| Light up the darkness |

Diving at night can be one of the most amazing scuba diving experiences. Different kinds of creatures come out to play at night. Even the colors are different. Due to dive lights, what you see can be a truer color than visible during the day. The beam from your underwater night light is only traveling a short distance, so less of the color spectrum is lost (as happens with sunlight during the day).

Choosing the best dive light is like any other piece of scuba equipment—it needs to suit your diving lifestyle and needs. Whether you’re looking for the best underwater lights for value, seeking a light to accompany your GoPro journeys, buying your very first primary light or picking up a trusty little secondary, we’ve got the answers you need.

Here at I Dive Blue, we’ve also covered the best 2020 has to offer for scuba masks, dive knives, snorkeling fins, wetsuits and more. We’re wholly committed to researching the best gear out there, scouring both manufacturing catalogs as well as product reviews, in order to bring you quality buying advice.

Today, we’re tackling the best dive lights of 2020.

SUMMARY TABLE

Name

Image

Price

Rating

idiveblue black logo

Volador
1000 Lumen
OUR TOP PICK

 torch lights

4.8  /5

OxyLED
DF20

underwater torch

4.6  /5

OrcaTorch
D550

nova bubble lights

4.8  /5

Underwater Kinetics
SL4 eLED

bright inexpensive underwater led dive lights

4.6  /5

ScubaPro
Nova 220

night light amazon

4.5  /5

Ikelite
Gamma

underwater video lights

4.2  /5

BEST DIVE LIGHTS

1. VOLADOR
Lumen

OUR TOP PICK

 torch lights

Overall Rating – 4.8 /5
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STAND OUT FACTORS:

  •    4 modes (3 brightness levels + 1 strobe)
  •    excellent quality for its price
  •    anti-oxidation, anti-corrosive aluminium

BATTERY TYPE: rechargeable 18650 Li-ion or 3xAAA
BATTERY LIFE: 1,5 hrs at max setting
MAX DEPTH:  +100 m
BEAM SIZE: 1000 lm
BEST SUITED FOR:  shallower night dives, back-up

2. OXYLED
DF20

underwater torch

Overall Rating – 4.6  /5
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STAND OUT FACTORS:

  •    great light output for size
  •    easily fits in BCD pocket as a back-up
  •    rechargeable battery

BATTERY TYPE: 3xAAA or rechargeable 18650 Li-ion
BATTERY LIFE: 5 hours
MAX DEPTH: 24 m
BEAM SIZE: 1100 lm
BEST SUITED FOR: Shallower night dives, back-up

3. ORCATORCH
D550

nova bubble lights

Overall Rating – 4.8  /5
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STAND OUT FACTORS:

  •    yellow-white light to balance images
  •    comes with two rechargeable batteries and charger
  •    Orca dive lights feature rotary heads for easy on/off twist

BATTERY TYPE: 2xCR123A or 2×16340 or 1×18650
BATTERY LIFE: 2.5 hrs
MAX DEPTH:  150 m
BEAM SIZE: 100 lm
BEST SUITED FOR:  cave/wreck/night diving

4. UNDERWATER
Kinetics LED L1

best cheap dive light

Overall Rating – 4.6  /5
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STAND OUT FACTORS:

  •    great for close-up lighting with white LED light
  •    easy to fit in BCD pocket as a back-up
  •    long battery life

BATTERY TYPE: 4xC-cell
BATTERY LIFE: 10 hours
MAX DEPTH:  150 m
BEAM SIZE: 100 lm
BEST SUITED FOR:  cave, deep or technical diving

5. SCUBAPRO
Nova 220

night light amazon

Overall Rating – 4.5  /5
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STAND OUT FACTORS:

  •    one of the smallest ScubaPro dive lights (can fit into the BCD pocket or be used as a head-mounted dive light)
  •    has 3 modes (half power, full power, emergency flash)
  •    has over-pressure valve for battery off-gassing (safety feature for deep dives)

