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Unless you have night vision like a white-tailed deer, it’s unlikely you’ve gone through life without ever facing a task where a good work light wouldn’t have come in handy. Work lights make all tasks in low light easier to accomplish and more enjoyable to perform. However, all work lights are not created equal. When shopping for a work light, consider three important factors—how you will be using the light, the type and brightness of the bulbs, and how you plan to power the light.


This handy, 1,080-lumen work light comes with a stand and a hook for hanging. POWERSMITH

What tasks you’ll be using your work light for, and where you’ll be using it, will be a determining factor concerning what light is the best for you. If you’re just going to be putting oil in your pickup truck, an old-fashioned hang-on “trouble light” with an incandescent bulb in a plastic or metal cage will likely meet your needs. But if you’re trying to light up a large warehouse, you’ll need way more than that. For that type of application, look for a very powerful light that has a tall stand and multiple bright bulbs.

Bulb Type/Brightness

This 6,000-lumen, dual-head work light is bright enough to light up a fairly large area. POWERSMITH

Work light bulbs are available in a variety of types (like incandescent or halogen) and brightness levels. Small work lights with bright-white, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are best for small areas but won’t light a large area. Old-style incandescent lights are still favored by many, and also tend to cost less than the other types. Halogen lights are brighter than all the other types, but they also generate a significant amount of heat so they can’t be used close to flammable materials. Fluorescent lights burn much cooler but give off a greenish hue. The brightness of a work light is measured in lumens. A bulb that gives you 1,600 lumens is equivalent to about a 100-watt incandescent bulb. Choose the brightness you need based on the size of the area you need to light and how bright you’d like that area to be.

Power Source

This super-bright LED work light runs on rechargeable lithium batteries, so no electric plug-in is needed. Hallomall

For most uses, a work light that plugs into a normal 110-volt electrical socket will work. And for work areas at places at least somewhat close to a socket, well, that’s what extension cords are made for. But what about remote locations where you don’t have access to electricity? Fortunately, there are many portable work lights available in a wide variety of sizes and brightness levels that use alternate power sources. Most are powered by rechargeable lithium ion batteries, and smaller ones are even handy for lighting up your camp site at night. Some are rechargeable with common USB cables like you use for charging smartphones and tablets. There are even work lights you can use to charge your phone in a pinch.