Tool Reviews

OTC 5550 work light

All Spectrum Series work lights feature LED lighting and both AC and DC chargers.
<p>All Spectrum Series work lights feature LED lighting and both AC and DC chargers.</p>

All photos by author unless otherwise noted

OTC recently introduced a new family of Spectrum Series cordless work lights, powered by rechargeable Lithium-Ion batteries. Three new work lights, including the Spectrum Solar (P/N 5550), Spectrum Trio (P/N 5551), and the Spectrum 30+4 (P/N 5552), each feature waterproof LED lighting, a hanger hook, a pivoting magnetic base, a main face light and a top light. The entire light body is rubberized for superior grip, and the construction is designed for impact resistance. Each work light includes both AC and DC chargers.

The Spectrum Solar features a 10W LED main work light and a UV LED top light designed for use in leak detection, tracing and smoke detection. The Spectrum Trio combines a 9W LED work light with a 3W LED top light that provides an intense mini spotlight. The Spectrum 30+4 offers a broader, wider light with 30 LEDs on the face and 4 LEDs on top.

The magnetic base angles in 20-degree increments to a full 60-degrees (click indented at each spot).
<p>The magnetic base angles in 20-degree increments to a full 60-degrees (click indented at each spot).</p>

After being introduced to these lights, which debuted at the recent Automotive Aftermarket Parts Expo (AAPEX), I couldn’t wait to test one. I flipped a coin and selected the Spectrum Solar (P/N 5550).

The pivoting magnetic base is very handy, and the magnet is definitely strong (this won’t accidentally fall off), allowing you to attach the light on any steel surface, angling the light to your target area. The angle adjustment allows forward or backward angles of up to 60 degrees, with angle adjustments incremented (the base angles and “clicks” into position in 20-degree increments for a solid lock at any of the selected angle settings).

The Solar unit’s main light mimics VERY bright natural sunlight (maybe 10W doesn’t sound like much at first, but believe me, you don’t want to stare straight at this light! It’s definitely bright, with a high “WOW” factor), and provides a very nice, broad illumination area. The UV top light lens housing is about 5/8-inch in diameter and provides a strong, clean concentration of ultraviolet (blue) light of about four inches in diameter at a distance of about 12 inches (progressively narrower beam at closer distances and wider at greater distances).

Oh, and here’s a cool feature: While the tactile ON/OFF button firmly clicks at each selection (main light on, main light off, top light on, top light off and complete unit off), when either light is on, the button also serves as a momentary switch. This allows you to lightly press the button to momentarily shut either light off, while releasing the button maintains a full-time light-on mode. This eliminates the need to turn the unit off when moving the light from one area to another if so desired. This momentary feature also allows you to “strobe” either light by manipulating the switch.

The OTC 5550 work light’s top UV light lens is flush with the body for easy cleaning.
<p>The OTC 5550 work light&rsquo;s top UV light lens is flush with the body for easy cleaning.</p>

The rubberized grip (actually, the entire body is rubberized) provides outstanding grip when dry (with bare hands, latex gloves or work gloves), and proved non-slip even with hands covered with oil or gloves. This tactile feature also provides a bit of traction on smooth surfaces (less chance of the light slipping off when laid onto a smooth surface). The face of the grip area also features a series of three finger indentations for improved grip. I really like the fact that the entire light body (not just the grip area) is rubberized. This provides good finger-traction regardless of where your hand contacts the light, and helps to provide additional shock/impact resistance.

The UV light is very handy for leak detection, and is strong enough to use even in a well-lit shop. Photo courtesy of OTC.
<p>The UV light is very handy for leak detection, and is strong enough to use even in a well-lit shop. Photo courtesy of OTC.</p>

The light dimensions of the Solar model (similar on all three models) are 10.250-inch tall x 2 3/8-inch wide (at the light head area; tapering down to about 1 7/8-inch wide at the grip base). The thickness (at the light head area is about 1 5/8-inch. The magnet (at the base) measures two inches by 1 3/8-inch.

The hanger (recessed in the rear of the unit for storage) is plastic (about 1/8-inch in diameter) and is V-shaped. The hanger pivots in any direction, which makes positioning the light easy when hanging. The only thing I wasn’t crazy about was the way the hanger stores. When fully stored in the triangle-shaped recess, it’s not as easy to grab for extraction, requiring digging your fingertip into the base of the V-recess to access the hanger. When wearing work gloves, I found it necessary to remove my glove first and to use my bare finger. However, this is a very minor complaint.

The recharging port for the Lithium-Ion battery is located at the rear, immediately above the pivoting base hinge area. A weatherproof rubber cover snaps into place to protect the recharging port when not in use.

The magnet is super-strong and provides a no-worries attachment underhood or undercar. Photo courtesy of OTC.
<p>The magnet is super-strong and provides a no-worries attachment underhood or undercar. Photo courtesy of OTC.</p>

I hated the thought of abusing this pretty, high-quality light, but when I perform a tool review, it’s my duty to expose the tool to real-world treatment. If it’s a piece of junk that won’t hold up to realistic shop use, I need to let you know.

My first “abuse” test involved dropping it onto my shop’s concrete floor, from a height of about three feet, then from six feet, then from 10 feet, with no failures. Next, I threw the light (man, I hated doing that to such a nice piece) across the shop, to the tune of about 30 feet, with the light bouncing off of an air compressor tank. Still no failure, with the light functioning as new.

Next came the really ugly test. With the main light turned on, I completely immersed the light under water (dunked it into my shop’s break-room sink, trying to drown the little guy). By the way, the light floats, so I had to force it down. I held it under water for 30 seconds, which should certainly be enough to try out the waterproof features. The light stayed on while under water. I then turned the UV light on and held it under water for another 30 seconds.

I held the light under water for a full 30 seconds with the main light on.
<p>I held the light under water for a full 30 seconds with the main light on.</p>

Each time, the light of choice stayed on and never even flickered. After removing it from the sink, I shook it off and worked the switch. Main light off, UV light on, UV light off, unit off, main light on, etc. After allowing the unit to dry overnight (I wanted to see if any water had seeped in and screwed up the contacts inside), I cycled the lights again, with the same results. Just like the bunny in the battery commercial, she just kept on going.

While I only tested the Solar model, since the entire Spectrum line is constructed in a similar manner, my opinion is that this is truly a pro-level work light that you can trust. To quote the food critic in the movie “Mystic Pizza,”— “I have to give it my highest rating... four stars.”

TOOL TESTED: OTC Spectrum Solar, P/N 5550

MFG.: OTC, a division of Service Solutions LLC

www.otctools.com   ●  

Tags: OTC  Tool Review 
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