Last week we spoke a little about the new Kobalt Hypercoil LED work light, a new flexible-neck work light that’s available at Lowes. I have a soft spot for innovative flashlights and worklights, and so I picked one up to see if it’s as innovative as Kobalt claims.
The Hypercoil LED work light features a 200-lumen pivoting LED head with focusing knob, a built-in rechargeable 3.6V Lithium-ion battery pack, an interchangeable 3AA battery pack, magnetic bases, and a flexible neck that allows for a high degree of maneuverability and positioning.
Also Consider: Black & Decker SnakeLight, which is $40 via Amazon
- Full Power Mode: 200 lumens output, 2000 candela peak intensity, 3.5-hour runtime, 90m range
- Low Power Mode: 100 lumens output, 1000 candela peak intensity, 7-hour runtime, 60m range
- Lantern Mode: 40 lumens output, 4.5 candela peak intensity, 9-hour runtime, 4m range
- Water resistant
- 6-foot impact resistance
Right now the Hypercoil LED worklight is priced at $30 at Lowes (Buy Now). There is also a limited edition kit that comes with a free bonus pouch, but it’s not yet available (Check Availability).
Update: Special holiday price is $25.
One thing I didn’t know when I wrote up the introductory preview post was that the flexible neck is removable, which makes the completely modular Hypercoil LED work light even more versatile than I realized.
The first five minutes I spent testing the Kobalt Hypercoil LED work light were full of optimism and delight.
My initial assessment was that the Hypercoil LED light is versatile and rife with ingenuity, but also somewhat cheaply made to a tolerable extent.
The main part of Kobalt’s Hypercoil LED work light is of course the flexible neck. By itself, the rubber accordian-covered flexible arm works quite well.
But in contrast to the Black & Decker SnakeLight that we reviewed just the other day, the Hypercoil’s coil left something to be desired.
Without cutting the coil open, it feels like the internal flexible component is a solid and continuous flex arm. This means that adjusting its positioning is not as quick or easy as with the SnakeLight, which is presumed to be built with a modular Loc-Line-like hose with segments that can rotate and flex independently of each other.
This is not to say that adjusting the Hypercoil is tedious or a hassle, but that the SnakeLight is simply engineered with a better flexible neck.
Attaching the flashlight module end of the Hypercoil’s coil to the battery pack end is accomplished with a sliding connection.
The two ends are tricky to attach and detach the first few times, but you get used to it quickly. The advantage of this type of connection is that it’s very secure and helps keep the Hypercoil LED light in a compact configuration for storage or use.
The modularity of the Hypercoil LED work light gives you a lot of flexibility in how you use it. In addition to the choice between using the rechargeable battery pack and AA battery pack, you can choose to use or remove the flexible arm.
To recharge the 3.6V Li-ion battery pack, unscrew the cap to reveal the AC plug.
Slide it out, and it’s ready to be plugged directly into a wall outlet or power strip.
The 3xAA power pack unscrews in the same way to reveal a removable battery holder.
I might be nitpicking here, but the AA battery pack gave me a distinct sense of cheapness. It wasn’t one aspect in particular, but little things here and there, such as the flimsy battery holder and sloppiness of the formed plastic above the threads. I suppose that I would rather tolerate a dip in quality of the AA battery pack I probably won’t use, than the with rechargeable battery pack.
Both battery packs are built with a flat 4-magnet base for easy attachment to iron or steel surfaces and materials. I shouldn’t be surprised by this, but the magnetic bases are strong enough to support the weight of the Hypercoil work light.
If the flexible neck proves to be too bulky, unwieldy, or large for a given lighting task or application, simply remove it.
The kit comes with two yellow-green rings, although you only need one. These female-threaded rings directly bridge the LED light module to either of the battery power packs to create handheld flashlight.
Remember, the LED module still pivots, so the flashlight is still somewhat adjustable.
LED Flashlight Lighting Module
The flashlight module features a focusing dial, a large crystal-clear lens, and a crenellated front edge. I don’t care for the crenellations, but it’s a design aspect that probably didn’t cost anything extra to implement.
I tried to capture how the LED emitter moves forward and backwards with respect to the lens for focusing, but it didn’t show up too well in photos.
Luckily, images of the beam turned out a bit better. The same exposure was used for all three photos, so the differences in brightness intensity should be reasonably accurate.
