How to Select a Dive Light
Learn which Dive Light is right for your diving situation
Choosing the right dive light can greatly enhance your dive experience and is crucial for your safety.
Underwater life is very colorful, but the deeper you go, the less color you see. Over one half of the reds are gone in just the first three feet, while a half of the yellow light is extinguished at nine feet. By the time you reach 30 feet, everything will look blue grey.
Carrying a good dive light will correct this problem and allow you to enjoy the full spectrum of color and life underwater. On night dives, a good dive light is essential for safety allows you to fully enjoy your dive.
Types of Dive Lights
It is important to consider your dive needs and environmental factors when selecting your light. We’ve outlined the different styles and functions to help you choose the right light:
Primary Dive Lights
Primary dive lights can be used for daytime or nighttime dives. They are typically larger, brighter, have a large battery pack which gives a long run time at high power. They should be durably built, giving at least a decade of service. Ideally they can be powered by disposable and rechargeable batteries offering maximum versatility on dive trips. They can be available in pistol grip or lantern grip, both are which are more comfortable to operate than stick lights. For primary lights, the more power the better, but since bright lights can cause a white-out like having your brights on in the fog, they should have the vast majority of their output in the center beam. This is doubly true for night diving in poor visibility water where higher power can reduce your visibility.
Our Primary Dive Lights include the Aqualite-S 20°, C4, C8, and Light Cannon. These range from the smallest, the Aqualite, to the largest, the Light Cannon.
The Aqualite-S 20° is a very powerful, lightweight narrow-beam light that's perfect as a primary light day or night in clear waters. The narrow beam helps see down caves and crevaces, and lights up an area on a night dive without scaring away the nocturnal critters. The removable rechargeable battery can be quickly exchanged for a second dive. It includes a wrist mount system for hands-free lighting.
Secondary or Back-up Dive Lights
The main purpose of a secondary, or back-up dive light is to protect the diver during a nighttime dive in the event the primary dive light fails. Secondary dive lights are typically more compact, lightweight, and feature a narrower beam.
Our Secondary Dive Lights include the Mini Q40, SL3, and SL4.
Secondary dive lights are smaller, so they easily fit into a BC pocket and are also ideal for exploring under ledges or the cracks and crevices of a reef. We design our secondary dive lights to be incredibly compact and use disposable batteries which have longer shelf life so they will work when needed. The SL3 and SL4 are virtually unnoticed in your BC pocket but will provide much more power and many hours of run time. There are many cases of divers lives being saved after being left at sea by a dive boat and were later rescued, being found by the light of their SL4, which will run all night. It is the worlds largest selling dive light.
Additionally, our Mini Q40 has a mask attachment strap which provides hands-free lighting for viewing gauges, camera controls and marine life up close.
Underwater Photography and Video Lights
If you intend to do underwater photography or videography, a bright wide beam light is a necessity to adequately light your subjects. UK’s Aqualite Pro Video light comes with an option for a 100° beam. The broad beam is perfect for wide-angle cameras such as GoPro® and general photography and video use. The Aqualite Pro furthermore has four adjustable power settings allowing the user to turn down the power to avoid overexposure in close-ups, and balance the fill and key light when using multiple light sources. One can fill in colors and light when necessary by cranking it up to full power, which lights up to a massive 1200 lumens.
For truly spectacular underwater video, try a UV light, like UK's Aqualite UV and SL4 UV lights. These use ultraviolet light to entice many marine animals to light up in beautiful shows of color, making a spectacular effect.
Featured Dive Lights - New and Improved
Our new and improved Light Cannon eLED , C4, and the C8. They feature the latest in LED technology being 50% brighter and further increase their output another 50% when used with the optional rechargeable battery pack.
UK's Aqualite eLED comes with an option for interchangeable heads, meaning you can choose from a wide-angle 100° head perfect for video/photography use, a 20° narrow beam head, or a UV Light head for truly spectacular night dives. The 20° head is narrower and has a more focused, brighter beam, making it ideal as a primary dive light. The Aqualite is a rechargeable light with user exchangeable batteries.
