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Spotlight Vs Floodlight: What’s The Difference?

Spotlight and floodlight are both considered great campsite lights. At least one is always used, and sometimes both are. Regardless, they are not the same tool. There is plenty to talk about that sets them apart. So, let’s compare spotlight vs floodlight, and see what they are and how they differ.

For a short answer, A spotlight is a lighting tool that generates and projects light in a specific direction. On the other hand, floodlights spread the generated light over the nearest vicinity and light up as much as possible. Often, the lens of a floodlight is intentionally blurred to scatter even more light. However, most of the light generated by a spotlight is focused and aimed towards a specific direction. Thus, it creates a powerful and bright focus zone.

But that’s just the gist of it. Next, let’s dive deep and discuss their differences in detail. Hopefully, by the end of this article, you will better understand which type is best for your needs.

What is a spotlight?

A spotlight is a powerful handheld electric light with a focused central light beam. Typically, spotlights are larger and heavier than most standard handheld electric lights. The purpose of a spotlight is to aim and illuminate a specific spot very brightly. Hence, the focused beam.

But due to the beam being centralized to a specific direction, it gains a significant range increase.

Regardless, spotlights have a few characteristic features that make them unique from most other handheld light types. Namely, spotlights –

  • Have a greater range
  • Boast larger battery pack, and often USB in/out ports
  • Have significantly less light spread
  • generally have higher lumen/light output

What is a spotlight used for?

The main purpose of a spotlight is to focus on an object, that’s what the name implies. For example, a spotlight is excellent at lighting up a specific object over its surroundings. It can be something like a sign, an artwork, some architectural details, a decorated tree, paintings, etc.

Another very popular use of handheld spotlight is for outdoor activities like fishing, walking, jogging, boating, mountain climbing, trekking, etc. Since spotlights have excellent range and a very bright center, they are perfect for these tasks.

Spotlights are also used for generic outdoor activities such as signaling, SOS, taking care of husbandries and scaring predators, or even general walking.

What is a floodlight?

A floodlight is a handheld electric light source that spreads the generated light over a wider area immediately in front of it. The purpose of the light is, as the name suggests, to flood the vicinity with light. On the other hand, the range is not really a thing to consider when it comes to floodlights.

Hence, a floodlight is the polar opposite of a spotlight; because it has the opposite traits from spotlights. Thus, a floodlight complements a spotlight nicely and is often paired with a spotlight.

In terms of unique characteristics,

  • Floodlights spreads light in the immediate vicinity
  • The range of floodlight is often very poor
  • Floodlights uses textered/colored semi-transparent lens instead of reflective or transparent lens.

What is a floodlight used for?

As the name suggests, floodlights flood an area with light. Static use for a floodlight is to light up a wide area like the lawn, yard, backyard, swimming pools, walkways, driveways, corridors, garden, landscape, porches/patios, etc.

Other usage includes lighting up indoor farms, gardens, barns, poultry farms, etc.

Floodlights are also used for outdoor activities such as camping, picnic, outdoor dining, fishing docs, etc.

Spotlight vs Floodlight: Are there similarities?

Yes, there are a few similarities between spotlights and floodlights. For starters, spotlights and floodlights produce a greater amount of light than other handheld light sources because both lights have to light up a larger area.

Some of the primary uses for either light type are outdoor activities such as camping, fishing, hiking, etc. Thus, they both have to run for a more extended period of time between charges. Hence, they both boast large batteries and ultimately become larger and heavier than other handheld lights.

Both lights are available in LED, CFL, and halogen bulbs. But in both cases, LED is the prominent bulb type.

Spotlight vs Floodlight: Key differences

Frankly speaking, there are more differences between them and more to discuss. As I mentioned above, they are not the same tool. Instead, they complement each other’s weaknesses well and are often brought together for outings. Modern spotlights have a dedicated side panel / auxiliary light panel that functions as a floodlight.

The range

Spotlights have a far superior range than floodlights. This is because spotlights often use reflective cones and sometimes lenses to focus the produced light and beam them forward at a tight angle to reduce the spread as much as practically possible. And this gives them a massive boost in range, often reaching and surpassing 2,500 feet.

On the other hand, the range is not even a deciding factor for floodlight. The light of a floodlight loses potency drastically as the distance increases. As a result, the light of a floodlight is mostly unusable beyond a hundred feet range.

The spread

Opposite to range, Floodlights are superior over spotlights. This is because floodlights spread the light as much as possible. A floodlight aims to equally light up the area without any central/focal point and avoid sharp shadows if possible. Although, the shadow is not always considered when designing a floodlight.

On the other hand, spotlights have a pathetic spread compared to floodlights. The majority of the produced light is confined within a very narrow 30-degree cone from the bulb or even less. And almost no light spreads beyond a maximum of 90-degree cone.

The light of most floodlights has a 135-degree spread or more. Some even light up beyond 180-degree. For example, the LE camping light has a spread of 360-degree, which is bonkers.

