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There’s a saying among boaters that the word “boat” stands for “break out another thousand.” That might be the case for repairs, but it doesn’t always apply to accessories, especially when they can cross several market segments. Spotlights serve many purposes for both landlubbers and boaters. A lot of the features that may benefit some users also are desirable for those on the water
Some common factors that people are looking for in the products they buy include portability and usability. For boat spotlights, brightness and battery power are also essential. Our guide will walk you through which features are best for this purpose. We’ve also added detailed reviews of some of our favorite products. Hopefully, we’ll shed enough light to help you make an informed choice on the best boat spotlight for you, regardless of what you’re using it for.
|Best Overall||Streamlight Waypoint Rechargeable Spotlight||
|Best Value||Cyclops Direct High-Intensity Spotlight||
|Premium Choice||Jabsco Chrome Plated Spotlight||
|Streamlight WayPoint Spotlight||
|Cyclops Waterproof Cree LED Spotlight||
|Power source||Lithium-ion battery|
The Streamlight Waypoint Rechargeable Spotlight is a handheld model that uses a pistol grip for a decent hand feel. It has three modes that go from 35—1,000 lumens. It’s a welcome feature that covers the bases for when a spotlight would come in handy. It’s even made to handle rough elements with its waterproof housing. That convinced many customers that it is the best overall boat spotlight.
The manufacturer had the end-user in mind with this product, including its adjustable lanyard. It’s an inexpensive but worthwhile light. The runtime is also excellent, even at the highest illumination.
|Light type||100-watt halogen bulb|
The Cyclops Direct High-Intensity Spotlight is a corded product with a relatively long reach of 10 feet. While the output is high, it lacks some features we find desirable in boat products, such as being waterproof. It’s not a must-have but is still a highly desirable feature. Nevertheless, it is the best boat spotlight for the money.
You can’t beat the price for what you get. The light is incredibly bright, although not adjustable. It’s relatively lightweight, making it easy to use despite the cord.
|Light type||Halogen spotlight|
|Output||230,000 candle power|
The Jabsco Chrome Plated Spotlight is gorgeous. There’s no denying how sleek and well-designed this product is. It will make a fitting addition to any high-end boat. The brass construction and its chrome finish are stunning. This light also has an electric remote control for hands-off operation. It’s a product that you’d mount on your boat instead of a portable, handheld device.
This spotlight has a limited niche, which isn’t necessarily a drawback. Unlike the other products on our list, it is a decorative feature that looks great on any boat.
|Power source||C batteries|
|Output||40 to 550 lumens|
The Streamlight WayPoint Spotlight ticks off many boxes that we like to see in these products. The price is right for what you get. It’s not waterproof but has decent water resistance, making customers appreciate the included lanyard. It has an LED light with a large output range. Many people like the deep-dish parabolic reflector to make the best use of the light it emits. You can keep this light running for hours without losing power. It even gives you 82 hours of emergency use.
|Power source||Lithium-ion rechargeable battery|
The Cyclops Waterproof Cree LED Spotlight has the features that boaters want in these products, including an IP67 waterproof rating. It has a couple of emergency additions, including a whistle and strobe light. Its light output is decent for what you’d probably use it for. The rechargeable battery makes it an environmentally-friendly choice.
This spotlight epitomizes multi-functional use, making it hard to find many faults with it unless you’re being overly picky. It’s an excellent choice both in and out of the boat.
The GOODSMANN Marine Spotlight covers a lot of bases with this affordable product. It’s rechargeable, which is always a plus—there’s nothing like getting the most out of your money. It is also water-resistant and provides a decent amount of light when you need it. It even floats in case it ever slips out of your hands.
The light has four settings, including an SOS feature if you should need it, which is an excellent way to extend the life of this otherwise bright spotlight.
The GoLight Portable Light with Wired Remote takes a different riff on handheld with its portable design. It works on a boat or on land, which adds to its versatility. It also includes additional resistance against UV and saltwater damage. That makes this one a more useful product for boaters who use fresh or saltwater.
The other specs are what we’d expect with the addition of the remote. It is an excellent way to take these products into the realm of smart technology.
|Power source||Lithium-ion battery|
|Output||110 to 1,400 lumens|
The Browning High Noon Spotlight is a well-made product that can handle the elements like a champ. It has an ergonomic design that makes it easy to hold. It also has that all-important lanyard for keeping it secure. We like that its adjustable stand makes it even more user-friendly when boating in familiar waters. The fact that it floats and is waterproof is icing on the cake.
