So in my continual quest for more work light, I came across an idea.

When I was sharing a garage, my garage mate had acquired a huge LED panel from work. That was a few years ago, when LED’s were still a little on the weak side, but this panel had pretty good output. I had always thought that a panel under the car would be fantastic. His panel had a market value that put it out of range at the time.

Fast forward to a couple months ago, I was looking for some light, reading about lumens and such. I found a lot of the overhead lights were pretty shoddy, then I found some LED ones that had really good output. That got me thinking about the panels. I hopped back online to do a little snooping. A little bit of searching and I found that 12x12 panels are pretty affordable now. You need to hack the wiring a bit, and add a switch inline (I cheated with a simple plug switch, but overall super affordable for a ~$30-$50. I also saved an adjustable height stand so with a little bit of fabrication I can have a nice over the car work light as well. These have a height of about 1/2 an inch with another 1/2 inch for some retaining clips, they are super thin and put out tons of light.

Inline switch.

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Panel in question already dirty from hard service.

Even with my kick ass overhead lights, it still is pretty dim.

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With the LED panel turned on everything is lit up.

At 25w it uses 1/2 as much wattage as a simple incandescent light bulb, and it is bright. To the point that looking straight at it is really uncomfortable. The best part is you can take it with you under the car. That is how I easily spotted my missing engine mount nuts, just so much light that you could look at everything without having to shine light on it.

Hope that gives some people an idea. I made one for a friend and gave it to him, he seemed to like it. Also doesn’t burn if you accidentally touch it, and being plastic doesn’t shatter if you drop it.