Mechanic's headlamp? High-clearance, low shadow...

Tremelune

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Feb 24, 2003
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61
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Los Angeles
I work on cars a lot, and the lighting in my garage is non-existent. It mostly doesn't matter, thanks to my Zebralight H600Fc Mk IV. It's floody, it's bright, and it uses 18650 batteries. It's fantastic. I've had it for years, and I'm just checking in to see if there might be something better these days...

Things I would improve:

1) I wish there was more than one light source. It would be nice to have an array all across my head to eliminate shadows and prevent me from having to stick my head into an area at a particular angle. Maybe a light on two sides...?

2) I wish it wasn't so bulky. I often have to cram my head into tight spaces, and it catches and is obscured. For normal use, it's not bulky at all...For idiot-inside-a-car work, it can really get in the way. It's a standard 90° light strapped to a headband, so I get it...I just wish I could put the battery on the back or something.

3) I wish it didn't dim from heat so quickly. I feel like this can only be solved by 1) so maybe it's a moot point.

Things I won't give up:

1) 18650 (unless there's a new, better rechargeable I don't know about). Sometimes I have this thing lit for 6 hours straight and burn through 4-5 batteries. I need to be able to swap them in. I have a AA version and it doesn't last.

2) Floody. It really helps with shadows and comprehension when I'm staring at something trying to figure it out.

3) Brightness. It's just a bright light, even at the lower setting that lasts more than a minute.

4) Size/weight (up front anyway). It's a small light as it is, and it can still snag on things...usually when I'm upside down and have no free hands.

I've seen a few products that have an array across the band, but they're usually an internal rechargeable battery and not bright enough even for close-up work...I've never used one in real life, so I'm happy to be wrong!
 

Tremelune

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Feb 24, 2003
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Los Angeles
Specifically, the NightBuddy seems like a downgrade, but if I could split the difference...

I guess I'll search out reviews. Maybe I could use it just for the really tight stuff on occasion...
 

alpg88

Flashlight Enthusiast
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Apr 19, 2005
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5,395
ZL is still one of the best, leds changed a bit, but there is not much else changed. there are dozens of brands that try to copy and imitate it, but zl is still on top. it is one of the lightest, most efficient, and practical lights. I still use h600 first generation, still beats most newer lights in overall performance.
 

kaichu dento

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Apr 5, 2008
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現在の世界
It would be nice to have an array all across my head to eliminate shadows...
The ideal light source would emit from above the brows, both cheekbone areas and the chin, eliminating most of the single point shadow problem, and to have it powered from a swappable 6x18650 battery pack carried in a pocket or on the belt would go a long way to solving many of your problems.

Unfortunately it would be really annoying to wear, though a possible compromise could be a standard headlight that had a couple of articulating arms that could swing down and cast light from the sides and below, located beside the cheeks like an operator's headset.

After all these years I still hold a flashlight in my mouth for closeup work, preferring the lack of shadows it affords.

Another lighting product that could be less annoying, and very effective would be some flat, floody emitters that would be either built-in or separately wearable, which would place a light source at the front of each shoulder. It would probably make a more user-friendly package, and for many who are frustrated with the low shadows created by headlamps, eliminate the need for a headlamp in the first place.

The only time I think of headlamps as superior is when throw is necessary, which is why they're the best option around for mushers, but for close-up work, light sources originating from lower down and in front of the face is best.
 

3L3M3NT

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Sep 4, 2015
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Green Bay, WI
Here are some different options to consider:
This headlamp from Fenix might work for you, since you can take it out of the holder and stick it to something magnetic in the engine bay or whatever you're working on.
https://fenix-store.com/collections/headlamp-series/products/fenix-hm61r-v2-rechargeable-headlamp

Some other options from Fenix:
https://fenix-store.com/products/fe...ustrial-headlamp?nosto=frontpage-nosto-2-copy

https://fenix-store.com/products/fenix-hp25r-v2-0-headlamp-1600-lumens?nosto=frontpage-nosto-2-copy

https://fenix-store.com/collections...fenix-hp16r-rechargeable-headlamp-1700-lumens

Then another brand to consider that has some headlamps that have the light in the front and the battery on the back for a better weight distribution.
https://silvasweden.com/collections/headlamps

Otherwise I'm sure that there are some other options out there and will have to do some more searching around. If anything else comes to mind, I'll post it up.
 
Joined
Mar 4, 2012
Messages
644
Corded lights on a tripod and keep using your headlamp for the upclose stuff? Seems like crazy talk to want more junk mounted on your head, but that's just me looking from the outside in. I have lots of portable lighting in my shop, plus use a headlamp where necessary.

27593364_2.jpg
 

bykfixer

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Aug 9, 2015
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Dust in the Wind
I'd use my current headlamp and get a couple of Nebo big Larry rechargeables.
Exact-a-mundo. The COB light is great at killing the shadows between your head lamp and your hands. Heck, they seem to be able to shed light around corners at times due to reflected light.

Most of my "mechanic" work is on a car or truck in a driveway or parked in front of my house. Unlike a work shop where the hood blocks much of the over head lighting, in my case the hood often creates a shadow that actually helps reduce the light/dark contrast. For suspension and other areas of the automobile a magnetic floody light is often deployed nearby with the primary lighting tool being a spot beam type to see in crevices.
 

aznsx

Flashlight Enthusiast
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Apr 24, 2015
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Phoenix, AZ USA
Corded lights on a tripod

Like many, I live in an apartment. I have a private garage, but cannot work on cars anyplace else - only that garage. There is no user-available (per lease) power in my garage. I use headlights a lot (both of mine are small Fenix products). Thankfully, there are now many good Li-ion powered work lights of many types available as well. That's a fairly recent development. I would also add that given the size of my garage, tripod-mounted lights pose a significant risk / hazard potential for my cars, and thus are not allowed in there (by me). Tip one over by accident, and it could come at a very high price (more than I can afford).
 

Zman

Enlightened
Joined
Feb 27, 2003
Messages
351
Location
Northwest Indiana
I wrench relatively often, and although they aren't 18650 lights, I've found the headband cobb/spot light rechargeable combo from Amazon pretty handy. A two pack was like $15. Having 2 helps because I find they don't last that long, so you can swap them out. They even have a motion setting for on off if you like, you don't have to find and press a switch with greasy hands. That feature can be amusing and annoying when you're under the car and pass a little too close to something and you accidentally turn the light off.
The other style I've found useful for when you're upright has been the neck light from harbor freight.
I still occasionally use an old fashioned drop light from a reel on the ceiling. It's nice to have options
 

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