A surefire way to hinder progress is by trying to work in the dark. It fatigues your eyes and your mind. Plus, when you have to do something twice because you couldn’t see well the first time, it can add to your body’s workload. Instead, install the best work light for your workshop or job site. Whether you place a light under a cabinet, on the hood of a car, or in a dimly-lit corner of a room, a good work light is always a welcome work companion.
The best work lights come with stands or hooks while some are designed for handheld use. They shine in spots where you can’t see, helping you to complete a project correctly and efficiently. This guide will help you choose the best work light for your needs.
- BEST OVERALL: PowerSmith PWL2100TS 10000 Lumen Dual Head Work Light
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Hallomall 15W 24LED Spotlights Work Light
- BEST WITH STAND: LUTEC 6290Pro 9000 Lumen 90 Watt LED Work Light
- BEST HANDHELD: DEWALT DCL050 20V MAX LED Work Light
- PORTABLE PICK: DEWALT DCL074 20V MAX LED Work Light
- BEST TRIPOD: DEWALT 20V MAX LED Work Light, Tripod Base
Popular Types of Work Lights
There’s no need to remain in the dark about the best work lights. There are plenty of options on the market that will work well for your needs, so bone up on these important tools and their available styles so you can choose the right one for the project you’re working on.
Handheld work lights are much like flashlights in that they’re small and bright, and can easily go along with a worker into tight spaces. However, they differ because work lights cast a wide beam of unconcentrated light, illuminating the entire work area, while flashlights tend to focus their beam in one small area.
It’s not always convenient to hold a work light in your hand, however. If you need both hands for a project, some of the best handheld work lights come with hooks or magnets, making it easy to hang them overhead or attach them to something in the work area.
These work lights are great for plumbing jobs under cabinets, vehicle maintenance jobs under the hood of a car, or even simply as an alternative to a flashlight when needed. They’re often not as effective at illuminating a large work space.
Those who tackle large projects will enjoy the convenience of a work light with its own stand. Workers and DIYers can set the work lights up almost anywhere they find a reasonably flat surface to cast wide beams of light throughout large spaces. These models sometimes come with two or three lights mounted to their stand, so the light can sit in the center of a room and cast light wherever it’s needed.
These work lights are perfect for large construction projects like renovations or even lighting the site during a foundation excavation. They also work quite well in a workshop if positioned correctly so they don’t shine in your eyes.
What to Consider When Buying the Best Work Light
With types of lights in mind, it also helps to understand what to look for in the best work lights. The following tips are some shopping considerations when deciding from among the wide range of work lights on the market. From the types of projects to the power source, shoppers will have a good idea of what they need by the time they consider their lighting needs and desired features.
Type of Project
Some lights work better for certain types of projects than others. The type of large project you’re undertaking or common work-lighting needs should factor into choosing a work light. For large projects with wide-open spaces, a self-stand work light is the best way to go. These powerful lights cast wide beams of light and will brighten up a large room or even an entire floor on a construction site before the drywall goes up.
For technicians, those who work in attics or basements, and mechanics, it’s best to have a small, handheld work light that’s easy to take anywhere. Hauling a tripod up a ladder or under a crawl space isn’t practical.
Work conditions are definitely a factor. This doesn’t just mean weather, although that is a consideration. When you’re working outside, a work light that’s waterproof and dust resistant is important, since the elements can destroy an easily penetrated work light.
Aside from the weather, the job site might determine the best work light. For projects without electricity, the light will need power, either from a built-in battery or a generator. Although there are some battery-powered stand-style work lights, typically only smaller handheld work lights come with rechargeable batteries.
However, if there’s power available, but lighting is scarce, self-standing work lights are the best option to provide as much light as possible. Many jobs require mixing both handheld and self-stand options, depending on the task at hand.
It’s tough to work around a handheld light that’s too bright or a self-stand light that’s too dim. A bright handheld light can temporarily blind users with every slight mishandling. A dim self-stand light will have to be moved closer to the work task, negating the convenience of setting it up in the middle of the room.
LED bulbs measure brightness in lumens. The best handheld work lights have between 250 and 600 lumens, with 500 being right around the sweet spot. Some handheld work lights are adjustable, making them perfect for most scenarios.
Standing work lights can range in brightness as well, but power in the 3,000- to 10,000-lumen range offers the most flexibility.
