Scuba diving can be otherworldly. When you’re first learning, you’ll probably stick to the sun-drenched shallows. But, as you progress, you’ll be looking for something more and more exciting. Scuba can be as intense as you’d like it to be. You can go cave diving, search the bottom of the ocean floor for shipwrecks, look for big animals, or follow around schools of fish. You can even dive at night. But the more intense your dive gets, the more you’re going to start relying on your additional equipment. One of the most important tools scuba divers have to rely on is their dive light.
How good your dive light is will drastically affect how you see the colors of the ocean and whether or not you find the hidden treasures you’re looking for. In some cases, a dive light illuminates the water at night to reveal hidden secrets, but it can also save your life if you ever get into trouble. We’ve compiled a list of the top seven dive lights, but before we take a look at them, let’s focus a little on the things you should look for when finding the ideal diving light for you.
Dive Light Comparison Chart
The very first thing you need to decide before buying a dive light is when and where you’ll be using it. Nighttime requires a different kind of illumination than the daytime. You also need to consider if you’ll be sticking to more open water or exploring caves, reefs, or deeper water. There are two different beam widths to consider.
- Wide beams – Very simply, the wider the beam, the less bright it will be. Choosing a beam will always be a trade-off between those two things, but fortunately, each has its strengths. Wide beams, for example, are better for night dives because they disperse the light more.
- Narrow beams – Narrow beams are better for daytime because you can still distinguish it in the water, whereas a wide beam would disperse the light so much that you wouldn’t easily be able to see it. If you tried to use these at night, the beam would primary light up suspended particles and your field of vision would remain mostly dark.
There are some lights that are adjustable and can provide a wide or narrow beam, while others only do one or the other. Depending on your preference and where you’re diving, you might need to have more than one to choose from.
It’s important to note that neither of these beams is superior to the other. They’re each meant to serve a different purpose. Once you figure out how you’ll be using your dive light, you may determine that you need one of each.
Make sure that the light you’re using is rated for the depth you usually go. If you take a light deeper than it’s meant to go, the water pressure will cause stress fractures and damage and the light will no longer work. Also, be wary of “waterproof” lights that don’t have a depth rating. A waterproof light is not the same as a diving light and without a depth rating, you don’t really know how safe it is.
Size and Weight
Narrow beam lights that are used during day dives are pulled out periodically throughout the dive to point things out or examine things more closely. They’re typically small and lightweight and fit comfortably in your BCD pocket. It should be small and compact and easy to get to. Make sure it fits comfortably in your hand and you can easily find the on/off switch.
Lights for night dives are a little different, primarily because you’re going to be using them a lot more than your daytime light. You’ll be carrying it throughout your dive. It’s a bit larger and will not fit in your BCD pocket because, well, it doesn’t have to. Make sure it fits well in your hand and isn’t going to be too difficult to operate underwater. You should also use a larger, wide-beam light for dives into wrecks or caves.
Batteries and Bulbs
Dive lights run on batteries, either rechargeable or regular.
Regular batteries will last a little longer but the beam will get dimmer and dimmer with every use as more of the power is used up. Lights with rechargeable batteries will provide a more steady stream of light, but once they start running out, their power depletes pretty quickly.
This comes down to pure preference. Rechargeable works great if you’re only going to do one dive a day and will have time to plug it in before you go out again. They’re a little more expensive, but will be more economical over time since you won’t be buying batteries constantly.
If you’re going to do lots of diving and know you won’t always have the time to devote to recharging, a light with batteries might be a better choice for you.
Bulbs will affect battery life, too. Some bulbs, like LED lights, for example, use the least amount of power and will give you longer, more reliable results. Look for newer, more efficient bulbs. Old style lights will eat up your battery quicker than is necessary.
There are some manufacturers who make lights that strap to your head which are useful for night diving. This will leave both hands free, but be careful not to aim the light directly at anyone else diving with you.
There are also lights designed for underwater photography and videography with special settings and features. If this is what you’re interested in doing, make sure you get a light that’s powerful and adjustable to adapt it to the different lighting and situations you’ll find while diving for the perfect shot.
Miscellaneous Things to Know
You should always have a backup light, just in case. At the very least, you’ll need something that will let you read gauges or signal to other divers. Maintain your backup just as you would your main light – make sure the batteries are good and recharge it when necessary.
