Monday, April 12, 2010

Light - When The Power Goes Out - Part 2

A flashlight just isn't going to cut it if you are without power for a week, or a month, or indefinitely. You will need some long-burning lamps or lanterns, and they need fuel. They can use lamp oil, kerosene, other fuels, or solar powered.

Oil lamps are easy to use and inexpensive. The basic requirements are a container to hold the oil, a wick. Most of them have glass coverings around the flame and come in hundreds of designs and styles. They come in free standing, hanging or wall-mount design. You can burn almost any oil in them, including
olive oil, nut and seed oils, hemp oil, vegetable oils, fish oil, mustard oil, Castor oil... you name it. Other kinds of fuel are coal oil, white gas, and  kerosene, also known as paraffin oil. Some fuels burn cleaner than others, and give off different odors. There are a dozen or more different sizes of wicks used, depending on the lamp. We have lamps that use 3/8", 1/2" and 5/8". I keep this lamp sitting on top of a bookshelf, filled and accessible all the time. We've had to use it many times when the power was out.

Here are a few more samples of styles of oil lamps:

Pressure lamps/lanterns use a "mantel" instead of a wick. The fuel is pressurized, usually by you pumping a lever. These give off a much brighter light than a wick lamp. I'm not going to go into detail here about how they work. When you shop for lanterns or lamps, you can learn the details specific to whatever you buy. We have a Coleman lantern and an Aladdin lamp, like the ones in the pictures.

Lamps and lanterns are usually not very expensive. Neither are the accessories for them: wicks, mantels, fuel, extra chimneys (the glass covering). Now is the time to do a little shopping, and stock up on plenty of fuel, wicks, mantels and matches.

And here is one of my little candle lamps that I didn't include in the last "Light" post.


  1. It's very smart to stay stocked up on this type of stuff. Thanks for posting!

  2. Susan, are all of these safe to use inside without ventilation? We have a coleman lantern that uses propane. It is our camping lantern so we normally use it outdoors (after trying dozens of others that we weren't totally happy with.) We're not as prone to longterm power outages, but it would be handy if we did have one.

  3. Kayney, From everything I've ever learned - yes, it is quite safe to burn a Kerosene lantern inside. It does give off a small amount of carbon monoxide, but so does a candle, a gas stove burner, or an oil lamp.

    You can even burn a Kerosene HEATER inside as long as it's not in a single, enclosed room for very long. If it's in a house where there are adjacent rooms or other floors, there should be enough air flow. If your home is airtight, like newer homes often are, you may need to open a window a crack or have a flu or vent open. A natural air flow will be created.

    The biggest danger is usually the flame and surface heat of the parts near the flame. If you are running something large, like a heater, a carbon monoxide detector can't hurt. Always better to be safe than sorry!

  4. Katney, I shouldn't answer questions late at night! I appologize for answering about Kerosene when you asked about Propane.

    Propane is a little riskier than Kerosene. I've always been taught NOT to burn Propane heaters indoors. I've never asked about a Propane light. So I did a little research:

    Propane is not safe in a small, confined space - even in a closed tent, which you would think might be pretty "breathable". Some sources I went to said to just not burn it indoors, and others said it is not a problem as long as you make sure you have adequate ventilation. It's safer in a home with multiple rooms and a couple of air intakes to allow air flow.

    So I'd be really careful about burning it indoors in the winter when the house is closed up for warmth. If it's warmer weather and you can open some windows, sounds like it is just fine.

  5. Last year when we had a week long outage we tried our oil lamps but they didnt work well with 4 kids. I ended up using an extra car battery and a couple low powered led lights. I think the amount of light throughout the house was compairable to a 30 watt incandecent bulb. This year we bought a deep cycle battery which is designed to discharge over a longer period of time and a generator to charge it with. I recomend led strips or led rope light as it can safely be streched throught the house.



Related Posts with Thumbnails