Most shop lights are 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.
The Lithonia fixture is 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.
The 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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The compact Designers Edge 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.
Another 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.