Top Ranked Shop Lights in 2018 Let You See Clearly

Shop lights can be either ceiling mounted or portable units that provide high candle-power in a compact case. They are designed to be easily moved from one location to another, or even to be hung from a rafter or under the hood of a car. Whether you need an overhead light, a bright but portable light or a utility light that you can take on location, there is a popular shop light model to fit your needs.

To be sure, your specific usage may be completely different, and to that end the list of the best shop lights cover the 3 distinct types of lighting applications: Fixed lighting, portable lighting, and rechargeable work lights. The following top-ranked lighting solutions cover most of your work and garage lighting needs, with an eye towards economy and versatility.

TOP PICK:

Barrina LED T5 Garage Lights (6-pack)

A few years ago, putting LED lights in your garage was almost unheard of due to the price. As technology improves, bulbs get better and the price goes down. These Barrina LED T5 light fixtures (come in a pack of 6) are considered by many to be one of the best LED workshop lights for the money. And you won’t believe the price. Each fixture is 4 feet in length with more than 2200 lumens of bright white output. The 6500k bulb temperature means you won’t get that yellowish tint that’s common with old-school bulbs. Even better, there’s no blueish tint that’s often associated with that bulb.

Included with the fixtures are mounting accessories, 6 power cords, and 5 connector cords which allow you to link them all together. Although they are slim, the lights offer a 270 degree beam angle to light up a wide area. Since they’re LED, count on a lifespan of about 50,000 hours. If you do the math, the Barrina’s can actually pay for themselves compared to non-LED when you factor in energy savings. While perfect for the garage or workshop, these lights can easily be installed in other areas around the house (ie: laundry room, closet, shed, etc.).

If you currently have incandescent or fluorescent lighting in your garage, be prepared for a lot more brightness. In fact, some may say it’s too bright and makes it look more like a hospital. While that may be the case at the start, you’ll quickly adjust and be amazed at how much better you can see. Because they are so light (weight-wise), they may even feel kind of cheap. That’s to be expected with LEDs due to a lot less material but we do wish they felt a bit more solid. That said, complaints are few and far between so the overall quality is actually quite good.

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RUNNERS UP:

Lithonia Lighting SB 232 120 GESB

If LEDs aren’t your thing, this Lithonia fixture may be for you. More than a shop light, it is a complete fluorescent lighting solution. Unlike many models of double-bulb fluorescents, this unit accepts standard 110 AC house current, and that gives you more freedom to use it where you want, without having to run dedicated 220 volt circuits. The tombstones, the sockets where the bulbs install, are vertical to give you easier access when installing or changing lamps. Unlike traditional shop lights, this model can be permanently mounted as an overhead fixture.

lithonia-lighting-sb232120gesb-reviewThe biggest drawback for the Lithonia fixture is that it is designed to be hardwired directly into your shop wiring. It would have made the unit much more flexible if it came with a standard AC plug, but you can always add your own connector if you want to convert it into a portable model. And since the unit has to be hardwired, it might have been better to include a set of instructions for how to hook it up, but the light does not ship with any. But installation is pretty self-explanatory and a quick Google search will help you out if necessary.

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Woods L-5200 Portable Worklight

The compact Woods L-5200 is designed for high output lighting in a portable container. The unit uses double bulbs on a single switch, and provides 160 degrees of halogen lighting. Even though it is designed to tilt, you may have to perform some minor after-market modifications to get the full benefits of the tilt feature. As it is shipped, the tilt function is limited, but a little grinding can almost double the range of the swing.

Remember, this is a very bright light and should not be used in small places such as a closet. This portable model is much better suited for job sites than the stationary Lithonia model.

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Neiko 40464A Cordless LED Work Light

Replacing the Bayco light below as the top cordless work light, it shows what newer technology can do. Instead of using an old-school NiMH battery, it uses the latest in Lithium-Ion battery. Not only do you get a brighter light (350 lumens vs 120 lumens), the light has a 5-hour run time before needing to recharge (vs 4 hours of the Bayco).  Somehow Neiko also kept the price down where there’s really no decision to make versus the competition. The magnetic base is pretty standard these days but allows for hands-free use.

While the Neiko charges quickly, there’s no indicator on the worklight to let you know when power is running low (it simply turns off). Also, even though it’s bright, it’s almost a bit overkill in certain instances. It may take a bit getting used to it when working in close quarters after having an older style model.

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Bayco SLR-2166 Rechargeable LED Worklight

best-led-worklightAnother application for a shop light is when you need to put a light directly into your work location. The Bayco SLR-2166 is that type of worklight, and has the added bonus of being rechargeable as well. Use the flashlight built into the end of the handle to get up close to the problem, and then hang the unit and turn on the floodlight function when it is time to get down to business.

Be careful with this model because it does not have a heavy duty switch and could break if the unit is handled roughly. Other than that, the only real problem is that the battery only lasts for about 4 hours, but you can overcome that by using the charger while the light is in operation. This model gets billing as a top pick because it is one of the most versatile lights you can get for use around the home or garage. The Bayco is considered by many mechanics to be the best shop light for auto repair.

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