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5 Questions You Need To Ask Yourself Before Buying An Underwater Flashlight

by DiveMaster
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best underwater flashlights

Discover what features to look out for when choosing the best underwater flashlight

Why did you start to scuba dive? I’m not talking about the one-off experience to tick off your bucket list, but about the time you got your scuba diving license. Why did you enroll in a scuba diving course?

Was it to:

  • Experience weightlessness
  • Feel a sense of personal accomplishment
  • See historical shipwrecks
  • Give a new and adventurous twist to your holidays
  • Impress family and friends
  • Further your career

There are many good reasons to decide to become a certified scuba diver, and whatever they may be, we can all agree that we want to see first-hand the magic hiding beneath the waves.

That’s why we need an underwater flashlight. Whether it’s wreck diving, daytime or night-time diving, having a reliable scuba light is part of every diver’s basic dive gear.

As scuba divers, we want to see every color shade, all the little critters hiding in small crevices, and the treasure hiding in the innards of hauntingly beautiful shipwrecks.

But regardless of your level of experience, knowing how to choose the best dive light can be a frustrating task.

There is a vast choice out there, so to make the process easier, we’ve put together the five most important questions you need to ask yourself before you buy an underwater flashlight.

  1. What type of diving will you be doing?

The beauty of scuba diving is that you can engage in a variety of activities – the possibilities are endless!

But to ensure that you get the most out of your dives, choose a scuba light that matches your needs.

For example, if you plan to use it primarily for night dives, you’ll look for an underwater flashlight with a wide angle beam and more lumens (more about this below). Whereas, if you travel a lot and intend to take part in different types of diving, perhaps a small and travel-friendly dive light might be the best dive light for you.

Do you enjoy taking underwater photos and videos to show your family and friends? Then avoiding scuba lights with a “hot spot” is a must, as they’ll simply ruin your photos. Instead, go for an underwater flashlight with a consistent beam.

2. What batteries are best for an underwater flashlight?

There’s no end to the debate as to which are the best dive lights, especially when you take into consideration the batteries they use.

All batteries have their pros and cons, so when you buy a scuba dive light, you’ll have compromise – whether it’s a tradeoff between getting a cheaper dive light that is less powerful or handling a bulkier dive torch that is brighter.

Whether you’re looking to buy your first underwater flashlight, to upgrade, or to have a backup light, here are three types of batteries you have to consider:

  • Alkaline batteries (AA, AAA, C-cell, etc.): readily available virtually in every corner of the world, traditional alkaline batteries are cheap and reliable. Traveling with the knowledge that you’ll always have a ready-to-go scuba dive light wherever you go makes jetting off to any remote diving destination even more tempting. The only downside is that they have a shorter battery life.
  • Lithium batteries (CR123 lithium): offering higher performance levels, underwater flashlights with lithium batteries are arguably the brightest scuba dive torches. But be aware that lithium-powered scuba dive lights are expensive, not easy to find, and not airline-friendly. When traveling by plane, make sure it conforms to the airline’s safety standards and regulations. And if you don’t want to leave your best dive light behind, remember to pack it in your carry-on luggage! 
  • Built-in batteries: if you dive a lot, an underwater flashlight with integrated batteries could be the best option for you, both economically and environmentally. All you need is a charger to keep your underwater flashlight going. The con side is that they take time to recharge, and if you don’t have access to power, this could put a damper on your dives.
  • How bright should your dive light be?

It’s only natural to think that the brighter the scuba dive light is (the more lumens it has), the better it is.

Dive lights range from around 200 lumens to well over 1’000 lumens, with some underwater flashlights packing an impressive 3’000 lumens and more. With this wide range of light output, let’s take a look at what’s going on beneath the surface.

If you’re a deep diver, tech diver, or night diver, you’ll want a brighter scuba dive light, but if you take part in shallow day-time dives, a dive light with fewer lumens will be more than enough for your needs.

In general, anything between 200 and 1’000 would make any recreational diver happy.

underwater flashlight

4. Primary VS secondary dive light: what’s the difference?

The brightness of your underwater flashlight also depends on whether you’re buying a primary or secondary dive light.

What’s the difference?

  • Primary lights: used as the main dive light for both day-time and night-time dives, have stronger beams with hours of runtime. These lights are more expensive but extremely durable and reliable. Their wider beam can easily penetrate through murky waters to lighten up your surroundings.
underwater flashlight

Secondary lights: also called backup lights, are usually smaller to fit in your BCD pocket and have a lower lumen output with a narrower beam. Secondary lights are perfect for shallow day-time dives or, should the primary light malfunctions, as backup lights.

So, which is the best dive light?

By now, you should have a better overview of what to look for in an underwater flashlight.

But if you’re still looking around for the best dive light, here at The Scuba Guru, we recommend the Kraken Lights and the Sola 1200 – brands that have been personally tried and tested by our team of divers. But don’t just take our word of it. Many passionate divers, diving websites, and magazines rate the Kraken Lights and the Sola 1200 among the best dive lights.

Kraken Lights

With Kraken Lights, you know you’re getting one of the best dive lights on the market. From entry-level to advanced dive lights, their high-end and versatile line of dive lights don’t fail to deliver consistent power in even the most extreme diving conditions. No matter which Kraken Light you pick, you’re making a lifetime investment that you won’t regret.

Sola 1200 Spot/ Flood Light

underwater flashlight - Sola 1200 Spot

The Sola 1200 boasts adjustable beam angles that go from a tight 12° spot angle up to a 60° flood beam. From light (300 lumens), medium (600 lumens), high (1200 lumens), the Sola 1200 comes with three light modes that you can operate based on your diving profile.

This versatile dive light also comes with a hand-free strap, giving you more freedom underwater.  

If you’re still looking around for the best dive light, there are just two things that you need to remember:

  1. Choose an underwater flashlight that fits your diving needs. Take into consideration light output, type of battery, and bulb.
  2. Buying a dive light is not a secondary accessory but an essential part of your diving gear. No matter what your diving profile is, you’ll need a dive light to make your dive more enjoyable and safer.

Remember, choose a quality scuba dive light that will last you for years.

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