- If you’re using regular batteries, make sure you have an extra set available in case you’re diving somewhere remote where you won’t be able to get more.
- Don’t mix old batteries with new ones. The new battery will just deplete faster and you’ll soon need to replace them again.
Dive Light Reviews
The Fusion 530 from Tovatec is a great choice for almost any dive and can tolerate depths of up to 100 meters. Using the included lithium-ion battery, it can last for three hours or if you’re using standard, AAA batteries, you can get two and a half hours with this light. The power switch is a magnetic slide that also adjusts the light output. There are four settings to choose from: 30%, 50%, 100%, and an emergency strobe light. This is a great safety feature to have.
In addition to the power of the light being adjustable, the angle is, too. You can get from as narrow as 12 degrees to as wide as 100 degrees. You can take the head of the flashlight off and get a large 140-degree beam. It’s a larger diving light than some of the comparable ones available, but it’s still small enough to fit comfortably in a small BCD pocket.
This light comes with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. If you wish to use regular batteries, an included extender has to be used. Some users have complained of problems with leaking and damage with this extender is used. This is a great light for day and night dives but you might be better off using the rechargeable battery that comes with it.
- Adjustable beam angle
- Adjustable beam intensity and strobe setting
- 3 hour dive time with the included rechargeable lithium-ion battery
- 100 meters
- AAA battery extender is unreliable and could cause the light to malfunction
The Ikelite Gamma is exceptionally lightweight and has a lot of power for its size. This aircraft-grade aluminum diving light has an interesting shape. It’s smooth so it slips in and out of pockets easily and the concave shape fits nicely into any size hand. It depth rating is 120 meters and astonishing dive time of up to 10 hours with new batteries. It also comes in three different colors and has a 24-month warranty.
The on/off button is on the tail. You can depress it to get the light to shine or push it all the way in to get a continuous beam. This is a good light for underwater photography or videography. It’s also a great light for day dives. It can work for a night dive, but the beam isn’t very wide and it’s not adjustable so, for night dives, there are some better options.
One downside is the Gamma requires special CR123 batteries. They last a really long time but are difficult to find. If you’re going on a long dive or traveling around to do several, make sure you bring a decent backup supply with you as you may not be able to find them just anywhere.
- The ergonomic, smooth shape
- 10-hour dive tie
- 120 meters
- The beam isn’t very wide
- Requires special batteries that can be hard to find
The ORCATORCK D520 has a depth rating of 150 meters and is a durable palm-sized diving light that’s great for daytime dives. It has a neutral white LED with a color temperature rating that assures great color resolution underwater. It’s made of aircraft-grade aluminum and is solid but not too heavy and feels good in your hand. It fits easily into BCD pockets and can be removed quickly. Because it’s relatively small, it’s easy to get in close and point under rocks or into cracks and crevices. There’s only one intensity setting available on this light.
Its battery lasts for up to two hours. For short, recreational dives, this would be a great primary light and it would also be a good backup light for deeper, longer dives. This diving light has three O rings to help keep it waterproof; if these get damaged, it’s essential to replace them right away or the performance of the light will be compromised.
One of the only complaints users have about this light is that the manufacturer recommends turning it on before entering the water and not turning it off until you come back out again. This is because the mechanism for turning it on is a little tricky to do underwater and usually requires two hands. Like some standard flashlights, you turn this dive light on by twisting the head of the light slightly. Some users report it can be easily done underwater, but that’s not what ORECTORCH recommends.
- 150 meters
- Comfortable to hold
- 2-hour battery
- Difficult to turn on with one hand
- The manufacturer recommends turning it on and off when not in the water
The Scubapro Nova 720 is a great little light that is bright enough to be used as a primary. It’s adjustable, so you can get a wide beam or a focused spotlight. It also has two power modes, 100%, and 50%. It’s made of heavy-duty aluminum with diamond-shaped grips around the handle to help make the twisting power mechanism easier to handle underwater.
It’s rated for up to 300 meters, which is exceptional for a light its size. It also has an overpressure valve which is also not commonly found in lights this size or in this price range. It also has an impressive dive time of 10 hours so it’s great for long excursions.
It takes three C batteries, so its body is a lot longer than most lights in this class in order to house the batteries. If you have small hands or prefer a smaller light that will fit right in the palm of your hand, this might not be the light for you because of its size. That said, it’s still very lightweight and effective.
