Good light­ing is es­sen­tial on site. James Stan­bury takes a look at 14 of the best camp­ing lanterns

Have cut­ting-edge LED lanterns made the old fuel-burn­ing mod­els ob­so­lete? James Stan­bury tests 14 lamps to find out

Practical Caravan - - Contents -

THE SUR­PRISE HEAT­WAVE of 2018 has been a great re­minder of just how pleas­ant warm evenings out­doors can be, rather than hav­ing to re­tire in­side the van af­ter a day ex­plor­ing. Al­though lanterns were long ago re­placed as a means of ilu­mi­nat­ing car­a­van in­te­ri­ors, they come into their own for light­ing out­door ta­bles, gaze­bos and even awnings. LED mod­els throw out lots of light, de­spite be­ing com­pact and light­weight. Doesn’t it all seem a world away from those old gas-pow­ered lamps of yes­ter­year? Well, yes and no. Mod­ern lanterns are a bit like elec­tric cars. These ve­hi­cles are clean and fume-free, but for long dis­tances trav­el­ling with the fam­ily and a heavy car­a­van towed be­hind, they sim­ply don’t com­pare to the mile-munch­ing abil­ity of a good old diesel en­gine. Sim­i­larly, for LED lamps, longevity per charge is the is­sue. It’ll sur­prise no­body that an LED lamp’s bat­tery starts to de­plete the sec­ond you turn it on. What’s less ob­vi­ous is by how much. Our tests have found that many mod­els’ light out­put dips to less than 50% of start­ing in­ten­sity af­ter just an hour. In con­trast, fuel-burn­ing lanterns tend to give out a con­stant level of light un­til a few min­utes be­fore their tanks are empty. In other words, if you in­tend to use your lantern a lot, and want to be able to see your dessert as eas­ily as your starter, a fuel-burn­ing lamp should def­i­nitely re­main a con­sid­er­a­tion.

Light out­put

Our tests started by mea­sur­ing LEDS’ ini­tial light out­put, plus lev­els af­ter two, three, four and five hours of con­tin­u­ous use. We fac­tored max­i­mum against av­er­age out­put over that five-hour pe­riod, and con­sid­ered qual­ity. If used in the cen­tre of a ta­ble, a lantern’s out­put should be suit­ably dif­fused to pre­vent glare when you look across. Sim­i­larly, the best lanterns spread their out­put widely and evenly, to il­lu­mi­nate a large area. Some even boast dif­fer­ent types of light out­put, such as cool, warm, day­light and can­dle simulation. This might be a nov­elty, but it’s not with­out a de­gree of charm. Also es­sen­tial, to pre­vent daz­zle and in­crease bat­tery life, is a se­lec­tion of out­put lev­els. Tra­di­tion­ally, camp­ing lanterns were also of­ten sus­pended in some way – par­tic­u­larly when illuminating a struc­ture like an awning or gazebo. So we checked which have hooks, rather than just han­dles. And we also con­sid­ered all-in weights – the lantern plus its bat­ter­ies – to see which mod­els are within what most ac­ces­sory hooks can cope with. Then we checked beam pat­terns, to make sure the re­flec­tor ar­range­ment doesn’t leave a large dark spot be­neath the lamp. Lanterns that can be hung up­side down, act­ing as true down­lighters, are even bet­ter. Fi­nally, we took into ac­count any ex­tra fea­tures. Some mod­els, for ex­am­ple, also sport USB charg­ing fa­cil­i­ties, al­low­ing the lantern’s power source to boost mo­biles, tablets and other gad­gets. This could be very handy while you’re sit­ting around the pic­nic ta­ble of an evening. Bet­ter still, some lanterns even boast in­te­gral Blue­tooth speak­ers, to ei­ther get the party go­ing, or pro­vide a chilled­out sound­track to en­hance your warm sum­mer evenings out­doors.

Some mod­els even boast dif­fer­ent types of light out­put, such as cool, warm, day­light and can­dle simulation, which is not with­out a de­gree of charm

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.