Every man should have a work light in his tool collection. Whether you’re working on your car, on a building site, or even in a workshop, a work light will make your life so much easier. When you’re getting into a project, you don’t want to have to stop because the sun’s going in.
Unlike normal household lamps, they provide a strong light source so that you can really see what you’re doing. Of course, the size and power of the work light you need depends on your project and the space you need to fill. In the Buying Guide at the bottom of this article, we’ve broken down the different types, so you can make an informed purchasing decision. Here are the best work lights.
The Best Work Lights
The first work light on our list is the PowerSmith PWL2140TS. It’s obviously not our Best Choice product because of its catchy name, so it must have something else going for it. And it does! For starters, it comes with an impressive tripod system that fits two lights on top and even has a carry handle on top. That immediately sets it apart from a lot of other LED work lights. The lights in question are two LED lights that give out 4,000 lumens, which is more than enough for any one-man job.
The lights are adjustable, so you can tilt them to point at whatever you’re working on, and the tripod extends out to be even longer if you need it. It’s powered by a 9-foot cord, which means you shouldn’t even need an extension cord. PowerSmith claims that it will last for 50,000 hours, which is over 6 years of continuous use. It’s really unlikely that you’ll be able to use it for that long, so it should last a lifetime. Speaking of durability, it has a sealed die-cast aluminum housing that is completely weatherproof. This might not be the most versatile work lamp, but it’s a great value product when you consider the power and functionality. Make sure you also check our guide to the best cordless drills for more great items like this.
Powered by 9ft power cable
- Weight11.8 pounds
Amazing value for a two-light system with a tripod.
Powerful and adjustable, great for working on outdoor projects.
Light switches are cheaply-made and won’t last forever.
Makita is one of the tool brands that you know you can trust. They make amazing products that last a lifetime, which is what you want from tools. You don’t want to have to buy them twice. Of course, you do have to pay for that sort of quality, which is why Makita Lithium-Ion LED Flood Light is our Premium Choice product. It’s more expensive than some of its competitors but it definitely justifies the heftier price tag. The first thing you’ll notice when you unpack it from the box is how sturdy this thing is. It’s covered in thick, durable plastic and has Makita’s Extreme Protection Technology (XPT™), which is a series of protective seals inside the housing that stop water, dust, and debris from getting inside. This makes it pretty much indestructible and perfect for working outside.
This LED work lamp has two different modes, putting out either 440 or 750 lumens. So, it’s not the brightest light on this list but it will still light up your work area sufficiently. The reason it’s not as powerful is that it’s powered by a rechargeable battery. When it’s fully charged, it can run for 17 hours continuously and is interchangeable with the battery from any other Makita 18v tool. It can also be bought with a stand if you need one.
440 or 750 lumens
Stand not included
Extreme Protection Technology (XPT™)
Powered by a rechargeable battery
- Weight5.07 pounds
Extremely durable thanks to the (XPT™) technology.
Impressive battery life and you can use an 18v battery from any Makita tool.
You can get work lights for cheaper.
The Dewalt DCL050 work light is the first handheld work light we chose to be on our list. Dewalt is another famous tool brand known for making amazing quality products. This one is no exception. Like the Makita, it’s housed in a thick and durable plastic that will withstand any drops, bumps, or weather. It has two light settings that put out either 250 or 500 lumens, giving you the choice to go full power or save the battery life. Speaking of the battery, it’s powered by Dewalt’s 20v lithium ion, which has a run time of around 11 hours. The only problem is, you have to buy the battery separately, and they can cost around $50.
Although it’s primarily a handheld light, it will stand on its own and you can adjust the head to point it at the area you’re working on. Plus, it has a small hook on top if you want to hang it from something. Our handy guide to the best stud finders features more great products like this.
250 or 500 lumens
Handheld work light
Adjustable head and hook
Powered by rechargeable battery (not included)
- Weight14.4 ounces
Great quality and will last forever.
Surprisingly powerful for a small light.
You have to buy the battery separate, which makes this expensive for a handheld work light.
The Ustellar 5500LM is a great budget option if you’re looking for a powerful light that isn’t going to break the bank. It’s not as good quality as the Makita or Dewalt products, but it is still pretty durable and should last a long time. It puts out an amazing 5,500 lumens and it has two lighting settings. Plus, it’s 85% more efficient than a traditional halogen lamp, so it’s not going to drain your electricity.
You’ll never need an extension cord again with the 5m power cable. It’s perfect for those difficult-to-get-to jobs, where you need both hands for the job. It has an IP65 waterproof rating and you can completely adjust the angle of the light with the help of two adjustable knobs. It also has an efficient cooling system that means the light is cool to the touch. This isn’t the best quality garage work light, but it works really well and it’s affordable.
