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.
Cooper Lighting LED Rechargeable Work Light
Neiko Super Bright 150 LED Rechargeable Cordless Work Light with Stand
Bayco SLR-2166 Rechargeable LED Work Light
Snap-on 92164 25 LED Rechargeable Angle Work Light
Stanley SB0109 SquidBrite Work Light
Designers Edge L1315 Ecozone 63 LED Work Light
Alert Stamping QPL-8 Work Light
ADT Tools 80050 30 Watt Underhood Light
Bayco SL-975 26 Watt Double-Brite Fluorescent Work Light
Designers Edge L14SLED 1000 Watt Twin Head Adjustable Work Light
This rechargeable light from Cooper Lighting is a truly well-designed piece of equipment. It’s probably the most versatile work light out there, able to be set in a variety of ways. To start with, the light hinges, allowing it to be its own stand. An integral swivel hook makes it possible to hang it, just like a trouble light for working on cars. It’s also got magnets in the case, allowing you to stick it to the underside of a hood. The 80 LEDs provide ample lighting for a variety of tasks and the Ni-Mh rechargeable batteries ensure that it will run for plenty of time. Chargers for both home and auto are provided.
This cordless looks like a corded unit, but don’t let that fool you. The only cord it has is for the recharger. It has 150 SMD LEDs to provide plenty of lighting for your projects. While not as bright as the Ecozone light, with its 1600 lumens, it provides plenty of illumination for most close-up applications. The light comes with a stand, allowing it to be adjusted both for angle and direction. It will run about 2-1/2 hours between recharging, powered by a 3.7 volt 4000mAh Li-Ion battery.
This light provides 120 lumens of illumination when used as a floodlight and 12 when used as a spotlight. The magnetic hook can be placed in two separate positions on the rugged housing for horizontal or vertical mounting. It will run four hours on one charge in floodlight mode or 18 hours in spotlight mode. It also comes with both home and car chargers.
Like all of Snap-on’s products, this one is designed specifically for automotive work. That’s why it’s shaped much like a standard trouble light; even to the point of having a hook to hang it under the hood of a car. However, instead of an incandescent light bulb, it uses 25 LEDs for illumination. Considering Snap-on’s reputation for quality and that the LEDs are rated at 100,000 hours, you’ll probably never need to replace this one.
This is a little bit different sort of light than the others on this list. It’s not the brightest by any means, with only 20 LEDs, but it designed so that it can be used virtually anywhere. Three flexible legs can be used as a tripod, or wrapped around any conveniently located object to hold the light in place. If that doesn’t work, the lamp head has a magnetic back to hold it in place in tight locations. A flashing mode is available for emergencies. It comes with an AC charger to recharge the 3.6 volt, 1.3Ah NiMh battery.
This amazing light produces 1600 lumens of illumination. Thats enough to temporarily blind you if you look at it. I have a 600 lumen tactical flashlight, which will stun you if you look at it, so I can just imagine what this light will do. All that illumination, and it only weighs one pound and consumes 64 watts of power. If you've got a project going on and need area lighting, this is about as good as you can get. Not only is it bright, but the case stays cool, so you dont need to worry about burning yourself when you move it around. It is designed for use either indoors or outdoors, with a weatherproof power switch. About the only thing I could say bad about it is that it only has a 6-foot power cord.
This fluorescent provides the equivalent lighting of a 250 watt incandescent bulb, but only consumes 52 watts of power. While not as energy efficient as the Ecozone, it still saves you a lot of power and produces a cool light that wont increase your sweat factor. It comes with an adjustable stand so that you can set it where you want, or even mount it on a wall. There are dual power switches so you can control the two sets of bulbs separately. It comes with an eight foot power cord.
This is somewhat of the classic portable fluorescent light design, with a light tube mounted in a plastic case. However, thats where it ends. There are telescoping hooks on both ends of the light, so that it can be hooked onto any car engine hood from 47 to 75 inches wide. The hooks are rubber-coated to protect the cars paint job and prevent slipping. The 30 watt bulb produces about as much light as a 150 watt incandescent bulb. The light comes with a nice long 25 foot cord, so that you dont have to run a separate extension for it.
This is a hand-held portable, much like the old incandescent trouble lights in its form. However, it comes with two 13 watt fluorescent lights installed. The power rocker switch allows two lighting levels, by illuminating one fluorescent tube or both. At the higher setting, this light is providing about as much light as a 125 watt incandescent bulb. A 25 foot power cord and two built-in hooks make it convenient to use.
I almost didn't include this light, because the halogen bulbs create a lot of heat. However, there are times when this is an even better choice than the 1600 lumens LED light in first place. The stand makes this light ideal for use in construction areas, where you need to provide lighting to an entire room. Setting a light on the floor in those cases provides very unnatural lighting, casting shadows on the upper side of everything. The telescoping tripod allows these lights to be as much as 68 inches off the floor. Twin switches allow you to use the lights together or separately. Each lamp lead can be individually adjusted for best illumination. It comes with a 5 foot power cord.
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.