Hand-held spotlights are useful for a wide variety of activities; from outdoor sports, to changing a flat tire, to looking for the dog that jumped the fence in the middle of the night. Anytime youre out in a vehicle and you might need light, a handheld spotlight is a nice thing to have.
In most cases, hand-held spotlights take over where flashlights leave off. Most flashlights are limited to providing 100 lumens of illumination. Todays tactical lights can provide more, with some that are topping 600 lumens. Handheld spotlights generally provide more illumination than that, with a larger reflector that focuses the light into a relatively tight beam for providing high intensity illumination in a smaller area.
These spotlights come in two basic varieties, cordless ones and those that run off the vehicles power. The ones that run off vehicle power will usually plug into a cigarette lighter socket, while the cordless ones are usually rechargeable. Both have their advantages, depending upon how they will be used.
Many of the newer spotlights on the market, like many of the newer flashlights, use high intensity LEDs to provide illumination. There are several advantages to LEDs over other types of light bulbs:
- Longer lasting LEDs are typically rated at 60,000 hours of life
- Lower power consumption With an LED light, batteries last much longer
- Shock resistance LEDs dont have a filament to break from shock like incandescent light bulbs do. Nor do they have a glass bulb to break like halogen and other gas filled bulbs.
When looking at a spotlight, normally the most important factor is how bright it is. Besides that, you want one that is durable, so that you dont have to worry about it breaking when you use it. Battery life is another major consideration when looking at cordless spotlights. For the corded ones, youll want a nice long cord. Finally, you want something that is going to be easy to work with.
These units can either be rated in lumens or candlepower. The difference is that candlepower describes the light radiance at its source, while lumens describes the light intensity in a particular direction. It is usually measured over a one square foot area, one foot away from the source. While it is possible to covert from one to the other, the conversion isnt very accurate, as they are measuring different things.
There are a lot of different models of spotlights on the market, being manufactured by a lot of different companies. With all the models to choose from, its almost impossible to pick out five best ones. However, Ive made my best stab at it. There are a lot of other good ones out there, but these stood out to me as having something special to offer.
If you want the bets, you've got to go with a professional spotlight. This one provides 5000 lumens of illumination, in an aluminum case with a glass lens. A separate battery pack helps keep the weight light and helps manage heat better. Read Full Review
This light is actually designed to be a professional rescue light. Even so, I couldn't resist putting it on this list, because it provides 5000 lumens of illumination, making it the most powerful searchlight I've seen. All that light is coming out of six LEDs, which are housed in an aluminum case and hidden behind a glass lens. The aluminum housing is machined to have cooling fins to prevent overheating. The battery pack on this unit is separated from the main body of the searchlight, and provided with a belt clip. That reduces operator fatigue, while giving a much larger battery capacity. The battery is Li-Ion for high charge capacity and long life While being a rechargeable unit, it will work powered directly off of home power. A power indicator is included, as well as a tripod mount. It will run a maximum of an hour and 15 minutes off the battery at its highest setting.
This spotlight provides 2,900 lumens of illumination, which is more than any of the cordless units in the same price range. It is a corded unit, so you are limited to using it from a vehicle. But if you don't need the ability to move around, it's great. Read Full Review
This is a 12 volt, corded spotlight, designed for use connected to a car. The 100 watt halogen bulb produces 2,900 lumens of illumination, which is much more than any of the cordless units out there in the same price range (the one in the number one spot produces more, but is quite a bit more expensive). This unit will not run off of batteries, unless a separate battery pack is purchased. The case is weatherproof and the reflector is polished aluminum.
The five LEDs in this unit provide 530 lumens of illumination. It will run 2.5 hours off of one charge and is rechargeable from either auto or home power. Read Full Review
For a rechargeable spotlight, this one has some pretty impressive specifications. The five LEDs produce a total of 530 lumens of light. Included batteries will power the unit for 2.5 hours on a single charge. Both auto and home rechargers are included for maximum flexibility. The trigger is momentary, but a slide switch locks it on for longer use. An integrated hanger allows you to set it in place, so that your hands are free for other activities.
This compact spotlight is about the size of a CD; about half the size of other units. It still produces 520 lumens of illumination, and will do so for 10 hours of operation. Oh, and it's waterproof too. Read Full Review
This compact rechargeable light from Stanley is 50 percent smaller than typical spotlights, making it not much bigger than a CD. Yet it provides 520 lumens of illumination. The onboard batteries provide enough power to keep the unit running for an impressive 10 hours of use. It is also fully waterproof, submersible up to six feet. When it falls into the water, it floats with the light pointing upward, making it easy to find and recover.
This monster produces 18 million candlepower of illumination. The integral stand is adjustable, allowing you hands-free operation. Read Full Review
This monster isnt rated in lumens like the other units are, but in candlepower. It is designed to deliver 18 million candlepower of illumination. Yes, I wrote that right. Thats much more light intensity than any of the others. The main reason that it isnt higher on this list is that it will only run for 20 minutes at that level off of the internal battery. Being halogen, it goes through batteries much faster than LEDs would. However, it does come with both an AC and a DC charger. It can be used while connected to the DC charger, but not the AC charger. An integral stand is adjustable for angle, allowing you hands-free operation.