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Let there be light!

The trouble light has been a staple on farms for decades. It has illuminated nooks and crannies in equipment during repairs and maintenance. The problem with this light is it doesn't easily fit into tight spaces. Even though manufacturers have made some modifications to these lights over the years, you could still be tethered to a cord and a hook, which may not be the most ideal situation when crawling in the underbelly of a machine.

“It would be nice to find a light that has a magnetic base so it can attach right to equipment,” says David Nelson, who farms with brothers Dennis and Neal near Belmond, Iowa. “Much of what I've seen in the past features a hook, which can get caught on things when I don't want it to. Or the light falls off when I need it to stay hooked. The ones that do have a magnetic base don't seem to be able to withstand the rigors of a farm shop.”

With all the lighting options on the market, how do you know which one is best? In the Shop Talk discussion group at Agriculture.com, responders gave their top suggestions, and the Nelson brothers put the lights to the test. Following are their top four recommendations.

1. Rotating magnetic led worklight by Ullman lets you rotate the lighted head to adjust the angle of the beam where light is needed. The aluminum housing holds 24 high-intensity LED lights.

This tool is powered by three AAA batteries, which are included. It sells for under $16.

“We absolutely loved this light,” says David Nelson. “It would be even better if it was packaged in a set, because we could keep them in the pickup for instant access to a good light source. This is a really handy device.”

Learn more at www.ullman-devices.com.

2. True power's 21-led worklight features a powerful magnetic base, has an overall length of 18.5 inches, and can be adjusted to a number of positions. The on/off switch on the head is rubber covered. This worklight uses three AA batteries, which are included. It retails for under $35.

“This is a very versatile light with great flexibility that lets me position the beam where I need it,” says Nelson.

Learn more at www.amazon.com/Work-Light-Flexible-Neck-Magnetic/dp/B003DROFDU.

3. Cooper lighting's might-d-light led130 is an 80-LED rechargeable folding worklight that has an AC/DC charging adapter. It has up to a two-hour battery life.

“The nice thing about this light is that it's rechargeable,” says Nelson. “That's a feature that's pretty handy in the shop. It also gives me the option between hanging it or using the magnets to position it where I need it.”

It sells for around $40 and has a swivel hook as well as integrated magnets.

Learn more at www.cooperindustries.com.

4. Joby's gorillatorch is an adjustable and flexible tripod flashlight. For under $20, the wrap-pable legs and magnetic feet let you attach it to just about anything. This light is powered by three AAA batteries, which are included.

“The fact that this light can wrap around equipment is definitely a bonus,” notes Nelson.

Learn more at www.joby.com/gorillatorch.

What to look for in a worklight

While lights have slimmed down and become magnetized over the years to accommodate tighter and tighter spaces, they've also improved in two main areas.

1. Power. Many portable worklights have cut the power cord and rely on batteries to light up a space. Because you may not always have access to a power source, a battery-powered unit is a convenient option. Although many lights are designed to run on battery power for extended periods of time, they come with other considerations like cost and availability of batteries.

Rather than standard batteries, you may want to consider rechargeable ones. While they cost more up front, which typically includes the added cost of the charger, they've become the battery of choice for longevity and value.

Another option is a rechargeable light, which simply plugs into a power outlet. Within a few hours it's ready to light up your machinery for an extended period of time.

Another benefit to rechargeable lights is that manufacturers realize these tools are used outdoors, so they're designed with a strong rubber or heavy-duty cover.

2. Bulb. In recent years, LEDs (light-emitting diodes) have made great strides. This type of lighting comes with many benefits. They are energy efficient, cost effective, and durable.

With a life span of up to 80,000 hours, most LEDs operate at low voltage, so they are cool to the touch, much safer to handle, and can be exposed to rain and snow. Because there are no filaments, LEDs can withstand a greater amount of vibration and shock than standard lights, which means there's less risk of them breaking.

LEDs are eco-friendly, as they do not contain mercury or other harmful gasses, or emit any harmful UV rays.

The latest technology in lighting, LEDs have become a great alternative in replacing the lighting options available for decades.

No matter what type of worklight you're looking for, before you begin shopping, determine what you'll be lighting up and whether you'll be using the light indoors or outside.

Below are five more portable worklight options to consider. 

Portable Worklights

Bayco 800/233-2155 baycoproducts.com

Bayco BAP-2512 converts to a 1-LED tight-focus spotlight beam with a 65-lumen output and 18-hour run time, a 12-LED floodlight with a 24-lumen output and 18-hour run time, or a 13-LED (both spot and flood) beam with an 89-lumen output and 10-hour run time. Price: $20.

Gyros 877/497-6746 gyrostools.com

The MAGNALite Pro is a cordless/rechargeable 36-LED worklight. Features include a 7.2-volt lithium-ion battery, magnetized bottom, 120° pivoting range, 1,100 lumens, and ABS body for better grip. Recharges in 5 hours. Runs up to 6 hours on a single charge. LED lifetime is rated up to 5,000 hours. Price: $49.99.

iGaging 949/366-5708 igaging.com

This magnetic workbench light features 14 super bright LEDs, a magnetic base with 30 pounds of holding power to secure the light to a metal surface, and an 8-inch flexible arm. Has weather-resistant aluminum construction. Includes 3 AAA batteries. Price: $21.50.

Magnalight 800/369-6671 magnalight.com

The LEDSH-4B worklight has a 130° pivoting motion in the head and a magnetic back. Includes a 3-watt CREE LED and a textured reflector for maximum beam output. Constructed of ABS plastic and heavy rubber accents. Has a weighted base for maximum stability. Price: $341.

Striker 704/658-9332 striker1.com

The Magnetic LED Light Mine Professional features 8 Lumen Tech LEDs in front (white lens) and 4 in back (red lens). Includes 11 neodymium magnets. Uses posts as tripods/quadpods to create freestanding 360° aimable light. Functions include low-power spot, high-output spot, red night vision, blinking red signal. Includes 3 AAA batteries. Price: $19.99.

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