LAST UPDATED: August 7, 2019
Best Work Light for Mechanics: Illuminate Your Work Space More Effectively
Light up dark, tight, and enclosed workspaces with these top work lights for mechanics
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PUBLISHED ON August 7, 2019
A good, reliable work light will help you get the job done in the garage, driveway, or in your home. Mechanic or underhood work lights help illuminate the space in your engine bay and other tight spaces, especially when you’re working in low-light conditions. Our review and buying guide looks into some of the best garage work lights on the market that will free up your hands when you are working under the hood.
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Benefits of Work Lights For Mechanics
- Illumination. Work lights have bright and wide beams despite their small size. They can be used to Illuminate poorly lit areas such as underneath the car, under the hood, in garages, and in basements. If your garage lights are dim, you may strain your eyes and face problems like headaches or teary eyes over time.
- Hands-free operation. If you solely depend on a flashlight or your phone’s light when working underneath your vehicle then you know how inconvenient it is to use only one hand for work. It’s even worse when you use your mouth to hold a flashlight. Most LED lights have hooks and a magnetic base that can be attached to any metallic surface to free your hands as you work.
- Portable. Work lights are portable, and most come with rechargeable batteries. You can use them for other activities outside your garage or workspace. They’re convenient for campers, people who work in different work stations, or on-the-road mechanics.
Types of Work Lights For Mechanics
Base-mounted lights have a stand that is either a magnetic base or a plastic plate. They are typically used for illuminating large workspace and are great for outdoor work. The base-mounted light could either incorporate different types of bulbs or have a single bright bulb.
Handheld work lights provide adequate lighting for short repair jobs or small workshops. These lights can be hung on the wall or under the hood as most come with hooks. Also, they have a lightweight design and an ergonomic handle to make them easy to hold on to as you work on an automotive project. Most don’t have a power cord for enhanced portability.
AlltroLite is a leading supplier of lighting equipment that uses the latest lighting technology to reduce energy consumption and cost. AlltroLite tools are designed with the environment and cost-efficiency in mind. The company aims to produce durable lights that meet the consumer's demands but reduce direct and indirect harm to the environment. One of its brightest LED work lights is the AlltroLite STANCE Portable LED Work Light.
John Fearon and James Bassant founded Astro in 1997 with a passion for producing quality lighting products. It’s a British brand that has introduced its lighting designs to the international market. The company currently has one of the largest ranges of lighting products for bathrooms, interior and exterior design, architectural lighting, and LED lights. One of its best-selling under-car work lights is the Astro Pneumatic Tool LED Slim Light.
Bosch is a German-based, multinational technology company founded by Robert Bosch in 1886. Its operating activities are branched into four business sectors: industrial technology, energy and building technology, hardware and software technology, and consumer goods. Some of its headliner products include power drills, CCTV cameras, wiper blades, HVAC systems, and LED work lights. One of its best cordless LED work lights is the Bosch LED Cordless Work Light.
DeWalt is a US-based, multinational brand that deals in power tools and hand tools for the manufacturing, construction, woodworking, and consumer industry. Raymond E. Dewalt founded the company in 1924, and it is currently a subsidiary brand of Stanley Black & Decker. A few of DeWalt’s products are screw guns, power drills, impact drivers, circular saws, and LED lights. One of its best-selling work lights is the DeWalt LED Hand Held Area Light.
Work Lights For Mechanics Pricing
- Under $50: Most work lights are generally inexpensive, and any product on the low end of this price range isn’t necessarily poor quality. Expect to find battery-powered, plug-in, and cordless mechanic lights within this range. However, most products here have weak magnetic mounts.
- Over $50: Work lights within this range produce the best-in-class illumination. Most have powerful magnets, over 200 degrees of articulation, and on a full charge offer a minimum of six hours run time. Additionally, most of the LED lights are designed with high-quality and tough materials for longevity and impact resistance.
Cordless work light with a long battery life comes in handy when you are doing a long repair job. You won't have to deal with the frustration of having to work next to a power source. It's also helpful when camping and for emergencies like a blackout. Basically, go for a design that’s compact and portable.
Look into how long the work light can last on a full charge and how long it takes to get to a full charge. The unit should give you at least four hours of runtime at maximum power. Having a unit with low battery life or weak batteries means that you will have to settle for overall poor performance. You can’t depend on such a work light for emergencies.
It’s inconvenient to use a work light that’s too heavy. It may cause you frustration if it’s too bulky to carry around, and it would be a huge risk attaching it to a vertical surface if it has a magnetic base. Ensure that the work light is lightweight for convenience and so you can carry it anywhere.
- Power Source: Typically, work lights have three main power sources: rechargeable, plug-in, or battery powered. If you need the lights for outdoor work or activities, you will appreciate a rechargeable unit with long battery life or battery-powered lights. However, if you need the lights to be stationary choose the plug-in type.
- Attachment Style: The main purpose of having a work light is to have your hands free when working. The unit, therefore, has to have a strong attachment hook that can be hung on the hood of a car, a strong magnetic base that can attach to a metal surface, or both for versatility.
