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Best Spotlights

Updated September 2018
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 111 Models Considered
  • 12 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 82 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best spotlights

    Last Updated September 2018

    The average flashlight can help you find your way in the dark, but if you’re doing a job that requires a bright, lasting stream of light, you need something more. A portable spotlight may be your answer.

    Portable spotlights are made for consumers who need a reliable beam of steady, strong light. The best portable spotlights are sturdy with excellent LED lighting and long-lasting rechargeable batteries. You don’t have to hold the light steady, nor do you have to worry about dealing with flickering light as you work.

    Portable, hand-held spotlights are durable, convenient, and highly effective for the tasks most consumers face. In addition to having handles that are easy to grip, most of them are capable of standing in a stationary position so both of your hands are free to complete tasks. Their rugged construction is built to withstand bumps, drops, and other mishaps that are likely to happen on the job.

    In the sections below, you will find detailed information about portable spotlights. Whether you’re tackling repairs in the dark, completing a DIY project in your shop, or working on your car in the driveway, there is a spotlight out there for you. When you’re ready to make a purchase, check out our five select models.

    Adequate light while you’re working is more than just a convenience; it’s a must-have when it comes to safety. With proper lighting, you can avoid mishaps like hammering a finger, dropping tools, or misplacing items while you work.

    LED vs. halogen spotlights

    Though spotlights are available with both LED and halogen bulbs, LED models definitely have the advantage. LED lights are brighter, burn longer, and can be housed in smaller lighting units for superior portability. Halogen spotlights are usually larger, bulkier, and not quite as bright. There’s not that big of a difference in terms of price, either. Therefore, we find LED spotlights to be far more practical and useful for the majority of consumers.

    Spotlight power sources

    Handheld spotlights generate power from different types of batteries, some of which require charging.

    Spotlights with lithium ion batteries

    These spotlights are built to last with internal batteries that could potentially keep a charge for months, depending on your usage patterns. Recharging can be accomplished with an AC or DC adaptor. Some have the option of running with a power cord to bypass the battery. On the downside, these model usually have sealed internal batteries that aren’t meant to be replaced. Though they can last for many years, once they fail to recharge or hold a charge, the spotlight is typically no longer of use by battery.

    Pros:

    • Long-lasting internal battery

    • No need to purchase batteries frequently

    • Long battery life with full charge
       

    Cons:

    • A bit pricier than models without rechargeable batteries

    • Can’t change the battery when it no longer charges

    Spotlights that are powered by rechargeable lithium ion batteries are capable of amazing run times. This capability is extremely handy in outdoor situations when you can’t access electricity.

    Spotlights with traditional alkaline batteries

    Spotlights that run on alkaline battery power typically require “C” or “D” batteries. They are easy to change and sometimes preferred by traditionalists. These models may have an alternative DC power cord for use without batteries.

    Pros:

    • Quick and easy battery changes

    • Usually a few dollars cheaper than lithium-powered options

    • Practical for those who don’t intend to use a spotlight often
       

    Cons:

    • Shorter run time

    • Costly replacements (with extended use)

    • Batteries are “old-fashioned” and a hassle

    EXPERT TIP

    Spotlights aren’t just for work. Many consumers enjoy using them to light up the dark for observing and photographing nocturnal wildlife.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Spotlight lumen output

    Whether your need a spotlight to search dark areas or to complete entire projects, there are spotlights available that emit the lumens that work best for you.

    • Some spotlights have 900 to 2,000+ lumens. These models are suitable for use in the darkest areas. They are typically on the higher end of the price spectrum.

    • Less-powerful spotlights (300 lumens or less) are ideal for tasks around the house or in the workshop. They are a few dollars cheaper than those with higher lumens.

    • Most spotlights have variable settings. Lumen output ranges from approximately 40 lumens (on the lowest setting) to several hundred or more lumen beams on high.

    EXPERT TIP

    Spotlights with LED bulbs have amazing range. On the highest setting, some can illuminate up to several hundred yards.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Spotlight handles

    You don’t have to worry about your grip on spotlights, as the handles are made with comfort in mind. Most models sport contoured handles that feel a lot like bicycle handlebars. While some are uncovered, there are models available with soft or rubberized cushioning for added comfort.

    Hands-free option: Having a good grip on your spotlight is important, but so is being able to have both hands free while you’re working. Most spotlights are manufactured with this in mind. Some models are made to stand on their handles; others have built-in stands the pivot, lock in place, and fold down neatly when not in use. Both options work well when it comes to keeping the light bright and both hands on your work.

    EXPERT TIP

    Most handheld spotlights feature a mounting mechanism, so you don’t have to physically hold the light to accomplish your work goals.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Spotlight prices

    Considering all of the uses for handheld spotlights, they are surprisingly affordable. While a modest model with a limited beam output (300 lumens or less) runs around $30, mid-level options that emit approximately 550 lumens can be found for about $40. Higher-end models don’t come with a major price hike, either. Spotlights that put out 900 to 2,000 lumens often cost around $50.

    Tips

    • Conserve battery power when possible. Not all tasks require the brightest spotlight setting. If you can see well enough with a dimmer beam, you will enjoy longer battery life whether your spotlight is powered by lithium ion or alkaline batteries.
    • Understand your lighting needs. Some spotlights emit well over 900 lumens and are capable illumination ranges of more than 100 yards. This is impressive if you need a model that can light up extremely dark or large areas, but it may be more than you need. You can save a little money if a spotlight with a lower lumen output would work for you.
    • Base your buying decision on your work area. If you require a reliable light source for extended outdoor use, consider a model known for its long battery life, such as those powered by lithium ion batteries. On the other hand, if you want a spotlight to keep in your automobile, a small spotlight that can be charged with a 12-volt adapter through the vehicle’s cigarette lighter is a great option.
    Spotlights are handy to keep in your car. In the event of car trouble or a flat tire, you will have ample light if you need it.

    FAQ

    Q. I’m tough on tools. How well do portable spotlights hold up to wear and tear?
    A.
    Spotlights are typically encased in durable, heavy-duty plastic or polycarbonate. While we don’t recommend careless handling of your new spotlight, chances are it will withstand minor mishaps.

    Q. Are spotlights susceptible to water damage? Are they practical for use in wet conditions?
    A.
    It’s best to protect your spotlight from excessive moisture. While a little rain isn’t likely to cause problems, a soaking rain could cause major damage. Submersion is not recommended and could cause almost cause total failure of the light.

    Q. How easy it is to use this type of spotlight hands-free?
    A.
    Whether you choose a spotlight with a flat-bottom grip that can be stood up on its handle or one with its own stand, spotlights are just about as easy to use hands-free as they are when gripped in the hand.

    Q. How long does it take a rechargeable spotlight to recharge?
    A.
    Recharging times vary. Some models take only a few hours; others take two or three times that much. The upside is that a full charge typically lasts a long time. Of course, the frequency and duration of your usage sessions could affect this.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Alice
      Alice
      Web Producer
    • Bob
      Bob
      Writer
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer
    • Melissa
      Melissa
      Senior Editor

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