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Lantern Buyers Guide - Propane, Battery, Candle, Liquid Fuel and Rechargeable

Whether you're in the market for a lantern to light your next outdoor excursion, camping trip or to always be ready in case of an emergency, finding the right ones can be quite an undertaking. Here at eLightSpot.com, we like to try to make these decisions easier so that you can get what you need, when you need it. Below are the types of lanterns that we carry and some facts you should know about each so that you can make an informed decision.

Propane Lanterns

    Pros
  • Propane lanterns tend to emit anywhere from 34 to 235 watts of light, making them among the brightest lanterns
  • Propane is an easy fuel source to use: just carry a tank, plug it in (properly) and light it.
    Cons
  • Fires release easily-breathable carbon dioxide
  • Propane lanterns are unsafe because of the "open flame" factor
  • They either come in fragile glass that isn't the best for outdoors or metal mesh globes that block out some of the light
  • Propane tank can get noisy
  • May or may not work properly in inclement weather (rain, wet snow, high wind, etc.)
  • Propane tanks and the lanterns can get heavy and especially bulky or fragile if a glass lantern is selected.

Nuts and Bolts Of It All: Propane lanterns are probably the most popular type of camping lantern used and have been around for years and years. If you are searching for a lantern that is ultra bright and you don't mind the additional weight of toting around a propane canister or the humming noise that a propane lantern makes, then you will be pleased with one of our many propane lantern options.

Product Suggestion:A great propane lantern is the Coleman Northstar w/ Case. This lantern features matchless lighting and comes with one Coleman Insta-Clip mantle. At the high setting this lantern is capable of producing up to 1500 lumens. Comes with a protective carrying case.

Battery-Powered Lanterns

    Pros
  • Can use rechargeable or disposable batteries
  • Runs quietly
  • Power can last a while, depending on lantern
  • No fire, so no fire risk
  • Some varieties have a dimmer. Otherwise, the brightness is directly related to the power of the battery.
    Cons
  • Not as bright as fuel powered lanterns
  • Light gets dimmer as battery runs out of power
  • Extra disposable or rechargeable batteries needed.

Nuts and Bolts Of It All:Battery powered lanterns are not as bright as propane or other fuel powered lanterns, but are also safer to use. There is no fire risk nor do the lanterns build up heat that can burn or melt equipment. Many battery lanterns are starting to use LED bulbs which significantly increase the battery power and reduce maintenance since LED bulbs rarely need replacing. Other battery lanterns use fluorescent bulbs which are also energy efficient, but do not have the longevity of LEDs. When using battery powered lanterns, be sure you have extra batteries at all times.

Product Suggestion:A good value battery-powered lantern is theColeman 8D Twin LED High Power Lantern. It features a brightness of 580 lumens, which is the brightest battery powered lantern available from Coleman. It offers up to 15 hrs of run time on 8 D cell batteries. The lanterns uses ultra bright white Cree LEDs and has several output setting between Ultra-Low and High.

Candle Lanterns

    Pros
  • Environmentally responsible—doesn't need batteries, gas or fuel.
  • Safe
  • Provide heat
  • Quiet and compact
  • Economical—cost approximately 25 cents an hour.
    Cons
  • More vulnerable to inclement weather
  • Fire hazard
  • Low light life.

Nuts and Bolts Of It All:Candle lanterns are the most economical and environmentally friendly of the varieties. Because you're using candles, you're not using fuel or batteries and you're saving yourself some money and weight by only carrying a few candles. Even though candle lanterns are limited in their brightness and light life, they're great for picnics, gazebos and camping out in the backyard. And, as always, be careful with fire.

Product Suggestion:

When it comes to candle lanterns, you can't beat the Original. The UCO Original Candle Lantern features a lightweight aluminum body that is collapsible, offering protection for its glass chimney and making packing easier. With a spring-loaded tube that keeps the flame height consistent, this lantern is a good buy at $19.99. Candle included.

Rechargeable Lanterns

    Pros
  • LED or fluorescent bulb provides a bright light
  • Rechargeable
  • Made to withstand the elements
  • Charges by cranking or AV adapter. Some are even solar.
    Cons
  • AV adapters add weight to packing
  • Low run time
  • Fluorescent bulbs have mercury in them
  • The adapters charge by plugging into an outlet—a little inconvenient when you're away from home and low on energy.

Nuts and Bolts Of It All:Rechargeable lanterns can be a great lantern choice for use in short term situations or emergency use. Because they have to be charged, you need to plan ahead before using a rechargeable lantern to ensure it has been allowed plenty of charging time to last the duration of time needed. In the instance of lanterns that are solar or crank powered, they can be used most anywhere, but will typically not last very long and will not emit as bright of a light as a fully charged or battery powered lantern.

Product Suggestion:Providing three ways to keep your lantern charged, the Brinkmann Rechargeable Fluorescent and LED Camping Lantern is a great choice if you're looking for a rechargeable lantern. It features a fluorescent bulb and 2 LED lights and can be charged by 12V (DC) or 110V (AC). It can even harness the power of the sun with an attached solar panel! As expensive as solar panels can be, this lantern is a steal at $36!

Liquid Fuel Lanterns

    Pros
  • Use alternate fuels like kerosene, gas and camping fuel
  • Efficient—1.3 pints of fuel can light for up to 14 hours (on lowest setting)
  • Fuel of all sorts is widely available
    Cons
  • Gas is dangerous, prone to evaporation and it burns dirty
  • Liquid fuel lanterns are more expensive than battery powered and even propane.
  • Can be bulky to carry when factoring in the additional fuel
  • Fuel + fire = potential hazard

Nuts and Bolts Of It All: If you are looking for a lantern that is as bright as they come, then you are probably in need of a liquid fuel lantern. Fuel sources for these are readily available including regular unleaded gasoline, however these types of fuel are heavier to carry than propane or even batteries making them a bit more cumbersome on hiking and backpacking trips.

Product Suggestion:The Coleman 2-Mantle Dual Fuel Powerhouse is a great lantern because it can use both unleaded gas as well as Coleman fuel. Along with that, it features a filter funnel, brighter light and a 2-pint fuel tank capacity. At $79.99, you're sure to get your money's worth. Carry case and fuel sold separately.