The best type of work light for a job might depend on the type of power available. The electricity might not yet be connected on a new construction site, while a workshop has plenty of power on hand. For those often working on job sites without power, it makes sense to choose a battery-operated work light. It’s important to check the battery life and make sure the light will last until the work gets done. It’s best to buy a work light that runs on the same battery system as the rest of the tools in a shop to avoid having to carry several types of chargers and batteries.
In a workshop, it is inconvenient to swap out batteries when there is plenty of power available. Instead, choose a corded work light to help improve lighting and workflow.
Our Top Picks
Now that you’ve got a better understanding of the different styles of work lights and the important factors to keep in mind while shopping, check out the best options on the market. The following is a list of the best work lights for your workshop or job site. Depending on your needs, there’s a work light on this list for you.
It helps to have a work light that’s as flexible as it is bright, and the PowerSmith PWL2100TS Dual Head Work Light is certainly both. This indoor/outdoor-rated work light features a dual-light system to use easily as either a floor-style work light or attached to a tripod to light up an entire room. The lights each have 5,000 lumens of power and can toggle on and off independently from one another. The built-in handle makes the PowerSmith PWL2100TS easy to move around, whether carrying it into a basement or attic. The lights also swivel independently and tilt from 30 degrees downward to 90 degrees upward. The body, the stand, and the tripod are all-metal material as well, meaning this set is durable enough for most job sites.
If you need a decent work light but also need to keep a tight grasp on the budget, the Hallomall 15W 24 LED Spotlight Work Light will light up a workspace without breaking the bank. This rechargeable, cordless work light is waterproof and provides several hours of lighting capability, so it will fit in on most work sites. The light has two modes; work light and an SOS mode, during which it flashes red and blue lights to signal for help in an emergency. The work light mode can toggle between high and low output, saving power for longer run time. It also can charge mobile devices through the USB ports in the rear of the light. The Hallomall does not come with a tripod but is mounted to a small floor stand. Also, Hallomall doesn’t say how many lumens this light puts out, though the high/low brightness should work in most scenarios.
The LUTEC 6290Pro Dual-Head Work Light with Tripod is the upgraded version of the company’s highly rated 7,000 lumen 6290XL, and it has a lot of lighting power. This 9,000-lumen work light uses a flip-lock tripod system for a stand, allowing the user to set it up quickly on a sturdy base. The 6290Pro has a heavy-duty die-cast aluminum housing, making it tough enough for the roughest job sites. The tripod extends to up to 5.5 feet, and the heads swivel 90 degrees up and down and 330 degrees horizontally. It’s also water-resistant, so it can light up a shop or outdoor area without concern.
When it’s not possible to hold a flashlight in busy hands and setting up a tripod isn’t an option, the DEWALT DCL050 20V MAX LED Work Light can get the job done. This versatile work light offers both 250 and 500 lumens from three bright LED bulbs. It has a built-in hook that extends to hang the light on a nail or pipe and then slide back into the light and out of the way when not in use. The head swivels 140 degrees, so it is easy to position the beam wherever needed. It also uses DEWALT 20V MAX batteries, so users can simply switch out batteries they have from other DEWALT tools in that line. Like many other DEWALT tools, this DCL050 is available as a tool-only purchase or as a kit with a battery and charger.
For folks who are serious about their job site illumination, the DCL074 20V MAX LED Work Light from DEWALT is an all-around excellent option. This high-end light runs on DEWALT’s 20V MAX batteries for up to 11 hours—enough for a full day of work. It provides 5,000 lumens of lighting power and has three flexible mounting options: floor, tripod (not included in this kit), or hanging upside down from the included hook. Its domed lamp can provide 360-degree job site illumination. With four side handles, this light is easy to carry from task to task on a job site. The DCL074 also uses DEWALT’s Tool Connect System to help users track and manage tools across several job sites for free. It also has an impact-resistant lens and body, so it will be tough enough for routine job site abuses.
If you’re working in a tight spot and need a flexible tripod-mounted spotlight, this option from DEWALT can be an excellent choice. The three-level spotlight creates up to 3,000 lumens from the LED bulb. The telescoping tripod is sturdy and easy to set up, reaching heights as tall as 7 feet. It uses the same batteries as other DEWALT 20V MAX tools, so workers and DIYers invested in that line of tools will have plenty of power on hand for the work light. The head of the light swivels, providing flexible and precisely aimed lighting.