In the Shop
As a farm machinery mechanic and writer, Dan brings a hands-on approach that only a pro can muster. Along with his In the Shop blog, Dan writes a column by the same name as well as the Shop Series for Farm Journal magazine. Always providing practical information, he is a master at tackling technical topics and making them easy for all of our readers to understand. He and his wife, Becky, live near Bouton, Iowa.
Battery-Powered Work Lights
Nov 16, 2008
Harvest is running late this year; we're all doing a lot of repairs and maintenance in the dark. Nighttime field repairs and maintenance have traditionally been done with flashlights, which have significant disadvantages. Holding a flashlight tucked into an armpit, or clenched in your teeth, while you try to keep it aimed on the bolt you're turning is an exercise in futility. And even if you're doing the repair/maintenance near a 115-volt outlet and can use a conventional work light, you still have to drag the power cord into, around, under or over the machine to illuminate the area where you're working.
I'm experimenting this year with battery-powered work lights. One is a cheapie that uses 24 or more small, LED lights. The other is slightly more expense, with three large LED lights. Neither is as bright as a conventional trouble light with an incandescent bulb. LED lights, for some reason, are extremely bright at close range, but their light dims with distance, so you have to keep the light close to where you're working. And the light from LED lights is directional--the light doesn't spread out a lot to the sides of the light.
But---compared to a conventional flashlight, I prefer the LED work lights. With a hook on the end of the fixture, a magnetic base or even better, a magnetic pad on the side of the light, I can position the LED work lights to illuminate my work area much better than a conventional flashlight. The run time is pretty good, around 4- to 6-hours, before I have to recharge. I really appreciate them for working inside combines, grain bins or other places where it's nice not to have a power cord trailing me everywhere I go, snagging on every corner and obstacle along the way.
Battery-powered LED work lights aren't perfect. They aren't the complete answer to nighttime repairs and maintenance. But they're a nice option to have in the cab of the truck, tractor or combine.