There are four lighting modes – full power, low power, lantern mode, and signal mode. In lantern mode, the translucent white housing glows, thanks to two rings of LEDs around its perimeter. In signal mode, the lantern mode LEDs pulse on and off.
The power button, which also changes the current operating mode with subsequent clicks, is small and located just near the pivot on one side of the LED flashlight module. I wish this was placed on the battery pack for more intuitive operation, but I suppose that would have resulted in greater costs given that the kit comes with two battery packs.
Overall, I’m not terribly impressed with the Kobalt Hypercoil LED work light, but I’m not offended by it either. I found it to be exceptionally versatile and convenient to use.
Despite the few downsides, I think this is a very practical and recommendable product. The modular construction was a great idea, and its execution was flawless.
I purchased the Hypercoil featured here for the full retail price of $30 plus tax at Lowes, which definitely seems fair for what you get.
Buy Now(via Lowes)
If you want to step up to a better quality flexible-neck work light, check out the Black & Decker SnakeLight, which is priced at $40 via Amazon.
I gave the work light a rating of 16/20. (1) design point was docked because parts of the light seemed clumsy, such as the sliding coupler that mates both ends of the flexible neck to each other. (2) build quality points were deducted because the Hypercoil has a somewhat cheap feel to it. I was tempted to take off another point for quality, but the Hypercoil doesn’t largely feel weak or fragile. It also does have a 6-foot impact resistance rating. (1) performance point was lost because the flexible neck can be a little unwieldy at times.
A bit on the gimmicky side, but I’d find it useful for those times I am jamming my arms into a cramped space and no one else is around to hold a light in a strange position. I like the built-in charger plug idea, no extra piece to keep around or carry. The idea of including a AA pack is actually a good one, you can swap in the AA pack when the rechargeable one dies in the middle of a project and still have light while the other pack fuels up. The AA pack is ideal if you take the light camping, hiking or elsewhere that AC isn’t available. The other bonus with the AA pack is having longer available light as the batteries die. I have lots of LiIon-powered lights, and I also use Li primary cells in those lights that are kept at hand for emergency use and I don’t want to have an alkaline burst and ruin the flashlight. The problem with Li cells is there is little or no warning before the battery dies and you are left with darkness. Alkalines lose their power gradually, and you’ll still have usable light for hours in most cases with LEDs since the power draw of the LED drops significantly as the voltage drops only by a volt or so, yet the light given off can still get you around in the dark. Some LED lights with complicated electronic controls or buck/boost converters might drop sooner if the voltage drops below the operational limits of the circuit. Simple lights can give off usable light for weeks or months as the batteries slowly flatten, even if left on continuously.
I have become fond of crenelations for those times I am using a light and constantly putting it down when it’s still on knowing I’ll be picking it up and repeating the process while I’m working. Flat-faced lenses often close off all the emitted light when placed face down, on more than on occasional I left a light turned on in that position accidentally and came back to dead batteries. Years ago in the days before kickass LED lights, I set my Brinkmann hot-wire light face down on a table while using it and forgot it was on. A few minutes later I smelled something burning, I lift up the light to find a black mark burned deeply into the table. This little light was powered by a pair of CR123 cells and had a very hot running halogen bulb. High tech for its time, but expensive to use. A set of cells lasted only about an hour. Crenelated lenses let some light escape, so it’s easy to tell if a light is still on. Some people want a crenelated light for tactical reasons, I’m not going to beat someone senseless with a tiny Nitecore EC1 but the slight notching of the ring lets light escape. My Nitecore TM26 has no such feature, but at 3500 lumens, I swear it will shine through a steel table. You should review one of those beats one day. 🙂
I’m not sure if this LED light is regulated, but some are, and will deliver constant output regardless of cell. So even with alkaline AAs, some lights will have all or nothing output intensity behavior as you mentioned. Using 3x 1.5V AAs should give an approximate voltage of 4.5V. It is more likely that the flashlight circuitry drops the voltage of the AA pack rather than boosting the voltage of the 3.6V Li-ion battery pack. In tests I used rechargeable AA batteries, which typically output 1.2V, and didn’t see much of a difference in brightness.
I hadn’t considered the benefit of crenellations that you discussed. My thoughts were that they were added on as an aesthetic component to kind of go after the look many tactical and tacticool LED flashlights have these days.
