Best 12v Handheld Spotlights for Boats: Detailed Review Guide by ATVA Online!

If you’re over the moon about fishing trips under the stars, hooking yourself the best boat spotlight is crucial.

There is nothing more relaxing than a nighttime boat ride. Without the proper light, you could become lost.

I love being able to take my boat for a spin at night. It would be difficult to maneuver in some waters if I wasn’t the owner of an LED spotlight, especially a handheld spotlight for the boat.

How marine foglight can help you:

  • Navigate through dark body of waters
  • Detect rocks and other obstructions
  • Check your fishing line
  • Pull in a fish
  • Find items on your boat
  • Signal for help
  • Prevent boat collisions
Best Boat Spotlights for your next boating adventure on top of the water

Types of Marine Floodlights

Before I give you details on boat spotlight reviews, let’s talk about the two types and their applilcations.

  • Built-In models – These are installed on your boat and are not removable. If you choose this type of spotlight, installation is key. Improper installation can be a light hazard. If the light is mounted in the wrong area, it creates a hazy light force that impedes your vision. I would recommend you temporarily mount a light and use it at night. If the light creates a haze, it needs a new position.
  • Hand-held models – There are both wireless and wired hand-held spotlights. If you plan on purchasing this type, I would advise you to purchase a receptacle. A receptacle will lock the male plug in place. This will ensure the light is more secure. Hand-held models range in size and power.

Benefits of Using a Boat Floodlight

As a boat owner, I enjoy going at night when the waters are quiet. Some of my best fishing takes place at night, night fishing. If you are like me, you need the best spotlight for your boat. Believe me, that big catch will be easier to claim with light.

If you have gotten into trouble on your boat, you know stress. Try being stranded at night! A marine spotlight can assist you in getting help. The light will pinpoint your location for rescuers.

If you have a spotlight on your boat, you will be able to avoid boat damage. Running into a rock or other obstruction can cause damage. I advise boat owners to consider the best-rated spotlight for boats and for many applications.

Without one, you are stuck using your boat in the day. However, there are plenty of good reasons to want to use your boat at night.  These types of spotlights can also help with emergency situations and allow you the ability to call for S.O.S if needed during any activity for peace of mind.

For example, I am an avid catfish fisherman and catfish become active at night. I use mine to pull them in. When you’re trying to catch a catfish, keep the light off while they are biting, for best results. Once you feel that tug, turn on the light. Putting the boat spotlight on lets you pull that big one in with ease. A find the light helps me remove the hook and secure my catch.

When I set out to do this review, I decided only the best names would do. A cheap option will not cut it! We also discuss 12v spotlights for boats as well as more powerful options!

Marine Foglights – Top Model Compared

ImageProductFeaturesPrice
OUR TOP PICK
Stanley FatMax 5W Rechargeable Spot Light

Stanley FatMax 5W Rechargeable Spot Light
  • Bright light from 5W LED
  • Can be charged in your vehicle
  • Easy to use with a rugged pistol grip
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EDITOR’S CHOICE
Cyclops 1400 Lumen Marine Style Spotlight

Cyclops 1400 Lumen Marine Style Spotlight
  • Has durable ABS plastic housing
  • Retractable bracket allows you to hang up the spotlight
  • Bright halogen bulb is great for use at night
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BEST VALUE
GOODSMANN Rechargeable Spotlight

GOODSMANN Rechargeable Spotlight
  • Is completely waterproof and will not sink
  • Three light settings that include an SOS flash warning
  • Does not need battery replacements and is easy to charge
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RUNNER UP
DEWALT 20V MAX LED Work Light

DEWALT 20V MAX LED Work Light
  • Works with any Dewalt 20V battery
  • The durable lens cover ensures your bulbs stay protected
  • The 90-degree pivotal head shines the light in all directions you need
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RUNNER UP
Streamlight 44900 Waypoint Spotlight

Streamlight 44900 Waypoint Spotlight
  • This light can be used with the power cord or 4C batteries
  • Tough and durable polycarbonate housing
  • Trigger design makes this light easy to use
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RUNNER UP
LE Rechargeable LED Camping Lantern

LE Rechargeable LED Camping Lantern
  • Perfect for boating, sailing camping, RVing
  • Easily charged with the included USB cord
  • Lightweight and easy to carry and use
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RUNNER UP
Rechargeable Spotlight

Rechargeable Spotlight
  • Up to 1300 lumens of light
  • Adjustable brightness
  • High IP rating IPX6
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RUNNER UP
Brinkmann Handheld Lighting Set

Brinkmann Handheld Lighting Set
  • Offers high and low settings
  • Charging indicator light for convenience
  • Can be charged in your car or at a wall outlet
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RUNNER UP
Browning High Noon 4C Light

Browning High Noon 4C Light

 

  • Made of a tough polycarbonate material
  • Completely waterproof and floats in water
  • At its highest level, it offers an amazing 1000 lumens
Check Price On Amazon

9 Marine light Options For Your Boat

My Top Pick
Stanley FatMax 5W Rechargeable
$44.99

I have plenty of Stanley tools in my arsenal and knew I wanted to test this one. Stanley is a name many people trust. Their products are durable and of good value. This rechargeable option is no exception.

