Photo: Tom Scalisi
Working with limited lighting isn’t safe, and sometimes holding a flashlight isn’t a viable option. A high-quality hard hat light is the solution to staying safe on the job while also keeping hands free. Like headlamps, hard hat lights come with a range of features, such as adjustable brightness, different light modes, and rechargeable batteries.
However, hard hat lights differ from headlamps because they’re made for attaching to a hat rather than wearing on a bare head. These handy lights connect to hard hats via straps or clips and illuminate the project underway—whether in a crawl space, an attic, or a mine.
The best hard hat light depends on the activities you need it for and the conditions you’ll encounter while wearing it. I performed hands-on testing with the following models to discover their pros and cons and make it easier for shoppers to choose a hard hat. Read on to learn more about the results of my tests and see the top picks for the best hard hat lights.
- BEST OVERALL: Slonik 1,000-Lumen LED USB Rechargeable Headlight
- RUNNER-UP: Klein Tools 56062 Rechargeable Headlamp & Work Light
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Klein Tools 60407 Vented Hard Hat With Headlamp
- UPGRADE PICK: Olight Perun 2 Headlamp
- BEST FOR BUMP CAPS: Streamlight 61126 ClipMate USB Clip Light
- BEST FOR FULL BRIM: Streamlight 69189 Vantage LED Helmet Light
How We Tested the Best Hard Hat Lights
To decide which hard hat lights to test, I called upon my knowledge and experience with construction, hard hats, and lighting to determine the most important criteria to look for in a hard hat light. Once I had a worthy batch in my shop, I put each light through its paces.
I charged the lights, attached them to hard hats, and waited until dark to test how well they illuminated the work site. I checked their various lighting modes to ensure each one worked as promised and was useful. I also tested how securely they attached to the hard hats by jumping up and down, running down stairs, and dropping them from waist-high.
Once I saw how these models fared, I tossed out the ones that failed and gave those that passed awards based on their strengths. Overall, I spent 12 hours over three nights testing these eight options.
Our Top Picks
Below is a list of some of the best hard hat lights on the market chosen based on various features and functions. I performed hands-on testing with each of these models to ensure they outshone the competition.
Slonik’s rechargeable headlight has a 1,000-lumen LED light with six modes, providing plenty of illumination for most tasks. It gets its juice from a 3.7-volt removable and rechargeable battery, which eliminates the hassle and expense of disposable batteries. It runs for up to 8 hours on a 2-hour charge using a convenient USB charging port.
This headlamp has an adjustable strap as well as clips to secure it to a hard hat. The waterproof aero-grade aluminum alloy means it stands up to extreme conditions.
I knew the Slonik was pretty well regarded, but I didn’t think it would fare well because it’s something of an off-brand product going up against tried-and-true brands. In testing, however, it exceeded nearly all of my expectations. First, it was the only headband-type headlight that came with clips for securing it. For this reason, it fit every hard hat I had, including a cap, full-brim style, and even a heavy-duty fiberglass model meant for welding. It didn’t bounce at all while walking up and down stairs or jumping. Its adjustable beam put out plenty of light but was also wide enough to light peripheral areas easily. I also liked that it came with a semirigid zippered pouch for safekeeping. My only complaint is that it wasn’t the brightest hard hat light in the bunch despite claiming to have a 1,000-lumen output.
Read our full review: Slonik 1,000-Lumen LED USB Rechargeable Headlight
- Battery type: 3.7 volt rechargeable
- Max output: 1,000 lumens
- Attachment: Headband with retention clips
- Retention clips prevent bouncing and make it a truly universal design that fits any hard hat
- Output is adjustable and provides a wide beam that lights peripheral areas for improved safety
- Comes with a semirigid zippered pouch for storing the light, headband, clips, and charging cord
- Not the brightest model in the bunch, and it seems that Slonik may be stretching the output claim
Get the Slonik hard hat light at Amazon or Sears.
