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Best inspection lamps 2024

Which is best at getting light where you need it?

You don’t usually get far working on cars before you need some help to see the job in hand. Fortunately, getting light under the bonnet, wheelarch or chassis has grown easier in recent years with the rise of the cordless work lights.

A host of innovative designs have hit the market, thanks to advances in not just battery technology but also LEDs. This combination has been able to deliver previously unseen levels of light output in ever more compact packages with impressive runtimes. But which is the one to keep in your tool box? We charged 10 to find out.

But which is the one to keep in your tool box? We charged 10 to find out.

How we tested them

We measured light output and runtime on max power, as well as checking how good the lamps were at directing light deep under the bonnet, including on a primarily aluminium and glassfibre car.

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Other key factors included battery state and charging indicators, what you got in the box, and ingress and impact ratings. The final factor was price, taken from online sources.

Reviews

Philips Xperion 6000 Slim

The Xperion Slim is one of the lamps that gets light where it’s needed most easily. That’s because the blade, with its 500-lumen LED strip, folds 180 degrees, and can be rotated by 270 degrees, assisted by a strong magnet on the base.

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In contrast to some rivals, the solid, hefty build means it won’t overbalance on non-metallic surfaces when the blade is horizontal. The battery lasted around four hours and there are four LEDs to monitor battery state and charge. A price cut of more than £10 since the last test completes a winning package. 

Buy now from Amazon…

Philips Xperion 6000 UV Pillar

Like its stablemate, the UV Pillar is another to benefit from a substantial price cut since its launch two years ago – this time £30. It is still close to twice the price of rivals, but you get a lot for your money, including a Bluetooth tracker to help find it if mislaid, a CRI 95 rating for accurate colour rendering, plus that UV light for leak tracing.

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There’s a percentage battery readout, top ingress and impact ratings, plus a wide, 500-lumen COB (chip on board) strip on a hinged panel, and a torch. Factor in a four-hour runtime and it’s seriously good.

Buy now from Amazon…

Ring Magflex Twist

The Magflex Twist has been around for a few years. We first tested it in 2017 but this version has been updated with the latest USB-C socket for the supplied charge cable. The magnetic base hinges 180 degrees and rotates 360 – ideal when the magnets are doing their thing, but the Magflex easily topples when not on metal.

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If you can get it where you want it, the beam is among the best (bright and wide) and this is backed up by a useful torch. The 2600mAh battery was good for more than two hours in the runtime test and, like most here, there is also an eco mode. Great value at less than £30. 

Buy now from Amazon…

Ring Magflex Slim 500

There’s not much to choose between this lamp and our winner, given that both have a fold-out blade that twists and delivers 500 lumens from a strip COB LED. Only a few pounds separate them on price, and the pair have a power-saving mode plus four LEDs to indicate battery life.

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The Ring doesn’t feel as solid as the Philips, though, and a smaller base means it will topple on non-metallic surfaces when the LED strip is horizontal. The beam and torch are a touch less bright but just as wide. On the plus side, it matched its impact and ingress ratings.

Buy now from Amazon…

Draper Slimline Inspection Lamp

Draper has gone its own way with this work light, which is a fair bit bigger than all but the Luceco, and some 5cm longer than our winner when folded. It’s also the only one to come with a mains USB outlet, and a rotary dimmer to balance light and battery life.

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That long 12cm LED blade delivers 700 lumens and has one of the best light spreads. But you pay for that with a runtime of just over 2.5 hours. The blade also only rotates 180 degrees, which makes it hard to light one side, although it doesn’t topple on a non-metallic surface when horizontal.

NightSearcher i-Spector 750

This i-Spector is the most powerful lap on test, punching out an eye-scorching 750 lumens. But, like the Draper, runtime is restricted to 2.5 hours. The eco mode is 350 lumens and will be sufficient for most tasks.

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The main problem with the beam is the relatively narrow spread, created by the optical lens, which leaves darker areas under the bonnet, although the 170-lumen torch is one of the best. The base pulls out to allow a 90-degree hinge and there’s 360- degree rotation. It works well on metal but is top-heavy when elsewhere.

Nebo Big Larry Pro+

An impressive debut for Nebo. It was always going to struggle against rivals that folded in some way to get light where needed, but it did better than expected. 

The Big Larry Pro+ has one of the brightest, widest light spreads on test, with a 600-lumen output backed by a 220-lumen torch, which also topped the scores. When handheld, it’s one of the best to use, but the lack of a hinge makes things tricky with just a single magnet in the base. There’s also just one charge monitor, although the battery outlasted all in the run test by some margin –albeit by gradually reducing output.

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Buy now from Amazon…

Ledlenser W7R Work

We’ve long been fans of Ledlenser’s torches, but this is the firm’s first work-light. It has taken an unusual approach with the W7R: there’s a UV light instead of a torch. You can also steplessly change the colour temperature, which can improve comfort when working close to the 600-lumen LED. This is combined with a 220-lumen power-saving mode.

As we’d expect from Ledlenser, there are ingress and impact ratings, and four LEDs monitor the battery. The rotating folding blade makes it easy to direct light, which lasted just under three hours at max output.

Buy now from Amazon…

Also tested:

Laser Foldable Work Lamp

Luceco LED rechargeable 5W Torch

  • Price: Around £37 
  • Rating: 2.5 stars
  • Website: screwfix.com

Verdict:

While our last test in 2022 had no returnees, several make a repeat appearance this year, although the order has been shaken up. There’s little to choose between the best five, but at the top it’s a second win for the Slim Philips, which ticks most boxes and is helped by a hefty price cut. Another price slash helps the UV Pillar Xperion 6000 secure second, while Ring locks out the next two spots with the latest version of its long-running Magflex Twist just topping the Slim 500.

  1. Philips Xperion 6000 Slim
  2. Philips Xperion 6000 UV Pillar
  3. Ring Magflex Twist

Now you can see what you’re doing, keep your workshop warm with one of the best garage heaters...

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Products editor

Kim has worked for Auto Express for more than three decades and all but a year of that time in the Products section. His current role as products editor involves managing the section’s content and team of testers plus doing some of the tests himself. 

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