How to Choose the Best Work Light
Whether doing DIY, construction work, or hobby-based activities, it can make a big difference to have the space brightly illuminated.
Work lights are bright, often making use of LEDs, and can be powerful without being overly large. They make it possible to easily continue work after dark.
Choosing the best work light for your home or garage will depend on the work you’re doing and the space you have available. The following information will help you narrow down your search:
The brightness of a light is measured in lumens. The higher the lumens, the brighter the light.
As a guide, around 600 lumens will normally be enough to illuminate a smaller area or space, like a shed or work room. In larger areas, 2000 + lumens will be required.
For reference, most modern car headlights have between 2000 and 4000 lumens. If you imagine using those headlights in the dark, in an open space, you can get a feel for how powerful this would be.
Battery vs Mains powered
When looking at work lights, you have three options:
- Battery-powered lights
- Mains-powered lights
- Hybrid lights that will allow you to use either mains or battery power
Straight away, you’ll realise there are pros and cons to each type of light.
Naturally, battery power gives you the convenience of using the light anywhere, but has the drawback of a finite running time and potentially-long charging time.
Mains-powered lights can be used indefinitely, but only close to a power source.
And hybrid lights combine the benefits of the other two styles, but are often more expensive on account of their more complicated design.
If you want the flexibility of using your light anywhere – on outdoor adventures like camping as well as around the home – buying a battery-powered lamp is probably a no brainer. You just need to make sure that the light’s battery life is sufficient for what you need.
For use around the home, a mains-powered light will give the reassurance of not running out at a crucial moment. Be aware that cables can be a hazard, and this can be even more relevant if you need to use an extension.
A longer battery run time can often drive up the price of a lamp. Therefore, you want to find a good middle ground between required run time and price.
If the light has several power options, the battery will last for longer on the lower settings. Manufacturers normally give an idea of runtime – be aware that this figure may be based on using the light on its lowest power setting unless stated otherwise.
Reading reviews from customers can give an accurate indication of the lamp’s real battery life. First-hand accounts are often the best way to find out how the product performs in the real world.
The charging time of work lights can vary, and is somewhat based on the run time of the light. A longer running time is all well and good, but it can really increase the amount of time needed for charging.
Keep an eye on this in the product specifications – some lights can have a charging time of around five hours, something that you might decide is just too inconvenient.
Portable vs Freestanding
Work lights can be portable, with or without handles that can be used for hanging, or freestanding – with a tripod or stand that will allow them to be set up anywhere.
If you’ll need to frequently reposition your light, to work on different areas or do different jobs, a portable light will make this easier. Having a freestanding light is often better for larger, open spaces. A freestanding light can be better used to light the whole area.
Some of the lights featured on this page have some interesting additional features.
These features are listed below, so that you can be aware of some of the different options available on the market:
- Doubling up as a battery pack.
This means that the light is also able to charge a phone or other USB devices. Whilst this may not be all that useful around the home, unless there’s a power cut, but it could be invaluable when camping or outdoors. Of course, this will drain battery from the light itself, but it could be useful in an emergency.
- Using interchangeable batteries from other tools.
Some work lights are produced by well-known tool brands (such as Makita). Many tool brands have interchangeable battery systems, where the same rechargeable batteries can be used across different tools. If you buy a light that is part of one of these ranges, and have other tools in the set, you’ll be able to use the same batteries.
- Ability to be charged from the car.
Some lights can be charged using the car’s power port. This makes them easy to charge on the way to work, or whilst outdoors for extended periods of time.
Not all work lights are created equal when it comes to waterproofing. IP ratings will tell you exactly how water resistant the light is. A rating of IP64 should mean that the light can be rained on without suffering any adverse effects. However, make sure that the plug/socket is not exposed to moisture.
Work Light FAQs
What is a work light?
A work light is a portable LED light which can be used to illuminate a space that wouldn’t usually need lighting. They are often used in locations with no mains power, for instance in areas you are renovating or decorating.
Work lights can also be used to help with intricate tasks such as working on vehicle engines. Many people take a work light camping with them to illuminate the outside of their tent if needed.
Work lights generally have a long service life, are energy efficient and boast good portability. They are better for the environment than many other lights because LEDs have good energy ratings.
How many lumens do you need for a work light?
Work lights are available to suit any task, and many have adjustable lumens to suit the task at hand.
Handheld work lights usually have between 250 and 600 lumens, while standing work lights often have up to 1000 lumens. 600 lumens and above should illuminate darker areas relatively well. For reference, car headlights tend to be between 2000 – 4000 lumens.
Is it important for a work light to be waterproof?
This entirely depends on where you will be using it. If the work light is used exclusively indoors, waterproofing isn’t important but dust protection might be. This is especially true if you are using the light to help with DIY. Lights often have IP ratings which show how waterproof they are, as well as how dust proof. A rating of IP64 means the light is totally protected from dust getting in. And, at the same time, the light will be protected from water spray.