The dive is dark and full of terrors… let there be light. Diving accessories, like dive watches or fins, are essential in any dive. Dive lights are much more important, not just because it provides much-needed illumination on cave and night scuba diving. An underwater torch can also be useful during daytime diving, and not just for looking inside wrecks, cracks, and crevices. As most divers know, the light starts to dim once you go deeper into the water. The dive light can add color to the underwater world that was filtered out as the sunlight passes through the water. Obviously, picking the right dive light is important. You need to take time and consideration especially since there is a huge selection to choose from. If you are not sure of what is best for your purpose, we’ve got your back. Check out our picks for the 10 best dive lights on the market today.
Top 8 Dive Lights of 2018 Reviewed
1. Tovatec Fusion Video LED Dive LightBest Dive Light Under $100
This powerful dive light is our top pick for many reasons. It has a depth rating of 328 feet, a light output of 530 lumens, and adjustable beam settings that range from 12 to 100 degrees. It uses rechargeable Li-ion batteries with a runtime of 3 hours. This dive light features several power settings – 30%, 50%, 100%, and emergency strobe mode, all of which are easily selected using the magnetic slide switch.
Made with aircraft-grade aluminum alloy, this battery was built to last. This mid-range power torch is great value for the price. It can easily fit in your pocket. And it’s versatility is tough to beat. However, some feel that the light isn’t that bright and the beam isn’t narrow enough for looking into crevices during daytime diving.
- Adjustable beam settings
- Several power settings
- Rechargeable batteries
- Some found the light not bright enough
- Beam doesn’t narrow enough to penetrate crevices
2. Underwater Kinetics SL4 eLEDBest Dive Light For Night Diving
The UK SL4 eLED is a handheld dive light that produces 400 lumens with 10 hours of runtime using 4 C-cell batteries. It has a depth rating of 152 meters/500 feet and is perfect for cave diving as well as up-close lighting. It can work as a backup for your primary light during night dives. The toggle switch allows you to turn the light on or off using just our thumb or index finger.
The dive light comes with a wrist lanyard but you can easily place it in your BC pocket as well. However, changing the batteries is difficult. Also, there is no locking mechanism on the on/off switches to keep you from accidentally turning the light on. You might want to consider taking out the battery when you’re traveling so you don’t waste the charge.
- Bright light
- 10 hours of runtime
- Easy to use
- No locking mechanism on the power switch
- Changing the batteries is difficult
3. Scubapro Nova 720Best Dive Light For Murky Water
The Scubapro Nova 720 uses 3 C-batteries to produce 720 lumens with a burn time of 14 to 18 hours. It features two power modes – 50% and 100%. The dive light is made entirely of aluminum and has a depth rating of 300 meters. The twist-on, twist-off operation makes this light easy to operate. And the concentrated, spot beam is quite powerful enough to make this a good primary light or backup.
If you want something more environmentally friendly, the Scubapro Nova 720R has the same features but uses a 18650 Li-ion rechargeable battery. Take note that the 720 is bulkier and may not feel comfortable in small hands. Some divers do wish that there were more power modes to choose from since 50% is still too bright for up-close lighting.
- 720 lumens
- Long battery time
- All-aluminum construction
- Needs more power modes
- Slightly bulky; may not fit well with small hands
4. Dorcy 41-1467 Dive II SubmersibleBest Dive Light Under $50
The Dorcy 41-1467 Dive II Submersible Diving Light is a budget-friendly option for those who are just dipping their toes into diving or individuals who rarely dive. For less than $50, you get a dive light that is made of anodized aluminum with an anti-corrosion, hardened black finish. It has a light output of 220-lumens and a 200-foot distance. The depth rating is at 100 meters/328 feet. This dive light comes with a nylon wrist lanyard and a 1-year limited warranty.
The power source is 6 AAA-cell batteries which means you can easily find replacements anywhere in the world. And you can use rechargeable AAA batteries too. Because it has a narrow, focused beam, this is an excellent light for looking in holes, under ledges, and in crevices. It is not ideal for night diving. The twisting mechanism means you won’t have to worry about the switch failing just when you need it.
It also means that you don’t accidentally turn it on. However, the design is a bit flawed in the dive lights that some customers received. With their light, the battery pack and the contact do not touch; this problem was easily fixed by adding a small piece of paper at the bottom of the battery case to give it a little “boost.”
- AAA-cell batteries
- Very affordable
- Solid construction
- Not for night dives
- No power modes; just on and off
- Some customers received flawed design; battery pack would not connect to the contact properly
5. Princeton Tec AMP 1L Dive LightBest Dive Lights On a Budget
If you already have a primary dive light and just need a backup, the Princeton Tec AMP 1.0 Dive light might just be what you’re looking for. It’s extremely affordable so you don’t have to break the bank just to get a backup light. This dive light features Xylex housing. It runs on 2 AAA batteries (included) and has a burn time of 72 hours.