Yes, the Hypercoil is gimmicky, but I found that it to be versatile and useful. It’s one of those holiday-timed tools that people will actually use.
Could you do a direct photo comparison of the light output of the two flexilights? You pointed out a number of times that the B&D only outputs 44 lumens, while this light does either 200 or 100. I really have no idea how that looks. Can you help?
I`m new to this light, but it seems a fitting replacement for the OLD Snake light with the older standard bulbs. It will standup to reasonable use if it`s treated a little fragile.
My Gripe: There is NO manual to let you know if it can be left continually on charge, and in the store the clerk had to experiment on how to access the various battery changes. Now that I`ve charged the L I battery pack, the light on the charger went from red to green. Man what difference a nice CHEAP manual would have meant! C S had NO idea when I called the 888 # how it operated! They just said it was foreign made, duh!
Peter @ Power Pax
I have to agree with Stuart in the comments above. Some would deliver constant output regardless of cell. Haven’t tried this LED as well, and not too familiar with batteries like this, but I would assume they would work the same.
I found out everything I needed to know just buy visiting the various websites such as You Tube. The light and accessories were a bit confusing at first and as such a simple manual would be nice but that would probably increase the price. Overall, I am satisfied with this light.
Thanks Stan you answered my concern. I figured the battery needed to be charged but because of no instruction, other than charge 5-8 hours. good to know it goes from red to green.
after trying this light for acouple of different projects I am not happy with the flesability fo this flash light. and it won’t rechange I tried twice the recharge it and not able to do so. I don’t like the on/ off switch it is to small, to hard to operate when you need it. I will br taking it back tomorrow.
I finally took a look at this light set this weekend. After owning three B&D snake lights that I found unimpressive, I wouldn’t spend the money on this tool. Over time the wires on all of my snake lights separated somewhere in the tool and the lights stopped working. I don’t believe the Kobalt will be be any better in that regard. The idea is good, but the price point ensures the quality will not be high enough to ensure the long term use of this light or any similar flashlight. I greatly prefer a head mounted light, a clip on light or a tripod light to this type of flashlight.
BTW, I didn’t buy any of the snake lights. All three were given to me one Christmas. That year is now fondly remembered as the year of the snake (light).
I am a 71 y/0 female with some knowledge of tools. However, I like to have clearly illustrated instructions for new tools, and this had little. I want to be sure that I inserted the 3 AA batteries into the pack correctly, but there is nothing I have seen that shows me how to do that…not even the utube videos.
The negative side of battery is placed on the spring side.
I bought a second one of these, both on sale for $18.
Only time will tell if they hold up to my use.
If you want more durability go by a maglite.
Expect to pay more.
If you can find a 200 lumen LED rechargeable light with better features than this then buy it.
Expect to pay more. Go ahead, google it.
Please don’t compare this to a non-LED light.
The combination of light performance and battery life obsolete the older lights.
I’ll be sure to keep it away from motor oil, thanks to the other reviewer and the only practical information of value I’ve read here.
Figuring out AA battery orientation … really ?
This light has 4 operating modes, above average lumen rating, long battery life, rechargeable or AA battery powered, is configurable and flexible, sticks to the refrigerator and has some impact resistant features.
It is a keeper.
Mike, I purchased one back in 2014 for $19 and use it in my hot rod shop darn near every day. If I had known that in 2019 this same light would be $90. I would have then bought the whole rack. I have abused the heck out of this light, which has mig weld splatter on its lens, that I just cleaned today, and this bugger still performs. I have noticed one small issue, when I tig weld with hi frequency it randomly shuts the light off. I struggle to purchase this light now that they a near 100 bucks, when they were happy with less than $20. However if this one fails I will most likely have to replace it.
Thanks for the review and especially the photos. Without them, we would have never figured out how to access the charger or battery pack. The directions/illustrations that came with the device were sadly lacking. (A simple curved arrow on the illustration with the charger to access the plug unit would have gone a long way to indicate that one must unscrew it, not pull or slide it. There’s a straight arrow instead.)
Got the Kolbalt Hypercoil for X-mas. Five weeks later I threw it away. Light kept just going off on its own. Frustrating when your hands are full of tools in a dark area. Speaking about dark area you want to make sure you turn the light on before you went out to any dark area as I had to use my lighter to find the pinhead size on/off switch. And if your hands are cold its really fun. Nice concept bad delivery!