BATTERY TYPE: 1xCR123
BATTERY LIFE: 4 hours
MAX DEPTH:  120m
BEAM SIZE:  220 lm
BEST SUITED FOR:  backup light for deeper dives

6. IKELITE
Gamma

underwater video lights

Overall Rating – 4.2  /5
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STAND OUT FACTORS:

  •    no-slip contoured grip
  •    very long battery life
  •    corrosion-proof

BATTERY TYPE: 2xCR123
BATTERY LIFE: 10 hrs
MAX DEPTH:  120m
BEAM SIZE:  350 lm
BEST SUITED FOR:  wide scatter lighting, back-up

7. SOLA
Light & Motion S/F 1200

gopro dive lighting

Overall Rating – 4.7  /5
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STAND OUT FACTORS:

  •    Battery and mode indicator light
  •    60-degree flood, 12-degree spot
  •    Factory-sealed (FL-1 flood free certified)

BATTERY TYPE: rechargeable Li-ion via external port
BATTERY LIFE: 4 hrs 20 min
MAX DEPTH:  100 m
BEAM SIZE:  1200/500 lm flood/spot
BEST SUITED FOR:  underwater photography/video

8. SEALIFE
Sea Dragon 2500

torche lights

Overall Rating – 4.9  /5
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STAND OUT FACTORS:

  •    90-degree underwater field of view
  •    Compatible as a GoPro dive light
  •    Grip and tray also included

BATTERY TYPE: rechargeable 25W Li-ion
BATTERY LIFE: 1 hr
MAX DEPTH:  60 m
BEAM SIZE:  2500 lm
BEST SUITED FOR:  GoPro filming, photography

BUYERS GUIDE AND TIPS
Best Dive Lights

Primary & Secondary Dive Lights

The term primary light refers to the dive light you will mainly use on your night dives. It is typically suited to the type of diving you are doing (for more, see “Best Light for Lifestyle” below). A secondary light is one you keep in your BCD pocket in case your primary light runs out of battery, is broken or lost. Secondaries are usually cheap underwater lights in smaller sizes (such as the OxyLED DF20 or the Blue Fire CREE XM-L2). When night diving, it is recommended to always carry a secondary, in case you or your buddy needs an extra light. Technical, scientific, wreck and deep night diving should not be attempted without a backup light.

Beam: Angle & Brightness

The beam angle refers to the angle of light your beam produces. Bigger lights usually have wider angles and therefore a wider light scatter. Beam brightness refers to how many lumens a light is outputting. More lumens means higher intensity light (brighter).

Battery Type

Alkaline: The most likely alkaline batteries you will come across for dive lights are AA, AAA and C batteries. These batteries are great because they are usually easy to find, even while on vacation. However, they do face competition from rechargeable batteries, which save effort and the environment.

Lithium: lithium batteries excel in long-term use because they have a very low self-discharge rate. This means if you store lithium batteries (in your dive light) between dives, you won’t have to worry about corrosion or dying. Great lithium batteries can work like new even after being in storage for years.

Rechargeable: Rechargeable batteries, such as 18650s, are about 150% the size of a normal AA. They are great for saving money and time. Their only downside is that they need an outlet to recharge, something that may not be available on smaller dive boats or remote locations. Otherwise, this battery type paired with a rechargeable dive light is fast becoming one of the most popular dive light options.

Bulb Type

Xenon: These bulbs contain xenon gas which produces light when electrified. Xenon-produced light is generally whiter than the yellow tinge of halogen bulbs. As long as rating and wattage are similar, xenon bulbs can be switched with halogens.

LED (Light Emitting Diode): Underwater LED dive lights have no glass bulb, so they can’t break and do not need replacing. They produce a clean, white light. This type of bulb saves you money on batteries and bulbs over time. The best underwater LED lights provide pure bright, white, long-lasting light (such as the Underwater Kinetics SL4 eLED L1).

HID (High-Intensity Discharge): HID bulbs produce more light per consumption than normal tungsten-halogen or tungsten bulbs. HID beams can be made smaller than halogen competitors and put out the same amount of light.

