Author Topic: The quest to the ideal portable work light  (Read 2197 times)

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Offline Jeroen3

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The quest to the ideal portable work light
« on: November 24, 2017, 09:36:46 pm »
At my job I often need to go inside cabinets, or other places where there isn't much light.
To get light, I have several flashlights. But flashlights aren't very comfortable to work with. This week I was at two locations again (cogeneration plants), and both times having poor light was just slowing work down.

I've been looking for lights for a while now, and so far I have a these requirements.
- No fixed rechargeable batteries. It must be replaceable, preferably alkalines, since these are quickly swapped.
- Small. No standing light. Does not fit in my bag.
- Metal. Plastics will get oily, dirty, sticky and they will crack.
- Magnet. I don't want to hold it.

So far I have bought these, see attachments.
1. It's plastic, and it has horrible electronics quality. Front beam blinks due to driver chip overheating. It does have the best mounting though. Magnet not very strong.
2. Safety hazard. No replaceable battery and it's a lithium battery fire waiting to happen inside. Unprotected cell. Mechanical quality is nice though.
3. Great little light. Runs on 1 AA or 14500. Lasts longest on AA, only 1 hour on 14500. No magnet. I've used this light the most of time this week. It's very bright. Don't look at the side LED it with your remaining eye.

Anyone have any suggestions? I'm not the only one with this problem, right?
« Last Edit: November 24, 2017, 09:53:48 pm by Jeroen3 »
 

Offline TerraHertz

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Re: The quest to the ideal portable work light
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2017, 02:48:40 am »
Why don't you use a headlight? They are much better than handheld or set-down lights, because they are always pointing where you are looking. And there are some very bright ones around now.

For camping, caving, urbex, and working on anything in darkness they are indispensable.
If you have to wear a hardhat, get one that clips onto the hat, like a miner's hard hat. Most miner's headlights have built-in batteries, for intrinsic safety in flammable gas environments. But you can get ordinary replaceable battery types that fit the standard helmet clips.
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Online Ian.M

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Re: The quest to the ideal portable work light
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2017, 03:18:03 am »
You are going to have difficulty finding an alkaline powered worklight that doesn't have any external plastic parts.  If nothing else, the lens will usually be plastic.

This looks like a good candidate: http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/page.aspx?cat=1,43349&p=71189   It can probably be found cheaper elsewhere.
 

Offline Halcyon

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Re: The quest to the ideal portable work light
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2017, 04:49:25 am »
These guys are based in Sydney, Australia but I'm pretty sure ship internationally: https://wolfeyes.com.au

I've used their torches for about 10 years now and absolutely love them. Very well built and keep going even after being abused.

There are all sorts to choose from. Most of their torches either use standard CR123A lithium cells or rechargeable 18650 lithium packs.

(All prices in AUD$)
 

Offline Jeroen3

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Re: The quest to the ideal portable work light
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2017, 02:40:30 pm »
Why don't you use a headlight?
Why have I not thought of those. :palm:

That magnet base light with gooseneck is nice. But rather big to carry around I think. I'll see if I can get one locally.

WolfEyes look nice, but they are not fooling around with the price.
 

Offline SparkyFX

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Re: The quest to the ideal portable work light
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2017, 04:14:27 pm »
Went with the Bosch GLI DeciLED, as it takes the batteries of the power drill. So you can carry a spare around should the first one run low (the light will work some more minutes, other than the drill). It is plastic, though.

But anyway, the headlight is the better choice for inside cabinets and confined space.
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Online Ian.M

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Re: The quest to the ideal portable work light
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2017, 04:27:56 pm »
It depends on the space.  In really tight spaces, you cant angle the headlight to get it on the work and still be able to see.  Also reflected glare from nearer objects makes it impossible to see what you are doing if you are reaching past obstructions, unless you use a separate light shining from a different angle.   A couple of cheap matchbox sized LED cupboard lights, glued to small strong magnets would be a useful addition if you frequently work on equipment with steel parts or casings and obstructed access.
 

