You may think you know your way around some power tools but you’re not a true handyman until you own some quality LED work lights. If there’s work to be done around the house or a passion project that needs wrapping up in the workshop, you can’t always rely on sunlight and standard light bulbs.
LED work lights allow you to actually put in some work at any time. They’re portable, bright, and last for a very long time. Now, how you pick your work light is a different story. Not everyone has the same needs but there are a few features always worth considering first. Check out my top picks and see the rationale behind them.
Best LED Work Lights for Really Hard Workers
- Best LED Work Lights for Really Hard Workers
- 1. PowerSmith PWL2140TS with Tripod
- 2. Neiko 40339A Cordless COB LED Work Light
- 3. Bosch FL12 Cordless LED Work Light
- 4. Lepower LED Flood Lights
- 5. Caterpillar CT1000 Pocket LED Work Light
- 6. Tacklife LWL3B LED Work Light with Table Stand
- 7. Snap-on 922261 LED Work Light with Table Stand
- 8. Hallomall Cordless Spotlight Work Light with Table Stand
- Differences Between Work Lights and Flood Lights
- How Much Light Do You Really Need?
- Always Consider Mounting Options
The PowerSmith is not all about raw power. Although to be fair, the 4000-lumen output (from two LED lights) is nothing short of impressive. But the PWL2140TS is most impressive when it comes to adjustability.
It is a dual-head lamp mounted on a tripod but you’re not forced to use both lights. Each head has its own on/off switch. Some may consider the wired design a drawback. But I found the 9-foot cord to be more than enough for positioning the lights anywhere in the workshop.
Of course, the angle adjustments help too. Since you can set the beam between 30 down to 90 degrees up, you should be able to use these work lights for anything from fixing flooring and working on a car engine to working a handheld saw with an overhead grip.
The tripod stand is also adjustable and it reaches about 4 and a half feet tall. Combined with the bright LED lamps, it provides ample coverage and visibility even for tall ceilings. One thing to note about the stand is that it’s not the most stable tripod you’ll find on the market. However, I let this slide since the back tripod leg is extendable.
This allows you to set the lamp on slopes or uneven terrain which is a very nice plus in my book. The price is also reasonable for what you’re getting.
For a long time, I was skeptical about COB light technology. Most of them aren’t bright enough. However, the cordless Neiko 40339A seems to do exactly what it promises – up to 700 lumens sustainable for over four hours. That should be enough to handle most work in tight spaces.
The reason I said tight spaces is because this is not the biggest work light. It’s just 11.5” long with a strip of COD LED light that makes up about a third of the gadget. It’s still great in terms of portability since you can place it virtually anywhere and make use of the 360-degree rotating swivel to adjust the beam angle.
That being said, I find it hard to believe it provides enough light for large projects. But that’s not what it’s designed to do. It’s a portable work light that’s great if the power is out and you have to fix something in the house’s circuit breaker.
Although it only lasts for a little over four hours on the highest setting, the 40339A has a fast recharge time. It also comes with a 3 foot micro USB cable and a wall adapter so that you can keep working.
There’s a built-in overcharge protection feature that boosts the longevity of the built-in Li-ion battery and there’s a battery indicator as well.
The Bosch FL12 is an interesting but very situational illumination tool. It offers around six hours of runtime at the highest setting which should be more than enough for average household repair jobs.
However, it requires proper mounting. It’s a cordless LED work light that comes with a built-in flip stand. It can also be mounted using the flip piece.
The housing is as durable as they come, a bit on the heavy side, but rugged. The light beam can be rotated up to 200 degrees which should provide a lot of coverage. It is not for use as a standard garage workshop light. Bring it with you if you have to work on something in an unlit tunnel or the likes.
The FL12 runs on 12V Bosch power tool battery, 2Ah or 4Ah. The light intensity is a steady 300 lumens at the highest setting. The battery is not included but the target customers of this work light are probably those who already own some 12V Bosch cordless power tools. The battery would be compatible.
Flood lights can be the ultimate work lights. The excellent waterproof ratings, in this case IP66, allow them to be used just as much outside as inside the workshop. The fact that this model can endure harsh conditions may just make it an essential work light for anyone living off the grid.
The 4000 lumens rating is more than you’ll need for housework and yard work. And, the lights also come with a very nice heat dissipation system for continuous usage, as some people leave their flood lights on all night. This one doesn’t have a motion sensor which makes it more viable as a work light.
In terms of adjustability, this Lepower model suffers a bit. The design doesn’t really allow beam angle adjustments as you would get from a two-headed tripod lamp. Instead, you’ll get a constant wide 120-degree beam. To be fair, the light seems to be anti-glare so that may make up for the lack of versatility.
Ok, I know not everyone is a freelance sculptor or painter. Some people don’t need massive LED work light ensembles. For those of you that fit the bill, I ask you to take a closer look at the Cat CT1000. This is best characterized as a pocket LED work light which you can whip out instantly to do some quick repairs.
It only puts out 175 lumens and it has just the one setting. That being said, when working on something up close and personal this may be enough to do the trick. If you have to check outlets, fix small holes, or if your power is simply out and you need to check the breaker, 175 lumens is enough.
The COB work light baton is also lightweight and very cheap. It has a heavy-duty plastic casing and good waterproofing, just in case you need to inspect a pitch black yard when it’s raining.