- Brightness Level: Most work lights come with three brightness levels, low, medium, and high. The higher the number of watts and lumen, the brighter the unit. Also, some work lights have 360-degree beams, which are better at illuminating enclosed spaces.
Best Work Light For Mechanics Reviews & Recommendations 2020
The Neiko Cordless LED Work Light is an all-round tool for mechanics that’s durable and produces a bright light. The unit has a stick-like design and an ergonomic handle with an aluminum housing that’s resistant to impact. Industrial grade polycarbonate protects the lens from damage and further prolongs the life of the LED. It also includes Chip On Board (COB) technology that increases its lumen-output per square inch.
The unit produces 700 lumens of light, and its rechargeable 4,400mAh li-ion battery offers a minimum of 4.2 hours run time and a maximum of 11.5 hours of runtime. It has three modes of brightness: low mode produces 250 lumens, medium mode produces 400 lumens, and high mode produces 700 lumens. Lastly, the Neiko work light can be attached anywhere as it has a detachable magnetic base and two, 360-degree rotating, hanging hooks.
A major drawback of the work light is that it has only one switch button for all the modes. You have to locate the switch every time you need to change the brightness mode. In addition, it’s difficult to use the switch with gloves on. It’s also hard to turn off the unit, and you may have to press the power button at least three times to turn the light off. Moreover, the work light isn’t covered with a manufacturer’s warranty.
The AlltroLite floodlights offer a brilliant, 120-degree beam over a 16-feet irradiating distance. Each light is a powerful 200 lumen, COB LED light that runs on four AAA batteries. The unit has an average lifespan of 100,000 hours and can generate up to 12 hours of light. Furthermore, the lights are compact enough to be carried around, and they last three times longer than most LED lights.
AlltroLite LED lights can be placed on any metallic surface or hang in place for hands-free operation. Each light has a 360-degree adjustable, swivel-folding stand and a strong magnetic base. The lighting system is versatile and can also be used for fishing, camping, emergency blackouts, and other heavy-duty mechanical jobs. The package comes with one black and one yellow light.
However, this product has its flaws. The lights come packaged with batteries, which may be drained on arrival. You may be forced to purchase new batteries even before you use the product. Also, its remote only works from a distance shorter than four feet. Moreover, its battery’s run time may be shorter than advertised.
Coquimbo is a collapsible work light that can be rotated 360 degrees to provide sufficient illumination for under-hood work. It’s a cordless unit that uses a USB charging port and can give up to three hours of light on a full charge. Coquimbo is designed with an anti-slip and anti-sweat hard rubber and a heat-dissipating aluminum head that extends the life of the lamp.
The unit has five lighting modes: red warning, front light, medium brightness, and high brightness. Additionally, a magnet base and a hook allow for hands-free operation. It’s a compact work light with a handle that’s only 10.6 inches long and can be used for household and emergency applications. The Coquimbo work light is covered by a 12-month warranty from the manufacturer.
A major drawback is that it has poor build quality. The plug may break off when hooked to a charging unit, the hinges may come off with time, and it has a weak magnet. It’s also better to place it on a flat metallic surface because the magnet may be too weak to hold onto a slanted surface.
- Never underestimate the power of a work light and touch the bulb. It’s just like a regular light bulb and will burn you if you touch it. Also, ensure that the bulb is fitted properly in the unit before you light it to avoid dropping it and breaking glass everywhere.
- Most work lights do not have overcharge protection, and you will damage the unit if you overcharge it. Ensure you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on charging it.
- Store the work light in a cool and dry place. Hot or humid conditions can damage the internal electrical components. Also, be sure to regularly clean off dust and debris to prevent shortages.
- Conduct routine inspections on the condition of the LED unit. If it has any loose wiring, a broken bulb, or other electrical faults, do not repair or disassemble the unit before reading the instructions. You may damage the circuit and shorten the life of the mechanic light.
Q: Is a broken LED bulb dangerous for my health?
A: A common fear is that you may get mercury poisoning from a broken LED bulb. That's a myth because LED bulbs have a small amount of mercury that's unlikely to cause health problems. However, you should sweep up broken glass to avoid injury.
Q: Will I damage my rechargeable battery if I leave it plugged in for long?
A: Most standards LED lights can overheat if left plugged in longer than recommended. Overcharging could also shorten battery life. However, there are some units with overcharge protection that either stop charging when the battery is full or switch to slow or trickle charge to top off the battery when the battery level goes down.
Q: How long do LED work lights last?
A: The average lifespan of an LED work light is about 50,000 hours. Some devices can last up to 100,000 hours or approximately five years. However, the lifespan depends on the reliability of the power source and how well you maintain the work light. If you charge the mechanic light as recommended and avoid dropping it, it may give you a longer service life.
Our top pick for the best portable LED work light is the Neiko Cordless LED Work Light. It has a long battery life, a high lumens rating, and a versatile design that can be used anywhere.
Our budget-friendly pick is the AlltroLite STANCE Portable LED Work Light. It’s one of the best battery-powered work lights that’s bright enough for under hood or under car work, and it includes two nights for the price of one.