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Old 10-08-2019, 10:10 AM   #1
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Review of Spot Lights

I recently did a mini-compare of spot lights for navigation of a channel with reflectorized (non-lit) markers. This is different than identifying obstructions within a few boat lengths. For my style of navigation, I prefer having a chart view well ahead of my boat as it improves my sense of situational awareness and serves to cross-check what I see on radar, so identifying channel markers 0.5-1.0 nms off is highly desirable. In short, think: navigating by paper chart versus highly-zoomed chart plotter. If you are the type that navigated via 'highway view' of a ultra-zoomed MFD, this may not be applicable for you. Just depends on what you are comfortable with. But it makes a different on how you would chose a spot light - long or short range view.

Test Vessel was a 3-year old Horizon 52 Power Cat with enclosed pilothouse and a joystick-controlled motorized spot light

Location: ICW near Johns Pass, St Pete area of Florida on moonless night. Main purpose for me for a spot light is to see distant channel markers (1/2 nm away or more) for situational awareness. Narrow, bright beam is important.

TESTED EQUIPMENT:
1. West Marine hand-held rechargeable LED spot light (new);
2. Permanent installed roof-mounted spot light, motorized controlled by joystick.
3. Three different MagLight options:
First, a new 3xD cell with native LED bulb;
Second, an older 3XD cell with converted LED bulb to replace the original incandecent bulb; and
Third, a rechargeable LED model (Amazon)

RESULTS
The permanent mount spotlight, despite being new and presumably high quality ($1.5m yacht with plenty of goodies) proved cumbersome to use as it was slow to sight using the joystick. Also had some light-scatter on the foredeck which was annoying. Helmsman preferred having a crewmember (his wife) use a hand-held at the bow.

West Marine hand-held was good and worked well - relatively bright and narrow beam. Negatives were it is a bit big and cumbersome and may be buried in a locker when you need it.

MagLights
- Converted LED bulb in an older MagLight. Surprised me - noticeably less bright and not as narrow a beam as the new MagLight with native LED. Unsure whether MagLight changed the reflectors to work better with LED, or if the bulb itself is sub-optimized, but clearly not as good as either of the MagLight LED-native options.
- New MagLight (Battery operated). May be a little brighter and narrower beam than West Marine hand-held. For $26 on Amazon, a good buy.
- New MagLight with rechargeable battery. Very good mounting system with positive lock. Not quite as narrow of a beam or as bright as the battery-powered MagLight, but very close.

CONCLUSIONS AND OBSERVATIONS
1. "Lumens" is an indicator, but not consistent across brands.
2. Permanent mounted spot lights are difficult to adjust quickly.
3. The smaller 'tactical' LED lights (MagLights) will illuminate a reflectorized channel marker from a mile or more on a clear night.
4. Narrow beam is important for long distance marker identification
5. If your boat has an enclosed pilothouse or bridge, there is no practical way to use a hand-held spot light, thus the permanent mounted light on the roof.
6. As a side note, having a lessor-skilled person (spouse) using the spot light at the bow has it's hazards as that person often hits decks or railings with light. Assuming a husband/wife team who run with one person on the bow, would be very helpful to have the two switch places to see what the other person sees.

EDITORS CHOICE:
MagLight Rechargeable LED. Despite slightly lower performance, went with MagLight due to ease of mounting the flashlight which means it will serve multiple purposes. If I were to install a permanent mount for an enclosed pilothouse, would not be a motorized version, but one of the old-school manual ones as it is much more intuitive and faster than the motorized version (not to mention less failure prone).

The battery powered MagLight with native LED had the narrowest, brightest beam of the lot, though the West Marine hand-held rechargeable was pretty good too.
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Old 10-08-2019, 10:40 AM   #2
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These are the bomb:

https://store.marinebeam.com/marineb...or-flashlight/

I only used our big Jabsco motorized spotlight to light up the front deck while anchoring, for all the reasons mentioned in your review.
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Old 10-08-2019, 12:33 PM   #3
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I am a beginning flashlight geek, and I am here to tell you that this can be a huge rabbit hole. With the rapid increase in LED and battery technology, handheld flashlights far exceed any incandescent light available. Multiple modes from firefly at just a few lumens to turbo modes with lumen ratings of many, many thousands. I really do prefer them over ANY remote option on a boat. Brands like Maglite are dinosaurs and are way behind the technology. Brands like Nitecore, Thrunite, Lumitech, Wowtech, Acebeam, and many others dominate the market now. There is nothing short of an arms race between these companies to bring the next bigger and brighter light (or smaller) to market. There are online forums and a very active sub-Reddit devoted to the hobby and passion of flashlights.