Light intensity

Spotlights produce much more intense light compared to floodlights. The reason is simple. Spotlights focus their light in a specific direction. So when you aim the light to something, it will naturally receive a lot of light particles. Thus, it can light up the element much more brightly.

On the flipside, floodlights disperse the light over a wide area. Thus a particular object will not be lit up nearly as intensely. And the brightness will lessen greatly with distance.

Potential Hazard

Even though, neither a spotlight nor a floodlight is notably dangerous or hazardous, when looked at directly, a spotlight can do more damage to the eyes. Since a spotlight focuses the light on one small area, the light intensity is unhealthily high. Thus, if the light is shined indoors and directly at the eye, most spotlights will damage the eyes. If the spotlight is powerful enough, like Imalent ms18, it will hurt badly, even if not looked at directly when turned on full power indoors or in an enclosed area. Learn more.

As for the floodlights, they are significantly less harmful. If looked at directly, it will cause discomfort and probably a temporary vision reduction, but nothing serious. Most floodlights won’t cause any pain or harm.

So, Floodlights are less hazardous and more child-friendly

Spotlight vs Floodlight: The pair

Spotlights and floodlights aren’t really competitors to each other. They work best when used with each other. I mentioned this before. They cover each other weaknesses very well.

Spotlights offer a higher range and focused center with greater brightness. Thus, spotlights are great for hiking, trekking, boating, hunting, etc. But when you need to sit down, camp, and make a cup of coffee, the spotlight will be terrible for those camping moments.

A floodlight will be perfect for the time. With the balanced and widespread light, the floodlight will light up the majority, if not all, of the campsite. Thus, making organizing, relaxing, and the campsite chores ten times easier and fifteen times less stressful than a spotlight would.

And when you will get up again and get moving, the short range and lower brightness will be nowhere near enough. You will need to turn on the spotlight for a pleasing trekking experience.

companies are also aware of this, and they are taking measures. As a result, some spotlight models have a dedicated side panel for floodlight functionality. At the same time, some floodlight models have a focus light to imitate torchlight or spotlight.

The LE camping light is a hybrid light. It features both, a powerful spotlight and a powerful floodlight. And there are many others like this one.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, we will be addressing some common questions and providing answers. If you want to know more or have further questions, please feel free to reach out to us in the comment section. We will gladly response at the earliest convenience.

Spotlight vs Floodlight: Which one is better?

Spotlights are better at focusing on a specific object, like an artwork, a structure, or a sign, as well as outdoor activities like walking, trekking, boating. Floodlights are better at lighting up a wider area like the lawn, backyard, pool, driveway as well as a campsite, picnic spot, a room, or garage.

Spotlight vs Floodlight: Which one is brighter?

Spotlights appear brighter than floodlights even with the same output power. Spotlights focus nearly all of the produced lights in a narrow cone (typically between 30 – 60 degrees) and shine light in a small area. Whereas floodlight spread the light almost equally in a broader angle, ranging around 135-degree spread. Thus, a spotlight will appear significantly brighter in comparison.

As for which one is actually brighter, that depends on your selection of light. Be sure to read the specifications while purchasing.

Spotlight vs Floodlight: What type of bulb is used?

In the recent past, the most popular bulb type was halogen for both of the light types. But nowadays, LED is the most popular, and the trend will continue to shift towards LEDs for quite some time. Because, LEDs are brighter, consume less power, and have a higher lifespan.

If you already have a light with CFL or Halogen bulb, you can replace the bulb with LEDs as long as the power rating of the LED matches with the previous bulb. That’s no problem. But you might need to use a different bulb holder. And that involves either visiting a technician or some DIY. I personally prefer DIYing it, because it’s really not that difficult.

Floodlight vs Spotlight: How many lumens do I need?

For a floodlight, typically 700 – 1200 lumen is good enough for static lightings like landscape or driveways, and 1000 – 1500 lumen is excellent for a campsite, picnic spot, and outdoor dining. And for a spotlight, 300 – 1000 lumen is okay for walking, running, and focusing on a static object like a sign or artwork. 3000 – 6000 lumen for recommended for fishing, boating, mountain climbing, taking care of husbandries, and challenging weather like snow, rain, and fog.

Floodlight vs Spotlight: Are they worth it?

Yes, they are worth the price, because both of the lights provide excellent value at what they do. and with the variations, extra features, customization options, and flexibility they provide, It is worth getting either or both of the light types.

Both of the lights are available in various power, budget, light warmth, colored lights, and filters. Plus most of the lights have a large battery, USB port, and the functionality of an emergency power bank. Thus, they are worth the price.


To sum things up, spotlight and flashlight are not direct competitors. It’s not a question about whether you should get a spotlight for the next trip or a floodlight. For the best experience and easiest time, you will need to get both. The question you should be asking yourself is which spotlight works best with which floodlight.

Spotlights and floodlights work on two completely different bases. If you have to make do with one, buy a spotlight that has a complementary floodlight. But we really do not recommend going out with only one light type.

That’s all for this discussion. And I hope the article could clear some confusion. If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate. Feel free to reach out to us, we will be more than glad to be able to help further.

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