IP65 waterproof rating
Powered by 5m (16.4ft) power cord
- Weight5.31 pounds
Very powerful light for the price.
Well-built and easy to adjust.
Foam handle gives off a bad smell when it heats up.
Now, for another one of the best portable work lights on the market. On the first look, this could easily be mistaken for another portable outdoor light, but it has some amazing features that set it apart. For example, Neiko 40339A Cordless COB LED Work Light has a detachable magnetic base to let you attach it to any metal surface; and all-angle swivel hanging hooks, which means you can pretty much hang it onto anything. These additions make it one of the most versatile handheld work lights money can buy.
The light has three settings, either 250, 400, or 700 lumens, and has a battery life of between 4.2 and 11.5 hours depending on the setting. Plus, the battery can be charged using a USB cable, which means you can plug it into your car or even your phone charger. Find more great products like this by checking out our guide to the best circular saws.
250, 400, or 700 lumens
Handheld work light
Magnetic base and hanging hooks
Powered by USB charging cable
- Weight1.23 pounds
The accessories make it extremely versatile.
USB charging port means it’s easy to charge (even in your car).
Some complaints about products arriving damaged.
Hallomall 15W 24LED Spotlights Work Light was a strong contender to be our Best Value product. At less than $30, you’re not going to find many cheaper work lights of this quality. Of course, it’s not the best LED work light out there, compared to the lights from the branded names like Makita, Dewalt, and Snap-On, but it’s still well-equipped for most jobs.
Hallomall doesn’t publish the number of lumens provided by this lamp, but you can work out from the wattage that it’s around 900. It also comes with a couple of features that the others don’t have. It’s got red and blue flashing lights, for use in a roadside emergency. Plus, it’s powered by a high-quality lithium battery that has two USB charging ports to charge your phone or other devices. It’s these little details that make this perfect for camping or taking on the road. It’s mounted on a little stand and can be rotated 360 degrees.
Around 900 lumens
Base-mounted work light
Red & blue flashing emergency lights
Powered by lithium batteries with USB charging ports
- Weight2.25 pounds
Very affordable for a decent work light.
The emergency lights and USB ports make it stand out amongst its competitors.
Not as powerful or high-quality as more expensive models.
Bosch is another one of those brand names that come to mind when you think of quality. It sits somewhere in between a handheld work light and a full-sized base-mounted work light. It does have a stand, but it’s not the traditional LED work light tripod you might expect. Instead, Bosch 12-Volt Max LED Cordless Work Light FL12 is a foldable work light stand that allows it to stand freely on any flat surface. Plus, it has a 1/4-inch screw thread, so you can attach it to a larger tripod if you want. And, it has two powerful magnets and a carabiner clip to attach it to different items.
It only puts out 300 lumens, but it’s enough to light a small area really well. You can either power it with a 2.0Ah, which gives six hours runtime; or a 4.0Ah, which gives you twelve hours run time. You can actually double the runtime if you use the dim setting. If you are looking to upgrade your tools check out our guide to the best wood axes.
Handheld work light
2 magnets, carabiner, & ¼-inch thread
Powered by either 2.0Ah or 4.0Ah battery (not included)
- Weight11.2 ounces
Versatile, durable light made from quality materials.
Accessories make it very easy to attach it to surfaces.
The battery isn’t included, which makes it more expensive.
This is one of the simplest and most effective handheld work lights out there. There are some great handheld lights on the market with lots of useful accessories, but this one doesn’t bother with any of those add-ons. At just over $10, Cat CT1000 Pocket COB Light had to be our Best Value product because it does everything you want from a simple handheld light.
It only provides 175 lumens, but that’s enough to illuminate a small area. Plus, it’s run on just three AAA batteries, which provides seven hours of run time. Sure, that’s going to end up costing you extra money if you use it a lot, but it also means you never have to wait for it to charge. You also get a magnetic base and a clip to mount the light wherever you need to. This waterproof work light is amazing value, especially when you consider it’s made by a high-quality tool manufacturer like CAT.
Handheld work light
Magnetic base and clip
Powered by three AAA batteries (including)
- Weight2.4 ounces
Amazing value for a high-quality work light.
Run by AAA batteries, which are included.
Not powerful enough to light anything bigger than what is directly in front of you.
Snap-on is not only synonymous with the automotive industry. It’s known for its amazing history and super high-quality products. So, when they released a base-mounted work light, we knew it would be good. It’s a pretty simple light. Snap-on 922261 LED Work Light provides 2,000 lumens through LED bulbs that never need replacing. It doesn’t take a lot of power to run, compared to its competitors, and is powered by a 1.8m (6ft) cable.
