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The Best Grill Lights

What griller hasn’t desperately raced against the setting sun trying to get food off the grill and onto the table before darkness closes in?


Published June 1, 2016.

UpdateJune 2018
Our winning grill light, Ivation Multipurpose Gooseneck 7-LED Dimmable Clip Light, has been discontinued. The Blackfire Clamplight Waterproof is now our top choice.
See Everything We Tested

What You Need To Know

What griller hasn’t desperately raced against the setting sun trying to get food off the grill and onto the table before darkness closes in? Enter grill lights: portable, battery-powered lamps that latch onto your grill and illuminate the cooking surface. Since we last tested grill lights, we’ve heard a few complaints about the latch on our former winner and seen dozens of new models appear on store shelves. Is there a better and brighter light out there?

We surveyed the market and initially rounded up 10 grill lights, including our previous winner, and then added four more products sold as camping or multipurpose outdoor lights. All the lights were battery-powered LEDs (long-lasting, high-efficiency bulbs) priced from $9.99 to $40.05. We tested each light’s fit on and compatibility with six different grills. For gas grills, the lights attach to the handle on the grill lid; for charcoal, they affix to the handles on the sides of the grill. We tried the lights on side tables, too. We then took the lights into a completely dark room, attached each light to the center of the lid handle on our winning gas grill, and used a light meter to measure brightness (in units of lux) at multiple points on the grill grate. Finally, we waited until nightfall and put the lights to practical use while grilling burgers.

The good news: Almost any light is better than grilling in the dark. The bad news: Nearly every light had fatal flaws that impeded our cooking.

A light’s primary job is to fully illuminate the grill surface, but more than half the lights failed at this simple task. Most could barely light up more than two burgers on a full grill, making it hard to see char and gauge doneness. Some lights produced narrow, excessively bright spotlights that washed out the food, turning burgers in the center of the grill blindingly white but leaving the rest of the grill in the dark. Further inspection with a light meter confirmed that as little as 5 percent of the light from these lamps radiated to the corners of the grill. Only a handful of lights illuminated the whole cooking surface with a spread of even, moderately bright light that made it easy to tell when burgers were perfectly seared.

Unfortunately, most products with a decent light had at least one fatal design flaw. Some had flimsy latches or weak clip-style clamps that caused the lights to shake, rattle, and fall whenever we moved or bumped into the grill. Others had excessively long necks that constantly tilted and drooped toward the grill grate or—on the other end of the spectrum—short, stubby necks that couldn’t reach over the lids of larger grills, rendering them practically useles...

Everything We Tested

Good : 3 stars out of 3.Fair : 2 stars out of 3.Poor : 1 stars out of 3.
*All products reviewed by America’s Test Kitchen are independently chosen, researched, and reviewed by our editors. We buy products for testing at retail locations and do not accept unsolicited samples for testing. We list suggested sources for recommended products as a convenience to our readers but do not endorse specific retailers. When you choose to purchase our editorial recommendations from the links we provide, we may earn an affiliate commission. Prices are subject to change.
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