Parkers inspection lamp group test

We've tested a massive selection of inspection lamps so you know which one is best

A selection of inspection lamps

by Ryan Gilmore |

When it comes to doing even the most basic of maintenance on your car, light is your friend. It can show up hidden blemishes in paintwork, help illuminate engine bays and even expose what the underside of your car really looks like.

Sure you can use your phone's light or a regular pen torch for some tasks, but quite often you'll find yourself limited in what you can do with one hand stuck holding the light source. This is where an inspection lamp makes so much sense. Not only are they more powerful and tougher than a regular torch but they can also be used hands-free too.

They can also be used beyond the garage too. Power gone out at night? An inspection lamp will allow you to get it back on easier. The same can be said for boiler work. We've gathered a selection of different inspection lamps together and tested them to see which one is the best.

How we tested the inspection lamps?

A good inspection lamp should provide excellent lighting and be easy to use hands-free. With this in mind, we first tested the inspection lamps in a low-light environment to see how bright they could be. We also took this chance to see if the light was adjustable.

We then looked for features that would come in handy when working hands-free. Features like magnets, hooks and auxiliary lights were all examined to see how versatile these lamps could be. Finally, we looked at any extra features and how ergonomic they were to hold.

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Sealey LED180 Rechargeable Slim Inspection Lamp

Sealey LED180 Rechargeable Slim Inspection Lamp
©Photo: Parkers

Our top choice for inspection lamps is this slim lamp from Sealey that blends compactness and value against premium features and excellent build quality.

Despite being so small this option features a powerful main light and a secondary light that allows the inspection lamp to be used as a regular torch. It also features a dimmer so you can easily choose the intensity of the main light.

There are three magnets and an integrated hook for hands-free operation. While these magnets offer limited adjustability in themselves, the main light can be rotated and tilted 180-degrees.

The build quality is also top-notch, with a grippy coating and premium feel. The only real drawback is the lack of a battery level indicator. While the eight-hour battery life is impressive, there is no way of knowing when the battery is low until the battery dies.

Specifications
Lumens 400
Magnets One in the base, Two on the back
Hook Yes
Rechargeable USB
Weight 272g
Other featuresWorks as a torch, Dimmable
Pros Cons
• Excellent quality • Lacks battery level indicator
• Powerful light

Draper 98342 7W COB LED Slimline Inspection Lamp

Draper 98342 7W COB LED Slimline Inspection Lamp
©Photo: Parkers

Another slim inspection lamp, this time from Draper, this inspection lamp is thoroughly impressive. Larger than the Sealey unit, this lamp also features 180-degree swivelling and tilting, intensity adjuster and traditional torch function. It also features a clear battery level indicator, a great addition.

Like the Sealey unit, it has a robust, quality feeling. It also features a hook and magnetic base for hands-free working. While it is more powerful than the Sealey, it is a little bulkier and not as versatile. It lacks magnets in the back of the unit which does prevent it from clinching the top spot in this test.

It’s still an excellent model however and one we’d heartily recommend. The reason it doesn’t quite clinch the top spot is that it’s bulkier than the Draper option and isn’t as versatile, with magnets only present in the base. If there had been a magnet on another side it would be our number one choice.

Specifications
Lumens 700
Magnets One in the base
Hook Yes
Rechargeable USB Tyce-C
Weight 640g
Other featuresWorks as a torch, Dimmable, Battery indicator
Pros Cons
• Powerful light • No magnets in the back
• Excellent features • Bulky construction
• Top quality

Philips EcoPro61 LED Work Light

Philips EcoPro61 LED Work Light
©Photo: Parkers

A similar design to the Draper and Sealey option, this model from Philips is a clever design but lacks the adjustability of other slim inspection lamps.

It does feature 270-egress of tilt thanks to a double-jointed set of pivots, but the lamp doesn’t have any form of swivelling. It also lacks an adjustable dimmer but does have different levels of intensity. The EcoPro can also be used as a regular torch too.

The overall finish is fantastic but compared to the Draper and Sealey options, the lack of swivelling is a real issue.

Specifications
Lumens 500
Magnets One in the base
Hook Yes
Rechargeable Micro USB
Weight 230g
Other featuresWorks as a torch, programmable light, Battery indicator
Pros Cons
• Brilliant build-quality • Light doesn't swivel
• Clever design • Expensive

Philips Automotive Lighting LPL47X1 RCH21S LED Work Light

Philips Automotive Lighting LPL47X1 RCH21S LED Work Light
©Photo: Parkers

A more traditionally shaped inspection lamp from Philips, this work light is an incredibly clever option for hands-free working.

While it only features a magnet in the rear of the lamp, the light can tilt away from the body up to 90-degrees, a handy feature for hands-free working. It also features a single hook. The light decently powerful too, even if has limited adjustability (just two settings). A very clever feature is a red standby light which ensures you don’t lose it when you put it down.

The best part is the exceptional build quality of the lamp. Philips has designed this lamp to be resistant to the worst fluids and solvents you find in a typical garage so you know you know this unit will survive these conditions.

The only irritant is that it ships with a European plug adapter meaning you’ll need to source a UK USB adapter yourself.

Specifications
Lumens 300
Magnets One on the back
Hook Yes
Rechargeable Docking station
Weight 250g
Other featuresIP65 waterproof, Standby light
Pros Cons
• Great quality • Flimsy hook
• Clever design • Ships with wrong adapter

Ring Automotive RIL4200 Fast Charge LED Inspection Lamp

Ring Automotive RIL4200 Fast Charge LED Inspection Lamp
©Photo: Parkers

A simple option from Ring Automotive, this inspection lamp impressed us with its robust design, quick charging times and a multitude of handsfree working options.

