Spotlight vs Flashlight

Spotlight vs Flashlight: What’s The Difference?

Spotlight and flashlight are two of the most used handheld electric lights. However, they are pretty similar in many ways. But, despite what many people think, they are not the same item. In this article, we will discuss spotlight vs flashlight and see how they differ from each other.

For a short answer, spotlights are bulkier, heavier, and more powerful of the two with a narrow but intense light beam. The spotlight also has a far superior range. On the other hand, flashlights are slimmer, lighter, and cheaper light sources with a relatively low range and light output that spreads over a wider area.

But that’s just a simple answer. The reality is no defined boundary sets one apart from the other. And sometimes, the two types even crossover. And the lack of distinction is what makes it even more confusing. So, how do they defer?

That’s what we will discuss in this blog post. In this article, we will compare spotlight vs flashlight. And if you are thinking about buying one, we will discuss which one would be the best handheld light for you.

So, what is a spotlight, and what is a flashlight?


A spotlight is a characteristic light source with a narrow and intense center. Typically, a light source used to and capable of illuminating a specific spot very brightly rather than lighting up an area is a spotlight. But it doubles as a long-range light source due to its powerful central beam. 

The main feature of the spotlight is they have a central focused beam. So whether you want to illuminate a spot brightly or illuminate an area somewhat far from you, the spotlight is the way to go.

Spotlights also tend to have large and powerful batteries. 

The main feature that makes it a spotlight is the concentrated light beam. It means that the spread of the spotlight is very poor. So, a spotlight cannot light up the nearby area. Some companies counter this by providing extra lenses that scatter the light beam, spreading at a wider angle. Some companies also add additional light to the side of the spotlight for floodlight functionalities.


Flashlights are small, lightweight, general-purpose lights. Typically, a handheld electric light that can light up a dark area is considered a flashlight. Versatility is the main focus of spotlights.

Flashlights are smaller and lighter than most other handheld light sources to ensure that anybody can use and carry them without much effort. But unfortunately, that limits the device to a smaller battery, and that, in turn, limits the gadget’s power output.

Flashlights spread the light to a wider angle, typically around 120 degrees by design. The light beam spread brightens up the surrounding well, making flashlights perfect for regular household and basic outdoor activities.

But they lack range. The light fades after a few hundred feet and becomes almost useless.

Fact: Any handheld electric light capable of producing light is called a flashlight by definition. So, you can call the spotlights flashlight, and you won’t be wrong. Spotlights are also flashlights. They are specialized flashlights with unique traits.

Spotlight vs Flashlight: What are the main differences?

Flashlights are smaller and lighter with a lower profile body. Flashlights produce a wide-spread beam of light with lesser intensity and range. On the other hand, spotlights are more robust, heavier, and more powerful. The majority of the light they produce is condensed in a narrow beam with a greater range.

1. Light beam is focused1. Light beam is spreaded
2. Has a higher range2. Has lower range
3. Generates more power3. Generates less power
Spotlight vs Flashlight Comparison

The key points to remember are-

1. Size:

Spotlights are larger in size and heavier in comparison. Most spotlights have a dedicated handle, whether a pistol grip handle or under grip handles. Moreover, many spotlights have shoulder straps and stand support. Some even have built-in stands.

Flashlights are smaller, lighter, and more compact between the two. They don’t have a dedicated handle; in other words, they don’t need to have one. Since they are small and compact, you can hold them around the main body and work comfortably with that. The light itself functions as the handle. There’s usually no shoulder strap or stand support. But they sometimes do have wrist straps.

2. Battery:

Spotlights have a much larger battery compared to flashlights. The reason is that the power output is one of the main priorities of spotlights. Thus, to support the greater power output, they need a larger battery with a greater capacity, making spotlights large and heavy. But if you need the power, it is there.

Flashlights don’t need powerful light output. They only need a decent brightness. Thus, they can get away with a smaller and lighter battery.

3. Range:

The range is a major deciding factor. Spotlights typically have the superior range between the two. The reason is that spotlights are made to light up distant areas without going there in person. While the range varies between companies and models, the average range lies around 2,500 feet.

Flashlights bite the dust in competition for range. I mean, they literally bite the dust. The light is so scattered and spreads so much that it barely reaches further than a few hundred feet.

That being said, some flashlights do have focused beam functionality, and they can compete against lower-end spotlights. But the number and actual range are low, and exceptions can’t be examples.

4. Spread:

Just like range, the spread is another deciding factor. Spotlights focus the light at a tight angle, maximizing the range. As a result, the light does not spread very much. Usually, the beam of a spotlight stays below 45-degree.

Flashlights brighten up a surrounding area. So, by design, the light spreads a lot, around 120-degree spread or more. Some flashlights use blurred lenses, curved lenses, and other means to spread the light without any uniform direction intentionally.

But as I mentioned before, some flashlights have the focused/ranged functionality, while spotlight companies are now adding floodlight capabilities.

