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Festool Duo light – last piece of painting puzzle?

Listed under Blog, festool, hand-painted kitchen, mark-roberts, Ron Taylor Posted Jan 17 2016

Poor lighting and cold paint can create serious quality issues for anyone painting and decorating, kitchen painters included. It looks like the Festool Duo light is capable of finally laying one of those issues to bed once and for all.

13012016 marks phone 025 Festool Duo on

The electric light bulb is arguably the most important invention in human history, as it released students from the limitations of candle light. Although they are only a development on a long standing theme, these Festool Duo work lights are game changers too in the construction industry.

They haven’t been on the UK radar long, so only time will tell, but so far, so good for the future of decorating, based on the feedback from two Traditional Painter kitchen painters who have been using the Duo over the last 2 or 3 months.

No comparison to halogens, no faults so far, no reason for painters to experience visibility problems again – no doubt the £310 price tag or thereabouts is probably a bridge too far for mass market adoption, which is a shame, because these look like a money-maker along the same lines as “expensive” erecta racks, dust-free sanding systems and more.

Bad light stops play

It is not unusual to have to stop working at 3.30 on a dull winter’s afternoon, when the lighting in a typical kitchen (under-pelmet flourescents and a couple of pendants, maybe a handful of hearty spots), fails to pierce the murk.

When the work area looks as dim and lightless as this, packing up and going home is generally the right thing to do. (Or if it is your own home you are painting, call it a day.)


Working blind can be more costly than not working at all. Working without perfect general lighting also tends to slow you down, which is costly to professionals. Just think of the difference working with a head lamp or dragging a light around with you, compared to working in a fully lit area.

Easy to say, stop work, but…

A lot of buts come with poor lighting! But when a professional isn’t working, they aren’t earning or meeting deadlines. But when you only have evenings and weekends for DIY, every hour of spare time is precious.

But there is a solution.

Portable lighting.

Take another quick look at the Festool solution. This is an idea of what one Festool Duo light can do to ensure any detail work can be well executed at any time of day or night.

One Festool Duo

Two Festool Duos can do even greater wonders for your eyesight, and boost the performance of any craftsmen in the business of impeccable painting.

double Festool duo

Working in best light gives best results

As well as extending the working day, these lights ensure that no blemishes or imperfections get past you! As Martin explains, the Duo’s lighting level and distribution of light is as good as it gets, far better than in normal life, so to speak. There is little to no excuse left for missing a blemish because of a shadow.

The Duo daylight system allows the user to exactly “see” the finish that they are achieving. When the lights are on, it’s almost like a Kitchen Painter’s microscope! What you see under Duo lights is the “worst case scenario” for the kitchen, like painting in laboratory conditions, not in the real world…

And when you are happy with the finish under the LED lights, turn them off and back in the real world of normal lighting, the painted surfaces can only look better.

This tool provides a big step up for anyone dedicated to raising the bar on painted and decorated finishes!

Halogens – the traditional solution for bad lighting

Decorators working on sites up and down the land, and across the globe, generally do solve the problem of working in murky light by whipping out their halogen bulbs, stadium lights, head lamps.

DIYers can hire halogens, and have also been known to muster up every standard lamp, torch and even candle in the house. (I remember my mother shining a torch so my dad could continue painting into the night during the power cuts of the 3-day week era!)

Pro or amateur, everyone is in the same boat in winter, we need lumens to brighten the place up a bit.

Halogens are OK, and not £310!

Halogen lighting is one of the great examples of standard decorating kit that the professionals have used for decades – something that everyone uses, they are readily available and must be better than nothing.

Better than nothing, really?

I am only half joking when I ask how long have you got to read about the downsides of halogens. In short, they seem to be one of those products that can cause more problems than they solve, particularly with detail work!

Slow and shadowy.

One or two halogens can throw out a lot of light, but that light is very harsh and tends to cast heavy shadows.

When filling or rolling on paint in poor artificial light, if you have a grain of conscientiousness in you, you will naturally slow down, double-triple checking. And you can still return the next day, to be welcomed by a sea of misses. Slow and bad end results, uncomfortable working conditions, not great for efficiency or morale.

Snow blindness, anyone? These things are retina popping bright.

Why not set up three halogens, or more, around the room to combat the shadows?

You can, but then you may well experience the overriding issue with halogens – heat.

Hot lights

3 halogens burning away in a small work area may reduce shadowing, but boy, all those watts will get the sweat rolling. Rotisserie painters R us!

