Redudant Sources of Light

Alright y’all, let’s talk about another basic for preppers. Light. Those of us living in northern locations have winters that are long and noticeably dark. Even in summer though, light makes all sorts of things easier. The great thing about light for us preppers, is there are tons of options for it. Let’s go over as many as I can think of, and I’m sure you’ll find a couple that fit into your prepping strengths. (Always have at least two, that way if one way is failing for some reason you have a chance that the other will succeed.) Flashlights  – Here of course there are options. LED bulbs are bright and energy sippers, buy flashlights with those if you can. You can go with rechargeable batteries. (Radio shack is good for rechargeable batteries in sizes other than AA) Combined with a solar charger you could have power for a long while. This is a good option if you already have a reliable stash of flashlights that work well.  If you are starting your prepping, you do have the option to skip the recharging batteries, and just go straight to solar powered flashlights and lanterns.  Hand crank flashlights can be a long lived option too, if not the best for long continuous light. Candles – Any will work in a SHTF situation. Big, small, scented, I’m betting it won’t matter much. This is one of those options that you can find cheaply/free if you are savvy about it. Stick around for clean up of events, (weddings, dinners, etc) and if it’s a large enough event  with the right sorts of table decorations, there are often large bags of partially burned candles that end up getting tossed when nobody wants them all. Goodwills in my area will sell partially burned candle sets for cheap. Garage sales can be another possibility.  Stock up on candle holders when you can, if you can, otherwise they are easy to DIY with pie tins or empty cans. Oil lanterns – This is one of the light sources I keep on hand. I have some extra wicks and a couple bottles of the lamp oil. It’s fragile glass, and I probably don’t store enough fuel to make it suitable in a really long lasting blackout, but I love the light it puts out. Call me a romantic. Glow sticks – These can work for very specific situations. They can be nice for kids, and for short spells of darkness. For instance, we find when camping that the toddler is much easier to keep an eye on with a glowstick hanging on a necklace around his neck. If the transition to a life with less light is a sudden transition, glow sticks can help ease things. They can work as temporary night lights for places like bathrooms, especially helpful if you also have an influx of refugees also on hand. They can’t be recycled into anything useful when they spend their rather short lifespans though. For that reason they are only good for relatively short periods of illumination. Possibly a good barter item though? Their best selling point is their toughness, uncracked they will last for years, through flood and earthquake. Hopefully I’ve laid out all the options clearly here, there are definite pros and cons to each one.  Like Road Warrior said earlier this week, just start with one step. Some light will be better than no light. Imperfect light will be better than perfect darkness. – Calamity Jane
15 comments… add one
  • j.r. guerra in s. tx. November 7, 2013, 8:46 am

    For long term glow in dark products, check out the Paqlite items. Essentially lifetime glow in dark, recharge from ANY light source (I regularly charge them from incandescent / flourescent light fixtures and they work just fine. The UVPaqulite vacuum packed crystals are nearly weightless and take up VERY little space. The same company sells neck pendants (in two colors) for those kids needs.

    Full charge takes about 1/2 an hour and will put out a surprising amount of light. Does not cast a beam, a glow and it doesn’t really effect your night vision that much. If you need high light needs, a few high intensity glow sticks are worth the money, especially in earthquake / hurricane country (won’t ignite ruptured natural gas lines).

    Give them a look – I think they are worth the money. I thought they were a gimmick but now I think I’m going to order some more.

    LED head lamps are great, but will attract bugs to your face (sorta annoying when eating). Tea candles are very inexpensive and compact and when used with foil reflector, do a good job. Easy lantern project is cutting an empty drink can on sides (sideways ‘H’ pattern) and using that to reflect the light.

  • smokechecktim November 7, 2013, 10:59 am

    When the big box store had an end of the summer sale I bought a bunch of those 1 led solar yard lights. Leave them in the sun and at night you can place them around the inside of your house to help get around if you lose power. If you watch the price you can get them for 1 dollar each.

    • Babycatcher November 8, 2013, 12:41 am

      And if you are a woodworker like I am, you can make a stand to attach them to, so you can use them like you would a table lamp. The spikes for outdoors are removable.

    • eieio November 10, 2013, 3:33 am

      I also bought a bunch of those solar yard lights and made an adapter (spacer) so instead of charging the AA nicad battery, they could be used to charge a AAA nickle metal hydride (NIMH) battery. The solar yard light will normally have about 2.5 volts charging a 1.2 volt AA rechargeable battery. Because the AAA battery has a smaller capacity, they seem to charge up to full capacity faster. I use the Sanyo Eneloop AAA rechargeable batteries and they seem to keep their charge the longest. So I use the solar yard lights as chargers for my AAA hand held penlights.

      The Streamlight Stylus pro (about $20) is hands down a great value for a strong and dependable penlight. The Stylus Pro is deceptively small (about the size of a felt tip marking pen) but has both long runtime with 2 AAA solar light charged HIMH batteries.