Offline Jeroen3

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Re: The quest to the ideal portable work light
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2017, 08:02:43 pm »
I've used this one, and it's small enough with enough power.

Still waiting for a few variants of lights more coming from aliexpress.
 

Offline Someone

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Re: The quest to the ideal portable work light
« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2017, 11:03:24 pm »
Why don't you use a headlight?
Why have I not thought of those. :palm:
Find an industrial supplier who stocks Petzl, they have a very tidy lamp in a small package that runs on AA batteries:
https://www.petzl.com/INT/en/Professional/Compact-rugged-headlamps/PIXA-3-(ATEX)
There is a helmet mounting plate accessory which could easily have a magnet placed on the back to stick into cabinets, its also designed to sit on flat surfaces and be pointed at work. Don't worry about the plastic and rubber housing as these are used by mechanics and survive all the grease/oil/hydrocarbons etc.
 
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Offline Jeroen3

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Re: The quest to the ideal portable work light
« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2020, 10:58:44 am »
Update. Found this light. https://www.ledlampshopxl.nl/buitenverlichting/led-bouwlampen/10w-acculamp-slim-vouwbaar.html
Very useful and compact.

Drawback, no replaceable battery. No lithium-ion charge control. The external dc barrel is directly attached to the batteries.
The adapter is an 8.4V unit with an LED that changes color, suggesting charging end detection is in there.
 

Offline eugenenine

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Re: The quest to the ideal portable work light
« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2020, 12:54:52 pm »
its plastic but https://princetontec.com/product/snap/
you can take the light out of the headlamp and stick it inside whatever your working on.
 

Offline Red Squirrel

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Re: The quest to the ideal portable work light
« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2020, 03:40:57 pm »
The hardest is going to find one that does not have all those annoying flashing modes you have to cycle through each time you turn it on.  I don't know why that's so popular.  |O

I want to look at making my own flashlight.  An 18650 cell fits perfectly in 3/4" copper pipe, that could make a good start. Not sure what I would do for the lens or the end cap, I don't  have any machining tools to do anything fancy.   Another option is to mod a cheap hardware store flash light to use LED.  Those usually have a simple on/off switch.
 

Online Cyberdragon

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Re: The quest to the ideal portable work light
« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2020, 06:56:00 am »
The hardest is going to find one that does not have all those annoying flashing modes you have to cycle through each time you turn it on.  I don't know why that's so popular.  |O

I want to look at making my own flashlight.  An 18650 cell fits perfectly in 3/4" copper pipe, that could make a good start. Not sure what I would do for the lens or the end cap, I don't  have any machining tools to do anything fancy.   Another option is to mod a cheap hardware store flash light to use LED.  Those usually have a simple on/off switch.

Because the Chinese recycle chips used in bike lights or emergency lanterns which have warning modes.
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Offline frogg

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Re: The quest to the ideal portable work light
« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2020, 03:34:04 pm »
This changes all the time because technology always get better over time, and of course, product availability varies by country.

My opinion:
In the USA as of 1/18/20, a great light is the "Husky 300-Lumen LED Flip Light"

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Husky-300-Lumen-LED-Flip-Light-K60241/306862598

For $15.97.

It's basically a $40 light for less than half the price, plus the Husky warranty.

There are bunch of other similar lights around the same price range on Amazon, but this one is a good 'un
« Last Edit: January 18, 2020, 05:52:40 pm by frogg »
 

Offline Red Squirrel

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Re: The quest to the ideal portable work light
« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2020, 04:10:10 am »
The hardest is going to find one that does not have all those annoying flashing modes you have to cycle through each time you turn it on.  I don't know why that's so popular.  |O

I want to look at making my own flashlight.  An 18650 cell fits perfectly in 3/4" copper pipe, that could make a good start. Not sure what I would do for the lens or the end cap, I don't  have any machining tools to do anything fancy.   Another option is to mod a cheap hardware store flash light to use LED.  Those usually have a simple on/off switch.

