Best Work Light
It doesn’t matter what you’re working on, there never seems to be enough light. While LED work lights on power tools are a great help, they really don’t provide enough illumination for anything more than getting that tool to the right fastener. One answer is to add a lot of lights to your workshop, but that isn’t always practical. However, no matter how many lights you add, there are still things that are going to be in the shadow when you don’t want them to be. The only real solution is to have a portable light, which you can position where needed for what you are working on at the moment; hence the work light. If you're still not sure what you want in a work light, take a moment to look at our buyer's guide listed below.
Best Work Light Overall:
I don’t know about you, but I've never had a workshop that had enough light in it. No matter what I do, it seems that my tools are in shadow, especially the cutting point of the tool. The same thing happens when I have to do a repair, no matter what it is that I’m repairing, there isn't enough light where I need it; it doesn't matter if I’m fixing the car, or fixing the kitchen sink.
This problem has made me a big fan of work lights. I have a number of them scattered around in strategic places, giving me lighting in my workshop and for various projects that I do. I even have a couple that I carry in my cars.
Work lights have changed a lot in the last few years. It used to be that the only ones available used incandescent lights. Not only were they hot to work under, but the light bulbs broke way too easily. When halogen work lights started, it helped with the breakage problem, providing more light, but it was even hotter to work under. Now most work lights are either fluorescent or LED, giving longer life and cooler light.
While fluorescent lights are still glass, they don’t have the filament that incandescent lights do. It is this filament which usually breaks, not the glass globe of the bulb. The filament is extremely thin, so that it will glow when it gets hot. Of course, that heat makes it more fragile as well. Fluorescent lights excite the gas inside of them instead, eliminating the need for the fragile filament.
LED work lights will last a minimum of 60,000 of continuous use. Some manufacturers even say that they’ll last 100,000 hours. Either way, your great-grandkids may end up using the same light, if they haven’t come up with anything better by then.
Since work lights are used for a variety of different things, one work light may not be the ideal answer for all situations. Probably the most common use is for automotive repair, where you always need a light under the hood. However, if you’re finishing the basement, that light may not provide you with enough illumination to see what you’re working on.
Before shopping, it’s a pretty good idea to have an idea of how you are going to be using the work light. Things to consider include:
- The overall brightness of the light
- Whether you need area lighting or spot lighting
- How long a cord will you need to connect to your power source?
- Do you need to be able to hold it in your hand?
- Do you need a hook to hang it?
- Do you need it to be freestanding?
There is no one right answer to any of these questions, as they depend a lot on how you are going to be using the light. What works for one person, may not work well for another. So make sure you pick a light that will meet your needs, and not those of your buddy.
There was no question that this light should be the winner. Not only does it provide 1600 lumens of illumination, but by using LED technology, it does it consuming only 64 watts of power. Read Full Review
This fluorescent work light provides the equivalent of a 250 watt incandescent bulb, but only consumes 52 watts of power. The stand does double duty as a wall mount, for those who need the ability to permanently mount it. Read Full Review
If your main need for a work light is to work under the hood of a car, this light is perfect for you. The dual, rubber coated hooks allow it to be attached to the underside of any vehicle hood from 47 to 75 inches wide. Read Full Review
This handheld light holds two 13 watt fluorescent bulbs, which can be illuminated together or separately. When they are both on, it provides the equivalent illumination of a 125 watt incandescent bulb. Read Full Review
While the market is moving away from halogen work lights due to heat, there is still a place for them. The tripod stand for this light allows it to provide illumination at a much more normal angle, making it ideal for construction work. Read Full Review
Best Cordless Work Light:
While corded work lights are extremely useful, they all share one thing in common the need to drag a cord around as you work. There are times when thats just too inconvenient to deal with. For those cases, its nice to have a cordless work light to use.
Cordless work lights have come a long way in the last few years. Before, they were essentially a low power flashlight or low power fluorescent light. But with the newer LED technology, most have been redesigned, providing more illumination and lower power consumption. That takes these lights out of the realm of being just low-powered flashlights, and turned them into truly useful work lights.
The efficiency of modern LEDs is truly amazing, with some single LEDs that can produce up to 600 lumens of illumination. While none of these use those high-dollar LEDs, they still provide ample illumination for your work. They also do so with minimal power consumption.
LEDs last a minimum of 60,000 hours, although there are some manufacturers who are claiming 100,000 hours from their products. Either way, thats a long time. To put it in perspective, if you left a LED on constantly, it wouldnt burn out for six years and 10 months. Between that and the low power consumption, theres really not much of a worry if you forget to turn off your work light some night.
