Lanterns for everyday use were made from metal and glass and were popular since 1700s, until electric light superseded them. At first lanterns were iron baskets full of wood knots, which were hung from poles and kept lit during the night to illuminate the crossroads.
They were replaced by oil lanterns that used whale oil as a fuel and after that, gas lanterns. Portable lanterns used kerosene as fuel and can still be found in use. They use wick or mantle as a light source. Today, in use are mostly electrical lanterns, either for illuminating streets or houses in fixed variation or for portable use.
They are useful in an emergency situations, for camping and (especially solar and crank versions) in developing countries where electrical current can’t reach or is too expensive. Electrical lanterns use incandescent electric lamps as well as fluorescent and in some cases LED lamps.
Virtually all battery-powered lanterns these days use LED (light emitting diode) technology. LED lamps offer numerous advantages:
- Long battery life- Very good light output- Can handle rugged use- Quiet and exhaust-free
To flood a campsite or tent interior with light, candle lanterns was long the traditional choice. Yet a bringing a lit candle inside a tent, even within a lantern's casing, is a risky practice. Small, compactable, new-generation LED lanterns make far better choices today.