Because the Chinese recycle chips used in bike lights or emergency lanterns which have warning modes.

Seems odd there arn't alternative chips they can use.  They could probably use chips used in LED bulbs or something.   Wonder if at some point these chips meant for emergency lights just got overproduced and there is a huge abundance of them for dirt cheap or something.  It just seems every single LED 18650 flashlight out there always has those same modes. 
 

Offline BravoV

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Re: The quest to the ideal portable work light
« Reply #15 on: January 19, 2020, 04:42:37 am »
If you're comfortable with 18650 based, and also not just an ON/OFF switch, consider BLF A6 (google for it), its a community designed at Budget Light Forum.

Yes, it cycles thru different brightness levels, "BUT" it does remember the last brightness level it was on, so no annoying pushing the tail switch click-click  >:( , every times when turning it on just to have that damn brightness you used to, or the last one.

Also has some smart things implemented in there, like battery charge level indicator from blink counts and many others, all thru the tail end clicky switch only, and relatively affordable too, less than $20.


Online tautech

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Re: The quest to the ideal portable work light
« Reply #16 on: January 19, 2020, 04:46:56 am »
I got a nice Led Lenser headlamp as a gift from my son and while I've had a few over the years not had one as nice as this.
https://www.ledlenser.com/en/products/headlamps/seo-series/seo7r
Comes with AAA batteries and a LiPo rechargeable.
Focusable beam and a few lighting modes that when first fiddled with you think WTF, do I have to toggle through all these each time I want to turn it off but no, after a little time in each mode just a single press turns it off.  :phew:
About time someone used their brains in multimode products !  :clap:
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Offline james_s

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Re: The quest to the ideal portable work light
« Reply #17 on: January 19, 2020, 05:00:44 am »
My main worklight is a little box thing with a kickstand and a powerful COB LED. It uses a built in Li-ion battery which goes against your requirements but I think AA batteries would be hopeless in such a light, and it would be more difficult to make it waterproof.

I also have a selection of handheld flashlights from a single AA unit up to a modified 3-D cell Maglight running 32650 lithium cells.
 

Offline password

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Re: The quest to the ideal portable work light
« Reply #18 on: January 20, 2020, 04:06:30 am »
I'm a big fan of nitecore.

This seems that it could be handy. If the modes work anything like my MT2C you basically have two modes easily accessible always , one is the full brightness , that thermal throttles a small amont after a few minuts , the other is accesed by sligthly unscrewing the tail cap whichs puts it into a mode you can program. i've drop tested mine several times and its still doing really well. Their pricey though.

https://flashlight.nitecore.com/product/mt21c
 

Offline james_s

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Re: The quest to the ideal portable work light
« Reply #19 on: January 20, 2020, 06:26:12 am »
The hardest is going to find one that does not have all those annoying flashing modes you have to cycle through each time you turn it on.  I don't know why that's so popular.  |O

That drives me nuts, I have never been able to figure that out either, unless the Chinese take the name "flashlight" literally?

Does anyone actually use those flash modes? Ever? I have not even once on any light I've owned, it's just a nuisance.
 

Offline Jeroen3

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Re: The quest to the ideal portable work light
« Reply #20 on: January 20, 2020, 03:09:47 pm »
...
unless the Chinese take the name "flashlight" literally?

That must be it.
 

Offline Gyro

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Re: The quest to the ideal portable work light
« Reply #21 on: January 20, 2020, 07:06:36 pm »
The hardest is going to find one that does not have all those annoying flashing modes you have to cycle through each time you turn it on.  I don't know why that's so popular.  |O

That drives me nuts, I have never been able to figure that out either, unless the Chinese take the name "flashlight" literally?

Does anyone actually use those flash modes? Ever? I have not even once on any light I've owned, it's just a nuisance.