This spotlight features a trigger design that makes one-handed operation simple. I found it easy to use from the start. Like most options, this model is water-proof.

Pros:
  • Bright light from 5W LED
  • Can be charged in your vehicle
  • Easy to use with a rugged pistol grip
  • Water-proof and submersible up to six feet
Cons:
  • Takes up to 6 hours to charge
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06/12/2024 06:30 pm GMT

Summary

It is submersible up to six feet. If you drop it in the water, it will float face up and the glass does not become foggy.   Don’t ask me how I know this!

If you are looking for a high level of illumination, this is your model. This boat spotlight delivers up to 520 lumens. It offers a bright 5W LED light.

The long-life battery is what really sold me, however. The longer the battery life or the rechargeable battery, the longer I can stay out on my boat at night.

I like that you can recharge the light in your vehicle. It comes with adapters for 120-volt AC and 12-volt DC. Overall, this is a solid lighting option that will give you good service.  Also, be sure to check with the manufacturer about any warranty they offer.

Editor's Choice
Cyclops 1400 Lumen Marine
$26.76

The Cyclops Marine Style spotlight is a great choice. It is made from durable ABS. It has a plastic housing with great output.

This is something that is important when looking for a spotlight for your boat as you want to ensure that it will not get damaged when you are using it.

Pros:
  • Has durable ABS plastic housing
  • Retractable bracket allows you to hang up the spotlight
  • Bright halogen bulb is great for use at night
  • Versatile spotlight
Cons:
  • The power cord does run a little short
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06/12/2024 07:07 pm GMT

Summary

It comes with a retractable metal bracket that is aluminum to allow you to hook it up. This is great if you are fishing or carrying out a task that requires you to use both hands.

You will not have to worry about dropping the light. It makes the spotlight particularly versatile. It is something that I found particularly useful when trying this spotlight out.

I found this spotlight to be particularly bright which is great for use in foggy weather or at night. It will increase your visibility significantly. It uses a halogen bulb with a high intensity instead of an LED bulb.

The only downside to this spotlight was that I found the 10-foot cord to run a little short.

Best Value
GOODSMANN Submersible LED, Powerful 3000 Lumen
$79.99

Many boat owners are worried about dropping their spotlights in the water. This can cause water damage and some lights can sink. This GOODSMANN submersible light is made to deliver on water protection.

This light is practically indestructible because it is impact-resistant, submersible, and will not sink. As I have discussed many times, I am hard on my tools and fishing gear. This light was able to stand up to my abuse and that is saying something!

Pros:
  • Is completely waterproof and will not sink
  • Three light settings that include an SOS flash warning
  • Does not need battery replacements and is easy to charge
  • Extremely bright with 3000 lumens so you can see great distances
Cons:
  • High setting greatly reduces battery life
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06/11/2024 07:42 pm GMT

Summary

One of my favorite features about this best boat light is the three different light settings.

This super bright light uses a 30 W LED with 3000 lumens. You can set it on high, low (with flashing SOS), or off. Switching between the different light functions is simple.

Another cool thing about this light is you do not need to replace the batteries, you have chargers. The battery is a rechargeable battery and charges via USB which makes it less of a hassle.

Runner Up
DEWALT 20V MAX LED Work Light, Pivoting Head
$84.95

This spotlight has three super-bright LED bulbs and one red LED to offer night vision. This light will allow you to see into the darkness for at least 508 feet.

The head pivots 90 degrees, making it a versatile light for use on your boat, on the job site, or around the house.

The over-molded lens cover provides an extreme level of durability.

The only problem I discovered with this light is it is not waterproof, but if you keep it on deck, it will bring you a lot of light and illuminate the darkness in the distance.

Pros:
  • Works with any Dewalt 20V battery
  • The durable lens cover ensures your bulbs stay protected
  • The 90-degree pivotal head shines the light in all directions you need
  • Ultra-bright LEDS lights allow you to see in the distance up to 508 feet
Cons:
  • Although durable, it is not waterproof
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06/11/2024 07:52 pm GMT

Summary

I cannot say enough good things about Dewalt. I own one of their saws. The company is focused on quality, so I could not wait to give this light a try and see it perform out on my boat.

Although this light is not marketed as a marine light, I found it versatile on my boat. I found myself using it for all types of work, including being able to see to remove hooks from fish and bait my line.

I love that this light has a belt clip on it because this keeps it in place for hands-free use. Because of the pivoting head, you can attach it to your belt clip and move the head to focus the light.