- Adjustable Beam
- Two power modes, 100%, and 50%
- Long battery life of 10 hours
- Rated for 300 meters
- Larger than most other lights in this range
For an inexpensive but effective little light, try the OxyLED 1100 Lumen LED. You actually get a lot of features with this diving light. It has three different light modes: normal, dimmed, and strobe. We’ve said this about other lights that have the strobe setting, but this really is a great safety feature as it’s a way to get the attention of other divers if you get into trouble.
It’s made of aircraft grade aluminum alloy and is shockproof and waterproof. It’s safe for depths of up to 80 feet. This isn’t quite as deep as other entries on this list, but the OxyLED 1100 Lumen LED is a fraction of the price. If you’re someone who prefers more shallow dives, it’s worth looking into this one.
It comes with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery but can also run of three regular AAA batteries. In high power mode, it will last two hours; low power mode, five hours. It comes in a padded case that holds the light, charger, battery, AAA battery holder, lanyard, and wristband.
- Bargain price
- Three light modes
- Rechargeable battery
- Carrying case
- Only rated for 80 feet
- Not as bright as advertised
The Impulse 800 LED Dive Light from Phantom Aquatics is a powerful, compact light with a magnetic switch that’s easy to operate underwater. It’s powered by two rechargeable batteries and can run for up to an impressive 18 hours on the lower settings. There are three different brightness settings and a strobe mode. If you leave it on the highest setting continuously, you’ll get about two hours of life out of it. Burn time is 2-8 hours depending on the operating mode. Bulb life is rated for 50,000 hours.
This light is a little on the heavier side, but it’s really durable and solid and will be able to take some abuse. It has a depth rating of 100 meters.
One drawback is the lack of any instructions or documentation that comes with this light. A lot of users were hoping for some more detail about how to replace the O rings or install the batteries but generally had to figure it out for themselves. Having said this, please note this is a premium light that justifies a $100 price tag as opposed to others on this list which offer more output power (officially) but cost 10 times less!
- Very powerful
- 3 power settings and strobe
- 100 meters
- All high-end features and construction
- Lack of instruction booklet
The Dorcy 411467 Dive II is made of anodized aluminum and is exceptionally lightweight, coming in at less than a pound. It’s rated for 100 meters and its state of the art beam has a 200-foot distance and is powered by six AAA batteries and will last up to eight hours. It has a narrow, focused beam and is great for day dives or for looking into holes or cracks. It would also make a great night dive back up.
The light is turned on by twisting the rim, so it may be a little difficult to turn underwater depending on what kind of gloves you’re wearing. That said, considering its size and that it’s only powered by AAA batteries, this light is exceptionally bright.
- Lasts up to 8 hours
- Runs on AAA batteries
- The twisting mechanism can be difficult to use
Dive Lights on a Whole New Level!
Final Thoughts & Recommendations
The Tovatech Fusion 530 Scuba Diving Light has an adjustable beam with four settings, including a strobe light feature. You can also adjust the angle from 12 to 100 degrees and is great for any kind of dive.
For a small, lightweight powerful dive light, the Ikelite Gamma LED Dive Light is an ideal choice. Its concave shape fits any hand and easily slides into any pocket. It can last up to 10 hours and has a depth rating of 120 meters.
The Orcatorch D520 Diving Flashlight has a good depth range of 150 meters. It’s a small, lightweight, and is a great choice for short, recreational dives.
The Scubapro Nova 720 Dive Light has multiple power modes and, can last up to 10 hours, and it good to depths of 300 meters. All in all, this is a pretty powerful little light.
For a little light that won’t break the bank, consider the OxyLED 500 Lumen LED Submarine Waterproof Diving Flashlight. While it’s only rated for dives of 25 meters, if you like shallow dives, this is a great little light.
For a powerful, compact light that can run up to 18 hours and has a strobe setting, the Phantom Aquatics Impulse 1500 LED Dive Light is a durable and solid choice.
The Dorcy 411467 is a lightweight, state of the art beam that can last up to 8 hours. It’s a great light for day dives or as a backup.
As you can see, there’s a variety of dive lights to choose from. After you decide what kind of diving you’ll be doing, you can decide what features you’ll need in your diving light. There’s a light for every situation so, no matter what, you’ll find one that will light your way.