The first step in setting yourself up for success with emergency lighting is to evaluate your home situation. Where power blackouts are infrequent and short, a flashlight and a box of candles might be all you want. In areas where outages are more common and may run into days instead of hours, you’ll have to try a little harder. Which way do you go—big or small, battery or combustion? The answer depends entirely on your lifestyle and your preferences. Once you’ve given some thought to the type of lighting indicated and where you’ll use it, the next step is to find out who makes it. The following items should get you started.
ELECTRIC AREA LIGHTING
Large areas require relatively large lights, and the convenience of batteries is very appealing. Batteries are easy to store, and battery-powered devices are typically very safe in almost any surroundings without the danger of fire or asphyxiation. For all-around use, the best choice may be a battery lantern. There are two primary light types I’d recommend in electrics—an energy-efficient LED “bulb” and a fluorescent tube “lamp.” The light-emitting diode (LED) lights now offer a wide range of brightness intensities with very long lives and very low power draws.
You can now choose a lantern with whatever level or levels of brightness you want. Expect it to run much longer on one set of batteries than the older incandescent bulbs did and to last pretty much indefinitely without burning out right when you need it the most. Fluorescent lantern tubes can be quite bright, and may not be as long-lived as an LED but can be easily replaced and still draw less power than an incandescent. In larger lanterns, D-cells are a better size for more light and longer run times.
Cabela’s Bug Proof LED Lantern: This is a good choice for indoor use or sitting out the outage on the patio during warmish nights in buggy areas. It provides two different levels of bug-resistant amber LED lighting and one setting with four white LEDs putting out 360 degrees of 160-lumen illumination, with a white-light run time of up to 175 hours on four D-cells, and a fold-away hanging hook. It’s also lightweight and waterproof if the river rises far enough to reach the house. It costs $59. (cabelas.com; 800-237-4444)
Primus Polaris XL: Another excellent choice, this unit has a single LED bulb and five levels of white light running from 12 to 160 lumens in a 360-degree dome with a carabiner-type hanging hook incorporated into its carry handle. Three D-cells give it a run time of 45 to 1,080 hours, depending on which light intensity is used, and its dual reflectors are quite efficient in magnifying the single-bulb brightness on this water-resistant lantern that retails for $84. (primuscamping.com; 307-857-4700)
Browning’s Buckmark 6D Lantern: A new entry into the fluorescent field, it achieves 350-lumens intensity for up to 12 hours with its single spiral tube. The 6D includes additional lighting modes such as a low-powered white LED side light that can go for 7 days on one set of 6 D-batteries and a pair of lower-intensity red LEDs that can run for up to 11 days in constant ON mode, or even longer in blinking flasher mode as a marker or signal device.
Replacement fluorescent tubes are available from Browning and can be quickly replaced when necessary. The rugged lantern has a sturdy rubber-padded hanging bail and a no-slide rubber base for $84.99. (browning.com; 800-333-3288).
Coleman’s Rugged Family Size Lantern: This is an 8 D-cell basic fluorescent with easily replaceable twin U-tubes that put out a very respectable 365-lumens of 360-degree white light on its high setting. Nothing fancy on this one, just a low setting that can go for up to 28 hours and a high one for 17. It features lightweight thermoplastic construction with a rubber-padded bail on top, all for a very affordable $24. (coleman.com; 800-835-3278)
NON-ELECTRIC AREA LIGHTING
Some prefer older technology and the combustion types that use good old low-tech kerosene or more modern propane canisters. These are viable for use indoors and out. Kerosene, if you’re in a position to buy and store it in bulk, still burns as well today as when your great-grandpa did his homework by a wick-powered lamp and can be cheaper over the long run with continual use than batteries. If you can’t store the fuel in bulk, lamp oil can be bought in smaller container sizes for very reasonable prices and shorter-term use.
The brightest of the bright tends to be a double-mantle pressurized gas lantern. The current models that use conveniently stored screw-on propane canisters bypass the messy white gas and maintenance issues of the much older mantle lanterns dating back to the early 1900s.
CLASSIC AMERICAN MODELS
Going old school with kerosene or oil involves simple mechanisms that rarely require much attention. Since they were once the most popular source of portable lighting, original lanterns in usable condition are still around in fine shape at decent prices. Try antique stores or online at ebay.com where you can locate older American-made classics like the Deitz No. 2 D-Lite and Dietz No. 2 Blizzard. Try for those with a bigger tank on the bottom and replacement parts (chimneys, wicks, etc.)
NEW BARN LANTERNS
For quality brand new “barn” lanterns, Try one of these models.