Folks looking for a hard hat light that snaps securely into their headwear will want to consider Klein’s 56062 rechargeable headlamp & work light. This model features an adjustable output of 300 lumens, 215 lumens, and 100 lumens, with a runtime of 4, 9, and 14 hours, respectively. It has a built-in magnet that clings to metal objects to operate as a work light, and the base adjusts for angling the light (a nice feature in work-light mode, especially).
I’m not new to Klein hard hat lights, as I own the compatible hard hat and another light it came with. But this light is much brighter and casts a wider beam. I also liked that this light’s built-in battery indicator shows how much power remains. The design snaps easily into and out of the hard hat, though, and it doesn’t bounce or pop loose. It is a bit of a shame that it doesn’t work with standard headbands or come with one to attach to a universal hard hat, however. But, as a work light alone, the magnet and positionable light are a big help.
- Battery type: Built-in rechargeable
- Max output: 300 lumens
- Attachment: Clips into Klein hats and headbands only
- Snaps into and out of the hard hat easily, yet remains secure during use and doesn’t bounce
- Battery indicator allows you to check how much power is left so you aren’t caught in a dark spot without light
- Built-in magnet and positionable angle make it handy as a work light, allowing you to hang it from metal objects and direct the beam
- Only fits Klein hard hats and headbands and doesn’t come with a headband
Get the Klein Tools 56062 hard hat light at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Acme Tools.
To skip the frustration of a floppy hard hat light or one that slips, check out the 60407 hard hat from Klein Tools with a built-in light. This safety-standard-certified hard hat has a clip for snapping on Klein-specific headlamps, and there’s a 150-max-lumen Klein headlamp included. It also has a lower floodlight setting of 50 lumens and can be adjusted vertically, enabling wearers to position it to shine wherever needed. Just be sure to keep spare batteries on hand, as this light doesn’t have a rechargeable battery.
I’ve had this hard-hat-and-light combo for some time now, and I’m a big fan. The hard hat is excellent quality, and the light fits securely. The 150-max-lumen setting is a bit lower than most other lights, but its wide casting helps illuminate the work area nicely. I also like that this light can operate as a work light by popping it loose from the hard hat and using its built-in magnet to hang it from a metal object. The downside of this light is that it’s not universal and must be mounted to a Klein hard hat or headband. The value it provides as a kit that comes with a hard hat is worth considering.
- Battery type: 3 AAA
- Max output: 150 lumens
- Attachment: Clips into Klein hats and headbands only
- Great value considering the kit comes with a hard hat light and the hard hat to snap it into
- Casts a wide beam for plenty of illumination in the immediate work area despite a relatively low lumen count
- Built-in magnet allows it to cling to metal surfaces and act as a work light
- Requires Klein-specific hard hat or headband to work due to clip-in base
Get the Klein Tools 60407 hard hat light at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Acme Tools.
Those who take their hard hat-based illumination seriously will want to consider the Olight Perun 2 headlamp. This headlamp features a maximum adjustable output of 2,500 lumens and plenty of features to make it worth the price. It has a proximity sensor that reduces output when it comes up against an obstruction and a charger that clips onto the base using the built-in tail-mounted magnet.
The Perun 2 comes with a headband that adjusts enough to fit a hard hat and holds the light securely in its clip. This light is also extremely rugged, with a maximum waterproof rating of 1.5 meters and durable metal construction.
In my testing, I did find two downsides to the Perun 2 as a hard hat light. The first is that it does feel quite heavy on the hard hat, and that’s due to its rugged construction. The other is that the headband doesn’t do a great job keeping it on a hard hat, and it doesn’t come with clips. Otherwise, it’s actually quite a special product.
The Perun 2 throws a ton of light, and you can lower the output for lots of runtime (18 hours for 120 lumens). The tail-mounted magnet is also valuable as you can attach it to any metal surface for hands-free light. One of its best features, however, is that it vibrates every 30 seconds if it’s below 10 percent battery life, helping keep you safe by letting you know it’s time to get out and charge your light or swap the battery.
