Tools

The Best Work Light – We Compare DeWalt, Makita, Ryobi & More

Last updated on October 8th, 2021

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We look at some of the current best LED work lamps, including a duel power model by Makita that is both corded & battery powered which is very useful

Work lights have always been around in one version or the other, as long as working in the dark goes. Modern LED work lights are marvels of new technology and they are much more capable than lights of the past few decades. A decent work light can come in handy in various scenarios, from job sites to emergency situations to hiking and camping. Modern technology has led to a boom in the work light market and that has seen more niche lights or brand new takes on previous designs. Some are magnificent, whilst others not so much. Regardless, even the best-LED work light can fail under the harshest conditions. 

To help you find the best work light, we spent hours researching models that can withstand rigorous use, ones that are resistant to various elements and with the longevity to justify the investment, and work lights of all budgets. Man, did we come up with a list! 

Our “Best Pick” turned out to be the Makita DML805 14.4/18v Corded and Cordless LED Work Light. This light has two brightness settings and it can last up to 17 hours on its ‘Low’ mode. Where it really stands out is the ability to be used with any of the Makita 14.4V and 18V Li-ion batteries as well as a mains lead which is very useful. The body itself is engineered to resist water, dust penetration and really is a solid piece of kit. This device among other work lights we review here are worth the investment and we try to break down their pros and cons in the product reviews section further down. 

So along with the reviews, we have put together a buyer’s guide to help you choose a work light that suits your needs without breaking the bank. Let’s get into it:

BEST PICK

Makita Corded and Cordless LED Work Light
The best work light overall, this model is built to perform in harsh conditions and delivers more than enough brightness to get jobs done comfortably in dark rooms or outdoors at night. It's a little more expensive but it's far more superior to most other models. This work light also has the capability to perform as both a corded and cordless light, making it incredibly versatile. Can be mounted onto an optional tripod stand or with an extra flood light to provide double the illumination.

Our top 6 work lights for providing light when you need it the most:

  1. Makita DML805 Corded and Cordless LED Work Light – BEST PICK
  2. Makita DML801 LXT Li-Ion Florescent 12 LED Light Torch – BEST BUDGET PICK
  3. DeWalt DCL050-XJ XR Cordless Handheld LED Worklight – BEST PORTABLE PICK
  4. Ryobi R18ALH-0 ONE+ Cordless Hybrid Area Light – BEST CORDLESS PICK
  5. Bosch Professional GLI Deci LED Cordless Worklight
  6. Faithfull Power Plus LED Single Pod Tripod Site Light

LED Work Light Buyer’s Guide

A good work light will help you illuminate your worksite, but getting one requires both technical and general know-how. These lights are useful in various dark conditions and they come in different styles that are ideal for different locations. As far as the best LED work light goes, we have listed down the factors to consider before buying one such light.

What are you going to use it for and where?

The place where the light is meant to be used determines the purpose of the torch. Because work lights are distinctive in size and application, having proper knowledge of the purpose behind your purchase will help you buy the right model. In this case, you need to consider the kind of job site and the area that needs to be illuminated. For instance, do you need to light up whole rooms? Maybe you are rewiring a house or working in a loft area, in this case, a large work light would be needed. Do you work in confined spaces? Therefore needing something that will fit under cupboards, then a smaller model like the Makita DML801 Light Torch would be the better option.

BEST BUDGET PICK

Makita DML801 LXT 18 V 14.4v Li-ion Florescent 12 LED Light Torch
This device is fully adjustable up and down as well as left to right, meaning you can shine light virtually anywhere you want. Small and portable with a hanging hook, you will never be limited to placement options. A soft-grip increases comfort if used as a handheld device. The unit is excellent value for money and nearly three times cheaper than our best pick.

Type of work light

Work lights vary in terms of design, number of lumens, adjustability and other features. These factors notwithstanding, work lights are categorised into the following three types:

  • Base-Mount work lights: these lights come with their own stands and usually integrate multiple kinds of bulbs, making them much capable of illuminating large areas. They are ideal for outdoor applications during evenings and nights.
  • Hanging and Handheld work lights: these are affordable solutions for small workshops and they can simply be handheld whilst working or hung from a projecting structure to light up a task. The fact that they can be hung overhead ensures adequate illumination of the work area. Projects such as automotive works can benefit greatly from these lights because they allow users to shine light into tight spaces.
  • Fixed mount work lights: also known as clamp-on lights, these are designed to be positioned or clamped to a convenient location in order to shine the light where you need it. They give stable, steady light and make excellent options for workshops.

All the above work light options are different but suitable for a variety of needs. Whatever type of work light you choose will give you the freedom to enjoy hassle-free work in the dark.