The light output is only 90 lumens which doesn’t seem like much but it will be enough to get you out of a pickle should that ever happen. This dive light is very tiny but it has a depth rating of 330 feet. So you can safely take it with you and not worry about your backup device getting crushed under pressure. However, some divers are disconcerted with how tiny it is; they prefer something more substantial. Also, the bottle opener feature isn’t necessary and the metal piece could snag on something important. Unfortunately, you can’t take that part out.
- Depth rating at 330 feet
- Less than $20
- Great backup light
- Some customers found this dive light too tiny
- Bottle opener feature could snag on diving equipment
6. Underwater Kinetics Light Cannon L1
The UK Light Cannon L1 is one of the best primary dive lights in the market. It has a light output of up to 1100 lumens (high mode). You can choose to conserve battery and switch it to a low mode which emits 440 lumens, still powerful enough to illuminate the scene. This light runs on 8 C-cell alkaline batteries with a burn time of 16 hours in high mode and 20 hours in low mode.
If you get the rechargeable battery pack, you can increase the brightness of the light to 2100 lumens (2-hour burn time) in high mode and 900 lumens (5.5-hour burn time) in low mode. For maximum visibility, the light produced is close to sunlight in color. You can choose to get a pistol grip or lantern grip. You can even get a photo arm. The dovetail slot will ensure that you can easily slip in the configuration you prefer.
And there’s also a locking mechanism to keep the light from switching on while traveling. However, it is quite expensive and it doesn’t feature an adjustable beam setting that would make it a great dive light for night dives which require a wide beam for maximum visibility. This would also be too bright for night diving and possibly scare any sea creatures away.
- Available in lantern and pistol grip
- Incredibly bright light
- Long battery life
- Not for night dives
- No adjustable beam setting
7. Ikelite Gamma LED Dive Light
The concave aluminum housing of the Ikelite Gamma II just feels so good in our hands that we just had to include it on the list. Big or small, gloves or not, it just felt very comfortable and secure in the hand. But that’s not the only thing we liked about it. This dive light has an output of 350 lumens with a concentrated 10-degree beam. It runs on 2 CR123 Batteries with an estimated burn time of over 10 hours.
It’s made entirely out of aircraft-grade aluminum and features military-grade anodizing and a double O-ring seal to make it corrosion-proof as well as give it a depth rating of 400 feet. It has a no-snag finish so you can easily take it out of your pocket and put it back in with no problems. This light features a heavy-duty mechanical tail switch. Pressing it down partially turns it on, pressing it fully will lock it.
While this is not a primary dive light, it will serve as a good backup light. The dive light is backed by a 2-year warranty. However, it is expensive for a backup light and it runs through batteries pretty quickly. The latter wouldn’t be such a problem if the batteries were easily bought anywhere. Since they aren’t, be sure to have backup batteries for your backup light just in case.
- Ergonomic design
- Solid construction
- Easy to operate
- Hard-to-find batteries
- Runs through batteries quickly
- Expensive for a backup light
8. Light and Motion Sola Tech 1200 S/F LightBest Dive Light For Photography
The Light and Motion Sola Tech 1200 S/F Light is a video light that has an adjustable beam setting and a hand mount (a pistol grip configuration is also available). It features two modes – a 1200 lumen 60-degree flood beam and a 500 lumen 12-degree spot beam. Each mode has 3 power settings. And the factory-sealed Li-ion battery can run up to 4 1/2 hours at low power. We love the hand strap, which is adjustable because it frees up your hand; you just need to point your hand in the right direction.
The controls are intuitive including the locking mechanism. It is quite expensive though; the most expensive one on our list, in fact. But the versatility of this dive light, the ease of use, and the incredible brightness make it worth every penny. Of course, there are some who wish the focused beam was much narrower and that there was a much lower power setting. Take note that the battery is proprietary; you can’t change it or switch it out for something else while the other charges. If you need to replace it, it costs $100 and requires you to ship it back to the manufacturer so that they can change it for you.
- Versatile dive light
- Intuitive controls
- Adjustable hand strap
- Very expensive
- Proprietary batteries
- Narrow beam could be tighter
How to Choose a Dive Light
Obviously, if you’re going to be doing some cave diving or nighttime scuba diving, you’ve got to have a dive light. But even daytime divers need to equip themselves with an underwater torch. The beauty of the underwater world can only be truly appreciated with the help of the right dive light. This is because as you go deeper, colors get filtered out as the sunlight passes through the water. At just three feet, more than half of the reds are filtered out. At nine feet, half of the yellow has been extinguished. When you reach 30 feet, all that you survey will be blue-gray in color.
