In previous posts we've stressed the importance of lighting and the impact it can have on the end results of a project. Sure, we were talking about recessed lights, lamps, and chandeliers, but mid project lighting is just as essential, often overlooked, and can't be seen by those looking at a project's end result.

Since we've been working on our house we've gone through just about every major type of work light imaginable. From the shadeless lamp with 100 watt bulb to the two headed 500 watt halogen tripod based job light, they all do a job of lighting your work area, just some do a better job than others.

I was using the large halogen style lights for some time. It gave warm and bright light that could easily light just about any work area, making it far easier to see the details I would have otherwise missed. But there were two pretty major problems with these high wattage halogen monsters. With extended use, the fragile and no-so-cheap bulbs tend to burn out quickly, and the lamps generated so much heat that it would make a small summertime project feel like I was working on the equator (though it did help warm the room in winter projects). The combination of these two issues made the lamp quite costly to operate, though still very effective.

About a year and a half ago, after one of my halogen work lights was knocked over and ended up broken (I'm not placing blame here, but I'm sure it couldn't have been me...ok, it was me), I had to find a replacement. In the amount of time since I had purchased the halogen lights, lighting technology had come a long way. CFLs are all over the marketplace, LEDs are the new hotness, and apparently only eco-unfriendly earth haters use halogen lights anymore. I started to look into the various options for a replacement light, and I actually found one that has been absolutely perfect for me.

I purchased a 300 watt equivalent fluorescent work light. Consisting of several bright and short halogen tubes, this light has worked wonderfully for everything I've needed it for. The light is clean, bright, and has no noticeable flicker. When I switch it on it takes about 2-3 seconds to warm up before flicking on, then it's almost immediately at full brightness, whereas the halogen would usually take about a minute to get fully bright. But the best part is that it doesn't heat up like the halogen lights, so you don't end up burning you arm by bumping into the light, and you room doesn't end up like you're working in the Sahara.

We've been using this light almost non stop over the last few weeks while working in the kitchen. Since we're working after work and into the evenings, and the kitchen has very little lighting, this small task light has been almost irreplaceable. It's come in handy when working in otherwise dark corners on detailed items... well as when working outside late into the mosquito infested night.

The fact it stays cool means you can hang or sit it just about anywhere. And the small stand, rather than a large foldout tripod, makes it far more portable as easier to manage.

The only drawback to the light is actually the color, or temperature, of the light it produces. Rather than the warm and seemingly more natural light of the halogen, this flourescent light is much more cool and stark. More than anything, this skews colors to the blueish hue. Not typically a problem, but it can be an issue when you want to photograph something, say for a blog. But quite honestly, that's not too major of a drawback.

One of the best things I've done with this light is to hold it close to a wall or ceiling that I'm plastering or painting and then shine the light horizontally across the surface. This type of light will clearly show you any imperfections that you need to work on or areas you need to pay attention to. It's not a bad trick.

So there you have it, the better solution I have for a work light. It's cheaper to operate, works better in tight places, tends to be rather versatile, has much longer lasting bulbs, and does its job really well. You really can't ask for much more from one of your tools.

What sort of task lighting solutions do you like to use? Are you a person that just pulls the shade off of the nearest lamp, or do you have a major light setup in every room you work in? Any advice on lights that work particularly well for you are greatly appreciated.

Did you enjoy reading this post? Want to learn more about our first-hand experiences with other tools, devices or items used throughout our renovation? If so, check out our complete list of product reviews in our Toolbox Tuesday section

Note: We weren't compensated for this review. We simply want to share good products when we see them, and hope that learning from our mistakes can help save you time, money and frustration.

Comments 3


9/4/2012 at 3:37 PM
We had to buy a light like yours because my husband couldn't see to install the new vanity light in the bathroom! They certainly come in handy during renovations.
I guess you would need some light to install a light. :-) You never know when these things will come in handy, that's for sure.
9/4/2012 at 7:44 PM
Being 56 light is VERY important when I am working in dark spaces on a project. I like Halogen (I also like the Earth, but not enough to stop using halogen), but agree that the heat they put off is a problem...and can be a safety issue. One cheap item I have used to light up a small area in a cramped space is a spin-off of the coal miner's helmet light. It can be picked up at any DIY type store and is essential when you need two hands and a large light simply won't fit in the space.
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