Bulb and lumens

You may find conventional incandescent and halogen bulbs, but LED bulbs are the talk of the town these days and the commonly used ones for work lights. LED bulbs are affordable, provide a steady supply and do not heat up like the other types and are much more environmentally friendly and affordable to run.

An important thing you should check with the bulb is how much light it can produce. This is determined by the number of lumens. As a general rule, the more the lumens, the brighter the bulb. Even so, most work lights have variable brightness in that you can choose between high/full brightness and low/energy-saving mode. 500 lumens are enough for illuminating a small area, but a bulb emitting 2000 lumens is what you need in extreme darkness situations or for lighting up large rooms.

Portability

It is hard to find a work light that is suitable for every kind of job site. The trick is to go for user-friendly, lightweight and portable work light that you can manoeuvre around as needed. Try to consider models with multiple mounting options such that they can be hung from a structure, placed on a magnetic surface or mounted on a tripod.

BEST PORTABLE PICK

DeWalt DCL050-XJ 18V li-ion XR Cordless Handheld LED Worklight
This light is well-regarded by customers. Although it is designed to be a handheld device, it does feature a hanging hook that will let you work hands-free. Its decent 250 - 500 lumen output provides light for up to 10 hours, whilst a pivoting head ensures directional control of light. The device is lightweight and very much affordable. You do have to purchase the battery separately unless you already have compatible batteries and the battery costs more than the lamp itself.

Power Options

There are two basic options – battery-powered or mains power source, or in the case of our ‘Best Pick’ both, dual powered. Most work lights are battery-powered and will require you to purchase batteries separately. These are portable and ready to go wherever you are going to work. They are not restricted by an electrical cord. Corded models, on the other hand, provide a consistent supply of power and are suitable for continuous operation. You don’t have to worry about recharging batteries, but then you are limited to places where mains sockets are.

Some manufacturers, such as Makita and Ryobi, have come up with smart ways of incorporating both cordless and corded operations into some of their models in order to cancel out the disadvantages of both sides.

As a matter of fact, let’s see what the market has to offer below:


Our Top 6 Work Light Reviews

1. Makita DML805 1 Corded and Cordless LED Work Light

BEST PICK

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Makita DML805/2 Cordless/ 240V Worklight - Battery And Charger Not Included

The Makita DML805 Corded and Cordless LED Work Light stands out from the crowd for some very good reasons. Firstly, the device is powered by both AC and DC (Lithium-Ion battery) and it works with both the 14.4V and 18V batteries. If you already have some of the Makita power tool range, then you probably won’t need to order batteries separately, saving yourself some money. If you don’t, then you will need to invest in a battery which is an extra cost.

Another reason to buy this work light is its 2-mode operation featuring a High and Low setting for brightness. The High mode gives out 750 lumens with up to 8.5 hours of run time and will fill a large room, whilst the Low mode delivers 450 lumens and up to 17 hours of continuous illumination, still giving out plenty of light for most jobs. This is assuming that the work light is running on a 0.5Ah 18V LXT battery, otherwise, the other battery will give different results. If you need a longer run time than 17 hours, then you can always switch to AC power if possible, then again if you have access to electricity you would probably be better getting an extension lead and just plugging it in. Otherwise, the batteries come in handy when working in remote areas without an electric power supply. 

This work light allows a 360-degree vertical angle adjustment, consequently directing light to the desired position through adjusting knobs. If you wish, you may buy the separately sold Makita’s tripod stand to attach your work light to for improved coverage. The work light still has a handle that can act as a hanging hook to be hung from a structure nearby for user convenience. This handle also works as a carrying handle during transportation.

The supplied power cord is 2.5m so you get plenty of lengths, and it can be wrapped neatly around the mounting stand base for storage or when powering it with a battery instead. A battery charge warning feature is also featured by flashing the light to alert when the battery capacity is running low. The work light measures 8 – 3/8 inches long and weighs just 5.7 pounds, therefore it is pretty much lightweight and portable. The body has been engineered with what Makita call Extreme Protection Technology (XPTTM) to provide maximum resistance to water and dust. 

Pros

  • Works both as a cordless and corded device, therefore excellent convenience in operation.
  • Can adjust vertically to direct light to a desired angle.
  • The work light can be mounted onto an optional tripod stand individually or with an extra flood light.
  • Low battery warning system that flashes the light once when battery is running low.
  • Comes with a handle that works both as a hanging hook and carry handle.
  • Body features Extreme Protection Technology for maximum water and dust resistance.
  • Covered by a 3-year warranty for full peace of mind.