Runner Up
Streamlight 44900 Waypoint, with 12V DC Power Cord, Yellow - 550 Lumens
$59.95

I like how light this model feels in your hand and the ease of use. With the high setting, you can expect 550 lumens and the low setting offers 50 lumens. At its high setting, this light is able to pierce the darkness and provide a waypoint that can be vital during night fishing.

Pros:
  • Two brightness settings with bright LED lights (Highest setting at 550 lumens)
  • This light can be used with the power cord or 4C batteries
  • Tough and durable polycarbonate housing is impact-resistant and waterproof
  • Trigger design makes this light easy to use
Cons:
  • Not as bright as some spotlights on the market
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06/11/2024 08:13 pm GMT

Summary

Streamlight is a trusted name in lighting products and they do not disappoint with this waypoint spotlight. This light offers a solid 550 lumens at an affordable price which is a great emergency light.

This light operates on a 12V DC power cord which is ideal for those who hate purchasing replacement batteries. If you prefer, there is the option of powering this light with 4C batteries.

This light comes with a C4 bulb that is resistant to shock and has a lifespan of 50,000 hours so you will be able to use it a long time before needing to think about replacing the bulb.

This spotlight is built to provide durability. Its polycarbonate housing stands up to all types of abuse and believes me, I put it through it all!

I was really pleased with this light. I like being able to switch between the power cord and batteries, depending on how I am using the light. You can use the stand or mount to offer hands-free use.

Best Budget
LE Rechargeable LED Camping Lantern
$39.99

I know this light is not marketed as a marine light option, but hear me out. If you are like me, you spend a lot of time on your boat and camping or RVing so it helps to have a versatile light you can rely on for all types of uses. This is where the LE camping light shines.

Pros:
  • Five powerful light options, including red SOS and two front brightness settings
  • Perfect for boating, camping, RVing, and all types of activities
  • Easily charged with the included USB cord so no more battery purchases
  • Lightweight and easy to carry and use
Cons:
  • Cannot be submerged in the water because it is only water-resistant
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06/11/2024 10:28 pm GMT

Summary

This light has five light settings and at its highest level offers an amazing 1000 lumens.

The rechargeable battery charges via a USB cable, so there is no need to purchase replacement batteries or worry about cords getting in the way of the boat.

The five lighting modes include the front spotlight, left side mode, and right side mode red. The front light offers two levels of brightness and is ideal for all types of uses, including on your fishing boat.

While you cannot submerge this light and expect it to survive, it does have water resistance, meaning it can survive water splashes and mild rain. This is a light you will find many uses for, including at the campsite, in your RV, and for light while working on your truck.

Although this light is durable, you will not find it to be heavy! Children will be able to carry the light which is perfect for those father/child fishing excursions.

Best Battery Life
C P Chantpower Rechargeable Waterproof Light

Now, this is a grand little spotlight that’s perfect for boating in low light or darkness.

The brightness is adjustable, which can be a real handy feature. 

You can set it to high, and it will throw out a whopping 1300 lumens of light, which is bright enough to make out shapes of objects and identify their color.

There’s also a medium setting, in case you find 1300 too bright for you, and a low setting, which is a good one to use if you want to preserve your night vision.

Pros:
  • Up to 1300 lumens of light
  • Adjustable brightness
  • High IP rating IPX6
  • Long battery life
  • Go completely hands-free
  • Great value for money
Cons:
  • Although it comes with a hands-free option, it doesn’t come with a special mount for your boat
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Summary

But what makes it good for boating is its waterproofing.  With an IP rating of an impressive IPX6, it can handle drops of rain and hold its own if it was dropped in water.  It can drop 3 whole feet without getting damaged, and it’s designed to float to the top of the water, so you can just grab it and carry on.

Speaking of being dropped, it’s impact-resistant thanks to its durable Polystyrene and ABS build, so it can handle being dropped inside the boat.

If you start to get tired of holding it, you can go hands-free thanks to the pivoting flip-over stand. You can choose what angle you want it to shine at.

And it can keep on working through the darkest hours of the night, up to 5 hours to be exact.  It’s rechargeable, and if you don’t need the light on all through the night, you can choose to use the light as a power supply for your cell phone or other mobile devices.

Brinkmann Hand-Held 800 to 2380W Marine LED Light

It offers up to 1,100 bright lumens. This halogen model offers a bright, continuous light. It comes with a nice LED flashlight and flashlights for free that you can use for S.O.S.

The 12-volt battery is rechargeable and easy to replace once it won't hold a charge. You will find this spotlight to be perfect for boating and camping. If I hear a noise in the distance, this light lets me know what it is!

Pros:
  • Offers high and low settings
  • Charging indicator light for convenience
  • Can be charged in your car or at a wall outlet
  • Powerful light shines far out into the darkness
Cons:
  • Is not waterproof
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Summary

This model is portable and cordless: perfect for boating.

