How To Choose A Dive Light

Robert Arak in Scubatude Blog
on Dec 07, 2019 |

There is no doubt that every diver should carry at least one dive light. Dive lights make daytime dives more enjoyable by allowing divers to see under ledges and rocks, light up the inside of shipwrecks, pipes, and tubes, and see the amazing marine life hiding in the shadows. At night, or in low visibility conditions, the dive light allows divers to see each other, their gauges, and communicate underwater. Dive lights are also safety equipment allowing divers to signal each other underwater or signal to boats, land, or even planes on the surface.

Before you make a dive light investment, consider what you will use it for, how you will use it, and how often you are likely to use it. How many lights do you need? What type of light(s)? Where are you going to carry and store your light(s)? There’s a lot of choices when it comes to dive lights. Let’s look at some of the options:


Blub or LED
Bulb lights are mostly outdated for recreational diving and LED dive lights are considered the standard. LEDs are far more efficient offering greater burn times with less size and weight. As LEDs don’t have the fragile filament of a bulb, they do offer greater reliability too. HID bulbs still provide more “punch” when cutting through very dark or limited visibility conditions. Some cave and technical divers still opt for HID bulbs, but as LED technology improves use of HID will diminish.


A narrow beam is best for pointing and ‘cutting through’ poor visibility whereas a wider beam will bounce back much like car headlights in fog. For night diving in good visibility, a wider beam will illuminate a greater part of the underwater world offering a better experience. Some LED dive lights provide the option of changing the beam. Video lights provide a very wide beam with no visible hotspots for taking underwater photos and video. Proving more light underwater makes for much better photos and brings much of the lost colors back to like underwater.

Brightness is measured in lumens. The more lumens, the brighter the light. Brighter lights require more power from batteries, and don’t last as long between charges. There is a trade off between size and strength. The best option is to get a light capable of being as bright as you will need with the ability to adjust down the power to extend dive time.

Almost all dive lights today have rechargeable batteries. Battery life between charges are usually determined by Milliamp Hours or mAh. The higher the mAh, the longer the battery will last between charges.

  • Important Note on Unprotected Batteries Protected batteries have a built-in electronic circuit that prevent the battery from over-charge, heat, over current, and short circuit. This protection helps reduce the risk of overheating or fire. Unprotected batteries are cheaper, but we strongly advise against their use.

Most modern dive lights are small enough to hold in your hand while diving. A wrist lanyard ensures you don’t lose your light if its dropped or you need your hand free for something. Cave and technical divers will often attach the light to the back of their and with a glove or strap or use on a “Goodman Handle”. This leaves the divers hands free to operate spools, reels, camera, or other equipment.

How Many?
The old saying, "One is none" rings true for diving lights. If you are using a dive light underwater just to see under rocks or ledges, then a single light will be just fine. If you have a dive light for night diving, low visability, signaling to your buddy, dive team, shore or boat, or for seeing your gauges, you must have a good quality back up dive light. If your primary light fails, you may be unable to do these things to safely complete your dive.

There is no substitute for good training. Proper training will help you with proper light use, maintenance, and light management techniques. The Night Diver Course is great for learning to use your light and safely diving in dark or low visibilty conditions.

Start slowly. You can’t lose focus of your other scuba skills, like buoyancy, navigation, buddy awareness, gas management, etc., while you are focusing on lighting up the underwater world. Always add new skills slowly and safely.