In the shop: Festool SysLite work light

Just about as soon as cordless power tools were invented, manufacturers started to add lighting to the tools themselves or as accessories in cordless kits with mixed levels of success. Often the lights were underpowered or awkward with limited capabilities. Now Festool has added the SysLite KAL to its cordless system, and it solves many of those problems with a clever and capable light.

Compact package 

Not much bigger than a standard Festool battery pack, the SysLite KAL is surprisingly powerful with six 3W LEDs and two power levels. At full power, the light is very bright and strong enough to light up an entire room if you point it at the ceiling. A lower power setting saves extends battery life but is plenty bright for most chores. 

From the front, the light is roughly rectangular in shape, but its sides are set at different angles so you can project the light at a different angle depending on which side you put down. Choose between 15, 30, and 10-degree angles for whatever task is at hand, or lay the unit on its back to point straight to illuminate a ceiling and flood a room with light.

Still not enough options for you? An attachment on the back of the light has a foldout hook so you can hang the light for convenient lighting. There is also a standard ¼ x 20 thread tripod socket on one side so you could even mount the light on a camera tripod or similar fixture.

Versatile power options 

The unit has its own built-in battery, which will power the light for 90 minutes in high-power mode or 240 minutes in reduced power setting. As part of the Festool system, the unit will accept all the Festool cordless tool battery packs from BPC or BPS series tools.

You can also use an included AC adaptor to power the unit directly or charge its internal battery. Similarly, there is a 12-volt car adaptor that allows running and charging the light from a 12-volt socket in your car or truck.

As soon as I started using the SysLite, I fell in love with it. The unit provides lots more light than anything similar in size, including the average corded drop light. The options for angling, hanging, or mounting it provide way more lighting versatility. Put a Gorillapod-type camera tripod in the socket, and you can put the thing just about anywhere at any angle.

Of course, this being Festool, all of this capability comes at a price. The SysLite goes for about $175. That’s lots more than a cheapy flashlight or corded droplight, but it is awfully handy. As a footnote to this review, after I had been using the SysLite for month or two, Hurricane Sandy hit. The SysLite really showed its value as we waited for power to be restored. You can learn more about the SysLite at

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About the author
William Sampson

William Sampson is a lifelong woodworker, and he has been an advocate for small-scale entrepreneurs and lean manufacturing since the 1980s. He was the editor of Fine Woodworking magazine in the early 1990s and founded WoodshopBusiness magazine, which he eventually sold and merged with CabinetMaker magazine. He helped found the Cabinet Makers Association in 1998 and was its first executive director. Today, as editorial director of Woodworking Network and FDMC magazine he has more than 20 years experience covering the professional woodworking industry. His popular "In the Shop" tool reviews and videos appear monthly in FDMC.