It runs on standard AAA batteries and just three of them are enough to sustain the LED lights for seven hours. Other than not being able to help you when operating a table saw or taking apart your car engine, there’s very little to dislike about this tiny work light.
In my opinion, 4000 lumens should be more than enough for DIY work and even at some professional job sites. That being said, there’s nothing wrong with upping the output to 5000 lumens when needed.
The LWL3B by Tacklife is a COB light assembly that features 100 LEDs, equivalent to 400W worth of incandescent light bulbs. That’s a lot of illuminating power for even the most intricate of projects. But of course, lighting is just one aspect of work lights. The beam angle is just as important if not more in some cases.
The LWL3B is actually a flood light. This means that it only offers about a 120-degree beam angle and limited mounting options. As I said, it’s not for everyone or every project but I have to mention the anti-glare feature. It gives the light much more versatility than expected since you can use it on the ground or on a wall and keep it at eye level with the beam directed towards you.
With LED lights, heat dissipation is always a concern. This work light/flood light has a decent heatsink but the LEDs are only rated at around 30.000 hours, which is about 20.000 hours less than the industry standard. This means they will heat up a lot faster so you may not want to use them continuously for too many hours.
With 2000 lumens, this Snap-on work light may be one of the best middle-ground solutions for DIY projects and home repairs. Although it looks similar to most flood lights, it doesn’t have the same level of waterproofing. There is some protection against spills for the on/off button.
The device is lightweight and comes with a handy carry handle. The power cord is just 6 feet long so you’ll need an extension cord to go places with it.
At least the power consumption is quite low. But then again, the 922261 is rated at 2000 lumens output so it should be more economical to operate than most work lights I’ve reviewed in the past.
There are some angle knobs which allow you to adjust the direction and angle of the beam, but due to the floodlight-like lamp design, there’s not much you can do to tighten the angle to focus more light on one spot.
The Hallomall is quite bright and very versatile. What I found very interesting were the red and blue flash modes.
If you’re doing work in remote areas, you can use the cordless Hallomall spotlight to send out an SOS signal with or without flashing. You probably don’t need this at home but then again, you never know. Hardcore survivalists and people that travel a lot may find this option more important than the actual output.
The housing is high-end so using the light for outdoor work is not an issue. The adjustability is not bad either since you can rotate the light 360 degrees. This lets you place it down in one spot and then relocate the beam to where you need it to shine instead of constantly relocating the tool.
The pricing is not bad either especially since it has a built-in rechargeable battery and can also act as a power bank for mobile devices. Is it the brightest solution? – No. But is it one of the most versatile options for anything short of illuminating a massive garage workshop? – It sure looks like it is.
Differences Between Work Lights and Flood Lights
As you’ve seen from my reviews, some flood lights make very good work lights so they’re worth some consideration. But what is the main difference between them? – It always comes down to adjustability.
Flood lights can be very bright. They can also have very good anti-glare features, but they’re not easy to work with when you have to shine more light on one specific spot. They tend to come with a wide beam angle of around 100 to 120 degrees, the very definition of a light that floods.
That gives amazing coverage but it also causes some waste. Work lights have narrower beams. This means that they’re a lot more intense. Some even come with adjustable table or floor tripod stand to give you even more adjustment options.
When it comes to pricing, there isn’t a lot of difference between the two, especially when dealing with the same light output. Durability and portability may be something you want to consider more.
Although I admit work lights are generally better as pure work lights, they’re almost never as durable and viable for extreme weather conditions as flood lights. The latter always feature superior casings and excellent waterproofing even if they don’t always have the best heatsinks.
How Much Light Do You Really Need?
It’s hard to point at a number and say that’s it. Consider that two 4000-lumen work lights from different manufacturers won’t give the same perceived brightness. The arrangement of the LED bulbs, the angle adjustment, the beam coverage, everything adds up and modifies the intensity.
But, generally speaking, 4000 or 5000 lumens should be enough to light your garage so you can paint, work under the car, start digging a basement for your man cave, etc. If a 400W halogen bulb setup was enough in the past then anything above 4000 lumens on an LED work light would do the same if not better.
If you’re looking for something that you can quickly snap to a wall or attach to the hood of your car for a regular checkup, then something between 150 and 300 lumens may also be enough.
Always Consider Mounting Options
This is where things really get interesting. Not all workshops look the same and not everyone works on the same DIY projects. Therefore, the mounting system will be just as important as the actual light output for some people.
Most corded work lights either with a tripod or a table stand/mounting bracket that can be attached to a tripod or another type of stand. If you’re opting for the flood light route, you should know that the options are limited.
Flood lights are designed to either stand on the ground or be mounted on the wall. This won’t always be enough, especially if you’re running a big shop.
But what about ceiling brackets? – It’s not a bad setup but it is very situational. Unless you always need the light to shine from directly above your head, this may not be the right move.
Rather, consider a taller tripod work light which will allow you to adjust the angle downwards without losing too much light. That way you’ll also be able to work on other projects and project the light from different directions.
A Final Consideration
One last thing worth mentioning is to avoid staring into your work light. Although almost all of them come with some level of protection, they are very bright even in the 300 to 700 lumens range. Don’t confuse an anti-glare coating with safety.
Other than that, think long and hard at what you need to shine a light on and finding the right gadget to do the trick would become much easier.
A hardcore woodworking and welding enthusiast, Russ is the editor-in-chief of TAH. In his spare time, Russ loves watching sports, and (binge) watching Netflix.