Now, choosing the right light isn’t as simple as picking the first flashlight you see in a dive shop. If only. The best dive light for you will depend on your diving activity and situation. And then there are other factors to take into consideration as well. To help you in your quest for the perfect underwater torch, we’ve constructed a how-to guide that navigates the not-so-murky waters of dive lights.
What are the different types of dive lights?
Primary dive lights
These are typically the largest and brightest of all dive lights, used in either daytime or nighttime driving. They are also usually the most durable, lasting a good 10 years or so, and features a large battery pack that will light very dark areas. Your primary dive light should last a minimum of 8 hours at full power.
Primary dive lights can be powered by either rechargeable or disposable batteries. These usually come in two forms – pistol grip and lantern grip, both of which are more comfortable to use compared to stick lights.
Because this is the main light, it needs to be powerful. The more power, the better. However, the dive light should have a center-focused beam such as what you get with the Scubapro Nova 720 to ensure visibility. Remember, a wide beam of light can reduce visibility much like how your car’s main beam headlights will reduce visibility in a fog. This is because the water molecules will reflect the powerful light from your torch and cause a glare, lowering visibility.
Secondary or backup dive lights
A secondary or backup dive light is mainly to ensure you have a source of light on hand should your primary dive light fail. For this reason, this type of dive light is typically compact and lightweight, small enough to fit in your pocket and easily taken out when necessary. A secondary dive light should feature a narrow beam like the Ikelite Gamma LED Dive Light.
Photo/Video dive lights
If you want to take videos underwater, then you’ll need a torch that produces a bright wide beam light. The dive light must produce a constant, even beam for minutes to hours. The beam angle of a video light is at least 90 degrees with high lumen power to provide adequate light to subjects. Most video lights use LED technology. Photo lights, on the other hand, are generally external flashes. These are also called strobes. They often have a range of power settings, each one relates to how long the torch will emit light. The Light and Motion Sola Tech 1200 S/F Light is the best video dive light we’ve tested.
What lighting technology should I get?
There are three types of lighting technology you can choose from – xenon (incandescent), LED (light emitting diode), and HID (high-intensity discharge).
- Xenon bulbs are the least expensive but they’re also the ones that go through your battery faster. One big advantage of this type of bulb is that it emits a warm natural light.
- LED bulbs are energy efficient and very powerful. They’re also very durable. These usually have a lifespan of up to 10,000 working hours. These are the most popular choice because these are more affordable than HID bulbs. The light of an LED bulb is bright blue. One good example of an affordable LED dive light is the Underwater Kinetics SL4 eLED.
- HID bulbs are very powerful like LED bulbs and they also consume less power. The light that an HID bulb emits is nearly white. However, they are delicate and very expensive.
What kind of battery should I choose?
Dive lights have batteries that are either rechargeable or disposable. Rechargeable batteries cost more and are best for those who frequently dive since they will be making the most out of their investment. Rechargeable batteries are best for the environment. However, they aren’t convenient to use because you need to remember to charge them. Also, these batteries don’t hold a charge well in storage.
Disposable batteries are inexpensive and you can buy replacements anywhere. The Princeton Tec AMP 1L Dive Light, for example, uses AAA batteries that can be found even in remote locations. However, dive lights that use these tend to have a lower level of performance and less battery life. For better performance, you can upgrade your disposable batteries to its lithium equivalent. Just keep in mind that lithium batteries may not always be available and they cost more.
Any other factors I should consider?
- Make sure that the words “water-tight” and “pressure-proof” are on the labels. Waterproof lights may seem just the thing but they will never work well underwater. The pressure of the water will crush your torch and you’ll be left without a source of light. You might also want to check the depth rating of your dive light. Make sure that it’s rated for the depth that you’re planning to dive at.
- Make sure that your dive light is constructed of solid materials such as stainless steel, aluminum, or titanium. Our number 1 pick, the Tovatec Fusion Video LED Dive Light, is constructed entirely out of aircraft-grade aluminum.
- Determine your preference. What grip style do you prefer – lantern type or a pistol grip? How comfortable does the dive light feel in your hand? Think about how it would feel if you were holding it for an hour. Can you mount the light or attach it to your dive equipment?
- Check how easy the dive light is to use. Are the controls easy to operate and intuitive? How easy is it to change or choose between different beam or power settings?
Other things you should take note of
- A narrow beam is best for searching under ledges as well as in cracks and crevices. The Underwater Kinetics Light Cannon L1 is one of our best primary dive light picks that feature a narrow beam.
- Maximum visibility of night dives is provided by a wide beam with a high lumen rating.
- For a mixture of day and night dives, you can get a dive light that has an adjustable beam angle like the Tovatec Fusion Video LED Dive Light.
- For technical diving or exploration diving, HID bulbs work best because they’re very bright and ensures long battery life. Also, your dive light should produce a tight, penetrating beam.