Being cordless, these mostly come with rechargers. In most cases, they are using Lithium-Ion batteries. That gives them the longest possible use time per charge and the shortest possible recharge time.
While cord length isnt an issue with these lights, just about everything else that is important in a corded work light is. Be sure you ask yourself the following questions, before buying a light:
- How bright do I need the light to be?
- Do I need area lighting or would I be better off with spot lighting?
- What type of stand would work best for my needs?
- Will I be using the light in places where it would be better to have a hook, so that I could hang it?
- Do I need to be able to set the light down and still have it pointed at my work?
Any of the lights in this list are excellent choices, although they are excellent for different reasons. Youll need to figure out which one will work best for your needs, as each type of work has different lighting requirements.
What makes this light so great is its versatility. The folding design makes it easy to stand up, directing the light right where you need it. If that doesn't work out, it has a hook for hanging it, and a magnet for sticking it to the underside of a car's hood. Read Full Review
This cordless unit comes with a stand, allowing it to be angled or swiveled as needed. The 150 LEDs provide plenty of illumination for most tasks. Read Full Review
This light provides 120 lumens of illumination, making it ideal for working under the hood of a car. The hanging hook allows it to be hung either vertically or horizontally as needed. Read Full Review
Snap-on is the number one choice of professional mechanics, due to the long-life of their tools. This light is no exception, designed and manufactured in accordance with the same commitment to quality and long life. Read Full Review
Work Light Buyer's Guide
Most individuals work requires good lighting, whether you are doing repairs, remodeling, or new construction. This need is amplified even more in situations where detail work comes in. Without adequate lighting, you can't see the work, let alone complete your project accurately. Unfortunately, most of the places where we do this work don't have adequate lighting.This is why most contractors end up investing in work lights and the same goes for any handyman. I'm not talking about having a good flashlight here (although that's a good idea too), but rather having lights you can set in place to illuminate your work area.
To LED or Not to LED
Today we are living in the midst of a shift in technology. Just like the CFL is replacing the incandescent light bulb in the home, the LED is replacing the incandescent light bulb in other applications. While there are still a number of different work lights on the market which use incandescent, fluorescent, or halogen bulbs, they are gradually being replaced by LEDs.
LEDs offer several advantages, the biggest being their lower power consumption. An LED work light producing 1600 lumens only requires 64 watts of power. That's the same amount of light that would normally be produced by a 100 watt incandescent bulb.
LEDs also last much longer than any other type of light currently available. The average life-expectancy of an LED is 50,000 to 70,000 hours, much more than even CFLs can offer. Additionally, they’re virtually impervious to breakage, traditionally the bane of any work light that’s been dropped on the ground.
The one disadvantage of LED work lights is cost. The initial cost of purchasing these units is still relatively high, especially when compared to incandescent and fluorescent units. However, if you look at the lifetime cost, the longer life of the LEDs makes the overall cost of the unit lower; you also don't have to worry about stocking the bulbs.
Corded vs. Cordless
Work lights probably vary more than most categories of tools that you can find. The good part is it gives you lot of different light configurations to choose from, greatly increasing the likelihood of finding a work light that will meet your specific needs. I'm a firm believer in having a variety of different work lights since it increases the chances I'll have the right light for every need.
While there are a lot of different ways in which we can categorize these lights, we're going to just split them between corded and cordless lights. If you are working in a workshop, there really is no need for a cordless light. However, if you are doing a series of repair jobs, which require you to move around the house, then having a cordless light will help you save time, by eliminating the need to run an extension cord and hooking up the light wherever you go.
LED lighting works much better for cordless work lights than other types of bulbs, simply because of their lower power consumption. The batteries last longer, allowing you to use the light without having to stop and recharge.
I used to think that there was no such thing as a light that was too bright; but then I bought a 1600 lumen headlamp as a work light. For a lot of things, that's too bright. Generally speaking, the brighter the worklight you have the better. Of course, brighter lights are usually more expensive so keep that in mind when you’re thinking about how bright a light you want to buy.
The other thing that makes a huge difference is the physical configuration of the light. Many times, you have to work in awkward places, like under a car or in a crawl space. When that happens, it can be extremely difficult to find a good place to put your light. That's part of the reason why I like to have several different work lights. At the same time, I try to buy lights which have adjustable stands, brackets, hooks or other ways for positioning them. The more variety, the more options it gives you for working.