5. Power:

The power/output of the light is a significant factor to differentiate between the two, but it’s not a primary factor.

Spotlights usually have higher lumen (unit to measure light power) than flashlights. Since they need to send the light beam far, they need brighter and more powerful bulbs.

Flashlights, on the other hand, have a lighter task at hand. They don’t need to reach great distances. All they need to do is light up the immediate vicinity. The spreading of light is not a waste; instead, a blessing. So, flashlights generate less intense light.

Spotlight vs Flashlight: Functionality and Usage-

Despite both being light sources, they have different usage and serve distinct functions. One can identify one simply by looking at them. But it is their functionality that really sets them apart.

1. Indoor usage:

For indoor usage, flashlights are better due to their broad beam angle and good spread. As a result, they light up almost the entire room if positioned correctly.

The focused beam of the spotlight is less than ideal for indoor usage; on top of that, the powerful light output makes things too bright for comfort. Using spotlights indoors can even be dangerous if the spotlight is powerful enough (Imalent MS18)

2. General outdoor activity:

For general outdoor activities, a flashlight will be your best bet most of the time, but sometimes, you might want to invest in a spotlight. 

On the one hand, flashlights are the best option for night walking, walking your dog, moving around the compound, or going to the grocery store, because you typically don’t need high light output; just lighting up the immediate vicinity is enough.

On the other hand, if you want to use it as a security light, look after your livestock, or visit confined areas like a large barn, trees, bushes, etc., you might want to think of using a spotlight. The extra power will give you more brightness, range, penetration, and functionality that you need.

3. For outings:

A spotlight is crucial for most outings like camping, fishing, boating, etc. Out there, you will need the extra power, range, and brightness more often than not, especially if you plan on trekking or climbing after dark.

And if it rains or snows, flashlights will almost become useless.

That said, a flashlight may still be handy to light up the campsite or inside the tent, especially if your spotlight lacks the floodlight capability.

4. Off-shore fishing:

We are putting off-shore fishing in a separate category from outings because it is a particular case requiring special preparation. Compared to camping, it can be far more dangerous. Not only are you further away, but also you are disconnected from the nearest land by the mass of water. Without the light you bring, you are pretty much stranded with the risk of drifting or running aground.

You will definitely need a spotlight for off-shore fishing, and to that, a powerful one. Therefore, it is highly recommended to bring a backup light or at least a backup set of batteries.

Spotlight vs Flashlight: Which one to purchase?

Spotlight and flashlight both of them have their pros and cons. And most of the time, you are free to make a choice about which one to purchase. However, if you want to make the most out of your product, you should do your research first and evaluate your choices before committing. If you are not sure which one to purchase, we recommend buying a mid-range spotlight. It will be relatively inexpensive while having extra features and value (hopefully).

If you want a detailed and comprehensive guide about different aspects of spotlights, you can visit our comprehensive Buying Guide. We discussed everything about spotlights, and hopefully, it will answer your questions and set you up on the way to getting the best spotlight.

If you want a straight guide for the spotlight, you can check out our list of the eight best spotlight or hunting spotlight, and there are many more valuable posts.

Spotlight vs Flashlight: Which one has more value?

Each of the lights has its pros and cons. However, both of the lights bring some extra value to the table.

For example, spotlights, being heavier, will always be a better self-defense tool compared to flashlights. In addition, with a more powerful battery, spotlights will always be a better power source for external electric devices. Most spotlights make use of it by having USB ports, enabling them to function as a power bank.

On the other hand, Flashlights are smaller and lighter. Thus, you can easily pack them in bags and luggage and carry them everywhere with significantly less hassle than spotlights. Flashlights are also cheaper to purchase, repair, and replace.

Spotlight vs Flashlight: Which one is better?

Frankly speaking, there’s no straight answer for which one is the better one of the two. It comes down to what you will be using the light for and how often you will use it.

A flashlight is usually the better option for indoor usage and usage in confined spaces with a lower light requirement. Firstly, the lower amount of light generated by a flashlight is suitable for indoor use, and secondly, flashlights are cheaper to buy, repair, and replace.

A spotlight is undoubtedly the go-to option for outdoor usage like hunting, camping, boating, fishing, mountain-climbing, etc. You should never risk it with only a flashlight without another more powerful light source.

Plus, Many spotlights have sidelight/floodlight functions built-in, so you are getting a flashlight with the spotlight anyway.


That is all we had to say about the comparison of Spotlight vs Flashlight. Flashlight and spotlight are two electronic devices, each with advantages and disadvantages. It’s up to you to assess your needs and decide which one is the best choice for you. We tried our best to evaluate the devices and represent the facts about each of them.

I’m sure there is more to discuss about each of them, but there is only so much we can discuss in one article. If you have any further questions or discussions you would like to have, be sure to comment on the comment section or reach out to us. We will do our best to answer your queries.


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