Tools & Materials
A Well Lit Workspace: Garage Lighting and Workshop Lights
Find your way in the dark with these cool products that help light the darkest nooks and crannies of your workshop.
A Better Work Light
You’ve probably used halogen work lights. And you’ve also probably burned your fingers on them, cussed at the fragile bulbs and sweated from the heat they generate. Thankfully, now there’s an alternative.
The Husky Portable LED Work Light is cool to the touch, can take abuse and it won’t heat up a tight work space. You’ll love it for small projects and it’s durable so you can knock it around a bit. Plus, it’s got an LED, so its power use is minimal.
All that is great. But one thing you need to know: This LED work light can’t match the brightness of your typical halogen work light. A traditional halogen work light might produce 8,000 lumens, 10 times the output of this light. But for small jobs or tight spaces, it’s just the ticket.
A Well-Lit Toolbox
This nifty battery-operated light attaches to a cooler lid and turns on when the lid is lifted, but it can also function as a great addition to your toolbox! The light mounts with double-stick tape to any smooth surface. (You could put one on your truck toolbox too.) The light stays on for about 20 seconds (long enough if your toolbox is organized) then shuts off. Coghlan’s Cooler Light is available at sporting goods stores and online.
Install Temporary Lighting
Lighting is one of the last items to be installed on most remodeling projects, but it’s hard to do a good job when you’re working in the dark. Plug-in work lights take up precious outlets and are always being tripped on or moved around. As soon as you have power to the lighting receptacles, consider installing temporary lighting. Home centers and hardware stores sell the lighting for a few dollars, and wiring it is as simple as turning a couple of wire nuts.
A Retractable Fluorescent Floodlight
Lighting up a jam-packed engine compartment that has deep, hidden components can be a real challenge. One solution is to use two lights: one to flood the entire area and a smaller one to fit in the tight places.
Incandescent trouble lights pose a safety hazard when used around gasoline, and it’s easy to burn yourself on the hot reflector. There are several alternatives. The long-tube fluorescents and LED “stick” lights don’t cut it. They’re either too dim or too long, or they cast too narrow of a beam pattern. Instead, try a short-tube 26-watt fluorescent floodlight (Bayco SL-8908). The floodlight’s twin 13-watt bulbs match a 125-watt incandescent in output, so it really lights up the entire engine. You’ll still need a small light to illuminate the tight spots. For more tools like this, check out our story on the top tools every auto mechanic should have.
LED Light Fits in Tight Places
When it comes to working in small spaces, fluorescent lights are too big, and flashlights aren’t bright enough (and don’t stay put). But the latest rechargeable LED lights fit the bill perfectly. They’re much shorter and brighter than first-generation 70+ LED stick lights. Plus the battery lasts longer (up to five hours on a charge) and recharges faster. So these LED lights are perfect for DIY auto and small-engine work, as well as home repairs. This Stubby II LED cordless light (available at tool stores or online) allows you to switch between a broad 120-degree beam and a focused, flashlight-size beam.
Shed Some Light on the Subject
The boneheads who market headlamps always go after spelunkers, campers and rock climbers. Why don’t they realize that for every one of those guys, there are about 1,000 of us DIYers and tradesmen who need them too?
But don’t buy one of those dim, battery-eating lightbulb headlamps. Get one that sports an LED bulb, preferably with a dimmer switch because the batteries will last for dozens of hours if you’re judicious with the dimmer. Try one and you’ll be strapping it on every time you go into the attic, crawl space, under the car—anywhere that light is an issue.
Think about it. No more propping up flashlights, no broken trouble lightbulbs, no shadows—none of those hassles. Wherever you look, there’s good light right where you need it. You’ll find headlamps at any camping or sporting goods store, or search online for “LED headlamp.”
Handy Little Light
Who doesn’t love a cool flashlight? One of our favorites is the BugLit LED Micro Flashlight by Nite Ize. Use it for wiring projects, lawn mower repairs and under-the-sink fixes. It comes with a small clip and highly functional flexible legs. They wrap around most anything, so you can point the light exactly where it’s needed. This thing isn’t going to light up a gymnasium, but it’s perfect for tight quarters. The two replaceable batteries should be good for about 10 hours of run-time on high and 22 hours on low. You can get one at amazon.com.
Notebook Work Light
Picture a work light that’s the size of a notebook computer and folds up like one too. Picture 80 LED lights illuminating your task for two hours before needing a recharge. You’ve just pictured the Might- D-Light by Cooper Lighting. Once the battery’s dead, plug it into the wall or your car’s power port. The beauty of the design is that you can unfold it and bend it to aim the light exactly where you need it. Or use the built-in magnet to stick it to any steel surface, such as the hood of your car.