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Updated May 26, 2022 4:58 PM

Spotlights are easily one of the most underrated tools for nighttime work. Prior to the LED revolution, spotlights were a commonly found tool for night shifts everywhere. At the time, flashlights weren’t very strong, but now that you can easily find a 1,000-lumen flashlight, spotlights have started to fade from popularity. But the very design and functionality of spotlights make them more ideal than flashlights for many jobs. These handheld powerhouses are specifically made to illuminate objects hundreds of yards away. 

If you work or play after the sun goes down, then you need to consider adding one of the best spotlights to your gear locker.

Methodology

In a perfect world, I would be able to get hands-on with the best spotlights available to put them through rigorous testing and provide you with scientifically measured data to decide on. That just wasn’t feasible for this best spotlights review, so instead, I had to rely on my personal experiences in the military and construction worlds. Having used several different types of spotlights gave me a base knowledge to conduct in-depth research to evaluate each product objectively. 

As a writer for Task & Purpose, I’ve developed this skill through articles like the best gun oils, best camping chairs, and best running socks where there are an overwhelming amount of choices. Task & Purpose has covered the illuminating choices for the best 1000 lumen flashlights, headlamps, rechargeable flashlights, and EDC flashlights

For this article, I relied heavily on personal experience with brands like DeWalt, Makita, and Streamlight for baseline information. I also compared other buying guides to identify spotlight options that would fit the different categories selected. I avoided spotlights with unrealistic claims, questionable or inconsistent information, and products and brands with known histories of quality control issues. The below result is a selection of the best spotlights you can buy.

Probably better known for landscape lighting, Goodsmann offers an excellent rechargeable hunting spotlight that can easily level up your hunting game. This is a pistol grip style spotlight with a high setting of 4,500 lumens and 1.5 hours of run-time. That’s enough to reach 480 meters on even no-lume nights. It’s not only waterproof, but it floats as well, making it ideal for maritime operations. That’s really a last resort given the paracord wrist strap that doubles as an emergency line. It’s fully rechargeable and sports a foldable stand on the top for hands-free use. However, whether or not you can use a spotlight for hunting depends entirely on the hunting grounds. The practice is regulated at the state and federal levels.

Product Specs
  • Lumens: 4,500
  • Range: 480 meters
  • Settings: Three
  • Grip: Pistol
PROS

Insane brightness

Waterproof and floats

Useable paracord wrist strap

Storage case included

CONS

Short run-time

High price point

One of the best ways to get value from any product is for it to do more than one job. That very versatility is what makes the LE Rechargeable LED spotlight our Best Value pick. The spotlight features a high setting at 1,000 lumens and a low setting at 400 lumens, while the floodlight’s settings are high at 130 lumens and low at 75 lumens. On the opposite side of the floodlight is a red light with one flashing setting for emergencies. Attached to the standard handle is a shoulder strap for convenience and hands-free use. Because this spotlight is rechargeable, it is advertised to double as a battery bank. That is something I would do as a last resort if you’re using this as an emergency light since being able to see in the dark is more important than watching TikTok videos.

Product Specs
  • Lumens: 1,000
  • Range: 500 meters
  • Settings: Five
  • Grip: Handle
PROS

Flashing SOS setting

Acts as a lantern with floodlight

Rechargeable

Convenient shoulder strap

CONS

Only two brightness levels

Can be used as battery bank

Any list of spotlights would be incomplete without the Streamlight Waypoint 1000 Lumen spotlight. Streamlight has a rich history of producing quality lights for civilians and the military alike. Unlike most Streamlight flashlights, this handheld spotlight features a pistol grip to make prolonged use more comfortable and intuitive. The body is made from a high-strength polycarbonate for durability and longevity, which means you don’t have to worry about dropping it. With C4 LED technology, it is capable of putting out 1,000 lumens worth of light, but because it’s a spotlight, it creates 115,000 candela. That’s substantially higher than the 10,000 candela made by the Fenix FX-PD35TAC that topped our list of the best 1000 lumen flashlights. While the two have the same lumen rating, the higher candela of the Waypoint allows it to shine up to 678 meters with precision lighting.

