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Portable Work Lights - Buyers' Guide

Shop Portable Work Lights

Portable work lights are designed to illuminate dimly lit spaces so you can work safely and more effectively at night and during low-light projects. As known flashlight experts, we here at BatteryJunction put together a guide on what to look for when choosing the right area lighting tools for your needs. For starters, your portable work light should be cordless and rechargeable, for the most flexibility. Learn more about powering your work lights.

It is also important to research the different light sources available and make sure you select a product with a good flood beam. As you will see, all of our selections for the best portable work lights include multiple LEDs within the lamp to provide a wider beam spread. Flashlights with long beam throws are not great, as the lighting on your workstation will become uneven and blindingly bright. LED light bulbs are more energy-efficient and don't overheat easily. For a more detailed explanation of the different light sources available, please read more below.

Finally, it comes down to design. LED work lights come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Our top choice for design is the popular collapsible tripod stand of portable scene lights and RAL (remote area lights). Types of work lights.

Pelican 9420 XL RAL

The Pelican 9420 XL is our top choice for portable work lights. The 5-foot-tall area light features two LEDs that put out an impressive 1000-lumen output and a 58° beam spread. The portable work light is equipped with a Li-ion battery pack and offers four hours of continuous runtime, when in Low mode. For longer jobs, both AC and DC charging cables are provided. The Pelican 9420 XL RAL is also collapsible, which is incredibly useful when transporting it to new workspaces. As an added bonus, this portable work light includes both a shoulder strap and a blow-molded storage case.

On a budget? Are you working on a smaller-scale project? Our favorite hanging light is the Streamlight Stinger Lite Pipe. This work light has 8 LEDs that produce a 220-lumen flood beam.

In addition to the Pelican 9420 XL, we also curated a selection of some of favorite work lights below. These products were chosen based on design and on their overall popularity.

pelican 9420 xl ral

What Makes a Good Work Light?

Power Source

A work light's power source includes your light's power supply as well as the type of battery utilized. Corded work lights provide continuous illumination; however, cordless work lights, also known as battery-operated work lights, are smaller and easier to transport. If your job takes you to different locations each day, a battery-operated light is the right choice. For best results, we recommend using a portable work light with a Lithium-ion battery, as this chemistry weighs less, is lasts longer and is more stable. If cost is an important factor, Lead Acid batteries are a satisfactory second choice to Lithium-ion. What about generator-based lights? Cordless work lights are safer to use and are more flexible, when it comes to placement. Additionally, battery-powered RALS are quiet, do not require the use of flammable fuel, have lower heat signatures and eliminate any exhaust fumes. When dealing with hand held or smaller-sized work lights, the team at BatteryJunction recommends utilizing Li-ion or Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries. NiMH batteries offer a long lifespan and are more stable than NiCd, therefore making them reliable second choice to Lithium-ion. Alkaline-powered work lights, while convenient, are not as cost effective.

Light Source

What makes LED light bulbs better than CFL, incandescent and halogen bulbs? For starters, LED lights are more cost-effective and energy-efficient - lasting five times longer than CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs. CFL bulbs are bright; however, they give off a green hue that may have a negative affect on your workspace. This is certainly something to consider when dealing with colors and during inspections. Incandescent bulbs are typically found in the cheaper work lights, which are typically corded and therefore not very portable. Lastly, halogen bulbs, while incredibly bright, produce quite a bit of heat that may be a fire hazard in some areas. In addition to the light bulb, it is important to understand the beam output of your lamps. COB (chips on board) light rails, for example feature a cluster of diode chips positioned strategically within one module to generate an intensely bright light. COB lights are extremely popular and do not require a lot of maintenance.

Design

We chose the tripod stand as the best-designed work light because of its adjustable design and height. This gives you the ability to illuminate a broader area. Typically these RALs feature a pivoting head, which enables you to direct the output towards your working field. Portable work lights are also available in a hanging design. Due to the hanging design, these lights, though typically smaller, can still illuminate a larger area because of the higher elevation. For more up-close work, a flashlight with a magnetic base is an alternative option that may work for your needs. Mechanics, for example, may choose to attach the magnetic tailcap of a light to the hood of car, for a more concentrated output.

Whether you are an experienced professional looking to enhance or elongate your workday, or you are a part-time tinkerer at home, finding the right work light for the task at hand is crucial to your success. To recap, it is important to choose a lamp that offers a broad flood beam and a base or attachment system that is compatible with your environment. Browse through our collection of portable work lights to find the right one for your needs. Have questions or need help? Please do not hesitate to contact one of our product experts through our Live Chat system or by phone.