Which diving light is best?
Whether you’re an experienced diver or just starting, you won’t always be diving in crystal-clear water with the sun shining brightly from above. And as your skill increases or your spirit for adventure heightens, you might try cave diving, explore a shipwreck or go diving at night. Naturally, the sun’s light can’t reach into caves or a wreck’s mangled hull.
So, for any of those scenarios, you need a good-quality flashlight. An excellent diving light can increase your field of view and highlight dangers ahead. It can also serve as an emergency beacon, indicating where you are to other divers. The Scubapro Nova 850R Diving Light is a good choice, as it has a head shroud to keep you from blinding others.
What to know before you buy a diving light
Decide on the light type
There are three types of diving or underwater lights to consider.
- Primary dive lights are the brightest and usually the largest. They tend to be heavier than others but let you see clearly in blackout conditions without hassle.
- Secondary dive lights serve as a backup if the primary light fails. They’re lightweight and smaller.
- Photo or video diving lights aren’t often used, but as the name implies, they’re perfect for illumination when taking underwater photos or video. Photo dive lights are usually strobing and won’t provide constant illumination. Video lights, on the other hand, do.
Consider the type of bulb
Depending on the conditions of the dive site, you can choose from three bulb or light head options.
- Xenon bulbs project a warm natural light and are usually more affordable than others. However, their downside is reduced brightness and a shorter battery life.
- LED light heads are powerful and more energy-efficient but project a bright white beam.
- High-Intensity Discharge bulbs are the most powerful but are susceptible to damage. Their near-white light is perfect as a primary flashlight and for underwater photography.
The lumens indicate the brightness
Arguably the most important factor is the brightness of the flashlight, which is indicated in lumens. It’s a complex measurement that combines the bulb type, the beam’s angle and the Kelvin light temperature.
For recreational diving, 200 lumens is perfect under most circumstances, making objects visible within 33 feet. However, you’ll need something more potent for photography, so the light should be between 900 and 2,500 lumens. LED bulbs are the most powerful for non-photography diving and range from 800 to 4,000 lumens.
What to look for in a quality diving light
As with most electronics, the battery capacity determines how long a flashlight operates. Plenty of diving lights use non-rechargeable batteries, but you then run the risk of the light dying on you halfway through a dive. So instead, a good-quality dive light has a rechargeable battery. These are powered up through a standard USB cable, and if you remember to do so after each dive, you’ll never get a surprise when conditions turn dark.
Wide beam angle
The beam angle is essential for a wider field of field. A narrow beam is excellent for pinpoint lighting, but objects in your peripheral vision won’t be visible.
With a diving mask, your vision is limited to about 100 degrees, so a good-quality dive light should cover at least half of that. Beams between 20 and 75 degrees are excellent as primary lights for night dives, and most of the gadgets have adjustable beam angles. Narrow angles, such as 12 to 20 degrees, provide a strong, focused beam that’s great for peeking into holes or crevasses.
The deeper you go, the higher the underwater pressure becomes, and your light must be able to cope. A good-quality light for recreational diving can easily handle pressure up to 90 feet deep. If you go deeper, you must look for a light that withstands it.
How much you can expect to spend on a diving light
The average price of a diving light largely depends on its technology. You can pick up affordable lights for $15-$25, but high-powered gadgets with rechargeable batteries can retail for $200-$2,500.
Diving light FAQ
What’s most important in maintaining a dive light?
A. No matter if you are diving in the ocean or a lake, always rinse your light under fresh water as soon as you are finished. This will prevent any foreign particles from clinging or salt accumulating inside.
Can you upgrade your light yourself?
A. While you can swap out the bulbs on certain models, it is generally not a good idea. You might unintentionally damage the circuitry by altering the light, which can lead to failure when you need it most.
What’s the best diving light to buy?
Top diving light
What you need to know: This diving light has a single Cree XPL LED bulb that provides 850 lumens of light. It also has a light shroud that prevents you from blinding other divers.
What you’ll love: It has a built-in rechargeable battery that can last for two hours at full brightness. To be able to withstand underwater pressure, it has an over-pressure valve that releases gases, and the body is made from durable aluminum.
What you should consider: It has a relatively narrow 8-degree beam angle.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top diving light for the money
What you need to know: All diving lights are waterproof, but these are “super waterproof” with six O-rings that will never let water in.
What you’ll love: Sold as a pack of two, the lights have three operating modes, one of which is an emergency beacon. They have a brightness of 1,000 lumens, and the rechargeable battery will last for around two hours on full power.
What you should consider: The diving light is only certified for depths of 80 feet.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This diving light is one of the brightest available, delivering 2,000 lumens — powerful enough to see up to 330 feet ahead of you.
What you’ll love: The light’s body is military-grade aluminum, which has anti-oxidation and anti-seawater-corrosion properties. There is a drawstring lanyard at the back with a rubber section to prevent chafing.
What you should consider: It comes with a battery, but you can’t charge it with a USB cable. Instead, you must use the included one-bay charger.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Charlie Fripp writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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