- Battery type: Proprietary rechargeable battery
- Max output: 2,500 lumens
- Attachment: Headband
- Extremely rugged design with a metal body and waterproof rating of 1.5 meters
- Lots of output with many different settings and plenty of runtime when fully charged
- Vibrates every 30 seconds once it gets below 10 percent battery life to alert the wearer that the light’s about to die
- Heavy due to its rugged design, but that weight is noticeable on a hard hat
- Headband doesn’t do a great job keeping it on a hard hat, so additional clips may be necessary
Get the Olight hard hat light at Amazon, B&H, or Olight.
Bump caps aren’t built the way hard hats are, which makes attaching a standard hard hat light almost impossible. But with a light like the ClipMate from Streamlight, bump cap wearers now have the option to add flexible lighting to the brim (or sides) of their cap.
The ClipMate features two lights: a bright white LED and a red LED, both of which have high (70 lumens) and low (10 lumens) settings. It features a built-in USB charging tab that allows it to charge in any USB port without a cord. The neck of the ClipMate is flexible, allowing you to point it in whichever direction you need light, and its lightweight design won’t pull a bump cap down.
At first, I wasn’t quite sure that this model was up to the hard hat test, as it kept wiggling and sliding around the hard plastic. But once I snapped it onto a bump cap, the whole light made sense. It’s lightweight, and the clip is quite sturdy, so it never felt like it would move or pull the bump cap down. It was also easy to toggle through the different modes since it only has one button. The charge tab was a little strange at first and didn’t seem overly sturdy, but after charging it a few times, I found it was definitely convenient. The biggest downside is the light won’t work for a hard hat, but it works great for a bump cap.
- Battery type: Built-in rechargeable
- Max output: 70 lumens
- Attachment: Clip
- Clip design works well with bump caps by attaching securely to a hat bill or fabric
- Lightweight design and sturdy clip keep the light in place without making it feel like the weight is pulling the hat down
- Flexible light neck allows you to pinpoint the light wherever you need it for the best possible illumination
- Will not work on any hard hat; only works on bump caps
Get the Streamlight 61126 hard hat light at Amazon or B&H.
For those wanting to attach a top-of-the-line light to a full-brim hard hat, look no further than the Streamlight 69189 Vantage LED helmet light. This light is designed for firefighters but works just as well as a hard hat light on a full-brim hat. Its large thumb screw tightens down onto the brim of a hard hat, and the mount also swivels, allowing you to position the beam of light right where you need it.
This hard hat light has a maximum output of 115 lumens and casts a wide beam for plenty of illumination. It also has a bidirectional on/off switch that you can easily manipulate with gloved hands. It operates on two CR123 batteries that are replaceable.
I first tried this light under the edge of a cap-style hard hat, and it was very uncomfortable. However, it was a breeze to wear once I installed it on a full-brim hat. It was a bit heavy, but the mount was extremely secure, even though I only hand tightened the screw. It can mount over the brim (my preference) or below it. And while it might not be the brightest light in the test, it casts a wide beam, illuminating the immediate work area to improve safety and working conditions. The pivoting base was also helpful as it allows you to mount the light anywhere on the brim and adjust the beam’s direction.
- Battery type: Two 3-volt CR123
- Max output: 115 lumens
- Attachment: Thumb-screw mount
- Easily and securely mounts to full-brim hard hats, either on top or underneath
- Bidirectional on/off switch allows you to turn the light on and off with gloved hands
- Casts a wide beam of light to illuminate the immediate work area to improve safety and working conditions
- Only fits on full-brim hard hats; will not work on cap-style hard hats
Get the Streamlight 69189 hard hat light at Amazon or B&H.
TDC Rechargeable LED USB Hard Hat Light
The TDC Rechargeable LED USB hard hat light looks large and in charge, but it’s really just heavy and floppy. This light has four modes from its three light bulbs, with the most intense putting out 1,080 lumens. But it’s very bulky, will not stay put on a hard hat, and the adjustable plate that the lights are attached to flops downward with anything more than a very graceful step. Overall, the output is good, but the design is not.
Life Mounts LED Tactical/Ballistic Helmet Light
The Life Mounts LED Tactical/Ballistic helmet light seems to be mostly a gimmick. The mount is very floppy (it’s rubber), so the light bounces while the user is walking or moving. It also has a hook-and-loop closure that doesn’t even snug down on the light. The light output was also poor, and the beam was so concentrated (even when adjusted as much as possible) that it was difficult to see anything in the periphery.