Product Specs
  • Lumens: 1,000
  • Range: 678 meters
  • Settings: High, medium, low
  • Grip: Pistol
PROS

Includes detachable wrist strap

Collapsing stand for hands-free illumination

Rugged polycarbonate construction

Comfortable pistol grip

CONS

High price point

Slightly heavier than other spotlights

Best Rechargeable

All of the spotlights on our list are rechargeable, but most of them aren’t able to be used while charging. Having the ability to swap batteries with the Makita 18V Spotlight enables you to charge one battery while using another. The main spotlight is 600 lumens strong on its own, but combined with the floodlight, can reach 1,250 lumens. The floodlight can also be used on its own at 1,000 lumens. Interestingly enough, there is a 1,200-lumen strobe feature that I’m sure apprentices everywhere are crossing fingers won’t be used on them. Like many of these spotlights, the Makita has a pistol grip style handle with a trigger-placed power button. Unlike others, this spotlight has a rotatable head that pivots 90 degrees. There is also a metal bar for hanging the light. It can be pricey to purchase at first, even if you’ve already got a set of Makita 18V tools. The interchangeability quickly makes up for the upfront cost, though.

Product Specs
  • Lumens: 1,250
  • Range: 700 yards
  • Settings: Four
  • Grip: Adjustable
PROS

Works with Makita 18V batteries

Pivoting head

Hanging wire

Rugged construction

CONS

High price point

Requires extra components for integration

Best for Long Distance

One of the biggest enemies to the effectiveness of a flashlight or spotlight is distance. Whether you’re working in mountainous regions, flatlands, or even large bodies of water, distance is there. Yierblue offers an excellent solution with the YBN-2000G spotlight. On high, it shines 2,000 lumens for 10 hours up to 1,600 feet. The lower mode is at 800 lumens (which may be too bright for small environments) that shines up to 1,200 feet for 20 hours. It also has a flash mode that runs for about 24 hours. All this performance is packaged in IP67 waterproof and shock-resistant material that also floats if the included wrist strap fails. Yierblue stepped up the charging game by using the USB-C connection to reduce the total charging time to four hours. There’s even an adjustable stand integrated to the top of the spotlight for hands-free illumination.

Product Specs
  • Lumens: 2,000
  • Range: 1,600 feet
  • Settings: Three
  • Grip: Pistol
PROS

Waterproof up to 3 feet

20 hours run-time on low

USB-C compatible

Adjustable stand built-in

CONS

Advertised as power bank

Low mode is 800 lumens

Best Boat-Mounted

Boat-mounted operations can be difficult in the daytime and become even more challenging at night. Not being able to see what is in or around the water can be fatal to any watercraft. One solution is to mount the GoLight GoBee spotlight with its wireless remote control. This spotlight sits atop a 12-inch stainless steel stanchion and can fit two- or three-prong bow sockets. You can remain in the captain’s seat and control this 4,500-lumen halogen searchlight with a full 360-degree radius and 90-degree tilt. A neat feature is the red and green navigational lights under the spotlight for true maritime performance. You won’t have to worry about recharging this spotlight, but it wouldn’t hurt to have a few H3 55W bulbs on hand.

Product Specs
  • Lumens: 1,000
  • Range: 1,857 feet
  • Settings: One
  • Grip: Remote control
PROS

Integrated navigation lights

Fits 2 or 3 prong bow sockets

Wireless remote control

360 degrees rotation and 90-degree tilt

CONS

High price point

Not handheld

Best for Backyard

The backyard has always been the premier playground for all things fun. From lawn darts, nerf wars, water balloons, and flashlight tag, there is a never-ending joy to be found just behind our own houses. What better way to keep the fun going than with the Energizer LED Spotlight. This 600-lumen spotlight can reach 425 yards on high, which means no one’s escaping you while playing flashlight tag. For such a powerful beam, it surprisingly runs on AA batteries, albeit six of them. Because the high setting will last for around six hours and the low will run for 22 hours, it wouldn’t hurt to stock up on batteries. One interesting feature is the sloped edge on top of the spotlight that offers a flat surface you can set it on for hands-free lighting.

Product Specs
  • Lumens: 600
  • Range: 425 meters
  • Settings: Two
  • Grip: Pistol
PROS

Rugged construction

Runs on AA batteries

Water-resistant

Compact design

CONS

Uses 6 batteries

Only two settings

Best for Job Sites

Every job site I’ve ever been on had DeWalt handheld tools for affordability and durability. That’s the same thing that makes the 20V LED spotlight ideal for the job site. It’s reasonable to expect the same construction as other DeWalt tools, but the spotlight also features an over-molded lens for increased ruggedness. On high, this spotlight puts out 1,500 lumens and the low setting has 500 lumens, which offers versatility for any scenario. As a spotlight, it offers illumination up to 1,525 feet. Like other DeWalt tools, there is an integrated belt loop for convenience, but there is also a metal bar for hanging the spotlight in just the right spot. The head pivots 90 degrees, allowing you to use it in a pistol-style grip or traditional handle. Because this uses the DeWalt 20V batteries, it can fully integrate into your job site tools.

