The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.
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.
- Powerful light
- Folding capability makes storage easy
- Quick-release lamp heads
- 5.5 feet and 3.5 feet locking positions
- Built-in cord wrapping
- Could tip over easily
- Only one light mode
GLORIOUS-LITE 50W LED Work Light
- Small size
- 16-foot cord
- Requires Allen key to lock positioning
- Power switch is inconvenient
Craftsman Portable LED Work Light
- Two light modes
- Great build quality
- Great battery life
- Does not come with cord or batteries
- Light output could be better
- Head can move easily out of position on the swivel
It’s getting late, and the “It’ll only take an hour” job is still not finished. When daylight is running out and those dull incandescent garage lights aren’t going to cut it, a bright, versatile work light is all you need to solve this problem. There’s a ton of options out there, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sea of choices. There are LEDs and halogens. Industrial grade and budget conscious options. What that means is it can be a headache to find the right choice. Not to worry, though, because we at The Drive have researched and selected the absolute best work lights we could find.
We evaluated numerous lights across the internet, checked their specs and features, then finalized our choices based on reviews from real people. In our hunt for the best work lights, we included criteria for total lumen output, cord length, ease of use, build quality, reliability, and pricing. We also made sure to look out for quality safety standards, and waterproof ratings. Our product selections, rankings, and awards for this story are based on research. To learn more about our methodology, click here.
Why Trust Us
Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.Learn more
Best Work Lights Reviews & Recommendations
Our Verdict on Best Work Lights
No matter your budget or your project, there’s likely a work light in this guide that fits your needs. The best overall pick, Lutec 6290Pro, is a convenient, versatile, and reliable choice capable of outputting 9,000 lumens. With quick release heads and multi-position locks on its tripod base, it's a great all-around work light worthy of adding to your tool kit.
When we start shopping for tools and products, we never overlook the secondhand market. In fact, it’s usually the first place we look. Whether you’re scrolling through Amazon’s Renewed section, eBay for car parts or tools, or flipping through the pages of Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, you have hundreds of thousands of used tools, parts, and gear ready to be shipped to your doorstep. Refurbished to like-new status, they’ll be willing to give you many more years of faithful service all while saving you money. It also has the benefit of you not having to cut open an Amazon box inside an Amazon box with bubble wrapped around the part.
If those options above don’t have what you need, your local salvage yard is great for car parts, while swap meets are a great resource you should absolutely tap. Just Google either and head on down.
To make your secondhand search easier, here are two tips for finding the best deals and making sure your new-to-you stuff wasn’t destroyed by the previous owner.
- Consider the length of ownership. All work lights, regardless of bulb type, have a rated lifespan. You can check on the light’s lifespan with a quick Google search.
- Check the condition of the housing, switches, screens for the head housing, as well as the condition of any built-in cords. Stained or cracked screens can lower the light output. Once a built-in cord is ruined, you’ll have to buy a new light anyway.
What to Consider When Buying Work Lights
When searching for a new work light, there are two main types to consider before making a purchase. These include halogen and LED. Although each can get the job done, one type is more efficient than the other. That type is LED. Both types of lights do the same thing, but in very different ways.
Types of Work Lights
Halogen light bulbs are likely in your house right now. They use a filament on the inside of the bulb to generate light. This filament is sensitive to shock, and is prone to failure after a relatively short amount of time, depending on the quality. For many years, they were the most common type of lightbulb, but as technology advanced, the use of LEDs became the new standard. Halogen lights only emit a warm colored light.
The brighter, more efficient, and environmentally friendly option. When compared to LEDs, halogen lights stand no chance. LEDs consume 85 percent less power than halogens and emit light for a significantly longer amount of time. Most last 15,000 to 50,000 hours. They’re also shockproof, thanks to the fact that they’re built on semiconductor technology. LEDs are capable of displaying a wide range of color temperatures.
LED lights measure light output in Lumens, while Halogen lights are measured in watts. Although there are no halogen work lights on our list, it’s valuable to look into a conversion chart when comparing and contrasting the two different types of work lights. In regards to lumens, the higher the number the more output. Simple, but there’s more to it. A high-rated lumen output for a work light that’s only capable of one brightness mode might not be what you need if your workspace is in a small room.
Work Light Key Features
Most work lights are capable of adjustable positioning via swivels. When considering one, you should pay close attention to which angles it's capable of moving, and how it pivots. This can make or break a great work light.
A work light that’s too bright for what you need, or the setting you work in, will be hard to use if it only has one brightness setting. Always keep the type of projects you normally do in the back of your mind when seeking a work light.
Best Work Light Pricing
Work lights usually range anywhere from $30 to $150, depending on the tier of the light. Most of the smaller, handheld, and/or single headlights stay around the $30 to $50 range, while the more industrial-grade, larger-sized lights are closer to the $150 range. No matter your budget, there are definitely work lights out there that will get the job done, with solid performance and reliability.
You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.
What kind of work light is safest?
LEDs are the best choice here, as they do not emit a lot of heat, use minimal amounts of energy, and are environmentally friendly. LEDs lack the delicate pieces needed to create light in the traditional incandescent bulb, so they last significantly longer.
How long can an LED light stay on?
A well-built LED light can stay on all day and night. Compared to the traditional incandescent bulbs, LEDs produce a minimal amount of heat and use significantly less energy, so there’s much less reason to worry about burnout or expensive energy bills.
What causes LED lights to fail?
Temperature is the biggest culprit. A faulty heatsink due to things such as a worn encasing or water damage will speed up the time it takes for the light to fail. Generally, LED lights don’t immediately fail like an incandescent bulb but omit a lower output over time until eventual failure.
How long will the battery last in my work light?
It depends on how well you treat it. Lithium-ion batteries last a long time when charged and drained normally. Their lifespan can be increased by avoiding extreme temperatures.
MORE TO READ
Best Mechanic’s Tool Sets (Review & Buying Guide) in 2022
Make sure you always have high-quality tools for the job.
Best Wheel Bearing Grease: Maintain the Mechanical Stability of Your Wheel Bearings
Lubricate your wheel bearings and have your wheels rotate more quickly and evenly.
Best Hand Tools: Automotive Toolbox Essentials
Working on your vehicle requires high-quality tools that can handle a diverse set of challenges
Best Mechanic Gloves of 2022
Protect your hands from scrapes and chemicals with our picks for best mechanic gloves.