Self Reliance - Lighting

Lighting is a necessity in a self reliant situation. Everything you need to do might not be done by the time it gets dark, and there are always those things that go 'bump' in the night. There are simple solutions that have worked for centuries, like candles and kerosene (oil) lamps, and you can use a storage battery that you recharge with solar or a generator as a power source. You can use power straight from the battery, or use the battery to charge small, portable rechargeable devices or the batteries for them. Using efficient devices certainly helps here. Bright and energy efficient (different) flashlights, and batteries, are a must.

Kerosene Lamps and Candles

Candles are quick and easy to put into use, never need recharging, store well. However, they can start fires if not properly used and watched. They should be in a proper holder with a collecting base, if you use that type. The jarred candles are preferred, as the flame and wax are contained. Our favorites are the purpose built long life candles that are in cans, with lids. We have some '50 Hour' candles that we bought a case of more than 25 years ago. We've used about 4 out of the case, and they are not used up. This is just background light, or going room to room, but simple and expedient.

Kerosene or oil lamps are readily available, along with wicks, scented oil, etc., and have been in use forever. Bulk kerosene is the least expensive fuel to use, and can be stabilized for long term storage. These also require care, since they have a flame, and have fuel to spread if you drop one. They provide much better light than a candle, especially the type that use a mantle, like the Aladdin, which are the industry standard for kerosene lanterns. Most rural hardware stores carry these, along with parts.


Flashlights and spotlights are necessary to have on hand, and parts to keep them going. This is one use for the AA, AAA, C, and D batteries you should have on hand in bulk. You should have spare bulbs as well. Several good aluminum bodied flashlights should be on hand. The Mag-Lite%trade; is the industry standard, and are excellent units. We keep a two or three cell unit in every vehicle, and several more in the shop. Avoid inexpensive Chinese units, unless the durability is verified. The newer LED lights can be excellent additions, particularly smaller single LED units for low light situations, since the LEDs last forever (10,000 hours plus, usually), and the lights are very energy efficient. There are some small, high performance units built with about a 1 watt CREE LED, that put out as much or more light than a 3 cell Mag-Lite with the Krypton bulb. They burn more energy than the lower watt lights, but the size, weight, and performance make them very desirable to have. Remember, the lumens that a light puts out are more important than the wattage they are rated, for brightness. LED lanterns may be OK for general lighting, preferred over bulb type units. We have several rechargeable halogen spotlights (1 million, 10 million candlepower). These are handy to throw a lot of light for a long distance, if you need to see what's going on, but suck a lot of power in the process. They would be recharged from the storage batteries in an emergency, but only used when necessary.


If you want to run area lighting from your storage batteries, try to incorporate LED bulbs. There are more efficient units coming along all the time, both DC powered and AC units, and the energy savings is important. They cost more (a lot), but for this purpose, the energy savings is worth it. Another handy item we like are the solar powered LED yard lights. There are junk units, and quality units with stainless or other durable construction. You can use them to accent your yard now, and put a few away with the batteries removed, for use later. They can sit outside all day charging (when and where there is sun), and you can bring them in at dusk for area lighting, or use the spotlight type for working. They last 4 to 6 hours or more with a good charge. Or you could pull the batteries to use in something else.


Have several aluminum housing flashlights and LED type flashlights and fresh batteries, and several long burning (in cans or glass) candles. If possible, some kerosene (oil) lamps, bulk kerosene, wicks, etc. Some solar charged LED lights wouldn't hurt.