Halogen: Halogen bulbs have an internal tungsten filament. The halogen cycle can increase the bulb’s lifetime by redepositing tungsten from the bulb back into filament. These incandescent lamps can operate at a higher temperature than a gas-filled competitor.

Light Location

Hand-held: These lights are held in the hand. This allows for great flexibility and ease of use in terms of signaling, peering into crevices and maintaining a tight control of where the underwater light beams go.

Wrist-mounted: These lights are generals smaller and sit on top of the wrist. A wrist-mounted flashlight is great for freeing up hands.

Arm-mounted: Some larger lights may be too bulky to sit on the wrist (such as the Light & Motion dive lights), so instead they might sit right behind it, along with the forearm.

Goggle-mounted: Some lights are so tiny they can be attached to goggles and turned into a diving headlamp (such as the ScubaPro Nova 220). These are great for complete hand freedom without any cords attached to the BCD.

Device-mounted: Lights may be attached to camera rigs and GoPros. A GoPro scuba light is a great way to capture your videos in color. A GoPro underwater light should attach to the GoPro housing seamlessly (such as the SeaLife Sea Dragon 2500). When buying underwater lights for GoPro, there are many options to consider, such as filming style, light flood (wide) or spot (narrow), continuous or motion, etc.

Best Light for Lifestyle

Sunrise Diving: Early morning dives can be an amazing chance to see animals that are still sleeping or are just waking up. These dives work best if you don’t have the brightest light. Too bright and you’ll wake up everything you shine your light on or near. In general, dim your submersible flashlight or shine it near a sleeping animal, not on it.

Photography/Video: Lights with lesser lumens (less bright) or more focused beams will be good for macro photography. For videos, a light with a wider beam angle will be much better, because you will capture the light of the entire scene, not just a passing focus point. Some lights will also have spot (beam) or flood (wide) functions which you can toggle between while filming.

Hunting: A lot depends on which animal you are hunting:

  • Sandy bottom-dwellers like flounder will be easier to see with a flood or wide-angle light.
  • Crevice bottom-dwellers like lobsters will be easier to search for with a more focused beam.
  • Recommending lights for attracting fish is very species-specific. As a rule of thumb, smaller fish – those not of hunting size – are usually attracted to the light. Larger fish tend to prefer a stealthy approach in search of a quick meal. Use a wider angle for large fish, the increased arc improves your chances of a neat sighting. However, some species avoid bright light entirely.  If you are in the market for a very specific species, be sure to carefully research your proverbial white whale and its unique reaction to light.

Night, Cave, or Wreck Diving: In these dark environs, you need a light which will brighten up an entire space. Choose a cave dive light with high lumens (brightness) and/or a wider beam angle (wider light scatter). This type of light is also good for alerting your buddies to your location.

Technical, Scientific, or Deep Diving: For those going deep or for long amounts of time, technical dive lights with excellent battery lives and depth ratings are crucial. Additionally, especially for tech or scientific divers, a wider beam angle and high lumens will light up whatever work area you’re diving in.

Fluoro Diving: Fluorescence diving is an experience that requires divers to be extremely comfortable diving at night. You wear a lens fitted over your dive mask and use another lens over your light, to see fluorescent animals light up in neon colors. These specially modified dive lights will be provided by your dive shop or charter.

Good Dive Light Etiquette

Do not shine your light in any diver’s face, including your own. It can cause temporary night blindness. Instead, shine your line at the ground or your hand and move it in a circle to gain a buddy’s attention or point something out.

Kate Blake

Kate is a product expert, a degreed marine biologist, and a fearless traveler originally from the west coast of America. Kate has been a PADI-certified Divemaster for over 15 years, during which time she has trained hundreds of Advanced divers. She has been scuba diving in over 15 countries worldwide and specializes in cold water diving, night diving, and navigation. Her key interests include teaching English, marine conservation, sampling foreign cuisines, and cenote diving.