Kinds of Lanterns

Kinds of Lanterns

Lanterns are no longer used as a source of light for recreational outdoor activities like camping.

They have turned into devices that can be charged with just the sun’s rays, used as a backup charging source for smart devices, have become lighter, more affordable, and have reduced to the size of soft-drink cans.

There are several kinds of lanterns, each serving a specific purpose and passing through phases of development that have now brought about these preferred modern light-emitting diode (LED) lanterns that capture lighting device markets across the globe.

While evaluating the usage of lanterns, you should consider various factors like the type of light, circumstances under which they are used, availability, and affordability.

There are instances where people still use simple lanterns for camping trips, while regular campers constantly upgrade their camping kits to reduce the workload of creating efficient and easily manageable campsites.

Some types of lanterns used over the years are listed below. Many of them are outdated and now used in times of emergencies or if the user’s preferred choice of lantern is not available in the market.

Candle Lanterns

Candles have existed for centuries, and users improved upon the type of material holding the wick as well as shielding material used to prevent the flame from going off.

Different designs were introduced, but basically light emitted by these candles created a pleasant ambience and afforded adequate light in a dark room. These different kinds of lanterns using candles could not produce the bright light needed to encourage reading.

Their flickering light output forced innovators to come up with better sources of light, especially to prevent these candle-lit lanterns from causing a fire in the wild.


  • Extremely simple to make and use
  • Can be stored and used in emergencies


  • Blows off easily, so needs monitoring
  • Cannot be used in blistering windy conditions
  • Generates heat and is highly inflammable

Fuel-Based Lanterns

Fuel turned out to be a viable power source for lanterns. Commonly used devices including vehicle and electric equipment ran on different kinds of fuels.

These same fuels including propane and butane powered gas-based lanterns that still exist in the market but are losing the battle to these lighter and more practical electric lanterns.

Liquid fuel-based lanterns – The kerosene or paraffin lamp is probably the most preferred of all liquid fuel lanterns. They are hand pumped to force air which mixes with paraffin to create gas that lights up the gas mantle, which incidentally still exists in portable camping and oil lanterns.

However, molecules of cerium nitrates and other metals like magnesium, beryllium, and aluminum are released into the atmosphere making these kinds of lanterns extremely fragile. So users have to carry replacements along as well as canisters to hold the liquid fuel.


  • Availability of liquid fuels make this a viable option
  • Preferred by campers, especially RV and four-wheeler owners
  • Produces high intensity light capable of lighting up the entire campsite
  • Uses the same fuel found in vehicles and other gas-powered electrical equipment
  • Can be used to quickly produce heat in cold weather


  • Comes as a bulky lantern that cannot be effectively reduced in size
  • Produces intense heat and is therefore uncomfortable in summers
  • Ignored by modern hikers and campers who prefer lightweight electric lanterns

Propane-based Lanterns

One of the brightest light sources of gas-based lanterns, a propane lantern usually comes with the instant start ignition feature and produces around 1500 lumens of light. Modern lanterns come with globes that withstand high temperatures.

Additionally, metal guards and porcelain ventilators make them ideal lanterns for outdoor use. Their propane cylinders can hold around 15 ounces of gas and produce light that last for around four hours at high flame.


  • Equipped with a dimmer knob to run the lantern between 4 to 9 hours
  • Comes with a protective globe that withstands high temperatures
  • Fitted with the instant start ignition
  • Designed for outdoor use in any weather
  • Comes with replaceable mantles that easily produce high-intensity light
  • Has a highly durable porcelain ventilator to release waste gases


  • Requires a gas-storage canister, so is bulky and more expensive
  • Generates heat that needs to be controlled
  • Mantels have limited life and must be replaced
  • Fitted with dimmer regulators that need protection
  • Produces noise when the mantel is set to produce high-intensity light
  • Needs adequate ventilation and lots of space

Notes: Butane is sometimes used in place of propane depending on availability. Auto gas is a combination of both propane and butane.

Electric Lanterns

Quite simply the preferred choice of most campers, modern electric lanterns use compact and highly-durable LED lamps and come equipped with rechargeable batteries. Manufacturers come up with innovative features and benefits in lanterns that appeal to the average buyer.


  • Preferred choice of modern buyers for its durability and ease of use
  • Comes as a compact package that easily fits into a small bag
  • Designed to be extremely safe and does not produce any heat
  • Built to withstand difficult weather conditions
  • Uses LED lamps with longer life spans
  • Equipped with rechargeable batteries that produce around 12 hours of continuous light
  • Can be used to power electric gadgets
  • Doubles up as a hand-held portable torch
  • Used by for campers who prefer solar-charged lanterns


  • Produces low-intensity light, as compared to other kinds of lanterns including gas-filled lamps

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