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Published Oct. 5, 2021

As anyone who’s ever peered under the hood of a car, wrestled with a leaky sink drain or crept into a crawl space knows, it’s pretty hard to get much work done if you can’t see what you’re doing. Adequately lighting a workspace is vital for completing tasks efficiently and safely. A standard flashlight is likely to be more frustrating than facilitating, since directing the beam typically requires one hand, and the light often isn’t adequate for the task. 

Fortunately, work lights well suited to such DIY projects as household repairs are available in a variety of shapes and sizes, from small units that can fit in your pocket to large multi-lamp models capable of brightening an entire attic or basement. When looking for the best work light for your needs, there are several important factors to consider, including brightness, power source and weight. Read on to review some of the top models on the market plus shopping guidance to help ensure you get the right light.

How We Picked These Products

Methodology 

As someone who likes to tinker under the hood of a car and can’t stand paying a pro to fix a leaky sink, I do a lot of DIY projects. So I understand the value of a good work light. I used this experience to develop the criteria below, which I used to review dozens of work lights of varying shape, size and light output.

  • Brightness: A work light must be bright enough to improve visibility so you can see what you’re doing and function safely and efficiently. Only work lights that produce ample brightness are featured here. 
  • Adjustability: A work light isn’t of much use if it’s difficult or impossible to direct the light to the work area. I favored work light designs that allow the user to adjust the height and direction of the lamp. 
  • Portability: Users often need to carry a work light to the project location, be it an attic, crawl space, basement or building under construction. Portable work lights should be lightweight and compact. 
  • Power source: If a work light uses a standard electrical outlet, the power cord must be long enough to allow for some flexibility. For battery-powered work lights, I only chose models with rechargeable lithium ion batteries that offered at least 8 hours of use between charges. 

The Best Work Lights: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: PowerSmith 12,000 Lumen Dual Head LED Work Light

Adjustable Illumination

This work light boasts two amps that put out a combined 12,000 lumens, plus the convenience of a telescoping work stand. PowerSmith

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Why It Made The Cut: With its ability to work at a variety of heights and twin lamps that you can adjust and aim independently, the PowerSmith is one of the most versatile work lights available. 

Specs:

  • Brightness: 12,000 lumens
  • Power: Corded
  • Weight: 12 pounds

Pros:

  • Versatile setup options
  • Can be adjusted independently 
  • Bright 12,000-lumen output

Cons: 

  • More expensive than some other options.

DIY projects and repairs can crop up in some pretty dark places, such as the garage, the basement, or that murky crawl space. So the best work light is versatile enough to fit in and adjust easily in all these areas—which is why we like this model from PowerSmith. 

By themselves, the dual lights have a low enough profile to sit on the floor of a crawl space, or they can be attached to the included sturdy tripod stand to reach nearly 6 feet off the ground. The integrated stand makes it simple to pop each light on or off the tripod depending your needs. 

We also appreciate that each LED lamp can be turned on or off or swiveled or tilted independently, allowing you to better control the intensity and field of vision. Of course, that flexibility wouldn’t amount to much if the lamps didn’t provide a bright enough beam, and this set does with the two fixtures putting out a combined 12,000 lumens. Plus, with its all-metal construction, this durable PowerSmith work light is suitable for pro-job sites as well as home use. 

Best Value: LEPower 30W LED Work Light

Nicely Priced and Portable

This affordable work light produces 3,000 lumens and weighs just 3 pounds. LEPOWER

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Why It Made The Cut: In addition to being affordably priced, this model is compact and lightweight, making it easy to carry into small dark spaces. 

Specs:

  • Brightness: 3,000 lumens
  • Power: Corded
  • Weight: 3 pounds

Pros:

  • Compact and lightweight
  • Affordably priced
  • Easy to adjust

 Cons: 

  • Not as bright as higher-end models

With its ample light output, adjustability, and low price, the LE Power LED work light is a great alternative to some of the more expensive options on the market. This flood-light style work light produces 3,000 lumens from its LED bulbs. 

The light can be aimed without having to move the entire fixture, via a frame that rotates 360 degrees horizontally or tilts 180 degrees vertically. This versatility allows you to use the light for a variety of different projects. The portable work light weighs less than 3 pounds and measures a mere 10 inches wide and 6 inches high, so it can be carried with ease and fit in tight spaces. It boasts a large handle with a foam grip, and two broad feet with rubber coatings create a sturdy base that won’t easily slide or topple.

Best Cordless: Dewalt 20V Max LED Work Light

Long Run Time

This 5,000-lumen battery-powered work light from Dewalt boasts an 11-hour battery life. DEWALT

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Why It Made The Cut: Battery life is everything with cordless work lights and this model dominates with its ability to put out 5,000 lumens for 11 hours.

Specs:

  • Brightness: 5,000 lumens
  • Power: Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries
  • Weight: 10 pounds

Pros: 

  • Long battery life
  • Bright light output
  • Rugged construction
  • Can be controlled from a smartphone

Cons: 

  • High price
  • Rechargeable battery not included

While there are many battery-powered work lights on the market, few can match the long battery life and ample brightness of this model from tool manufacturing giant Dewalt. With its 20-volt rechargeable lithium-ion battery (sold separately), this work light from Dewalt puts out up to 5,000 lumens of natural light and runs for up to 11 hours. 

