Lanterns provide area illumination and are useful for camping, emergency use, and around the house. Some of the uses for a good lantern include:
- Illuminating rooms in house when the power fails
- Checking your yard or house at night
- Illuminating camp sites
- Providing light when checking your vehicle
- Acting as a distress beacon
Lanterns can be very useful in non-emergency situations around the house and on the road. There are two major types of lanterns, namely, battery powered and gas powered. There are two types of gas powered lanterns: (1) propane and (2) white gas (details). Here are some pros and cons to each type of lantern:
|Light Output||Range from normal to high output.||Can have VERY high output.|
|Size||Can range in size from very small to very large. Choose the lantern size that best fits your needs||Normally these lanterns are quite large.|
|Cost||Range in cost from low to high. You can get a good, small lantern for as little as $20. Replacing batteries often makes these lanterns more expensive to operate.||Lantern cost is generally higher starting at about $60. These lanterns are generally less expensive to operate than battery powered lanterns.|
|Maintenance||Typically little or no maintenance other than replacing batteries.||More moving parts and more maintenance. You should also know how to replace mantels since these are extremely fragile once they are lit.|
|Operation||Very easy to operation: normally just press a button.||A little more difficult to operate depending on the gas type. You normally have to turn on the gas, light the lantern, etc. White gas lanterns require priming, lighting, etc.|
To Recharge or Not to Recharge
Is it better to purchase a rechargeable lantern or one that uses disposable batteries? I prefer battery powered lanterns because they are smaller, cheaper, easier to operate, operate a long time, and disposable batteries have a very long shelf life. My lanterns use AA batteries. I do photography and my camera strobes also use AA batteries so I normally have a ready supply of these batteries. I do not normally need a super high-powered lantern so the small, battery powered lanterns are an excellent solution for my needs. I can also use rechargeable AA batteries and a solar charger if the need arises.
For pure emergency scenarios I feel that a lantern that uses disposable batteries is best. If the batteries go flat you can immediately replace them and have light. With a rechargeable light you would need to charge the battery pack before having light. However, if you are in a situation where you need an off-grid, long-term lantern then a rechargeable lantern and solar panel would be the best option. The rechargeable lantern could also double as a charger for devices such as phones and tablets. You would have to have a good solar panel and sufficient sunlight to charge the battery. For rechargeable use consider a lantern that uses AA batteries and add a solar panel with AA charger. This way you can use both disposable or rechargeable batteries and operate completely off-grid using the solar panel and charger.
Some battery powered lanterns have some nice features including white or red light, flashing, omni-directional lighting, etc. I like lanterns with continuous red and blinking red options. Red light provides illumination without affecting your night vision. Blinking red (3 fast blinks) is a distress signal. You could place the blinking red lantern on your vehicle to indicate that you are having trouble. My lanterns have hangers that allow you to hang them either right-side up or upside down. Other optional lantern features include:
- Rechargeable battery often using a USB connector
- USB charging capability to charge devices such as mobile phones
- Remote control using a fob or Bluetooth device
- Red light to preserve night vision
- Blinking red distress signal
Consider the options that you would like and choose a lantern that meets your requirements.
My needs are: portable, rugged, waterproof, red distress signal, easy to hang, and reasonably priced.
The Streamlight Siege AA is extremely rugged, IPX7 waterproof, uses three AA batteries, will float in the water, and is affordable ($25-$40). This is one of those products that is no frills and just gets the job done very well.
The Streamlight Siege is the larger version of the Siege AA. It is also extremely rugged, IPX7 waterproof, uses three D cells, and is affordable ($30-$50).
Interesting but Need to Review
These are devices that I have not personally used but would be interested in trying and reviewing.Tough Light: This lantern looks very much like my favorite StreamLight Siege AA lantern. The ToughLight generates 400 lumens, can be charged from a USB port, and can charge USB devices. It looks to be well-built and is IPX6 waterproof. Again, I have not tried this one and cannot personally recommend it but it looks interesting and I would like to see one and provide a detailed review.