Cons

  • Quite an expensive model, would be better if the power cable was removable when using battery power.

Our recommendation

The Makita DML805 Corded and Cordless LED Work Light is such a versatile device capable of operating both corded and cordless which is a huge bonus here. That’s a huge advantage over many other models because you’ll virtually never run out of power, assuming you have excess to a power socket. The ability to switch between High and Low light modes is also a major benefit in terms of saving battery power as well as choosing the desired brightness level.

This work light will stand up to the elements very well, so you can work outside in light showers. We also like the vertical angle adjustment and the usefulness of the carry handle. Basically, this work light is all about flexibility and will fit most lighting applications. Some will consider it expensive given there are cheaper options, but this offers superior performance and durability. Overall it is very well made, extremely robust and everything we have come to expect from Makita.

It would be better if the power cable was detachable when using battery power but it’s not a huge problem, it would just save always having it wrapped around the light although it does wrap around nice and neat. Other than this, we have no issues with this model and think it is worth the extra cost, it really is a brilliant work light.

Compare the best prices from available sellers below


2. Makita DML801 LXT Li-ion Florescent 12 LED Light Torch

BEST BUDGET PICK

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Makita DML801 18V / 14.4V Li-ion LXT Florescent 12 LED Light Torch - Batteries and Charger Not Included

This is a very portable work light from Makita. The Makita DML801 LXT 18 V 14.4v Li-ion Florescent 12 LED Light Torch has a fully rotatable and foldable light head that allows you to use it in several different places around the job site. The head rotates both right and left with seven positive stops at 0, 30, 60, 90, 120, 150 and 180 degrees, and it can fold up and down as well, so as you can tell is very versatile.

The work light features 2 button switch that allows the choice between full brightness (240 lumens with 12 LEDs) and half brightness (120 lumens with 6 LEDs). The device runs on either 14.4V or 18V Li-Ion LXT battery (not included). Continuous operation can be up to a whopping 48 hours from a 6.0Ah battery, but the most common and more affordable 18V 3.0Ah which you can see here delivers 9 hours in full brightness mode and an impressive 22 hours in energy-saving mode.

A convenient retractable metal hook allows you to hang the light next to the job and it swivels 360 degrees plus folds away for storage. The device has a rubberised grip for better handling and it’s quite lightweight at 700g. It’s only 15 inches in size when it is folded down so you will find it easy to carry by hand. This work light is super cheap too if you don’t need to purchase the battery separately, but the quality is unquestionable.

Pros

  • Compatible with both 14.4V and 18V Makita Li-Ion batteries.
  • 2 light modes; full brightness at 12 LED and half brightness at 6 LED.
  • Light head rotates both left and right as well as up and down.
  • Has a retractable metal hook for suspending the light from virtually anywhere.
  • Compact and lightweight at only 700g.
  • Rubberised soft grip provides comfort on the job.

Cons

  • Nothing serious found.

Our recommendation

The Makita DML801 LXT Florescent 12 LED Light Torch is one of the best-rated work lights on the market. This model is loved because it’s very compact and suits many casual applications. A low price tag is also another major appealing factor, especially if you already have the batteries that fit. Performance-wise, this offers adjustable lighting modes, allowing it to offer shorter or extended run time up to 22 hours from an 18V 3.0Ah Li-Ion battery.

We like the way it adjusts up/down and left/right so as to direct light where it’s needed. The light head easily retracts from the body and folds back nicely for storage and transportation even with a battery still attached. If you are looking for a little work light to use virtually anywhere without breaking the bank, the Makita DML801 perfectly fits the bill.

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3. DeWalt DCL050-XJ XR Cordless Handheld LED Worklight

BEST PORTABLE PICK

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DEWALT DCL050-XJ 18 V XR Handheld LED Area Light, Bare Unit, Multi

For those looking for a handheld source of light, the DeWalt DCL050-XJ 18V li-ion XR Cordless Handheld LED Worklight is a great option. This light has variable brightness settings from 250 to 500-lumen output for maximum brightness or extended runtime. The light head adjusts in nine different positions to focus light where you want it, whilst it features an extendable hanging hook for suspending the lamp during use.

The DeWalt DCL050-XJ Pistol Grip Work Torch is ergonomic and a trigger controls the device. The light uses 3 bright LEDs that are well protected by a moulded lens cover. This unit perfectly attaches to the separately sold 18V XR Lithium-Ion battery range, which also provides the base for resting the light on any level surface. The battery delivers up to 10 hours runtime but this is probably on the higher capacity 5Ah batteries, on a 2.0Ah battery on full power you get around 2 hours and around 4-5 hours on low. The body is IP54 rated, meaning it has great protection against dust and a fair amount of water resistance. It can survive mild conditions very well and seems very well made.