It comes with a pre-attached base, which will let it stand on any flat surface, but it also has two bolts in the frame that allow you to attach to pretty much any lighting tripod. Or, if you want to hold it, it has an ergonomic carrying handle that’s padded in foam. Of course, you do have to pay for the fact that it’s made by Snap-On, but it’s still reasonably good value compared to a lot of work lights. Don’t forget to also check our guide to the best band saws.
Base-mounted work light
Ergonomic carrying handle
Powered by 1.8m (6ft) cable
- Weight4 pounds
Built by Snap-On, so you know it’s good quality.
Easy to mount on existing lighting tripod.
Comes disassembled, so you have to build it before you use it.
The BigBright LED Work Light provides something that the other lights on this list can’t offer. It lights up the entire room with a 360-degree lighting cabinet, powered by a 6,000 LED bulb. Unlike the other directional lights, this is purpose-built for working on indoor and outdoor projects where you need light all around. When you turn it on for the first time, you’ll be amazed at how much light it pushes out.
The LED bulb never needs replacing and it’s powered by a 2.1-meter (7ft) cable. Aside from that, it’s really lightweight and it comes with a hanging strap, so you can attach it somewhere above your head and light an even bigger area. The only problem is that it’s not going to be as durable as a lot of work lights, so you’ll have to be careful when you’re moving it around. If you need to keep your tools handy at all times, check out our tool belts reviews and find the perfect one.
Base-mounted work light
360 degrees of light
Powered by 2.1m (7ft) cable
- Weight3.5 pounds
The 360 degrees of light makes it great for use in garages, workshops, and even outside.
Really powerful for a small light.
Not as durable as a lot of the work lights around.
Work Light Buying Guide & FAQ
Features To Look For In Work Lights
Purpose – When you buy a work light, you will probably have a job in mind. For example, if you’re working under the hood of your car, you need something tall enough to point down or something you can hang. Or, if you’re working in a really tight space, you will probably want a handheld LED work light. Not all of the manufacturers state exactly what the purpose of the work light is, but you can usually work it out from the size and type.
Type – There are three different types of work lights. We have given a full description of the different types below. Buying the right type of work light is essential to the success of your project, so make sure you find one that meets your requirements.
Bulb Type – All of the lights on this list are powered by LED (Light Emitting Diode). That means that they produce an extremely bright light around the bulb area, which makes them around 80% more efficient than traditional bulbs. You should check the exact type of bulb in a work light before you buy it. That way, you can check how expensive they are and how easy they are to find.
Power Source – You will need to decide whether you want a cordless work light or one you plug into the wall. Of course, there are benefits to both. Cordless work lights are much more portable, and you can take them anywhere. They usually have a battery that you can recharge when you’re finished. On the other hand, they don’t last forever if your job is going to take a long time. Work lights powered by the mains are less portable, but you can use them for a lot longer and they’re normally more powerful.
Portability – We already touched on this in the last paragraph. If you’re doing a job that requires you to move around a lot, you want a portable work light. Look for rechargeable LED work light that has a long battery life.
Weather Resistance – Outside work lights need to be weather resistant. Even if you manage to pack it away before the rain starts pouring, a little bit of water could damage a light that isn’t weather resistant.
Types Of Work Lights
Base-Mount And Tripod Work Lights
These are generally the biggest and most powerful work lights. They’re perfect for larger jobs where you are staying in one place, like working on a car or on a building site.
Handheld Work Light
If you’re working in a small space or need to move around a lot, a handheld work light is perfect for you. They’re normally powered by rechargeable batteries and still produce an impressive amount of light.
Clamp-On And Fixed Mount Work Lights
These sort of sit in the middle of the other two types. They’re powerful but you can clamp or fix them onto another object, letting you work with both hands. A lot of base-mounted and tripod work lights can be modified so that you can clamp them onto something.
Work Light FAQ
Q: What type of work light should I choose?
A: The answer to this really depends on what type of job you’re doing. If you need something small and portable, buy a handheld work light. If you need something a bit more powerful and need to work with both hands, buy a clamp-on/ fixed mount work light. If you’re working in one area with plenty of space, buy a base-mounted/ tripod work light. Or, if you want something that could be used for all different types of jobs, you should be looking for something that is light enough to pick up but can be secured onto a stand or object.
Q: What are the most common uses of work light?
A: They’re commonly used by tradesmen working on building sites, especially in winter when the days are shorter. They are also used by house renovators, mechanics, fishermen, campers, and even the police.
Q: Where is the best place to install work lights, so I can receive the maximum of light?
A: You should place your work light around 4-6 feet away from the area you are lighting to receive the maximum amount of light. Although, if you need to see the area in more detail, you might want to move the light source closer.