Top 8 Best Garage Work Lights
By | Last updated: June 25, 2020
best garage work lights

It’s a safe bet that most DIYers are grateful to the wrenching deities for the democratization of LED illumination – especially when talking about work lights. Your author used to toil under cars and in tight spaces with incandescent work lights that heated themselves to approximately the surface of the sun, as I’m sure you all did as well.

This invariably led to skin-searing hilarity when one had the temerity to accidentally move their arm or leg near the offending work light. One old lamp, whose pattern on its yellow metal housing remains etched into my forearm, would get hot enough on which to light cigarettes. Seriously.

LEDs provided way brighter light than those old units could ever muster, not to mention are infinitely cooler and more compact. We’ve selected eight of them for your consideration.

1. Snap-On LED Work Light

Anyone who’s ever worked in a professional garage knows their paycheck is about to go out the window when the Snap-On truck rolls into the parking lot. Their tools, while of excellent quality, are also ruinously expensive. The same goes for their work lights, apparently.

Still, they deserve a place at the head table thanks to a cavalcade of excellent reviews and an “it just works” design. Taking the traditional stand-alone low work light and stuffing it with LEDs was a fine idea, retaining the padded handle grips and adjustability that made them so popular in the first place. Also, since this is a plug-in unit with no batteries, its illumination won’t abruptly fade to blackness at the worst possible moment.

Pros/Snap-On quality
Cons/Snap-On price
Bottom Line/You get what you pay for

2. PowerSmith LED Weatherproof Tiltable Work Light

If the design of that Snap-On light is right up your alley but you don’t want to drop a bundle on an illumination source, this off-brand light provides many of the same features for a fraction of the price. Some of those features are less elegantly integrated, mind you, but they are there.

The head tilts for convenience, while a useful hanger hook is secured by a wingnut. The stand is made of metal and the on/off switch is sealed for damp conditions. Note that weatherproof does not mean waterproof. Its five-foot power cord should give you a good amount of leeway for repositioning the thing under a car.

Pros/Very affordable, many good reviews
Cons/Shipping is nearly as much as the light
Bottom Line/Cheaply shed light on the subject

3. DEWALT Hand Held LED Work Light

The first handheld light on our list comes from DEWALT, a brand known for all manner of power tools. This lamp uses the same battery system as those tools, meaning one can swap juice from a drill to this light in a matter of seconds.

Of course, this presupposes you already are indentured to the DEWALT ecosystem because this light doesn’t include said battery. Two illumination settings range from blinding to retina-searing. Its lamp housing pivots 140 degrees so you can point this sucker directly at incoming enemies your workspace.

Pros/Great brand name, rugged design
Cons/Batteries not included
Bottom Line/Useful if you already have DEWALT power tools

4. Bosch Bare-Tool Lithium-Ion LED Work Light

Five-star ratings are hard to come by but this light from the experts at Bosch gets pretty close with a 4.8 out of 5 ranking from well over 200 real-world customers. A trio of LEDs bring the brightness and can be adjusted from spot to flood illumination depending on how precise you want the beam.

Its swiveling stand provides five different working angles while a hard rubber strap with mounting holes means you can actually lash this thing to the wall or ceiling if you so desire. If not, the rechargeable battery area doubles as a stand. Like the DEWALT, it assumes you’re already in deep with the brand’s battery system.

Pros/Compact size, big light display
Cons/Needs other Bosch items to work
Bottom Line/Perfect accompaniment to the rest of your Bosch power tools

5. Three Trees LED Cordless Work Light

Okay – after profiling a few costly options you know we’re needing to dive into the cheap end of the pool, right? This rechargeable LED work light is good in a pinch and can be stored almost anywhere, measuring about 6 inches by 2 inches.

Its tiny lithium-ion battery takes about 2.5 hours to charge up by way of a USB cord but is then apparently good for better than three hours of steady usage. There are magnetic holders on its anterior side, useful for placement during use or storage for easy access.

Pros/It's five bucks
Cons/Don't expect a hardcore work light
Bottom Line/Good for roadside emergencies

6. Coquimbo Rechargeable LED Work Light

Like the previous entrant on this list, here’s a work light that is recharged by way of a common USB cable. Unlike that small lamp, however, it is over two feet long and is of a completely different style. Opening up like a switchblade, this foldable light should be handy to use and easy to carry.

