The Pacific Northwest’s winter gloom lasts from November through February, so we rely on temporary lighting on our jobsites as soon as we get the roof sheathed. In the past, we used Wobble Lights, but we switched to Milwaukee’s battery-powered LED lights a few years ago. This year, I tried clipping a headlamp to my hard hat (you can read my review of Milwaukee’s Beacon headlamp here), but this winter we’ve also been using Milwaukee’s new M18 Radius site light and M18 Rocket tower light. Spoiler alert: I love these lights. Our three-man crew framed all winter long using just the two lights in this review and an older (and smaller) battery-powered Milwaukee Flood light that has more than proven itself over the years.
M18 Radius LED Site Light. Similar in size and shape to our old wobble lights, this IP54-rated (for water and dust resistance) light has a two-battery bay that can sequentially charge M12 or M18 batteries. It also features Milwaukee’s One-Key system, which allows the user to create profiles in the Milwaukee app, track the unit, set light schedules, or manage inventories. I don’t use this system, so I can’t really tell you how useful this feature is.
This unit provides 360 or 180 degrees of light, with the option of turning off sections of the light in thirds. It provides 9,000 lumens at full power, 4,800 lumens at two-thirds power, and 2,500 lumens at one-third power. The company claims that a single battery can run the light for up to 14 hours; at full power, we found that we could get about a full workday out of two 12-Ah batteries. Most of the time, we left the unit plugged in to the one cord we have rolled out so we could keep the batteries charged for the other cordless LED lights that I can’t plug in.
I like being able to keep the light connected to power to charge batteries, and I like that up to six of these units can be daisy-chained together (even though I only have one unit). That means that other plug-in tools can be connected to the light, such as the wet/dry vac that we had to use on one job. At nearly 3 feet tall and almost 2 feet in diameter, the Radius Site Light is big, but it doesn’t take up a lot of room, and can easily be moved around to wherever illumination is needed. The bare tool is $600, so buy it when you can find a deal on batteries. This is a staple light to have.
M18 Rocket LED Tower Light. Unlike other Milwaukee tower lights that I’ve used, the M18 Rocket folds down and packs away easily, which I think is a major advantage. This IP67-rated light doesn’t have a built-in charger like the Radius light, but you can plug in two batteries and run it all day and night (it can also be plugged into an extension cord). To maximize runtime, I try to operate lights at the minimum brightness level that I feel is needed for the task at hand, but at full power, the Rocket provides 5,400 lumens of light.
While this light can provide lighting for larger areas, I found it best suited for task lighting. The height is adjustable up to about 5 ½ feet, and the head can be rotated to bounce light off the ceiling, which provides plenty of light in most cases. There are three leg positions and multiple ways the light can be deployed (think Transformers), but I primarily used the light in a basic tripod position. This light also features One-Key compatibility. Again, this is a $600 light (bare tool), so it isn’t cheap, but it's powerful and versatile. milwaukeetools.com.