The Best Grill Lights According to Chefs and Pitmasters

Grilling doesn’t have to stop when the sun goes down thanks to the Permasteel PA-12002 Grill Light and other top picks.

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Grill lights available from Amazon
Photo: Amazon

Cooking outdoors doesn't always turn out the way you plan. Sometimes, you get caught up and, before you've even started cooking, the sun has set. Maybe you want to have a late-night cookout, or perhaps you've got something going low and slow on the grill or smoker that will take all night. You used to be at the mercy of outdoor lighting, flashlights, lanterns, or the like to see the grill. But lighting options specifically for grilling provide new opportunities for cooking in low-light situations.

To gain insight into these lights, we spoke to chefs and pitmasters who need them regularly, be it for on-site catering or all-night smoking for barbecue competitions. We combined their insights with our industry knowledge to find the best grill lights on the market. We assessed lights on brightness, value, ease of use, consistency, and quality, ultimately naming the Permasteel PA-12002 Grill Light as Best Overall. Keep reading to learn what sets it apart, and browse more of the best grill lights below.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Permasteel PA-12002 Grill Light

Grill Light
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Lowe's and Wayfair.

Pros: These lights are compact, long-lasting, bright, and easily positionable.

Cons: We'd prefer a rechargeable battery, and the magnetic base is not a good option for stainless steel grills.

Rob Nelson, chef and co-founder of the restaurant group Good Gravy in Bentonville, Ark., opts for lights that will swivel at any angle to see the darkest depths of his grills or to aid him in an all-night barbecue competition. The PA-12002 has a long gooseneck that more than meets that requirement and is Nelson's light of choice. Magnetic mounting that will stick to most metal surfaces makes it easy to locate the light where it is most needed. Nine LED bulbs provide long-lasting brilliant light in a small package that will illuminate your grill or work table at a reasonable price.

  • Dimensions: 2 x 2 x 10 inches
  • Power Source: 3 AAA batteries
  • Packaging: Pack of 2

Best Clamp Style: LED Concepts BBQ Grill Lights

Grill Light
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at QVC.

Pros: The extra-long gooseneck and the multiple attachment options make this easy to attach and illuminate many surfaces.

Cons: This light doesn't have the best weather resistance, so it may be damaged if you leave it outside.

Magnetic-base lights pose a problem with stainless steel – the magnets won't attach to many of them. That's where a clamp-style base comes in handy. The LED Concepts light features the best of both, a screw-clamp base similar to an old bedside lamp and a small magnet that attaches to many steel grills. A cluster of 12 LED lights provides bright illumination at the end of a 360-degree, 22-inch gooseneck. The lights, mounting clamp, and gooseneck combine to give you reach to light any section of your grill or workspace.

  • Dimensions: 9 x 9 x 22 inches
  • Power Source: 3 AAA batteries
  • Packaging: Pack of 1

Best Handle Mounted: Cuisinart Adjustable Handle-Mount Grill Light

Grill Light
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Home Depot and Lowe's.

Pros: It fits most portable and stationary grills, the mounting strap is heat resistant, and the casing is weather resistant should you accidentally leave it outside.

Cons: It's mainly unidirectional, moving on a horizontal axis, but it does have a degree of vertical movement.

Several manufacturers in this category produce lights specific to their grill brands, leaving the consumer to determine whether the light will fit an off-brand grill handle. With this in mind, we sought out lights that would accommodate multiple handle diameters and arrived at the Cuisinart as the best in its class. The Cuisinart is an excellent light for illuminating the whole grill. The COB –a cluster of LED – lights provide vivid brightness to illuminate your workspace. The strap-mounted design makes this light compatible with many stationary or portable grills; fitting handles up to 1.5 inches in diameter.

The mounting strap is heat resistant, and the body construction is weather resistant. A simple on/off switch means that lighting takes just one touch, and you don't need to cycle through different settings to reach the proper illumination.

  • Dimensions: 4 x 3 x 2 inches
  • Power Source: 3 AAA batteries
  • Packaging: Pack of 1

Best Headlamp: GearLight LED Headlamp S500

Grill Light
Courtesy of Amazon

Pros: The S500 has four white light modes, and the head adjusts 45 degrees for better focus.

Cons: A minor design flaw makes a small piece of plastic uncomfortable when wearing this for extended periods, and the battery life could improve at higher settings.

Megan Walker, the executive chef at Made by Meg Catering and La Venta Inn in Palos Verdes, Calif., does quite a bit of nighttime on-site grilling with her catering company and considers a headlamp essential in addition to the area lighting provided by the other types of lights listed here. The reasoning is that a headlamp is a hands-free device that allows you to focus on a specific area of the grill or piece of food without directing light away from the grill as a whole.

For this purpose, we selected the super-bright S500. It's weather resistant and lightweight, only three ounces with the batteries in place. The adjustable headband is comfortable and does an excellent job of staying in place. There are four white light and three red light settings. The light itself has a 45-degree adjustable head for better focus on the task at hand. In the low-light mode, the S500 has a runtime of up to 10 hours on a set of batteries.

  • Dimensions: 7 x 3 x 2 inches
  • Power Source: 3 AAA batteries
  • Packaging: Pack of 2

Best Handheld: Streamlight Protac 90X

Grill Light
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Walmart.

Pros: The Protac is compact, lightweight, and provides powerful, bright light in a small form.

Cons: The belt or pocket clip is a little flimsy, and the battery power in such a small light can make the flashlight hot.

