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.
The Downside of Battery-Powered Lights
Mar 26, 2014
The hot new trend in mechanic's lights is battery-powered lights that use high-tech LED "bulbs" for illumination.
The new lights are pretty impressive. Just a few years ago, LED lights were somewhat feeble, tended to be directional, and had poor battery longevity. The new battery-powered shop lights are incredibly bright, diffuse their illumination nicely, and have decent battery longevity before they need recharged.
They also have a steep price. Figure on $80 to $180 for a professional-grade, battery-powered, LED-type shop light. They come in many shapes and sizes, and the prices vary as widely as the design.
As I've noted in previous blogs, I have an ongoing quest for good illumination. I've tried just about every light that's come down the road. It's hard to beat the price of a good ol' mechanic's light, the ones with an incandescent bulb in a metal reflector. But I get tired of getting burned on the metal reflectors, and incandescent bulbs last about one day before I drop the light and shatter the bulb. Shop lights with florescent bulbs are okay, but they tend to be dim and the light they cast is bluish, which can be annoying. Lights that use LED bulbs are bright, stand up to getting dropped dozens of times, and stay relatively cool to the touch. I had a nice battery-powered LED-type "trouble light" that worked pretty good, but it fell victim to what, for me, is a downside to battery-powered lights.
Maybe it's just me, but I tend to forget I've got a light hanging inside or underneath a machine, and the battery-powered lights eventually go dead. Which is no problem--just stick them in the charger and they re-charge nicely. My problem is that once the light goes dead, I forget the light is there and either start the machine or send it back to the customer. There are two battery-powered lights riding around on combines that I forgot to remove once repairs were finished last fall.
Sounds stupid, but I may have to go back to corded shop lights simply because the cords dangle out of the machine and run across the floor as a reminder for me to remove the light when I'm done with repairs.
The fanciest technology in the world fails in the hands of a fool.