Pros

  • Can be handheld or hung somewhere for hands-free operation.
  • 9-position pivoting light head allows light to be focused on a given area.
  • Variable light settings between full brightness and low mode.
  • Solid construction with IP54 rating ensuring decent protection against dust and water.
  • 1 year warranty for full peace of mind.

Cons

  • The head doesn’t swivel.

Our recommendation

Another top-rated work light, the DeWalt DCL050-XJ 18V li-ion XR Cordless Handheld LED Worklight has some decent features that make it a useful lamp for temporary task lighting.

We like that it can be hung from any convenient place and provide up to 10 hours of light if you have the higher capacity 5 Ah batteries. The head itself adjusts up and down with 9 stops for directional lighting.

Most of us appreciate variable brightness settings and this one offers that too. We also found that the light spreads to a wide-angle, which will allow you to light up a relatively vast area. It can be useful in lighting up car engines, areas without power and general lighting applications. 

Great work light to invest in, especially if you already have DeWalt power tools.

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4. Ryobi R18ALH-0 ONE+ Cordless Hybrid Area Light

BEST CORDLESS PICK

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Ryobi R18ALW-0, 20W, 18V, 1800 lumens, Hyper Green

The Ryobi R18ALH-0 18V ONE+ Cordless Hybrid Area Light is a powerful lighting unit that emits up to 2,000 lumens to give ultra-bright light. This light is well designed with hybrid technology that enables it to convert to AC power but you will need to buy a circular 2 pin lawnmower style adaptor or circular EU socket extension with a UK plug as it doesn’t come with a power cord.

It delivers around 3 hours of runtime when running on Ryobi’s 4.0Ah battery pack. If you have any of Ryobi’s tools at home, then you won’t need to buy a battery because all of Ryobi’s tools use their innovative ONE+ battery system, allowing you to use their battery pack interchangeably. Even so, the ideal battery for this tool should be 1.5Ah or higher, such as the Ryobi RB18L50 ONE+ Lithium+ 5.0Ah Battery that can be bought together with this model.

Thanks to multiple hanging options, this light can be positioned wherever you need it for hands-free working. In addition, the light direction can be adjusted up to 360 degrees, meaning you will be able to focus the light anywhere you want it. The build is relatively compact with an integrated handle for easy transportation. Ryobi’s small or medium tool bags will come in handy during transportation and storage.

Pros

  • Works both as cordless and corded unit, however, you need to purchase a circular 2 pin lawnmower style adaptor or circular EU socket extension with a UK plug as it doesn’t come with a cable.
  • Emits up to 2000 lumens with long lasting LEDs – 50,000 hours.
  • Lens can rotate 360 degrees to direct light exactly where you need it.
  • Multiple hanging options, allowing light to be positioned virtually anywhere.
  • Compact design with built-in carry handle for transportation.
  • Uses Ryobi’s ONE+ battery system.

Cons

  • Packaging problem as some deliveries have been reported to be without a mains cable. In this case you will need to buy a circular 2 pin lawnmower style adaptor or circular female Schuko plug EU socket extension with UK plug. This can be purchased off eBay for a few extra pounds.
  • Quite expensive compared to most other work lights.

Our recommendation

This work light is super bright owing to the 2000 lumens and dwarfs many other models with 250 – 500 lumens in this department. It is highly versatile too, allowing you to position it almost anywhere and capable of rotating 360 degrees to focus the light to the desired direction.

It is well built with a sturdy case and integrated handle. The fact that it’s compatible with the ONE+ system is something Ryobi fans will appreciate because it eliminates the need to buy another battery. However, you will need to buy a battery pack if you are purchasing Ryobi products for the first time. All in all, the Ryobi R18ALH-0 18V ONE+ Cordless Hybrid Area Light makes a great light source in any dark situation.

The only downside is that it does not come with the power lead and you need to buy a female Schuko plug with 2 pins and wire it to a 3 pin plug. Other than this, it is an amazing torch, perhaps just a little too expensive.

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5. Bosch Professional GLI Deci LED Cordless Worklight

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Bosch Professional 12V System GLI 12V-330 cordless construction floodlight (330 lumens, 0.3 kg, two brightness settings, excluding rechargeable batteries and charger, in cardboard box)

The Bosch Professional GLI DeciLED Cordless Worklight is well-designed, effective and versatile, allowing multiple mounting options and lighting angles. The light features 10 powerful LEDs and two brightness settings to ensure the right level of illumination. It emits 350 lumens at full brightness and it can be switched to a ‘low’ setting for softer lighting or to save energy.