Its magnet base should keep it in place, though one would think it might get a bit top-heavy when fully extended. The head is apparently aluminum and the base is wrapped in grippy hard rubber. Best of all, this is a two-pack, meaning you can always have one charged and ready to go when the first one loses its charge.

Pros/Slim design, pack of two
Cons/Strange off-brand
Bottom Line/Difficult to go wrong for $10 per light

7. Tacklife LED Work Light

With the 5,000 lumens providing a sun’s worth of brightness, the seller says this next-gen LED lamp makes it possible to save a bundle on your electricity bill compared to a halogen bulb while enjoying better lighting. Casting a 120-degree beam will reduce shadows.

As a lamp that goes plugged into a power source, one doesn’t have to worry about battery charging or the light suddenly disappearing just as you crank a ratchet on that difficult bolt. It is rated IP65 waterproof, provided the user shields the electrical plug from dampness. Customer ratings are quite good.

Pros/Reasonable price, traditional design
Cons/Shipping costs seem excessive
Bottom Line/A good alternative to costly lamps

8. Tanbaby LED Garage Light

This isn’t a work light in the same vein as others on this list but is worth a mention thanks to its infinite usefulness and easy-as-pie installation. Living in the same socket as the normal incandescent bulbs in your garage ceiling, this tri-wing LED lamp permits instant improvement of lighting source in any room … particularly a garage.

It’s an odd look, to be sure, with triple LED wings looking for all the world like a mini ceiling fan. However, it has garnered rave reviews with customers complementing it on its ability to cast a massive amount of light compared to standard bulbs with no alterations needed to the garage’s electrical wiring.

Pros/Easy to install, gives off excellent light
Cons/Expensive if you're kitting out a big room
Bottom Line/So that's what the corner of the garage looks like

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.

(Editor’s note: This post is meant to both help you be an informed shopper for automotive products but also to pay for our ‘90s sedan shopping habits operating expenses. Some of you don’t find these posts fun, but they help pay for Junkyard Finds, Rare Rides, Piston Slaps, and whatever else. Thanks for reading.)

[Main photo credit: Juergen Faelchle / Shutterstock.com. Product images provided by the manufacturer.]

3 Comments on “Bright Stuff: Best Garage Work Lights...”


  • avatar
    stuki

    Garage or not, in these output classes, I’d get one which can run both on AC, as well as on whichever cordless tool battery system (Dewalt/Milwaukee/Makita/Ryobi…)you have already bought into. It’s just too convenient to pass up, to not be dependent on a plug. And even where a plug is available, it’s nice to be able to move the light without dorking around with routing a chord.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Lighting options which have been helpful for me:

    a) The little [‘flat’ style] super-bright keychain LED lights that you can order online in packs of 20. I sometimes pass these out at the holidays. (The lights went out at the dentist office during my kid’s appointment; my wife grabbed her keychain light and they finished the procedure.)

    b) My current go-to work lights for automotive look kind of like #6 but are all metal and cost a lot more [came from a place with H.F. in its name – shhhh]. Get two of them. If you are replacing something like an O2 sensor or EVAP canister that is up under the car, the extremely strong magnet lets you position the light right where you are working, with no glare in your face. (Just remember not to leave your light stuck up in there when you’re done.)

    c) The ‘underhood work light’ style that bridges the engine bay is helpful as an area light (you’ll still want a smaller work light).

    d) Overhead shop lights – the Honeywell ‘LED Shop Lights’ available at the warehouse store. They are ‘linkable’ now which makes cord management easier. Get about twice as many as you think you need, and buy some spares for when the circuit boards crap out. Some of mine are hung at an ‘angle’ (just adjust the chain placement) so they wash up on the wall partway to illuminate shelf storage/etc. [I switch them all on simultaneously at the breaker box.]

    e) If you work outside at all, mount a flood light on the outside of your garage aimed toward the hood of your car – mine has LED bulbs and a dimmer and is extremely handy if a project goes past sunset.

    f) The “Tertial” work lights [swing-arm style] from IKEA are ridiculously affordable (around 15 bucks including an LED bulb from IKEA) and very convenient if you are working at a bench. Buy some spares – you will find places to put them. [Invaluable for sharpening a mower blade, for example, when you want to position the light to see the edge.]

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    I have a small three row that was free at Harbor Freight and it still has the original AAA battery in it from new. I also have a Lithium Ion rechargeable in the 5000 lumen range. It lasts for hours per charge, but also has A/C I can use, though I have not yet needed it since I use the lower setting. 5000 lumen is bright. Bought it on sale at Menards for what it is worth.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.