Sam Jones of Skylight Inn in Ayden, N.C., and Sam Jones BBQ in Raleigh, N.C., is an outlier when it comes to choosing his lights. Serving as a volunteer firefighter on top of running his barbecue brands, he prefers a powerful hand-held light for both off-site barbecuing and fire department calls. His light of choice is the Protac 90X.

Sporting a clip that can attach to a belt or pocket and a 90-degree head angle, the 90X is suited for hands-free and hand-held use. With multiple intensity settings, the white LED light can provide ultra-bright 1,000 lumens, medium 600 lumens, and low-power 300 lumens with a run time of two to 24 hours, depending on the setting. The 90X has a lithium-ion battery that charges via a USB cable, a small form factor, and a weight of only five ounces.

  • Dimensions: 4 x 1 x 1 inches
  • Power Source: Rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • Packaging: Pack of 1

Most Versatile: IMAGE Grill Lights with Ultra-Bright LED Lights and 3W Side Light

Grill Light
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Bed Bath & Beyond.

Pros: The gooseneck is adjustable to 360-degree angles with multiple intensities, and the side lights provide choices of area illumination.

Cons: You can't use both the headlight and the side light simultaneously. The multiple small battery compartment might benefit from a single, stronger battery.

For true versatility, IMAGE brings a lot to the party. First is the magnetic base that will attach to almost any grill surface. Second is the 360-degree swivel gooseneck mounting for the light that allows you to direct the light in any direction. The third is the side light built into the base, allowing you to use the lights for either area or focused lighting.

Both the headlight and the side light have multiple settings for normal or focused lighting, which can prolong the life of your batteries or give you bright illumination in your work area. The aluminum alloy construction is resistant to weather and heat from the grill. Whether you need bright, direct light or less focused area lighting, the IMAGE can fit those needs.

  • Dimensions: 9 inches with a 5-inch gooseneck fitting
  • Power Source: 3 AAA or 18650 batteries
  • Packaging: Set of 2

Best Splurge: Sharper Image BBQ Grill Light and Fan

Grill Light
Courtesy of Sharper Image

Also available at Sharper Image and Walmart.

Pros: This setup provides bright light and fans to move smoke or cool the cook.

Cons: This model requires a lot of batteries and has a relatively short battery life.

All of the products we've reviewed so far have been relatively low cost and share the single purpose of providing light. But, if you want to treat yourself, Sharper Image's BBQ Grill Light and Fan provides both illumination and cooling. Grilling is a hot and smoky job; you deserve some respite.

This handle-mounted unit features a bright, long-lasting LED light that rotates 300 degrees to illuminate your work surface. The lights and fans all swivel independently, each with an on/off switch. The universal clamp design easily attaches to most grill handles. The fan arrangement allows you to direct them independently – for instance, one to blow the smoke away and one to cool the cook. This model does require significantly more batteries than most reviewed here, but it also provides another function.

  • Dimensions: 20 x 10 x 3 inches
  • Power Source: 8 AAA batteries
  • Packaging: Pack of 1

Conclusion

The best lighting for your grilling area depends on your needs. Whether you want a magnet-mounted light like the Permasteel PA-12002 Grill Light or the hands-free convenience of a headlamp, such as the

  • GearLight LED Headlamp

    Factors to Consider

    Brightness

    You'll want to consider how much ambient light you have in your grilling area before selecting a light or light set. You may not need the brightest lights if you're working in a well-lit space. Conversely, you'll want to light up your grill like Las Vegas if you're working in the dark.

    Power Source

    For most grill lights, whether hands-free or mounted, you're choosing between single-use batteries or rechargeable ones as your power source. On the other hand, if you're working in a fixed location with an electrical outlet most of the time, an electric grill light may be a better choice for you.

    Mounting

    You'll want to determine if you can use a magnetic base in your grilling area or if you need a clamp-mounted light. Grill material aside, after playing with the positioning, you may decide that a clamp or a magnet would serve you better in your particular situation.

    The Research

    Three industry professionals lent their expertise to this list: Rob Nelson, chef and co-founder of the restaurant group Good Gravy in Bentonville, Ark.; Megan Walker, president and executive chef of Made by Meg Catering and La Venta Inn in Palos Verdes, Calif.; and Sam Jones of Skylight Inn in Ayden, N.C., and Sam Jones BBQ in Raleigh, N.C. After consulting them, we scoured the market for the best options based on their input and our expertise. We weighed these grill lights and others that did not make this list against several criteria, including value, ease of use, consistency, and quality of construction.

    Pro-Panel Q+A

    Q: What is the best grill light color?

    A: White lights are the best grill lights, according to Nelson. Many don't realize that the hue of a light bulb will project onto the food. Fluorescents are advised against for this reason, and anything with a yellow tint will create an off-putting shade on white or light-colored foods that will make you doubt their freshness. White lights will let you see the food at the closest to its actual color.

    Q: What are the risks of grilling at night?

    A: There are some inherent risks associated with grilling at night. Low-light conditions make it easier to burn oneself from being unable to see potentially hot surfaces. The probability of trip hazards also increases in low light, which could combine with burn probabilities. Situational and spatial awareness is always important when cooking, especially when grilling at night, according to Walker.

    Less physically impactful but an important factor, nevertheless, grilling in the dark may make it harder to see if your food is becoming charred or is undercooked. Good lighting and a sense of doneness by touch or probe thermometer are recommended.

    Our Expertise

    Greg Baker is an award-winning chef, restaurateur, and food writer with decades of experience in the food industry. For this piece, he interviewed chefs Rob Nelson, Megan Walker, and Sam Jones to find out what the pros look for in grill lights. He then used their insights and his expertise combined with market research to curate this list.

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