I now have about eight good lights from keychain lights up to a 1000-yard thrower. Three live on the boat full-time. My brightest is a Lumitop ODL20C ( https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1 ) that maxes out around 2000 lumens and has a dedicated SOS beacon mode. It will throw around 850 meters of light and will also fit in my pocket. However, I do plan on upgrading to a much larger light in the near future. :-)



Here are some useful links:


A good store: https://www.illumn.com/

Forums: https://www.candlepowerforums.com/ Forums | BudgetLightForum.com

Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/flashlight/
A good YouTuber that reviews lights: https://www.youtube.com/user/ForgivenMatt



I must warn you that this hobby can be addictive. Don't waste your money on marine lights or a motorized remote control light. With what is available, you are far safer and have much greater flexibility getting a more modern LED flashlight.
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Old 10-08-2019, 12:42 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom.B View Post
I am a beginning flashlight geek, and I am here to tell you that this can be a huge rabbit hole.
Tom - I bought the MagLight rechargeable partially because I really like the mounting bracket that has a positive clip that securely holds the light. Any recommendations on something with a similarly secure mounting bracket?

Thanks in advance -

Peter
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Old 10-08-2019, 01:48 PM   #5
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I don't recall what brand but I purchased a rechargeable hand held spot light. My problem is that it doesn't get much use and I just know when I do need it, the battery will be low and the light will be low to non-functional. I'm rethinking my selection and will probably purchase a battery based light with a tape on the light saying when the last batteries were added and shoot for changing the batteries out once a year.
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Old 10-08-2019, 03:05 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rsn48 View Post
I don't recall what brand but I purchased a rechargeable hand held spot light. My problem is that it doesn't get much use and I just know when I do need it, the battery will be low and the light will be low to non-functional. I'm rethinking my selection and will probably purchase a battery based light with a tape on the light saying when the last batteries were added and shoot for changing the batteries out once a year.

That is part of the beauty of modern torches. Most of them either recharge USB directly to the light or some batteries have mini USB on the battery itself for simple charging. You don't need to be tied down with the old-school external chargers anymore. Additionally, modern batteries hold there charge very well for a long time. I mean, mine don't sit too long before I charge it again because I use it to take the dog for a walk or just show-off how freakin' cool it is at the dock-sitting parties
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Old 10-08-2019, 03:07 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mvweebles View Post
Tom - I bought the MagLight rechargeable partially because I really like the mounting bracket that has a positive clip that securely holds the light. Any recommendations on something with a similarly secure mounting bracket?

Thanks in advance -

Peter

TBH, I haven't explored that. Many come with belt carrying cases. I suppose a thrifty person could snap that nearby the helm for easy access. Probably a lot of different solutions, but I don't think many of the lights I mentioned have a molded clip specifically for their lights. Sorry
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Old 10-08-2019, 03:57 PM   #8
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That is part of the beauty of modern torches. Most of them either recharge USB directly to the light or some batteries have mini USB on the battery itself for simple charging. You don't need to be tied down with the old-school external chargers anymore. Additionally, modern batteries hold there charge very well for a long time. I mean, mine don't sit too long before I charge it again because I use it to take the dog for a walk or just show-off how freakin' cool it is at the dock-sitting parties

I do understand the longevity of lithiums in tools and lights. I have an electric screwdriver I love and sometimes it will sit two years before I use it, and its good to go.

But I also looked at where TomB is from and I see NC. Now take that great light and put it through multiple days of freezing conditions and that will affect the charge.
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Old 10-08-2019, 04:24 PM   #9
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As the resident TF Cheapskate, the notion of paying over $100 for a flashlight just seems to make me cringe.


I have a rechargeable spotlight that's probably the twin brother to the one rsn48 has. It also is just about dead every time I want to use it. I've gotten in the habit of plugging it into the cigarette lighter on the upper helm a day or two before we take off on a trip so I know it will have at least enough charge to illuminate my new anchor. (No, I'm not going to tell you what kind or size it is!)


I was in Costco yesterday, just carousing around snacking on the samples and came across a handheld flashlight that looked interesting. It was about 9" long x 1.5" diameter, plastic housing, rechargeable, LED and the packaging said it had 1500 lumens.


That was all well and good but what caught my eye was the price--under $20. I may have to take a second look at it on my next trip to The Co.
Before I buy it though I'd better check that thread about whether to pay cash or finance a boat to see what it says.
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Old 10-08-2019, 04:36 PM   #10
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You can buy mounting clips for D ( or C ) cell maglites that are very strong
https://www.amazon.com/Mounting-Brac...0569447&sr=8-6
This will also hold other brand D cell flashlights as well.
As has been mentioned, flashlights can be a hobby or an obsession and there are lots of opinions online. Lumens seems to get all the attention from marketing types, but there are 3 criteria that all play a role in light performance:

Lumens: Total light output expressed in lumens.....but consider a camping latern that throws light in all directions..it could be putting out a lot of light, but may not let you see as far.

Beam Distance: This is how far away the beam will provide the illumination aproximately equal to a full moon on a clear night. Not really practical for real life, but useful for comparing different lights, assuming they use standard measurement ( more on that later )

Peak Beam Intensity. How bright the light is at the center of the beam.

The last two are useful for distinguishing between a flood or spot type of beam.

When manufacturers quote specs for their lights make sure they are using the ANSI FL1 standard. The information is displayed in a standard format and helps keep the marketing folks somewhat honest. A typical lable would look like this:
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Old 10-08-2019, 04:38 PM   #11
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So for long distance channel marker spotting....you'd want to pick a light with a long beam distance and a high peak beam intensity. ( those figures are for the MagCharger LED )

https://www.maglite.com/shop/flashli...le-system.html
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