It’s meant to stand alone on any flat surface, but it can firmly attach to other structures using its integrated hook, karabiner or magnetic and tripod attachments which we really like because it makes it very versatile. The work light rotation is done via a joint at its base and it can be up to 200 degrees. The maximum runtime in full brightness is 3 hours per Ah, meaning the recommended 10V 2.0Ah battery delivers up to 6 hours of brightness. Note that this device is compatible with all Bosch 10.8V Lithium-Ion batteries.

Pros

  • Adjustable joint at the base allows light to flex through 200 degrees.
  • Karabiner attachment allows use on small pipes, cables and clothes.
  • Magnetic base for mounting on metal surfaces.
  • Threaded holes allows for use with most tripods.
  • Hook allows the device from nails and other projecting objects.
  • Lightweight tool weighing just 400g with battery and 300g without it.

Cons

  • Not the brightest lamp you can buy and maybe a little smaller than you may think, however, its handy for tight spaces.

Our recommendation

This work light excels when it comes to user-friendliness as it can virtually be positioned anywhere at the job site. The light can sit on its stable base, be hung on ladders using an integral hook, fixed to metallic surfaces or even attached to work clothes through a karabiner.

It’s really compact and light, yet with an efficient power to light up a task at hand. Light can be directed to various angles at will and the 6-hour run time is relatively good for such as a small battery. If you are looking for an affordable and compact work light with multiple mounting flexibilities, the Bosch Professional GLI DeciLED Cordless Worklight is worth considering and really is hard to beat.

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6. Faithfull Power Plus LED Single Pod Tripod Site Light

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Faithfull Power Plus SLLED30TL 30 W 110 V COB LED Single Pod Tripod Site Light

Wrapping this list up is the Faithfull Power Plus 30 W 110 V COB LED Site Light. This has been designed for both domestic and commercial applications as it comes with a sturdy tripod stand to hold the work light on any surface. The light features modern COB LED technology with up to 2100 lumens output providing immense brightness with the added advantage of a cool running temperature and low power consumption. COB LEDs are additionally maintenance-free, long-lasting up to 100,000 hours and more resilient to impact than conventional halogen tubes that can fail if knocked over or hit by objects.

The light head is made from die-cast aluminium and is fully adjustable to shine the light to different angles. It can also be raised or lowered by manipulating the tripod height between 96cm and 188cm. The tripod has the added benefit of adjustable legs that can be worked accordingly for easy levelling on rugged surfaces. A quick-release system allows the light to detach from the tripod for use as a single pod lamp.

Rated IP65, this light will superbly withstand water and dust ingress to ensure extended durability. Lastly, Faithfull backs this work light with a 5-year warranty and they will be happy to replace any faulty part.

Pros

  • Has a robust design that makes it suitable for both commercial and domestic applications.
  • Boasts an output of 2100 lumens for super bright illumination.
  • Lamp head is crafted from die-cast aluminium making it lightweight and durable.
  • Adjustable tripod height allows the light head to be raised or lowered as needed.
  • Long-lasting COB LEDs with up to 100,000 light hours.
  • Adjustable tripod legs allow perfect levelling on uneven grounds.
  • IP65 water and dust ingress rating ensures the work light can survive through difficult work conditions.

Cons

  • None found yet.

Our recommendation

The Faithfull Power Plus 30 W 110 V COB LED Site Light is an ideal choice for those who prefer lower prices than those associated with products from famous brands such as Bosch, Makita and DeWalt, but without compromising quality and reliability. This work light can rest on any surface, whether flat or rugged, due to its adjustable legs. Even the height can be altered up or down and that’s a good thing too.

This light is one of the brightest work lights with an output of 2100 lumens. It’s built to withstand water and dust and it’s even guaranteed for five solid years. The use of COB (Chip on Board) LED is a huge plus as it provides a longer lifespan, low energy consumption, and improved resistance to knocks. If you need a work light for industrial jobs, this one is a great choice.

Compare the best prices from available sellers below


Final Conclusion

We conclude by saying that the work lights we’ve reviewed above are of great quality and some of the best-rated by customers, so we are convinced one of them can match your needs. You have seen that they come in different designs, some very compact whilst others bulky, some with only 500 lumens and others up to 2100 lumens. So whether you are looking for the best portable work light or the best construction light, our suggestions are spot on when it comes to which is which.

BEST PICK

So the choice is yours to make, but in our opinion, the best work light should offer different mounting options, provide sufficient illumination for a given area and last long enough. It has to justify your investment.

BEST BUDGET PICK


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Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at john@pyracantha.co.uk

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