And if you are wearing polyester, don’t even think about getting too close to a halogen for any length of time. And don’t place halogens too close to glass!

halogens break glass

If moving halogens around, (maybe you are trying to avoid busting the glass in the oven door), watch out you don’t singe yourself on a hot surface.

If you are in a hurry to get away, tough luck! Halogens take an age to cool down enough to move, or safely wrap cables anywhere near the bulb area.

Hot bulbs are very delicate and replacement bulbs aren’t exactly cheap items.

I have laboured the amount of criticisms here, but you get the idea.

Typical site quality / hire company halogens are generally pretty rubbish. They are the sort of solution that is tolerated, with a lot of downsides to put up with – poor risk v reward.

Efficiency alert

There will be a lot of readers thinking these Duo lights are OTT, what’s wrong with halogens, what’s wrong with make-do and mend for a few times in the year that light stops play? Short answer, if you paint rarely, no problem, carry on as you were. If you paint a lot, though, and quality and speed matters, consider the cumulative cost of an hour or two a day lost to bad light, or the little chunks of time lost regularly dragging directional lights around for the titivating stage of a job.

Festool Duo, the final piece in the lighting puzzle?

Traditional Painters Martin Guest and Mark Roberts are professional kitchen painters and share the same philosophy when it comes to equipping themselves. They want the best kit for producing the highest standard of finishes in the most efficient way. They also strive to provide a level of service exceeding their clients’ expectations. Sometimes that requires more outlay on kit than they would like, but that’s business.

Turning up with one of these sets a good first impression

systainer Duo

And after a quick look at the Festool Duo inside, clients understand that they aren’t having their kitchen painted by an average tradesman!

£310 or more for a light system, it better be good.

Correct. Martin Guest thinks it is so good, he quickly added a second set.


The lights are detachable. Place them on worktops pointing up to get the light to fall on cupboards. Or achieve the same result being used upside down.

detachable Festool duo

Well made tripod and ergonomic

Solid construction, smooth operating. No need to be fully extended in use, which makes it great for smaller kitchens and tight areas.

adjustable tripod

A shot of the coupling on the tripod – handy clip and release for right handed users.

tripod attachment on Festool duo

The cable tie at the foot of the tripod keeps the cable in place.

cable tie on festool duo

Does the Festool Duo get hot?

Mark confirms the wonders of low heat-emitting LED lighting.

It doesn’t get hot as such, warm if I’ve run it all day but cool enough to wrap the cord around and put it straight back in the systainer as soon I’ve switched it off.

Martin adds:

With a halogen lamp it is still hot to the touch for a good while after switching off and you have to plan on 20+ mins between finishing with them and storing them. With the Duo, this is not the case.

I tend to leave the lid of the systainer open for 10 mins, just to be safe…the only down side that I see – there is no on/off switch on the unit, just the socket switch on the wall.

Systainer, does it come with a systainer?

Of course, it packs away neatly into its own box as standard.

systainer Duo


Festool and Mirka and Flex must have noticed by now that kitchen painters are turning up with more kit than most joiners and kitchen fitters!


Within reason, at Traditional Painter, we don’t mind paying a lot of money for materials and kit if they deliver value for money. This attitude is absolutely not shared by the UK decorating trade at large, but there are enough rays of light to give hope to the public.

Look around for ideas on what works in business

I was recently speaking to Ben Sturges who returned from Holland on business, where he had met a decorator who used to be a dentist. The guy gave up dentistry because there was more to be earned as a master decorator. They take decorating very seriously in Holland. They invest.

Or take a lead from UK transport companies! £100k is a lot of money, but if you have it, and it is your job, and the return on investment is £200k in a year, there is no commercial reason for not spending that £100k on a truck.

Scale that thinking down and apply it to these lights. There is little commercial reason not to spend £300 + on a lighting system, if it enables you to work efficiently for an extra 2 hours a day in the depths of winter. Within a couple of weeks, the outlay has been recouped and the rest of the time that the light is in use, so is the painter. And the standard of workmanship remains impeccable.

This system is clearly not for everyone, but daylight savings takes on a whole new meaning with one of these.

Martin hand paints kitchens in the W Midlands for Traditional Painter and Mark Roberts covers N Cheshire, N Wales and the Wirral. They both bought their Festool Duo lights from Nuts and Bolts from a little over £300 a set, and Mark’s wife is really tiring of hearing how brilliant it is.

Alternative to halogens and daylight LED Festool Duo

Dave at D9 Decor explained on the forum.

defender light.

Suffering with cold paint? The next piece of the puzzle is shaping up well. Coming soon.

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