What to Consider When Choosing a Hard Hat Light
This section will outline some of the most important aspects to remember while shopping for a hard hat light.
A light with 200 to 300 lumens will work for most people and most tasks, but certain bulbs can go up to 1,000 lumens. Be sure to choose a light with adjustable brightness to prevent battery burnout and eye strain. Hard hat lights with LED or Cree bulbs emit the strongest, brightest light, while krypton or halogen bulbs emit weaker light.
A hard hat light probably won’t need to run for an entire 8-hour shift, but battery life is still worth considering. Charging or changing the batteries every day can be a hassle. Many of the best hard hat lights have runtimes of over 30 hours—good for switching it on and off when necessary for almost an entire workweek. In general, the longest-lasting lights use LED bulbs, as they’re easier on batteries.
Rechargeable batteries can last several hours with a light set at its lowest output. Some offer runtimes of more than 20 hours on a charge, but they can take up to 8 hours to recharge fully. And keep in mind that most hard hat lights with rechargeable batteries require charging while they’re still in the light, so be sure the light is removable from the helmet to continue working with a protected head.
Bulky, heavy lights can make a hard hat front heavy, which may require you to cinch the hat down tighter than otherwise preferable. The good news is that LED bulbs have made hard hat lights smaller and lighter because they use tiny AA and AAA battery sizes, and the LED bulbs have a slim profile—meaning the best hard hat lights are lightweight.
Many hard hat lights come with straps or clips that attach them to the hats, baseball caps, or around the wearer’s head, allowing for hands-free work even when a hard hat isn’t necessary. Some hard hat lights feature adjustable outputs and different color LEDs, like red or green. These hues are less jarring on the eyes, allowing for switching between a dark environment and a lit one without temporary eyesight impairment.
Some hard hat lights can focus the beam of light directly in front of you for working in a smaller area; others can flood a broad space with light to illuminate objects and obstructions even while walking through a work area.
Types of Hard Hat Lights
Here are some features to consider when shopping for the best hard hat light.
Some hard hats come with a light attached. Certain models have built-in LED lights, while others have clips for snapping on a light. The benefit of built-in lamps is they won’t slip or bounce during work, providing consistent and safe work-space illumination. The downside of built-in lights: If the batteries need to be recharged and the light is built into the helmet, you must take off the hat to charge them, leaving you bare-headed while they charge.
Battery-powered hard hat lights are powered by lithium or alkaline batteries, which must be replaced after use because the light will dim as the batteries run out of juice. Removable batteries are a good choice for those using the hard hat infrequently. Be sure to keep a backup supply of batteries on hand so the light stays bright.
Built-in batteries in hard hats are rechargeable. When they run out of juice and the light dims, just plug them into an outlet to recharge. They’re a good choice for intensive and regular use, saving you money on batteries. The downside is the downtime needed while charging those built-in batteries.
Still have questions about hard hat lights? Below is a collection of some of the most frequently asked questions about hard hat lights to help you decide.
Q. Are hard hat lights/headlamps waterproof?
Most hard hat lights offer some degree of water and weather resistance, but few are actually waterproof. Be sure to check with the light’s manufacturer to determine its level of water resistance.
Q. How long does it take for a hard hat light to recharge?
Most rechargeable hard hat lights take between 2 and 8 hours to recharge.
Q. How do I care for and clean my hard hat light?
Mild soap and a light scrubbing with a brush should clean it without soaking it and possibly causing water damage. You can clean it whenever cleaning the hard hat, and that should be sufficient.
Why Trust Bob Vila
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Meet the Tester
Tom Scalisi is a full-time DIY and construction writer for many of the largest websites in the industry, including Bob Vila, This Old House, Family Handyman, and Forbes. He also owns and operates a pest control blog, RiddaBugs.com. He spent years working in the trades and donning many hard hats during that time. After all those years, he knows what to look for in a hard hat light to illuminate a work site.