Bluetooth connectivity allows you to control the light and monitor battery life using the Dewalt app, a great feature if you’re hanging the light from a high or otherwise inconvenient location. It’s also versatile with three mounting options: It can rest on the floor, hang upside down with the included hooks or sit on a tripod (sold separately). 

Unlike other work lights that use a direct floodlight, this Dewalt model functions as a lamp, casting a glow in all directions. It’s ruggedly built with an impact-resistant lens and body, making it a worthy choice for a pro worksite, and its four large handles make it easy to transport and maneuver. 

Best Compact: Astro Tools Folding LED Slim Light

Lightweight Lighting

This slender, versatile work light measures just 14 inches long with a 2-inch wide lamp, making it suitable for tight spaces. Astro Tools

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Why It Made The Cut: A narrow profile and multiple lamps make this the best work light for cramped quarters.

Specs:

  • Brightness: Two 500-lumen bulbs and a 150-lumen flashlight
  • Power: Rechargeable battery
  • Weight: 1 pound 

Pros:

  • Long and Narrow profile
  • Illuminates from three sides
  • Wireless recharging
  • Lightweight

 Cons: 

  • Not as bright as other work lights.
  • Dummer can be hard to use

The small size of this slender handheld work light from AstroTools makes it ideal for illuminating tight spaces, such as when working on a car engine or under a kitchen sink. A standout aspect of its smart design is that it features one 500-lumen light on each side and a 150-lumen flashlight at the end. That, coupled with its folding design and small size–it measures 14 inches long with a lamp that’s just 2 inches wide–allows it to fit into a variety of tight spaces. 

It also has a magnet on the base that mounts to metal surfaces, such as in an engine block or the underside of a stainless steel sink, for hands-free lighting. Unlike other work lights, the lamp is dimmable, allowing you to adjust the brightness to eliminate glare. 

The slim light also uses a wireless charging station that’s similar to some smartphones, which is convenient for shop use where cords can easily get tangled and stretched. Simply attach the magnetized handle to the surface of the charger to juice it up. 

Best Pocket Work Light: Neiko Cordless Work Light

Slight yet Bright

This rechargeable pocket-sized work light produces 1,000 lumens and features five brightness settings. Neiko

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Why It Made The Cut: For a pocket-sized product, this work light puts out ample brightness and is rechargeable—no need to keep disposable batteries on hand.  

Specs:

  • Brightness: 1,000 lumens
  • Power: Rechargeable battery
  • Size: 1.26 pound

Pros:

  • Bright for a pocket-sized model
  • Large magnet for mounting
  • Five brightness settings
  • Rechargeable battery

 Cons:

  • Pricier than most other pocket-sized flashlights

If you like to carry a work light in your pocket for emergency repairs, this Neiko model is a great choice.  It measures 7 inches long and about an inch in diameter, and boasts a 1,000-lumen output—ample for illuminating a fuse box, the deep recesses of a car engine, or the murky space underneath a sink. Powerful magnets on the back of the light let it attach to a circuit box, car hood, or other metal structure. 

Although pricier than flashlights that use standard disposable batteries, the upfront cost is worth the rechargeable 4,000 mAh lithium-ion battery that comes with the Neiko. The battery gives it 8 hours of life and can recharge via a type C USB cable from a standard outlet or a vehicle. And since 1,000 lumens can be too bright at times, this flashlight is dimmable with five brightness settings.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Work Light

Whether you’re looking to light an entire workspace or just want a tool to help you peer into dark corners, these factors will help you make your decision.

Brightness

Perhaps the most important aspect of a work light, brightness is measured in lumens (typically noted in product descriptions). The higher the lumens, the brighter the light.  A handheld work light should produce about 400 to 500 lumens. Large models that sit on stands should deliver between 6,000 and 10,000 lumens, while smaller lightweight work lights should put out between 3,000 and 5,000 lumens. While many consumers tend to choose the brightest work light possible, it is possible for a work light to be too bright. Consider purchasing a model with a dimmer that allows you to adjust its brightness. 

Adjustability

The best work lights let you aim the light without having to prop up the light with scrap wood or books. Look for work light lamps with adjusters that tilt vertically and/or horizontally. Lights that rest on stands should have telescoping features to elevate the fixture to the desired height. Even smaller handheld lights have magnets that mount to metal surfaces. 

Power source

Think about where you’ll most likely use the work light to decide if a corded or cordless model would be best. If you need a battery-powered work light, consider paying a bit more up front for a rechargeable model, so you needn’t worry about keeping a supply of disposable batteries at the ready—you’ll eventually recoup your initial outlay in the money you save on batteries. 

FAQs 

Q: Which work light is the best?

The PowerSmith 12,000 Lumen Dual Head LED Work Light, with its two lamps, ample brightness, and adjustability, make it one of the best all-around work lights you can buy. 

Q: How bright is 1,000 lumens?

An 1,000-lumen flashlight is powerful enough to reach a distance of 200 meters or more. When used as a lamp versus a flashlight, a 1,000-lumen light has about the same brightness as a 75-watt light bulb.

Q: How many lumens do you need for a work light?

That depends on the size of the space you are lighting. For most workspaces or garages, 8,000 to 10,000 lumens is adequate to illuminate the entire space. 

Final Thoughts

A work light should adequately illuminate a work area—being both bright enough and adjustable, so that the beam can be directed to the appropriate place. With its 12,000-lumen output, adjustable work stand, and two independently adjustable lamps, the PowerSmith 12,000 Lumen Dual Head LED Work Light is equipped to handle a variety of projects.

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