This heavy-duty light is lightweight and portable. It charges in 8-10 hours. I love the charging indicator light. It lets me know this baby is ready.

The trigger design is easy to use and the mode can be locked in place. I found it super simple to use. I will caution you not to drop this one in the water. It is not waterproof or it would be higher in the list.

I recommend using the mounting stand so you can use it hands-free for greater control. This one is a keeper. You will find you will use it in your car, boat, and home.

Best Design
Browning High Noon 4C Light, Black
$55.29

This marine light is made from a strong polycarbonate material which is one of the reasons I wanted to check it out. I am constantly banging up my boat lights and I need something that is tough to stand up to the abuse.

I was surprised by the durability, given the lightweight feel of the light. The trigger is easy to use and the ergonomic design made it fit comfortably in my hand. This is the type of light you can grab quickly when you see something that needs to be identified in the water.

Pros:
  • Made of a tough polycarbonate material
  • Completely waterproof and floats in water
  • At its highest level, it offers an amazing 1000 lumens
  • Bulb color is white for a bright shine that stands out in the darkness
Cons:
  • Does not have a plug option for those who need one
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06/12/2024 07:02 pm GMT

Summary

I like this model because you can use it hands-free with the stand or a lanyard. The spotlight operates on 4C batteries so there are no pesky cords to get in the way. If you are like me, this is something you want to avoid because I am a klutz!

This light is waterproof and it will float in the water, should you make the mistake of dropping it. On its max setting, it offers 1000 lumens and the low setting is 90. Browning has tested this boat light for an effective reach of up to 725 yards. It gives you a lot of light for a little money.

Understanding Wattage, Size, and Weight

Before you set out to find the best handheld spotlight for boats or even other options, what should you consider?

I want you to be prepared with all the info you need. An informed spotlight buyer is a better buyer!

Wattage and Lumens

Wattage and lumens often get confused. The wattage means the power it takes to burn the bulb. Lumens describe the brightness of the bulb.

You should consider both when making your purchase. The factor you will want to focus on is lumens.

The higher the lumens, the brighter the light. You will want to make sure the light is as bright as possible. The best lights should have multiple lumen settings.

Size and Weight

One of the next things you need to consider is size and weight. In this case, bigger is not better.

The lighter the weight, the easier it to hold. A compact, lightweight design is best.

Unless you need extreme brightness, a compact design is best. You do not want a heavy model or your hands will wear out.

Quality Materials

As with anything, durability matters. I put my spotlights through lots of abuse on my boat because I’m clumsy and drops happen.

If they happen to you, durable materials are a must. You want spotlight materials that can take a beating and keep working. Choose one that is scratch, dent, and break-resistant.

Design Matters

Ergonomics is a big issue in these lights. Trigger designs are best for hand-helds.

A proper design should cradle your fingers. If the spotlight is not comfortable, you won’t use it. Choose a design that mimics the curvatures of the hand. The right design will lessen hand fatigue.

Frequently Asked Questions & Tips

I’ve gotten quite a few questions so I thought I’d try to answer some.

Which is the best searchlight for a boat: floodlight vs spot?

I get asked this question quite a lot so I would like to address it. A floodlight floods an area with a broad beam of light. Spotlights project the beam at a concentrated point. In terms of boating, spotlights are preferred.

Spotlights allow you to see greater distances. Spotlights are typically brighter than floodlights. I use spotlights for fishing. They help me see out into the water and avoid obstacles. I also use them to prevent boating accidents.

If you want to light up your deck for a party, floodlights are great. If you want to see into the distance, get yourself a spotlight. Hand-held spotlights offer many uses over floodlights.

Which is better: halogen or LEDS?

Answer: WLED light is considered superior for boating. They are more expensive than halogen.

LEDs lights do not produce much heat and require less power. LEDS lights burn longer than halogen.

Can you replace the battery?

Answer: This is an option that varies among models. Some models do allow for easy replacement. Some batteries cannot be replaced.

It is wise to check out this option before buying.  Some people prefer the option of replacing the battery so they can have a backup on the boat.

What distance does the average beam offer?

Answer: The spotlights I tested all shined out at least 500 feet. Most models were better at 300 feet.

The longer the beam length, the lesser the light at the end. Choose a high-lumen spotlight for the longest shine length.

Final Words

I would feel comfortable taking any of these spotlights on my boat.

If you have never boated at night, try one of these best boat spotlights. These lights give you greater security. You will be amazed at how much you use these lights onboard your boat.

I couldn’t boat at night without one.

Happy Boating!

Our Top Pick
9.4/10 Our Score

STANLEY FATMAX FL5W10 Rechargeable 

  • Bright light from 5W LED
  • Can be charged in your vehicle
  • Easy to use with a rugged pistol grip

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