Why Every Workshop Needs a Quality Flashlight (And How to Choose the Right One)

Every workshop needs a flashlight for emergency lighting, precision detailing and more. Here are key features to look for when making a purchase.

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For a DIYer, directing additional light where you want it, when you want it, makes projects much easier to complete. Keep a flashlight close at hand in your workshop, and it will be ready to use as an emergency light source or to help illuminate your workbench. No matter how you look at it, a quality workshop flashlight is a terrific investment.

There are no shortage of flashlight options on the market. But the needs of a workshop flashlight differ from those intended for wilderness or emergency use. So let’s shed a little light on your flashlight options and talk about some great features for your workshop.

Workshop Flashlight Options

Workshop flashlights come in all shapes and sizes. From heavy flood lamps to key chain lights and headlamps, all serve to illuminate your projects and provide emergency lighting if needed.

Some DIYers might prefer a small penlight for a quick glimpse in the shadows, or a steady overhead light while finishing a wood bookshelf. But no matter the form or function, there are a few key features to be aware of when shopping for a workshop flashlight.

Key Shop Flashlight Features

Durability

Of all the features we’ll discuss, the flashlight’s build strength, or overall ruggedness, is criteria number one for a workshop flashlight.

Look for tight rubber seals to keep sawdust from slipping behind the lens, and a metal or rubber body, rather than shatter-prone plastic. Flashlights such as Maglites are renowned for their durability. While we don’t recommend it, they’ve been used by more than one DIYer as an impromptu hammer in a pinch.

Brightness

Whether you’re peering into a wall cavity or lighting up the gears in a small motor, the brightness of your flashlight matters. Measured in lumens, brightness is a function of the bulb and the battery power.

But a workshop flashlight may not need maximum brightness. The rise of LEDs has allowed modern flashlights to put out previously unimaginable amounts of lumens, so much they can actually wash out your workspace and make it harder to see details.

The “correct” brightness level will vary by task, personal preference and ambient lighting in your work space. But in general, between 200 and 1,000 lumens would be appropriate for a workshop. Ideally, you should experiment and find the best fit for you.

If you do prefer a higher level of lumens, you may want to look at a “tactical” flashlight. Popular with survivalists and campers, these extremely bright flashlights can handle being dropped or exposed to the elements. However, tactical models can be expensive, and there’s no point in paying extra for a waterproof flashlight that’s going to live on your workbench.

If you simply want a really bright flashlight, this two-pack from Gear Light will get the job done.

Convenience

Of course, convenience is key when you’re using a flashlight during a DIY project. Free up a hand by selecting a light that has a kickstand or flip panel, allowing it to operate hands-free and illuminate hard to reach spaces. You could always DIY a flashlight stand.

Or you may opt for a headlamp to keep both hands free. Choosing LED options doesn’t just deliver more light with less power. They’re lighter than incandescent models, making the headlamp more comfortable, too.

Battery Type

There are several battery options for a flashlight. Disposable alkaline (usually C, AA or AAA), disposable lithium and rechargeable lithium-ion have their pros and cons. But all that goes out the window if you don’t have the right batteries available when you need them.

For this reason, we recommend a flashlight that runs on the type of battery you’re most likely to have on hand. For many DIYers, this may well be a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Recent models can be USB charged. Many power tool battery chargers now come with USB ports, so your flashlight can always be ready to go.