electrical current is passed between the leads of two semiconductors. First developed in the 1960s but limited to use as indicator lights in instrument panels, today LEDs are ubiquitous, seen in everything from flashlights to clocks to traffic signals and more.

The halogen lamp is in fact an advanced take on the incandescent lightbulb: it consists of a durable globe with a tungsten filament housed in an environment containing both inert gasses and a percentage of halogen gas. The chemical reaction between the heated filament and the halogen environment helps to maintain and preserve the tungsten even while producing an exceptionally bright light with a notably pale color temperature.

If you are looking for a spotlight, your first considerations should not be the actual light source, however, but should depend on why you need the light in the first place.

Choosing A Handheld Spotlight

There are myriad reasons you might want to own a handheld spotlight. The most basic uses for such a light would be to illuminate the sidewalk or path as you went for an evening stroll or walked your dog. However these powerful lights can also be invaluable in the hands of first responders tasked with first aid and rescue operations, or for law enforcement officials who need to survey a crime seen or seek out a suspect. A handheld spotlight is also a good idea for the caver or for the hikers or mountaineers headed out over rough terrain at night.

A handheld spotlight is also a good idea for the caver or for the hikers or mountaineers headed out over rough terrain at night.

Most handheld spotlights have pistol grip style handles, which allow for an extended period of comfortable use and for easy, precise direction of their beam. As to the type of beam directed, make sure you check the various concentration settings available with any spotlight you consider. Some units offer wider light patterns good for illuminating rooms or swaths of an outdoor area, while others throw long beams good for scanning the darkness at a distance. Still other handheld spotlights can be adjusted to accomplish both tasks.

Make sure to factor in battery life before you commit to buying a handheld spotlight; while some units can run at their brightest setting for several hours, others only offer around a half hour of full powered light before their batteries grow exhausted. If you anticipate that you will need access to an extremely bright light for a shorter period of time, that shorter battery life may be no issue; on the other hand, a spotlight that has drained its battery is no better than an old tin can when it comes to lighting up the night

Choosing A Static Spotlight

Spotlights come in all shapes and sizes, and boast myriad functions as well. Some spotlights are the size of a backpack and have both shoulder straps and carry handles, and are perfect for when you need to illuminate objects as much as several thousand feet away; these mighty lights are great for nighttime boating, for search and rescue, and for filling nighttime worksites with light. They also tend to drain batteries quickly and are simply too bright for some users, and are too large for any protracted handheld, thus the included stands.

This can keep you safe within your home or business even as your light surveys the night for unwanted animals or prowlers.

On the other hand, there are also much smaller, more demure spotlights that store up solar power by day and then add a bit of extra illumination to your landscaping, entryway, or outdoor areas once the sun has set. These can serve as both accent lights and can add a bit of extra security to your property.

If security is your concern, consider a spotlight that is either motion activated, remotely controlled, or both. And some remote control spotlights can not only be switched on and off, but can have their beam maneuvered about from afar. This can keep you safe within your home or business even as your light surveys the night for unwanted animals or prowlers.

Brett Dvoretz
Last updated by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as in front of a laptop screen, Brett can either be found hacking away furiously at the keyboard or, perhaps, enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He has been a professional chef, a dog trainer, and a travel correspondent for a well-known Southeast Asian guidebook. He also holds a business degree and has spent more time than he cares to admit in boring office jobs. He has an odd obsession for playing with the latest gadgets and working on motorcycles and old Jeeps. His expertise, honed over years of experience, is in the areas of computers, electronics, travel gear, pet products, and kitchen, office and automotive equipment.

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