Product Specs
  • Lumens: 1,500
  • Range: 1,525 feet
  • Settings: Two
  • Grip: Adjustable
PROS

Works with DeWalt 20V batteries

Pivoting head

Bar for hanging

Integrated belt hook

CONS

High price point

Requires extra components

Our verdict on the best spotlights

The number one choice for brightness and performance is easily the Goodsmann Rechargeable Hunting Spotlight. A quality runner-up is the Streamlight Waypoint, which offers 1,000 lumens. For distance, you can’t beat the Yierblue YBN-2000G Spotlight with a max range of 1,600 feet. There are other great options like the Makita 18V Spotlight and DeWalt 20V Spotlight that integrate with existing toolsets. If you’re looking for affordable and versatile options, you can select the LE Rechargeable Spotlight or the Energizer LED Spotlight. And anyone looking to mount a spotlight to their boat ought to consider the GoLight GoBee Stanchion Spotlight.

What to consider when buying a spotlight

How do you know which spotlight is right for you and the job? By understanding the basic types and features you’ll find on the best spotlights on the market, you can make an informed decision. 

Types of spotlights

Halogen

For the better part of the past century, halogen bulbs have been the predominant choice for spotlights. This is because the recycling properties of halogen made the bulbs perform better and last longer at higher lumens. Each halogen bulb has a lifespan though, and it’s important to keep spare bulbs at the ready. 

LED

While LEDs have been around for longer than most believe, they didn’t really become affordable and take off until the turn of the millennium. Light-emitting diodes have changed the lighting industry and tech industry at large by producing more light and using less energy. These types of spotlights often run longer and last longer than traditional variations ever could. The downside is that the LEDs aren’t as easy to replace if they burn out.  

Key features of spotlights

Power source

There are a few different power sources available for you to consider. For handheld spotlights, you have the option between replaceable batteries or rechargeable spotlights. Rechargeables have an internal battery that can be charged through wall or car charging cables. Spotlights can be designed to use almost any size of a replaceable battery, although most use AA or similar-sized batteries. If you’re looking to mount a spotlight on vehicles or buildings, you’re going to want to hardwire those. 

Grip 

One of the things to consider when purchasing a spotlight is the type and style of grip. Traditional handles are horizontal and can make them challenging or uncomfortable after extended use. Pistol-style grips have a vertical grip section jutting out of the bottom of the spotlight and offer a more comfortable use for extended periods of time. Mounted spotlights can have a wireless controller like the GoLight GoBee.

Stand

Plenty of jobs require the use of both hands for tools and equipment. Handheld spotlights can make that challenging or even impossible at times. Most of the products on this spotlight review feature a built-in stand or hanging device for this very reason. 

Wrist strap

Many handheld spotlights have a hole in the grip for attaching wrist straps, most even include one with your purchase. Wrist straps are not required, but they can be handy if you’re working at height or over water. These simple straps can help prevent dropping your spotlight and save you plenty of dough.

Spotlight pricing 

When you’re looking at prices, it can easily get overwhelming. Budget-priced spotlights range under $50 and can perform well, but are not always as strong or durable as higher-priced lights. Moderately-priced spotlights range between $50 and $100 and represent the middle of the pack. Premium-priced spotlights are found above $100 with features, performance, and brightness levels that can’t be beaten. Money spent in the moderate and premium range is worthwhile since those spotlights are most likely to last years. 

Tips and tricks

As with something you do for decades upon decades, you pick up a few tips and tricks along the way in terms of selecting the right product, and/or using it. That’s the case with us and spotlights. To help you bridge the information gap, here’s a selection of what we’ve learned along the way.

  • Always keep spare bulbs for halogen spotlights
  • Likewise, with battery-powered spotlights, pack spares
  • Check your state’s laws before using a spotlight for hunting or scouting
  • Use your wrist strap when working at height or around water
  • Never aim your spotlight directly at people or vehicles, including airplanes

FAQs about spotlights

You’ve got questions, Task & Purpose has answers.

Q: How many lumens is a good spotlight?

A: This is really subjective to the distance you’re attempting to spot at. I’d strongly recommend no less than 600 lumens for spotlights, as this will give you a decent range for most applications, but the farther you’re shining the higher power you’ll need.

Q: Can I use my spotlight as a battery bank?

A: Several of the spotlights on this list can double as a battery bank, however, I strongly encourage getting a separate and dedicated battery bank to prevent draining your spotlight unnecessarily.

Q: What’s the difference between a floodlight and a spotlight?

A: A floodlight is designed to illuminate large areas like fields or lakes. Spotlights are used to light up a specific area and have a more focused beam. 

Q: What’s the difference between lumens and candela power?

A: Simply put, the difference is candela is the source power and lumens is the total available light. You can view an in-depth breakdown here.

Task & Purpose and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Learn more about our product review process.

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