It uses a USB connection for charging. That’s not a problem with modern boats but can be a deal-breaker for older ones unless you have an alternative power source.
The EIOUHENG LED Spotlight succeeds with its versatility and high illumination range. You won’t have any problems finding the dock with this spotlight. It is a low price with a long lifespan. You’ll get your money back with this light even if you don’t use it a lot. Unfortunately, it’s not particularly attractive, nor is it lightweight. While it delivers, it doesn’t make it easy.
You may find that you’ll need to jerry-rig it for some uses. It has a magnet, but it’s not functional in all cases. We wouldn’t put it on the top of our list, but it has its place for some customers.
The manufacturer’s name makes the STANLEY FATMAX SL10LEDS Rechargeable Spotlight worth a look. It has an ergonomic design that makes it easy to use. It’s well made in terms of its operation, but not as much when it comes to the plastic housing. That explains the 1-year warranty. However, it is rechargeable with a decent light output. It delivers what it claims to do, just not for the long haul.
The spotlight isn’t expensive, which makes it a reasonable investment for the casual boater. It’s not too expensive to replace it if needed.
Many of the things we’ll discuss apply to similar purchases. Usefulness is the overriding desirable factor. You may not use a boat spotlight very often unless you go out at night or hunt early in the morning. We can say from experience that a spotlight is a godsend when trying to dock, even if it’s dusk. It also comes in handy if you’re navigating unfamiliar waters with unknown hazards.
Things to consider when buying a boat spotlight include:
LED lights are the most popular choice for boat spotlights. LED lights use less juice, which lends itself well to the type of usage that your spotlight will likely get. These products usually have more than one diode. That means it won’t blow out suddenly like an incandescent light would. You’ll get a warning from the spotlight dimming before it dies. The design of LEDs typically has a much longer lifespan, regardless of the usage.
You’ll find that some of the products available will run off a 12-volt battery that you can plug into a car lighter adapter. That’s an advantage, considering the frequency of use. You can think of it as power on demand.
Some spotlights use solar power to charge the battery, which is an excellent choice for boats since people are often boating in direct sunlight. If you choose this option, we suggest verifying the charge time and backup power alternatives.
You’ll also see spotlights that run on lithium batteries. We recommend that you find out if the battery is included with your purchase. Fortunately, you’ll get a decent lifespan out of these powerhouses. Rechargeable products are another option worth considering. However, remember that you have to plug it in to get the best function.
Several factors come into play when discussing the material. Durability is at the forefront of getting the best value from products. However, you should also think about the weight, particularly with handheld devices.
Bear in mind that the batteries will add to the total weight. You’ll often see manufacturers use different polymers that do an excellent job of balancing durability with weight.
Some manufacturers may provide an Ingress Protection Rating, also called an IP code, for their products. This gives you a quantitative rating for how a spotlight will handle solid and liquid penetration. Hopefully, it’ll be a non-issue. However, it’s worth investigating. Some companies may describe a product as water-resistant versus waterproof. They might also provide a depth rating.
Water is going to splash around when you’re on a boat. Therefore, we strongly urge you to limit your shortlist to spotlights that provide at least some protection against moisture.
You’ll see a couple of different specs for the output of a spotlight. Some manufacturers will list it in watts, and others will provide the figure in lumens. You’ll probably be more familiar with the former than the latter. A 75-watt lightbulb is about equal to 970 lumens. LEDs use about 8 —11 watts. Don’t get too worried about these figures. Remember that a lower wattage will still make a big impact in the dark.
After going through our reviews, the Streamlight Waypoint Rechargeable Spotlight lit up when it came to choosing our best overall pick. It embraces many of those user-friendly features we appreciate, including its waterproof rating and three light modes. The Cyclops Direct High-Intensity Spotlight is another good choice for anyone who is looking for a durable spotlight at a low cost. Every spotlight on this list is going to be useful in one way or another, so take some time to ensure you make the best decision possible.
Featured Image Credit: Sergiy Palamarchuk, Shutterstock
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Chris has been writing since 2009 on a variety of topics. Her motto with all of her writing is “science-based writing nurtured by education and critical thinking.” Chris specializes in science topics and has a special love for health and environmental topics, and animals of all shapes and sizes.
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