Feuerhand Storm Lanterns: Deutsche Optik carries this German-made product in familiar configurations, with tin-plated metalwork, Schott-Suprax glass globe, tall wire bail, and an 11.5-ounce reservoir that can light up your life for up to 20 hours. These will burn kerosene or lamp oil, and with proper care can be passed on to kin. They’re a quick seller at $39. (deutscheoptik.com; 800-225-9407)
Aladdin Cobalt Blue Lincoln Drape: This top-of-the-line oil lamp in traditional form is the tallest model (24 inches) carried by Lehman’s. It uses wick and mantle technology to burn with the equivalent of a 60-watt bulb for 9 hours and sells for $199. Yes, you can buy an oil lamp cheaper at WalMart, but it’s not the same thing. (lehmans.com; 888-438-5346)
Lehman’s Solid Brass Table Lamp: This smaller model features a candlestick-type finger ring for travel from room to room as needed. It works with a regular single wick and carries 18 ounces of fuel in its tank for many hours of use before refueling. At $74.95, this is another high quality product. (lehmans.com; 888-438-5346)
Coleman Deluxe Propane Lantern “Kit”: Available from REI, this modern Coleman unit comes with canister base and hard-shell carry/storage case. Double mantle types are obviously brighter than single mantle lanterns, and this one lights by a match to produce an impressive 967 lumens that can run for roughly 8 hours on high with one 16.4-ounce propane canister (sold separately) or 13 hours on low. The light is fully adjustable through a range of brightness, the footed canister base adds stability in use, and the carry case contributes protection and portability. Retails for $44. (rei.com; 800-426-4840)
If things deteriorate to the point where evacuation is required, smaller packable personal lighting is more practical. There won’t be room for the bigger lanterns in a 72-hour kit, and if you’re on the move weight becomes an issue. LEDs are again the way to go here, putting out far more light than their small size would indicate.
Staying small means two battery types—either conventional AA and AAA cells (alkaline, preferably) found everywhere, or lithiums that power up more brightly but run for shorter time periods, function in extreme cold and heat, store for up to 10 years and aren’t quite as commonly located.
SureFire’s PX2 Fury: In the small handheld hard-use bright flashlight arena, this new aluminum-bodied model is another winner for the company that pioneered the field, using a dual-mode high efficiency LED that gives you a choice of either 15 lumens for a low-output run-time of 46 hours, or a mini-searchlight 500 lumens output run-time of 1.5 hours on two lithium 123A batteries. The rugged 5.7-ounce (with batteries) Fury activates with a tailcap switch and sells for $155. (surefire.com; 800-828-8809)
Coast’s HP7 LED: Fractionally larger than the PX2 Fury through its knurled aluminum body, the HP7 uses a tailcap switch to alternate between two brightness outputs—251 lumens on high and 58 on low, running 10 hours or 5 hours and 45 minutes respectively on four AAA batteries. The 7.2-ounce (with batteries) HP7 features an unusual beam focusing system that moves smoothly from flood to spot with a maximum beam distance of 642 feet in spot mode. The anti-roll body has a wrist thong slot and the recessed switch in its flat end allows it to stand upright for use as a small lantern. The price is $53 and you can order one through COAST’s preferred vendor. (lightsandknives.com; 800-964-3901)
Streamlight Survivor Series: Streamlight produces more flashlights than you can count even with your shoes off, and their angle-head LED can clip onto a belt or jacket pocket for straight-ahead lighting on the trail or while both hands are needed elsewhere. The new C4 LED technology boosts power output to two or three times that of the older versions, with a shockproof 50,000-hour diode and four modes: 140 lumens at four hours, 47 lumens at 15 hours, strobe for 8, and “moonlight” (very low beam) for 20 days. O-ring sealed and rated for industrial environments, the heavy-duty Survivor can run off rechargeables (not recommended) or four AAs. The push-button switch is on the top, there’s a hanging slot in the clip on the back, and a flat bottom to set it upright on, all for $54. (mesfire.com; 877-711-5557)
Coleman Micropacker LED Mini Lantern: A handy minimalist pack-sized unit that’s 7.5 inches tall, the Micropacker offers one brightness setting with two LEDS, a small foldaway carry/hanging handle, and a retractable sliding reflector that changes the light from 360 degrees to side and forward illumination only. At 7 ounces loaded, it travels well and can operate up to 125 hours on three AAs. Can’t beat the $14 price! (coleman.com; 800-835-3278)
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by Jeremiah Tucker / Feb 28, 2013