Makita BML184 vs Dewalt DC527 18v work lights

With any type of work, you run into a situation where you need an artificial light source. Typical jobsite lighting are halogen lights running off power grid or a handheld “shop” lights. The drawback is that you have to drag a cord everywhere, can burn yourself with incandescent light and grid power is not always available. This is where cordless lights have a huge advantage.

I got both Makita BML184 and DeWalt DC527 18 volt fluorescent cordless work lights. I was excited to get Makita because of 3.0 Ah batteries, hoping to get a longer run time thanDC527 with DeWalt’s 2.4 Ah batteries.

Makita BML184 specs:

  • Run Time Incandescent up to 15 hours
  • Run Time Fluorescent up to 4 hours
  • 13 Watt Fluorescent light
  • Battery (Ah) 3.0 (Li Ion)
  • Length 17-3/4″

Dewalt DC527 specs

  • Built-in telescoping and 360 rotating hook allows unit to hang from 2″ materials and multiple locations
  • Over-molded lens cover provides increased durability on the jobsite
  • 13 Watt Fluorescent bulb provides bright area lighting
  • Twist and lock tool-free lens cover allows for quick and easy bulb change
  • Pre-heat circuit helps eliminate blackening at the base of the bulb
  • Runs on the 18V battery system for longer run-time
  • Manufacturer claimed run time: 3.5 hours

So I geared up my webcam to take snapshots of both lights on with 30 seconds interval. Makita battery was charged 10 hours ago, dewalt XRP battery was just taken off the charger after 1 hour charge and 10 hour trickle charge (maintenance mode). Makita is Li-Ion, DeWalt was NiCd that’s why I wanted to use it right away so it doesn’t self discharge. My findings:

1st test:
Makita: 3 hours 43 minutes
Dewalt: 4 hours 22 minutes

2nd test, batteries fresh off the charger:
Makita: 4 hours 15 minutes
Dewalt: 4 hours 22 minutes (same as 1st time, amazing)

Makita battery is 3 Ah, DeWalt is 2.4, so apparently Makita is less efficient.

I also measured current between the battery and the light when it was off and Makita has a quiescent current of 60 mA. That is quite a lot and potentially, if a dead battery is left in the light for a long period of time (1 week), it will be overdischarged and potentially damaged. Dewalt physically cut the power so zero current draw with the light off – the way it should be.

Also, if you pop the battery off Makita, press and hold the lock and slide it on and off and on quickly, the light will turn on (fluorescent part). This apparently triggers an internal solid state switch, which is the reason the light draws power even when off.

Makita BML184 pros:
Li-Ion battery, incandescent light on top, internal reflective strip can be removed making it a 360 degree area light.

Cons: drains battery even when powered off, unusual momentary switch: rotates fluorescent-incandescent-off modes, fragile body, requires special incandescent lightbulb, standard 18v lightbulbs will melt the plastic reflector. Rubber button boot can fall out if twisted, small hook.

Dewalt pros:
High efficiency and heavy duty body, lightbulb pre-heating to prevent blackening at the base, great hook, good stability when put upright.

Cons: New NANO batteries DO NOT fit DC527 but the tool can be easily modified by filing out a piece of plastic inside the light handle. No incandescent light, lightbulb not available in big box stores (but plenty from Dewalt or other manufacturers, $10 or less, 4-pin SE type).

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