Which Spotlight?

Discussion in 'Boat Safety' started by topjimmy, Aug 3, 2007.

  1. topjimmy

    topjimmy New Member

    Messages:
    431
    State:
    AZ
    I have a cheapie $10 rechargeable spotlight. It works OK for 10 bucks, but...

    The main problem is that the cigarrette lighter plug in does not run the spot, it only charges it. So if your light is dead, and you plug it in, the light is still dead unless you wait 30 minutes.

    What are the best spotlights for marine use? I would like one that runs off the 12v plug in, anytime I want it to work NOW (I'm looking for brands and hopefully model numbers here).

    TIA
     

  2. Kutter

    Kutter New Member

    Messages:
    5,379
    State:
    Arnold, MO
    I can assure you, you aren't the first person to want the "best" spotlight. Unfortunately, there is no answer. It's not even as simple as "depends on what you want it to do".

    I have spend literally hundreds of hours trying to locate the perfect light. I have scoured the internet light forums. Read through volumes of books on the various aspects of lights.

    The inherent problem is that, like a knife, there are trade offs. In a knife, there is no perfect steel because to get the best edge, you lose on flexibility and brittleness. To get a strong blade, you lose on good sharpening. All you can do is decide which direction is more important, and lean that way.

    In lights, there are so many changes occurring so fast, one is tempted to wait. However, the wait would never produce because the changes will never stop.

    In lights, you have the trade off between strength and power to run. With high power usage, you have tons of heat and line loss. With low power usage, you lose the ability to "reach" out there and see distances.

    Terminology is confusing because there is no standard. Candlepower, lumen's, even wattage to some degree, all mean basically nothing because there is no standard between companies. One companies Candlepower can mean several times the same as another company. I have found one light that advertised as 15 million Cp, that was not as bright as another brands 200,000 CP.

    In general terms, Candlepower (CP), is used in incandescent lights. Lumen is used in LED lights. Wattage can be used in either, and probably is the better gage in either case, of true power.

    Incandescent as a general rule, produce light that reaches out the furthest, which is what you would want in a spotlight. The bulbs do not last long and the high heat wears down all parts. If it is battery operated, the batteries will run down quickly. There are several typse of incandescent lights, like halogen and such.
    LED lights last so long, they have not been around long enough to estimate the life expectancy. They produce only a tiny amount of heat and although their light is brilliant, it doesn't "reach out" as far.

    Incandescent lights are probably on their way out in the long term. They simply are not efficient enough for modern usage. LED's are where the major advances have been in the last few years and they still have a long way to go with almost endless possibilities. Not only are they developing better lights, but with the aid of computers, they are making real strides in the lenses and such. To give you an idea of just how far they have come, I witnessed a Surefire G2 LED light of a member here, show up my orange jugs at night, better than several spotlights I had, including one 10,000,000 CP. The G2 is about the size of a fat pen light flashlight. Incredible! Even more so because of all the Surefire lights, the G2 is the cheapest one out there at $35. They have such a great brand image of being the best there is, even at their $100-$400 price range for most of their lights, that competition is working hard to come up with great quality at lower prices. Cabela's has a line made by Surefire, but with Cabela's name. They are quite good for the price. As a matter of fact, I am about to order one. It's a 3 watt LED, rated at 65 lumen (the same as G2), but uses rechargeable AA batteries. The vast majority of high power LED's use a 3 volt, (123A) Lithium battery. While great at proving higher power to the LED's, they run as high as $5 apiece or as low as $1.75 if bought on packs of 50 or more. In case you were wondering, they are not recommended as a rechargeable battery. They simply develop an overcharge up to 4.5 volts, which can ruin a high dollar light.

    OK, I know I have never gotten around to answering your question. Sorry, I felt the need to set up the background in order for you to make an informed decision. I wish it were as simple as saying "Buy this brand and model", as I'm sure some here will say. If nothing else, perhaps this will save you some heartache of wasting big $$ on what ends up not what you wanted.
     
  3. Drawout

    Drawout Active Member

    Messages:
    1,179
    State:
    Paris.Texas

    Wow great explanation.

    Looks like Library material to me.
     
  4. wizazz

    wizazz New Member

    Messages:
    15
    State:
    Illinois
  5. wizazz

    wizazz New Member

    Messages:
    15
    State:
    Illinois
  6. oh no

    oh no New Member

    Messages:
    11,108
    State:
    Indiana
    I have 2 Q-Beams on my boat. They are the type with real sealed beam headlights in them. The lights that just have a little bulb in them are usually about worthless. You cannot get the distance out of them spotting jugs. Q Beams used to cost about 30 bucks apiece. The only bad thing with them is there switches, they will only last about 5 years, then I have to go the the oldfashioned switch of twisting two wires together.

    Someone probably sells them, but twisting the wires together works. I do not know what the candle power rating is, but its no where near what those chinese ones are, and it will put the beam out farther.
     
  7. jlingle

    jlingle New Member

    Messages:
    1,036
    State:
    Altus, Okl
    You're speaking my langauge, amigo. I've been through this as well.