      I also have the Streamlight ProTac 2AAA penlight flashlight (about $25). It is about half an inch longer than the Stylus pro and a little wider at the tip, but it throws out more light than the Stylus pro. On the down side it has a shorter run time.

      I carry the Pro Tac when I go out in the yard to do work. I find myself using it to light up dark areas on my various machines because of shadows. If you carry a flashlight around, I assure you that you will find a use for it and you will wonder why you never carried one before. And the answer is because they were bulky. Carrying the Streamlight penlights in AAA battery format is like carrying a felt tip marker. When I go walking I take the Pro Tac. It throws light farther than the Stylus pro.

      But the Stylus pro is the penlight that I have given to each female of my family and at work. So far I must have bought 20 of these as gifts. Buy through Amazon via the side bar box to help out this site. The Stylus pro is the best value and has the best form factor for the best runtime for the amount of light it puts out. It is also pretty weather resistant / water proof (to 3 feet for 30 minutes I think). There are other pen lights that are better but they will cost 2 to 3 times the cost of the Stylus pro.

      I have used the solar yard light charging method with AAA Sanyo HIMH eneloop batteries and the Streamlight Stylus pro as a system for about 2 years. If it were a SHTF situation, this system would work for a long, long time. The system is light and durable. It can also charge batteries for other uses, just take them out before it gets dark.


      • Calamity Jane November 13, 2013, 8:59 pm

        Thanks eieio, that’s some really detailed information. You’ve give me a lot to Google. :-D

  • Novice November 7, 2013, 12:46 pm

    Two thoughts. One, with the sensitive electronics required to run an LED are they EMP proof? I know the old incandescent bulbs were but I’m not sure about the LED’s. Two, from personal experience I can tell you that the hand crank (and hand shake) flashlights do have a lithium ion battery that only lasts about 3-5 years. Don’t count on this being a buy it and forget it option. If you plan on pulling it off the shelf after 15 years and cranking it up you’ll be in for a surprise.

    • irishdutchuncle November 8, 2013, 5:29 am

      if the battery is three cells, it doesn’t need the electronics.
      I’ve never heard a definitive answer on whether the LED itself can handle the EMP.

  • irishdutchuncle November 7, 2013, 2:40 pm

    a flashlight is something I’d splurge a little on. I want something that’s vapor tight. (with O rings, preferably Coast Guard approved)
    MAG-light is acceptable, or one of the newer tactical style lights, if well made.
    a Dorcy rubber covered flashlight is better than nothing if the maglite is out of your budget. (and it doesn’t look like a weapon)

    • irishdutchuncle November 8, 2013, 5:21 am

      of course, a quality flashlight/lantern that can float would be good to have also. (Eveready used to make one I think)

  • JTL in PA November 7, 2013, 5:41 pm

    Something I just picked up, but haven’t had time to experiment with yet is a old rotted out tow behind camper. Inverter works, has DC lighting. A cheap pv panel from Harbor Freight and I think I’ll have battery backup lighting? Anyone else have any experience with this?

  • JL November 7, 2013, 11:28 pm

    Dollar Tree is awesome for glow sticks, I also always buy candles after Christmas. I get them for 90 percent off.

  • ThatguyinCA November 7, 2013, 11:39 pm

    Solar lighting is probably one of your better options. I mean any type of solar, even if it’s rechargable batteries on a solar charger to power what ever laterns/flashlights you have.

    A very interesting item that isn’t quite on the market yet but eventually will be, probably within the next 2 years, is The Gravity Light (google it).

    This type of set up is probably the best option. If you like to tinker you can probably even build your own.

  • JE Redbird November 12, 2013, 9:33 pm

    Ok, I have one comment to make in regards to the scented candles. If you have more than one kind and/or more than one type of scent and you are ain small or enclosed space, anyone with lung issues is likely to get overwhelmed by them. Granted you may not have any choice, but if you do, un-scented would be better.
    Then again, if you are living in primitive conditions – the scented candles may mask some unpleasant odors… :)

    • Calamity Jane November 13, 2013, 9:08 pm

      That’s very true. I’d even take that a step further, and I wonder, what are some of the combustibles like kerosene or wood going to do people with lung issues. I remember in India there was talk about the numbers of deaths attributable to the wide use of wood as a cooking fuel, indoors and out.
      But, if the potty becomes an outhouse style or a bucket, perhaps a scented candle could be useful.

    • poorman November 18, 2013, 9:32 am

      Also paraffin based candles will cause lots of folks headaches if used for any period of time. You can google this. Look for candles that are made from soy wax or you can buy your own and make them fairly cheap. The wax and wicks are available on Amazon or from other sites. Use canning jars and they will run about 2.50 a candle and burn for 4 hours. Also you can get the 1 led yard lights at Walmart for 1.00 or at least you could about a month ago.


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