The rubberised sides and ergonomic grips give it a real feeling of quality and the fact it can be fully charged from dead in just an hour are commendable, as is the powerful lighting offered by the lamp, both as an inspection lamp and a regular torch.

The best thing about the Ring is how many features for handsfree working it comes with. It features a hook at both ends as well as three magnets. The two on the back are fairly standard but a welcome addition while the magnet in the base allows for the rest of the lamp to pivot.

In fact the only issue with this lamp is that it’s a bit too large for use in tight spaces. This chunky lamp from Ring Automotive is a very tough and quick charging lamp that would be perfect for use in a professional garage.

Specifications
Lumens 500
Magnets One in the base, Two on the back
Hook Yes (one at both ends)
Rechargeable USB-C
Weight 400g
Other featuresWorks as a torch, Battery level indicator
Pros Cons
• Sturdy construction • Bit bulky
• Versatile design

Philips LPL74X1 LED Head Torch Headlamp

Philips LPL74X1 LED Head Torch Headlamp
©Photo: Parkers

A step away from a traditional inspection lamp, this smart LED head torch from Philips is an interesting and viable alternative.

It’s next to useless as a handheld inspection lamp because it’s designed for your head. It’s for this reason it also lacks any hooks or magnets for hands-free working.

It does offer good adjustability with both a button and wheel for choosing the intensity of the light. It also features a very handy SOS flashing feature which would be perfect for night-time breakdowns.

The best feature we found however was that the light can be operated using a motion sensor. This allows for you to switch the light off by waving your hand in front of the torch, a great feature if your hands are mucky in the garage.

If you want to step away from the traditional inspection lamp then this clever head torch is a good buy. While a traditional inspection lamp is arguably more versatile this head torch is still excellent.

Specifications
Lumens 300
Magnets None
Hook None
Rechargeable Micro-USB
Weight 115g
Other featuresHead mounted, SOS mode, Motion sensor
Pros Cons
• Great head torch • Not a proper inspection lamp
• Welcome safety features

Philips Compact Dimmable Pocket Lamp

Philips Compact Dimmable Pocket Lamp
©Photo: Parkers

A small inspection lamp from Philips, this ‘pocket lamp’ does have some clear limitations.

While you can feel it’s exceedingly well made and features a grippy rubberised coat, it isn’t the easiest or most ergonomic to hold thanks to its overly wide design.

Handsfree use is also limited by the very small hook. At least the magnetic base allows the lamp to tilt. The light is decently powerful too.

Still, there are better inspection lamps available (including examples from Philips). At least it comes with a smart-looking charging dock.

Specifications
Lumens 300
Magnets One in the base
Hook Yes
Rechargeable Docking station
Weight 460g
Other featuresWorks as a torch, smart dimmer, Battery indicator
Pros Cons
• Well-made • Not easy to carry
• Nice docking station

Philips Dimmable LED Light With Charging Dock

Philips Dimmable LED Light With Charging Dock
©Photo: Parkers

A very large option for an inspection lamp, the Philips Dimmable LED Light is a great, ergonomically designed handheld inspection lamp, but is simply too big to be truly useful.

While it features a powerful light and a swathe of hands-free features with two rear magnets, an adjustable base magnet and a hook, its size means that it is rubbish in very tight spaces.

While its build quality can’t be knocked and it’ll easily absorb the worst a typical garage can throw at it, a smaller example will be more versatile. It is one of the best for handheld operation, however.

Specifications
Lumens 500
Magnets One in the base
Hook Yes
Rechargeable Docking station
Weight 700g
Other featuresSmart dimming, Water resistant
Pros Cons
• Best for handheld use • Rubbish in tight spaces
• Top quality

Amtech S8188 10W USB Rechargeable Work Light

Amtech S8188 10W USB Rechargeable Work Light
©Photo: Parkers

Larger than a typical inspection lamp, this work light from Amtech offers an impressively powerful light and two magnets even if the quality feels a little lacking.

The size combined with the telescopic ends makes using this as a handheld inspection lamp a real challenge. Not only is it too large to be comfortable to hold, but the ends also slide around and conceal the light which is really annoying.

This lamp is much more suited to being used as a stationary work lamp using the magnetic legs to keep it still. It’s next to useless as an inspection lamp but a decent budget work lamp.

Specifications
Lumens 600
Magnets One in each foot
Hook No
Rechargeable Micro-USB
Weight 500g
Other featuresTelescopic
Pros Cons
• Cheap and powerful • Rubbish for handheld use

JML Handy Brite

JML Handy Brite
©Photo: Parkers

While this inspection lamp may look like it was nabbed from a building site with its tough industrial looks, to hold the JML Handy Brite exposes it as a budget option.

The plastic may make the product extremely light, but it also makes it feel incredibly cheap and brittle. The Handy Brite is also rubbish for hands-free use, with one non-adjustable magnet in the base. At least it comes with a metal hook.

There is no lighting adjustability aside from on or off and the worst thing is that there is no option to recharge it. While the batteries (happily included) did last long, you’ll need three AA batteries when they eventually die.

If your only concern for an inspection lamp is spending as little as possible, the JML makes sense. It provides acceptable lighting and ok-hands free use but it’s severely lacking compared to the other options here.

Specifications
Lumens N/A
Magnets One in the base
Hook Yes
Rechargeable No
Weight 10g
Other featuresNone
Pros Cons
• Cheap • Non-rechargeable
• Looks cool • Feels very cheap

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