When used with the rechargeable battery pack, the new Light Cannon eLED’s lumen output increases to 2100 lumens. Additionally, the new Light Cannon eLED comes equipped with UK's pioneering “lumen booster” technology which removes more heat from the LED, increasing both lumen output and burn time.
Disposable versus Rechargeable Dive LightsMany frequent divers prefer Rechargeable Dive Lights, which typically cost a little more initially, but if used often save money, and are more environmentally-friendly. Rechargeable batteries can provide more instant power and are necessary for any light that produces over 10 watts. UK C Lights use low discharge NiMH cells which are airline safe and can last over 10 years. The Aqualite uses a single Li-Ion cell. Rechargeable lithium batteries have a maximum life of 5 years, and larger packs are forbidden to fly on certain airlines.
Divers are advised to carry at least two lights when diving at night: a primary dive light to illuminate your dive and a secondary dive light, or back-up dive light, in the event your primary dive light fails. It is also advantageous to use a mark light like our 2AAA Dive Beacon—a small light attached to your tank valve or snorkel that helps a diving partner to locate you.
Underwater Dive Light Paks
Save money while also enjoying a perfect dive with one of UK’s Dive Paks--collections of some of the world's best selling dive lights, knives, and accessories. We’ve expertly created each collection to provide all the equipment you need for great diving in one convenient package. Which one best suits your needs?POV BlackPak Sea Turtle Pak
Consider your diving activity and situation
Considering your specific diving needs is important when selecting the right light.
Brightness : When it comes to underwater lights, the general rule is the brighter the better. This is particularly true in night diving, when a bright light with a wide beam, such as UK’s Light Cannon or Aqualite, is recommended for maximum visibility.
Beam angle : Depending on what kind of diving you do, a tight beam or a wide flood may each be appropriate. A tight bright spot is useful for spotting, for looking into crevices and under ledges, and a must for limited visibility diving in murky water.
A tight beam with little spill will cut through the murkiness and allow you to see further. A wide beamed light with spill light will reflect back from the particles in the water and make it more difficult for you to see. At UK, we control the spill of our C lights so you can see better in murky water. The C4 and C8 put 90% of their lumens into the center beam. The Light Cannon puts 70%. All other normal lights put out around 40% of their lumens into the center beam.
Tech divers tend to prefer narrow beam lights because they allow you to see further down long passages or into wrecks. UK’s SL3 eLED is a great backup light for a tech diver, with its bright spot light and no backscatter.
- For lobster hunters or “game divers”, a narrow beam light such as the SL4 eLED is a popular choice as it allows the diver to see fish or lobster hiding under a faraway ledge. UK’s Mini Q40 is also a great choice for game diving with its mask attachment. These lights are also lightweight, making them easy to carry and travel friendly.
DaytimeEverything begins to look gray at 30 feet underwater, even during the day. Many divers prefer at least a compact secondary light that is easy to carry, but also powerful enough to illuminate the dazzling colors underwater.
NighttimeNight divers are advised to have both a primary and secondary dive light. For maximum visibility in nighttime waters, select a light with a wide, bright beam that will penetrate the darkness.
Low VisibilityLike fog lights on cars, lights used in low visibility conditions need to be both powerful and without peripheral light that can bounce back in the diver’s eyes and impair vision. UK Dive Lights with our proprietary Side Optics are the best for low visibility like murky waters.
Under LedgesFor searching under ledges, an effective light must be small enough to place in cramped areas and emit a narrow penetrating beam to illuminate the farthest corners.
VideoWithout use of a light, your underwater subjects lack color and are only illuminated by surface light. Select a light with beam that is wide and even to successfully illuminate your subjects.
Lights designed for video may be creatively used for modeling and special effects. Spotting lights must be small and have a narrow, but intense, beam.
More things to consider
Beam AngleNarrow / Medium / Wide
BatteriesRechargeable / Disposable
BrightnessHigh vs. Low Intensity