Choosing and Using Work Lights
Shedding a little light on the subject can be a challenge during a project. These work lights will stand up to the toughest job site
It's no use getting under the sink to fix the pipes if you can't see what you're doing. You need a light — and it had better be bright, stay cool to the touch, leave your hands free, and be able to take a beating.
Work lights differ mainly in their size and the type of bulb they use. The best small lights have tiny, bright-white LEDs (light-emitting diodes), but to cover larger territory you need the power that comes with a hanging or standing light. The old standby — an incandescent bulb in a plastic cage — is the least expensive option in this category. If you need more light, halogen lamps are the brightest, though their intense heat is a risk near construction materials. Fluorescent lights burn cool; the downside is a greenish hue that may skew colors. For any work light, the most important feature is a sturdy case. "Be sure it can survive being thumped by a 2x4," says This Old House general contractor Tom Silva. "A job site is a rough place."
Scroll through the article gallery (left).
1. 360-Degree Light
Best for: General job-site illumination that needs to withstand being knocked down.
Look for: Shatterproof protective cage or dome; cool-burning fluorescent light.
Shown: WobbleLight 120-watt fluorescent light, $79
2. Quartz-Halogen Spotlight
Best for: General bright job-site illumination that can be aimed wherever you need it.
Look for: Handle insulated against heat of halogen bulb; shatterproof safety shield. Some models offer a tripod accessory.
Shown: RAB quartz spotlight, $25
3. Area Light
Best for: Task lighting that needs to be cool and very portable; general illumination over a workbench.
Look for: Magnetic bracket for hanging on steel studs or pipes; shatterproof cover. Tilting cart accessory makes light mobile.
Shown: WF Harris task/area light, $196 with cart
Where to Find it
Heavy-Duty 18V Cordless Flexible Floodlight
DeWalt Customer Service
Quartz halogen spotlight:
RAB Electric Manufacturing Inc.
Wobble Light LCC
100-WL Task/Area Light with magnet and CT-WL Light Cart
W.F. Harris Lighting
#83024 Craftsman Professional 100-watt work light with swivel hook and circuit breaker
31-E Series Lights 13 Watt
Jameson, Clover, SC
Cordless task light—
Craftsman LED/Xenon Flashlight #41-5415