Live and learn I guess I hope!!
This wasn’t rocket science. I found the attachments (rings) easy to figure out. Each connection point has a symbol of either a light beam (lamp end goes here) or a battery (self explanatory). I also like having the capability of changing to alkaline when the li goes dead. I also figured if the end screwed off the alkaline end for batteries then the li end must also unscrew for charging access. As far as charging that seemed obvious (Red – Stop your dead: Green – good to Go). I have used it for camping, the lantern mode is great. It is also great for grilling. I just stick it to my grill prep area and aim it with the snake attachment. The only thing I find a nuisance is having to go through all of the modes to turn it off. For the cost ($18) it is well worth it. I bought one for my son and son-in-law.
Just FYI….you don’t have to push the power button through all the modes to shut off…just hold the button for a few seconds…
My husband and I love the flashlight, however the on/off button is small and for people who have problems with their hands and fingers put them at a disadvantage. You might want to re-think this small button.
I am a 58 yr old contractor who has been working with tools for 40 + yrs, I have used the light for working in cabinets hooking up plumbing, cleaning pellet stove and picking up dog poop at night, great light except for the on off switch, in darkness you need another flashlight to find the button.
Beware of Fire. Today 2/18/2015 this light caught fire. My daughter heard her smoke detector in garage beeping. When she opened the door it was full of smoke. The charger was not plugged into the wall outlet. The battery pack was plugged into the light. The battery must have shorted out and caught fire. It burned the battery power pack completely up and burned the handle off a hammer, destroyed a saw and burned the workbench top. She was lucky it was not in her house. When she notified me I immediately took the battery pack from my light. If you have one of these do not connect the battery pack unless you are using the light. This fire hazard should be address by Lowe’s and J.H. Williams who is partnered with Lowe’s the manufacture the product.
I have this light a little over 2 years and it worked great for my uses but about 2 days ago it began to go off when i adjusted the swivel head from the straight position to any other. I figured a wire/ connection problem so being a diy i disassembled the swivel section and found a broken wire. I tried to reconnect but it was broke in a spot with too short of wire to repair, lord knows I tried. There is just enough wire to make connections during assembly and i tried to add more but would have to dissemble beyond repair.Great light till the wires break.
My hyper coil light is broken on the coil how do I go about the warranty process. Pls send me information on how return the product
Since it’s a Kobalt product, try contacting Lowes.
My light just quit working, 3 AA battery applied still doesn’t work , recharged battery still doesn’t work. can’t figure out how to remove bulb or where to find one’ any ideas
The magnets came off the back so I cant put it on the fridge anymore . Do these have the life time warranty like other Kolbalt tools , If so do I just take it back to lowes , it was a Christmas gift a few years ago , don’t have a receipt …
You could try to see what your local Lowes can do for you. But if they don’t have any replacements, perhaps give superglue a try?
Lowe’s no longer carries this light. Is there any place you can purchase a replacement battery charger for the hypercoil light? We’ve misplaced or lost the one that came with the light.
The charger is part of the rechargeable battery.
I have two (2) of these Kobalt Flashlights. Both of the Battery Packs won’t hold a charge anymore. Where can you get a replacement Rechargeable Battery Pack for the light. Model 498277 ?
I don’t think you can. Have you contacted Lowes/Kobalt yet?
Cory Wade Vines
I have part # 498288 hypercoil . And like some others I had to watch a YouTube video to make heads or tales of how it all worked. The battery assembly that takes the 3 AA batteries works fine. The lithium ion battery end when attached doesn’t work. You push the button and the lantern type section flashes a few times. I plug it in and the indicator illuminates red. Ok cool. A few minutes later it changes to green. Screw it back onto the flashlight and nothing. But from what I’m reading, there seems to be no way to get parts or the 3.6V lithium ion battery. That’s to bad. I have barely even used it. Anyone finds out how to get. Please post
i have a Kobalt snake light that I love. It is over 5 years and works wonderfully.
A friend has used it many times and loves it also.
I want to purchase one for him as a surprise.
Unfortunately Kobalt stopped making this a while ago.
Bought this light years ago, and use it constantly. Best light I’ve ever owned for the price. Shame it’s not made anymore apparently.