The phenomenon of a LED spotlight is pretty much in the spotlight lately (pun intended).
While some people still prefer traditional incandescent and halogen light bulbs, generally, LEDs are overtaking the market by storm. LED spotlights are particularly popular. However, it may be tricky to choose one. LED technology is still relatively new. It is constantly improving and LEDs are becoming more affordable.
Those are all good news, but it also means that there are significant differences in quality. Therefore, we will break it down for you to help you understand LED light better. Furthermore, we’ll share some guidelines on how to choose a spotlight that fits your needs.
What Exactly Is a Spotlight?
I’ll start from the very beginning to keep it clear and simple.
Spotlights, flashlights, floodlights, flashlamps – it’s easy to get confused with so many different names for similar or same products. A spotlight and floodlight refer to the way of dispersing light. As the name suggests, when the light is directed and concentrated you end up with lots of light in the center of the beam. So, you get a highlighted area – or a spotlight. Batman’s sign is a typical spotlight.
On the other hand, floodlight has a wider beam angle, light is diffused and soft. All other terms designate appliances or accessories. Almost all of them can produce both spotlight and floodlight depending on the design. So, a spotlight has a narrow beam, it is bright and can illuminate long-distance objects.
Why You Should Choose LED Spotlight
As for bulb technology, it is a no brainer. Compared to traditional bulbs, LEDs provide numerous advantages. LED bulbs are far more efficient than halogen or incandescent bulbs. Traditional bulbs transfer 90% of consumed energy into generating heat. So, a single incandescent light bulb spends the same quantity of energy as 6-7 LEDs of the same brightness.
Another crucial feature of a LED spotlight is its lifespan. While incandescent bulbs can last about 1,200 hours, LED will keep going for over 25,000 hours. This is actually a conservative estimation for older models. Some new models have a predicted lifespan between 100,000 and 200,000 hours. Anyway, you get the point.
Speaking of spotlights, LEDs naturally emit directional light for 180 degrees. Incandescent bulbs emit light for 360 degrees. Redirection and reflection will create a narrow beam but a lot of light will be lost in the process.
There are several other benefits of LED lights, but this is more than enough to cut a deal.
It is not to say that there are no downsides to LEDs, though. But, they are pretty minor compared to the benefits. First of all, LEDs are more expensive, but over the long haul it pays off. So, the only real issue with LED lights is their color rendering ability. This is the only area where LEDs can’t match incandescent and halogen bulbs.
How to Choose the Best LED Spotlight – 9 Key Concerns
While LED spotlights are beneficial in almost every possible way, not all of them are the same. Some manufacturers compromise the quality in order to lower the price. Also, you need different features for different needs. So, you should consider several important aspects to ensure buying the best LED spotlight to fit your needs.
LED spotlights can be used for different purposes. Some of them are pretty versatile, but none of them can cover all possible purposes.
Handheld flashlights are convenient sources of light for hiking, camping, fishing trips, or as an emergency light for your bug out bag. However, you won’t use these to illuminate your house and your backyard.
Research shows that outside lighting and security cameras deter burglars and significantly decrease the risk of burglary. So, with outdoor spotlights, you can combine beauty and utility. You can use them to accentuate and illuminate your house, backyard, patios, and gazebos, while keeping your property safer at the same time.
2. Brands and User Ratings
LED technology is pretty expensive and it is constantly developing. Look for reputable brands to make sure you get high-quality products. Also, check out user ratings. Some products are cheaper because they use outdated, lower quality technologies. You don’t have to buy the most expensive spotlights, but reliability is very important.
3. Beam Angle
All spotlights concentrate the light, but there are differences. With a very narrow beam, you get brighter light, a smaller illuminated area, but it will also reach long distances. With wider angles, you can illuminate larger areas with less light per surface area, though. So, it depends on your needs.
As I have said, a beam angle affects the level of brightness, but it’s the amount of light that matters most. Forget about watts and check out lumens. Lumen is a measure that shows the total amount of light coming from your light source.
5. CRI Rating
A color rendering index (CRI) measures the ability of a light source to reveal colors. Truth be told, this is way more important for indoor lighting, but you should know what CRI stands for. Incandescent bulbs have a perfect CRI of 100. A LED spotlight usually ranges from 80 to 90.
It means that some colors might appear a little bit different. It can be quite a problem if you’re a painter, but for outdoor use, it’s pretty much irrelevant.
6. Runtime of a LED Spotlight
While the CRI rating is not of utmost importance, the runtime is. Even though the batteries are getting better and last longer, they are still limited. LEDs are pretty efficient when it comes to energy consumption, but strong and bright light can drain your batteries pretty quickly. There’s a trade-off between the intensity of light and runtime. Anyway, look for spotlights that can last longer.
7. Battery Type
There are different opinions on whether one should use rechargeable or disposable batteries. You can be fine either way. However, I recommend rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. They can last longer and they hold charge for a very long time. Having a battery tester is a good idea, so you can always check on your batteries.
Water-resistance is a must. Unless we talk about theater spotlights. Seriously, we can’t live without water but it’s an enemy of our equipment. So, look for at least water-resistant, or better yet – waterproof spotlight.
9. Size and Weight
Size and weight don’t necessarily affect the performance of a spotlight but they affect practicality. When backpacking, every ounce and every inch of space counts. It’s even more so when you pack your bug out bag or emergency kit. Ideally, you want more lumens in a small package.
There’s strong competition in LED technology and it’s good news. It means that products will improve and the prices will go down. There’s an impressive number of excellent LED spotlights out there, already. I’d like to tell you which one is the best overall, but it’s impossible. The best spotlight for you might not be in the top 5 for the next person, because it depends on your needs and intended purpose.
Anyway, here are some excellent models that should fit most requirements.
Hopefully, I’ve shed some light on the spotlights. A LED spotlight has myriads of potential uses, from outdoor adventures to emergency situations. It’s not just convenient but necessary to have a source of light other than the sun or regular power grid. So, let there be light!