In our recent review of Milwaukee’s M12 Compact Flood Light, the Rover, we talked about the strength of Milwaukee’s lighting solutions and how impressed we are with that little light. Now we have the chance to review a larger, more traditional-looking flashlight in the company’s M18 line, the Milwaukee M18 Search Light.
You might be thinking a search light sounds like an emergency tool – and that’s certainly one use here. Much of our work occurs during the day, but we also provide emergency repair services which are invariably middle-of-the-night events. But even during regular business hours, we often work in a building with no power and need some illumination. Milwaukee has designed this light for day-to-day (or more fittingly, night-to-night) use as well as tough, dangerous conditions. Let’s lighten up!
The Milwaukee M18 Search Light is an IP54-rated, 4-mode powerhouse boasting 1,250 lumens that shine 5 LEDs worth of Milwaukee’s TrueView light in spot, flood, spot/flood, and strobe. It has separate mode and power buttons which will make many people happy as it can be annoying to have just one button to cycle through both modes and power.
The tool body is impact resistant and sports a generous handle with the rubberized overmold characteristic of other Milwaukee tools. Its head rotates 198 degrees around its axis, enabling the light to lay lengthwise or stand on the battery pack and adjust to just about any angle you’ll need. There’s even a keyhole for hanging from a nail or screw.
It’s a large device, and at 3.1 pounds bare, it might feel a bit heavy with the battery pack, but we’ll see if that’s really a problem.
There Will Be Flood(Light)
There’s no question the 1,250 lumens are awesomely bright in tight spaces. It’s really the perfect light not only for dark and dim crawl spaces and attics where we took it but especially for dead-of-night darkness. You can easily see how tradesmen called out before the sun rises can rely on this light which has a throw of 700 yards in spot mode.
The Milwaukee M18 Search Light runtime is superb. I’ve used it up to 30 minutes a day for a few weeks and the 5.0 AH battery still has a couple of bars. You can expect 4 – 6 hours of total runtime depending on what mode you use. You’ll get more if you have a Milwaukee 9.0 Ah battery on hand.
Of course, it’s old news now, but one of the great benefits of lithium-ion technology is that you get full power until it shuts off completely. This is particularly nice with flashlights as the light doesn’t get weaker and dimmer until the batteries are dead.
I admit that when I got the Milwaukee M18 Search Light, I thought it would simply be too big and cumbersome. It measures 12.9-inches long, 4.7-inches high, and 5.5-inches wide. And I wasn’t sure that was worth the tradeoff for the light output. But I’m happy to report that this is one of those instances where the size is an asset.
Here’s what I mean – we do a lot of crawling underneath houses and shuffling around in attics and the handle is so strong and the profile so sturdy that the light actually aids your movement because you can lean on it. As for its size and weight otherwise, it’s of no negative consequence.
It’s no worse for wear after all of the abuse it withstood during the review. It’s stable whether it lays or sits and the keyhole for hanging is a nice touch.
The head has a large heat sink that diffuses the heat very well. Of course, with that much power pumping out of the LEDs, it warms up, but certainly not enough to be concerned about.
Where it Fits
Many search lights are measured in candlepower, which doesn’t have a direct conversion for lumens in a way that’s equitable. That said, other LED search lights can run as high as 3000 lumens or more, depending on how much you’re willing to pay. That level of light is typically for marine applications where you often need to see as long as possible to avoid collisions.
In terms of pure adjustable flashlights, premium ones can run 2000 – 3000 lumens. But many good ones are in the 800 – 1200 range. The Milwaukee M18 Search Light kind of fits between the two applications – it’s a search light for Pros that work outside like linesmen and a flashlight for other tradesmen.
Since most of those applications fall well within the 700-yard throw, there’s plenty of light here, even if you might find more in another model.
The Bottom Line
I’m very pleased with the Milwaukee M18 Search Light. At first, I thought it would be too big and heavy, even if it was incredibly bright. But it turns out that the size and weight were either inconsequential or actually helpful in some situations.
Now it comes with me to every job. Even if it’s the middle of the day, I still need a bright light for dark spaces such as under a building, in an attic, or places where the power is off.
With its four modes, it’s not only helpful but also a safety tool if you find yourself in dark, wet conditions often. At just $99 bare if you’re already on the M18 platform or $249 to get the light with a battery and charger, it’s an easy decision, especially with its 5-year tool warranty. Here’s to a bright jobsite!
Milwaukee M18 Search Light Features
- Milwaukee RedLithium Battery Pack
- 1,250 Lumens with 700-yard beam distance
- 198 Degree head rotation
- 4 output modes: Spot, Flood, Spot/Flood, & Strobe
- Spot mode: 6hrs with M18 XC 5.0 pack
- Flood mode: 4hrs with M18 XC 5.0 pack
- Spot/Flood Combination mode: 4hrs with M18™ XC 5.0 pack
- Strobe mode: 5hrs with M18 XC 5.0 pack
- High Definition output with true color, even beam and natural light
- Low Battery indicator alerts users when the battery is nearing end of charge
- IP54 Rated for All Weather Use
Milwaukee M18 Search Light Specifications
- Model Numbers: 2354-20 (Bare), 2354-21 (Kit)
- Power Source: M18 RedLithium Battery
- Spot Mode: 600 Lumens, 6-hour runtime
- Flood Mode: 1,200 Lumens, 4-hour runtime
- Spot/Flood Mode: 1,250 Lumens, 4 hour runtime
- Strobe Mode: 1,200 Lumens, 5-hour runtime
- Length: 12.9 inches
- Weight: 3.1 pounds
- Height: 4.7 inches
- Width: 5.5 inches
- Tool Warranty: 5 Years
- Prices: $79 (Bare), $249 (Kit)