Launch Slideshow

The Most Unusual Work Light You'll Never Own

The Most Unusual Work Light You'll Never Own

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    SysLite

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    Evenly dispersed light in tight quarters

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    Power to illuminate larger areas

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    Kit includes

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    Upright - 10-degree tilt

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    Right side - 15-degree tilt

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    Left side - 30-degree tilt

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    Mounted on a camera tripod

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    Hand held

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    Hanger folds away when not in use

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    Light can be powered by an external battery

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That's not a completely accurate description — most of you will never own this light but some of you will.

And the part about it being unusual is true. I'm talking about the Festool SysLite, a rechargeable cordless work light that produces bright evenly dispersed light that fans out at a 170-degree angle. I recently used one while reworking some kitchen cabinets, a task that involved squeezing into and between base cabinets to move electrical receptacles and install new drawer slides. Unlike a flashlight or headlamp, it flooded the area with light. The tool works equally well from farther back. I used it in an attic and crawl space, and while it produced somewhat less illumination than a 100-watt bulb in a clamp light, it made up for it by being smaller and easier to carry, and by not requiring a cord.

Unlike most other work lights, the SysLite is exceedingly tough. The six LEDs are covered by a polycarbonate lens and the housing is very solid. If you drop the tool there is little chance it will be damaged. I intentionally dropped it onto concrete from three and six feet up — lens down, back down, and edges down — and the light kept working. I kicked the tool back and forth across the floor and that didn't hurt it either.

The light is activated by a flush push button switch and has high and low settings. The back is designed for easy gripping, but if you don't feel like holding the tool you can place it on its back, bottom, or edges. Alternately, the light can be mounted on a tripod using the 1/4-by-20 insert or hung from a pivoting hook that folds into the back when not in use. The housing is asymmetrical so you can change the angle that the light projects by changing the edge it is sitting on. In the upright position it leans 10 degrees back from plumb, on the left side 15 degrees back, and on the right side 30 degrees back. Place the light on its back and it shines straight up.

According to the manufacturer, the runtime of the internal battery is 90 minutes on high and 240 minutes on low. I didn't time it, but those numbers seem about right. I'm okay with that amount of runtime but wish the internal battery could be charged more quickly. It takes 180 minutes to fully charge a depleted battery and that's longer than I want to wait. You can continue to use the light after the battery is depleted by connecting it to one of the charging cords or to a battery pack (slide-mount only) from one of Festool's cordless tools.

The SysLite is fantastic work light, the best I have ever used. But at $175 it is also the most expensive. Is it worth the money? Let me put it this way — the lights that come in cordless tool combo kits cost about $35 when purchased separately. If the battery and charger were free (and they're not) this light would have to be five times as good to be worth it. I don't know how to put a number on it, but the SysLite is arguably many times better than those other lights. Whether or not you need a light this good is a separate question. All I can say is — the longer I have this light the more I like it.

SysLite Specs:
Size: 3-1/4 x 4 x 5-7/8 inches
Weight: 1.8 pounds
Light Source: 6 3-watt LEDs
Internal battery: 7.2 volts; 2.2 Ah
Internal battery life; 90 min high; 240 min low
Internal battery charge time: 180 min
Battery life with optional external battery: 3 to 4 1/2 hours
Country of origin: Germany
Includes: 110-volt AC charging adaptor, car charging cord, soft zippered case
Price: $175