    My partner bought a el cheapo $10 off-brand yellow spotlight, and it's absolutely marvelous for about the first 90 seconds.:smile2: After that piece of wretched junk runs out, We use my little bitty 4 inch Pelican light. A Pelican flashlight is probably a lot like the surefire flashlight that Kutter was talking about. It's made of durable plastic, and it will fit in my pocket or my teeth pretty easy. Mine was given to me by a buddy in the military (thank you, Uncle Sam) but they can be bought on ebay for about $25. The batteries last about 6 hours with these type of lights, which ain't all that great when you consider that it takes about $7 worth of batties to power it. But the little flash light is extremely powerful, and about as handy as you can get.

    I honestly don't know what the correct answer to your question is. We have talked about trying out the spotlights that mount on 4-wheeler handlebars. But, as a drawback..... they really don't look like they will last verylong, especially when you consider that they will be mounted to the center console of our boat & be beat around constantly on every trip out.

    If you figure out a good answer for a spotlight on a boat, please let me know. I'll do the same.:wink:
     
  8. screamnclickersc

    screamnclickersc New Member

    Messages:
    755
    State:
    S.C.
    I use the BPS Cyclopes spotlight.It comes w/ both wall charger & 12v charger.I think I paid $10 for it after rebates.
     
  9. topjimmy

    topjimmy New Member

    Messages:
    431
    State:
    AZ
    I got one of these:

    http://www.basspro.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10151&catalogId=10001&langId=-1&partNumber=7727&hvarTarget=search&cmCat=SearchResults

    It works good enough for my purposes, and the price was not too steep. It is not too heavy (I held it up and drove at the same time for at least an hour and didn't tire my arm), it is bright enough to navigate at speed and does not get overly hot. I only have two complaints

    1. It comes unplugged if you pull the cord in the least, but wrapping the cord around the windshield post once before plugging it in solved that problem.
    2. It trips the low voltage warning on my depth finder when I am idling or have the engine off. I might experience that problem with any bright light, though... only time will tell, as this is my first 12 volt light. I just silence the alarm and I haven't had the battery die on me yet in two outings.


    Now THIS looks pretty sweet, but I wonder if it will totally drain my battery

    http://www.basspro.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10151&catalogId=10001&langId=-1&partNumber=45228&hvarTarget=search&cmCat=SearchResults

    Also, $270 is a considerable chunk of change. I would really like to give one a test run before buying.
     
  10. Kutter

    Kutter New Member

    Messages:
    5,379
    State:
    Arnold, MO
    (Thanks, my last name is Pelikan). They do work similar, but the Pelican is plastic if I recall, the surefire is rubber coated aluminum.
    Your suspicions are correct. I bought two, one designed for 4 wheelers and the other for UTV's. Pure Junk! Neither lasted the first outing! Also the UTV one was the one I was talking about in a earlier post about being rated 10 million CP and an older Q Beam 400,000 was brighter.

    Nice warning to have. I assume most any light drawing high amps would do the same. Under normal conditions, your alternator should be enough to charge the battery right back up in no time. If I recall, and I could be way off, most boat motors would recharge at least at a rate of 5 amps. That should be more than enough. Besides, if the light is used while the engine is running, it would handle the light and then some. Hard to tell for sure without knowing the wattage of the light.
    $270 is under a very large chunk of change! I cannot tell you anything about those, as I have not tried them. However, at 400,000 CP, you already know what to expect. It's the remote control that drove the price up. There is a company out there that sells a similar light, at around 1/3 the price. That too, I have not tried. Somebody here on the BOC bought one of those cheaper ones recently on eBay for a great price. They were going to try it out and report back. It's been long enough that I assume it wasn't the great deal they thought they had or they would have quickly let us know. Bear in mind, when it comes to products, I am about as pessimistic as they come. I'm quite optimistic on people, just not the goods they sell us. LOL
     
  11. Katmandeux

    Katmandeux New Member

    Messages:
    1,618
    State:
    Checotah, Oklahoma
    One problem that most spotlights share is, what to do with them when you're not holding them. Brinkmann marine spotlights have a detachable mount that solves the problem:
    http://www.brinkmann.net/Shop/Detai...LA-2002-4&seriesname=Super Spot Marine&id=238

    They also make some of these lights with magnetic mounts that can be stuck anywhere on a truck...very useful for working at night, cleaning fish, deer, etc.

    Cigarette lighter plugs are a bad joke, and don't belong on boats. You can buy two-wire rubber shielded plugs similar to trailer light plugs at any parts store. Be sure to install them so the exposed part of the plug is ground, and the hot side is shielded. Cheap and reliable.
     
  12. GaryF

    GaryF New Member

    Messages:
    3,649
    State:
    O.P., KS
    If anyone wants a ridiculously bright, battery powered spotlight that runs a legitimate 60 minutes plus on a charge, the Vector - Power To Go HID Spotlight is the brightest thing I've ever seen. Cabelas sells it for $150, but some Sam's Clubs are clearing them out for under $50. I got mine off of Ebay.

    Here is a review: http://ledmuseum.candlepower.us/eighth/powhid.htm

    The HID technology allows it to produce 2-3 times more light than a comparable halogen light using the same amount of power. This light makes those $10 spotlights look like toys.

    The only downsides.. It's bigger and heavier than those cheap yellow ones. and it's not waterproof, so you will have to be careful with it in a boat environment.