Nope.

Have you tried holding the button down to turn it off? I bought this Infray torch (well actually several by now) specifically because, if you turn it off by hold the button down for a couple of seconds instead of just pressing it, it comes comes back on in the same mode.

I don't know how many controllers / firmwares there are out there but it's worth a try.

Excellent torch by the way, and often significantly reduced (in the UK anyway)... https://www.amazon.co.uk/INFRAY-Rechargeable-Flashlight-Included-Water-Resistant/dp/B074TZXC73/


P.S. Integrated battery btw.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2020, 07:10:21 pm by Gyro »
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Offline james_s

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Re: The quest to the ideal portable work light
« Reply #22 on: January 20, 2020, 07:09:45 pm »
Many of these lights have what looks like an 8 pin microcontroller in them, I've been tempted to reverse engineer one and see if I can drop in an avr or pic or something with more sensible firmware but haven't got around to it. I need at most 2 modes, full brightness and medium brightness, everything else is just creating extra work every time I use it.
 

Offline Gyro

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Offline GLouie

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Re: The quest to the ideal portable work light
« Reply #24 on: January 20, 2020, 11:14:03 pm »
While I own many name-brand flashlights, I also have this one from Harbor Freight, the discount USA tool seller.  https://www.harborfreight.com/lighting/work-lights/390-lumen-magnetic-slim-bar-folding-led-work-light-63958.html 

Don't pay full price ($39.99USD) as they frequently go on coupon special for $29.99USD. My expectations were low, but it has worked quite well.

-COB LED has 2 levels
-single LED in tip, so only 3 modes total
-head tilts and swivels
-strong magnet in base
-18650 battery, easy removal with threaded tailcap
-onboard micro USB charging if needed
-390 lumens very adequate for most work, runtime good.

Negatives: no claims of water resistance. Strong magnet sometimes comes unscrewed when swivelling light, turning it off. Color/CRI is not perfect, more like having a fluorescent. May not hold up; combination aluminum handle with plastic LED wand.

There appear to be many similar devices sold on the Chinese marketplaces.

If you need much more light and good CRI, there are many portable light panels made for videography. They tend to be expensive and use special battery packs.

Personally, I go with several lights; handhelds, wand, headlamps - and Eneloop AA and 18650 LiIon batteries with spares.


 

Online donkey77

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Re: The quest to the ideal portable work light
« Reply #25 on: January 21, 2020, 10:15:18 pm »
I got a nice Led Lenser headlamp as a gift from my son and while I've had a few over the years not had one as nice as this.
https://www.ledlenser.com/en/products/headlamps/seo-series/seo7r
Comes with AAA batteries and a LiPo rechargeable.
Focusable beam and a few lighting modes that when first fiddled with you think WTF, do I have to toggle through all these each time I want to turn it off but no, after a little time in each mode just a single press turns it off.  :phew:
About time someone used their brains in multimode products !  :clap:

I'll second ledlenser. I've got a couple of there i7r's with spare battery packs left charging in the back of the van. You can also use alkalines if needed. Keep meaning to get a head torch version too, not cheap but good, and when using it for work I don't see the issue with spending the extra £20-30 over a cheap model.
 

Online Cyberdragon

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Re: The quest to the ideal portable work light
« Reply #26 on: January 23, 2020, 06:08:40 am »
The hardest is going to find one that does not have all those annoying flashing modes you have to cycle through each time you turn it on.  I don't know why that's so popular.  |O

That drives me nuts, I have never been able to figure that out either, unless the Chinese take the name "flashlight" literally?

Does anyone actually use those flash modes? Ever? I have not even once on any light I've owned, it's just a nuisance.

It is used on high power lights (often called "tachlights") as stun/blind mode (self-defense). Though that's a rapid flash, if it's a slow flash then it's a warning mode (neither of which have any buisiness in a low power handheld or headlamp, meaning repurposed crap from Shenzen).
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