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

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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).

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).

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Standing Lamps: 1. 360-Degree Light-WobbleLight 120-watt fluorescent light; 2. Quartz-Halogen Spotlight-RAB quartz spotlight; 3. Area Light-WF Harris task/area light
Photo by Nedjelko Matura
Standing Lamps
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

First photo:
Heavy-Duty 18V Cordless Flexible Floodlight
#DW919
DeWalt
DeWalt Customer Service
Hampstead, MD
800-433-9258
www.dewalt.com

Standing Lamps
Quartz halogen spotlight:
3 QF150P
RAB Electric Manufacturing Inc.
Northvale, NJ
888-722-1000
www.rabweb.com

360-degree light:
Wobble Light LCC
Chicago, IL
773-463-5900
www.wobblelight.com

Area light:
100-WL Task/Area Light with magnet and CT-WL Light Cart
W.F. Harris Lighting
Monroe, NC
704-283-7477
www.wfharris.com

Hanging Lights
Incandescent:
#83024 Craftsman Professional 100-watt work light with swivel hook and circuit breaker
Sears Craftsman
800-549-4505
www.sears.com

Fluorescent:
31-E Series Lights 13 Watt
Jameson, Clover, SC
800-346-1956
www.jamesoncorp.com

Cordless task light
Superbright flashlight:
Craftsman LED/Xenon Flashlight #41-5415
Sears Craftsman

Headlamp:
Tikka Plus
Petzl America
Clearfield, UT
801-926-1500
www.petzl.com.

 
 

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