What is the best cheap zoom-able headlamp/bike lamp to modify 20V work lights with?


Newly Enlightened
Jan 25, 2022
I am disappointed that a lot of 20V work lights regardless of brand start at $40and have less features, and are often dimmer than a $10 flashlight. Sadly a $10 flashlight doesn't stand on it's own in the wind on a plank of wood. I would like to make a few have spot to flood zoom heads, and if they can get a high mode, and a low mode that is about 140-240lumens, the usual stock brightness, that would be a great bonus. I have modified a few other incandescent work lights with led circuits from newer work lights, but want a few with spot to flood, as that seems to be very useful to me. Have you ever been up in the rafters working alone, when you suddenly hear something moving insulation, but your flood lamp can't illuminate the far side of the attic, and wondered if it was a rat, snake, or opossum?
I have found two of life's most important questions are:
1) What was that noise?
2) Is the source of the noise moving closer or farther away?
A good light can quickly answer both of these questions for you.
I do have the Makita zoom-able light, and while it is built well, I think the flood could have spread a bit wider.

I have a bunch of old Craftsman Work light 320.28103 Lithium lights that had twin hinges, and 3 brightness modes powering 3/6/9 leds, sadly being made in 2000, the leds are the cheap type that aren't very bright. I really like the design though, and have a few working batteries still and 6+ to be rebuilt. One I would like to replace with a "reflector nest"/"bulb farm" as a lot of old work lights used to have, you know 9-12 bulbs with deep cones, but metal and modern, perhaps a 16 t6 flashlight head, but that is a different project thread. Most of the 20V lights I intend to modify I would like to fit a spot to flood light inside the top housing. I think the type that has a twisting front ring instead of a forward extending one, will be a lot easier to adapt as all I would have to do for fitment is cut the former lens in two, and a circle so that it wraps around between two of the the radiator fins, then just Dremel as much as needed inside the old head for the rear clearance. I would much prefer that style of head. It seems that head lamps and bike head lights unlike flashlights both often have the light in a heat sink on a hinge separte from the main driver board which will make modding them into an existing housing easier, as they will have shorter lighter heads less likly to make the work light fall over, and a wire can be run through the hinges to the driver board shoved somewhere in the handle. I also want to upgrade with zoom-able head, or maybe a long strip(s) of cob leds like magnetic lights have to make it full length on the angle, but probably zoom-able in a similar format as the blue Makita knock off pictured a Craftsman 900.44933 D-handle light, which is 70lumen, and about the same as the current Black + Decker model. I do have a pair of Hart clamp to 2x4 lights HPHL01, which is a modified version of the similar Ryobi light, which I'd like to have zoom-able heads, though one needs all new circuitry(read crazy experimentation welcome) do to a failed attempt to replace a tiny smd fuse with an iron. I'd like these upgrade reflector/heads to be as large as they can be to still fit in the old work light heads, so that it looks like it could have been stock.

I rather do like the cheap 1 X AA or 1 X 18650 flashlights that can zoom in till you see the diode wire shape on the ceiling, then zoom put to light up most of the ceiling. I was wondering if these old $10(no batteries) T6 zoom-able head lamps actually have a decent spread and focus, such as can it light an entire living room, or a 3 car garage on wide, or light up the far wall in the rafters to clearly see where the wire exits the building 100-200 feet away despite the dust? They might be a cheap way to breath new life into dim old tool lights, but I'm not sure if they are reliable or if one is noticeably better than the other. I'd hate to put in a bunch of effort to permanently mod a light housing to take in a separate head internally only for the new led to fail in less than a year. I have repaired fancy led desk lamps that died in less than a year(cold solder joints on a $50+ lamp). I see that now there are "XHP90.2" zoom-able head lamps for $20 without batteries, but I know that most of the stats on these generic lights and cheap Chinese circuits in general tend to be "overly optimistic," especially it seems if the same bulb and number/type of battery combo yields a difference in light output of 10X or more with similar sized spot to flood reflectors. I have also heard that supposedly a lot of them are lying about their bulb types used as well. There is a cost difference between these cheap lights based on bulb type "used" that is easily measured unlike the actual brightness/spot flood angles of the headlamps sold. Will I realistically be able to tell the difference between a HXP90.2, HXP90, HXP70, HXP50, and a T6 when they come in a zoom-able headlamp with relatively the same reflector size? Are there any cheap models that are known to be decent, and reliable? Are there any recommendations for some of these head lights that are considered especially good for repurposing? Is there something I should be considdering that I didn't mention? I enjoy building/upgrading things, so time use isn't actually a concern so long as the result lasts, and is useful.

The old craftsman double hing lights have an inner ring of 6cm, I will have to find the one I have open for depth. For the Hart the old reflector with heat sink is about 4cm diameter about 3.8cm deep.

Also, If It can be asked in the same tread, how can I determine the max amp output of a circuit board? For example, if I were to try to replace the old red craftsman work lights 3 brightness groups of 3 leds with a modern bright led and two concentric led light rings, each of the three with their own driver circuit tied to one of the former brightness setting output wires, how could I non-destructively see if the old circuit could supply the amp draw without burning? Alternately, the newer Craftsman D-handle light outputs 3.9V at unknown max amp capacity through wires to the led module. If I can keep the old protection boards, then that saves a bit of cash on low voltage cut off circuits, even if I still need a buck converter, and makes the modd a lot easier.

Photos taken from internet for quick reference.


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Oct 1, 2004
Ok I sort of skimmed over this and am familiar with I think the craftsman is the same as black and decker using all 5mm LEDs. Likely they are driven about 15-20ma each or a combined 200ma. In other words the electronics in it are not worth bothering with to drive other LEDs especially with a 5 cell 18650 power battery. There is several methods to get what you are seeking multiple LEDs in series or buck circuitry. From what I've seen and used in work lights so far just a porter cable optical rotating 20V light which for the platform probably one of the better light that is outshone by a 1000 lumen I think work light. Different platforms have different lights for sure and I've been slowly changing to dewalt platform and have picked up 2 lights so far the pistol grip 150 lumen tight beam thrower and a cheap USB adapter with a perhaps 100lumen area light. I like both of them but want a 1000+ lumen area light using the platform and also the swivel area light that is a flood light that the older model is 250/500 lumens I want the 500/1000 lumen version. I have not seen a zoomie work light mainly because most work lights that are for throwing have reflectors. I think that the zoomable feature is a point of weakness for work lights as they are typically designed to take a beating.

Again likely a buck circuit that is adjustable put in another light could work. I've seen people gut drills and put a light engine in it and a trigger switch. My porter cable thrower was only about 80 lumens bright enough in pitch dark and ran forever on a 1.5Ah battery I used it all day and only dropped a single bar. I now have 5/6 and 8Ah batteries for my dewalt so 500-1000 lumens is possible with effective runtime but for now my budget is shot.