When it comes to choosing your new outdoor lantern, your primary choices are going to be between dual-fuel and propane options.
While both use gas as their fuel source, the fuels themselves make a difference in how effective the lantern may be for you. To ensure you make the best choice, keep reading to learn more about the pros and cons of each.
What is Dual-fuel?
Dual-fuel lanterns are outdoor lanterns that can burn 2 different gases for heat and light: unleaded gasoline and “white gas” (also known as Coleman fuel). Depending on your preference, you can choose to use either, which makes them a versatile choice – but are they better than your standard propane lanterns?
Below is a comparison between the 2 lanterns’ types of fuel in some of the most important categories to help you decide which option is best for you.
Perhaps the most important aspect to consider, choosing the cheaper fuel source allows you to burn more for less, adding value to your purchase.
As Coleman fuel is the most unique of the 3 fuel sources, it is also the most expensive as it needs to be bought in specific canisters. Propane and gasoline can vary in price depending on the season, but unless you buy in bulk, gasoline is often the cheaper option (and can be bought in about any quantity).
Dual-fuel lanterns give you the option of using white gas or unleaded gasoline, an expensive and cheaper option, which makes it more versatile pricewise. However, propane is right there with it.
If you can’t find the fuel to use, you can’t take advantage of it in your lantern. While the availability of each fuel type depends on your location, the internet makes it easy to find your preferred fuel.
Locally, gasoline is available in most places around the world due to its use in most transportation. Propane can be found at many outdoor stores and various other locations that provide propane tanks (though you’ll need personal containers rather than full tanks), while white gas is a more specialty product you may have to search for.
Again, dual-fuel allows for more versatility in your fuel. If you’re traveling somewhere you’re not sure will have Coleman fuel, you’re likely to find somewhere to get gasoline from. You can stock up on propane tanks to combat this, however, keeping the propane lantern in the running.
Burn Time and Strength
If you’re using propane or a dual-fuel lantern, it’s likely because you want a stronger light source than many LEDs that also provides some heat. The stronger the flame, the brighter the lantern can burn so fuels that burn hotter will burn brighter. You can also use less fuel for more light, which extends the life of the lantern.
Coleman fuel has the highest BTU output of the 3 fuel types due to being formulated for lanterns and stoves. Gasoline comes in second place burning hotter than propane (though less cleanly), making dual-fuel lanterns more efficient.
Ease of Use
When you’re outdoors, you don’t want to have to fiddle around with your lantern’s fuel and risk being stuck in the dark. Dual-fuel lanterns are harder to use than propane models because they require you to fill the lantern with fuel prior to use, pump and prime it before igniting, and then use it. Propane can simply be attached to the lantern’s fuel connection and ignited thanks to the pressurization of the tank.
In terms of portability, both lantern types are about the same – they’ll include a handle and base to move them around. However, bringing the fuel is a bit different.
Propane comes in small tanks that you can easily carry with you (as long as they fit in your bag) while white gas offers the same convenience. However, gasoline is often loose in a gas canister which can make toting it more difficult.
How many times have you seen someone pouring gasoline on a fire when it travels upstream back at them? It’s no secret irresponsible gasoline use around any kind of ignition source can be dangerous, and this danger extends to white gas as well. However, propane tanks are pressurized which keeps the fire from getting inside and posing an explosion risk.
When comparing dual-fuel and propane lanterns, there is no definitive better option – it depends on your specific use. Want something that burns cleanly? Propane may be better. Want the highest light and heat potential? Use white gas with a dual-fuel lantern.
In general, we recommend going with a propane lantern if you’re a new user because it is safer and easier to use, whereas fuel can get messier and more dangerous to where it isn’t different enough to warrant the risk.