Lighting Your Home

To be prepared for a power outage, you need to have a variety of emergency lighting options, be sure not to settle on just one or two. Sure, some are better than others but it really comes down to preference. Here are some popular sources of alternative lighting. They are separated into indoor and outdoor use based on the fuel required to run each device .

Alternative Light Sources
For Indoor & Outdoor Use

Solar Generator


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Light Bulbs


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Battery, Solar, Hand-crank, & USB

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LED Lanterns


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Liquid Candles

Paraffin Oil

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Wax Candles

Various Waxes

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Flameless Candles


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Glow Sticks

Kid friendly

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Alternative Light Sources
For Outdoor Use Only

Fuel Generator

Propane, Gasoline, Natural Gas

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Gas Lantern


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Tiki Torch

Citronella Oil

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Garden Lighting


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Alternative Light Sources
Which Options Are Right For You?

Solar Generator

Solar generators use solar panels to capture renewable energy from the sun and store it as electricity in either portable or tied-in power stations. They can provide reliable energy as a backup power source in a power outage or on a full-time basis. They run quietly and are low maintenance. During a power outage, having a solar generator will enable you to use much of the same lighting you already use, lessening the need to fall back on more alternative methods included on this page.

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Power Failure Lights

Power failure lights operate just like standard lightbulbs within fixtures and lamps. They are easy to install and are designed for everyday use…. with one huge difference. Power failure lights sense a power outage and automatically switch to power provided by a self-contained rechargeable backup battery. When the power is restored, the battery recharges whenever the light is on and will be ready for the next outage. The time it takes to recharge the battery can vary but they are designed to last for the life of the power failure light.

The time a fully charged power failure light stays operable during an outage depends on the light's battery capacity. On average, this is about 3 to 4 hours.

Check compatibility before you buy

While Power failure lights work in most standard light fixtures, there are some limitations. They may not work on dimmer switches, fixtures that include incandescent or halogen bulbs, or circuits with ceiling fans. It is important to check the manufacturer's specifications for compatibility with your specific fixtures before purchasing power failure lights.

Brands include Energizer LED Rechargeable Plug-in Flashlight and Ideal Security Inc. SK636 Emergency Power Failure Light.

Rechargeable Light Bulbs

Rechargeable light bulbs are a type of light bulb that can continue to provide light even when the electricity goes out. They work like traditional bulbs that run on electricity. The difference is the addition of a built-in lithium battery that charges while the light bulb is in use and plugged into an electric socket. When the electricity goes out, the battery kicks in and continues to provide the same amount of light. It can also be taken out of the socket and used as a portable flashlight or lantern.


Rechargeable lightbulbs are dependent on electricity to charge and will start the recharging cycle as soon as the electricity is restored - if the switch is turned on. Once the battery is recharged, it will be ready for the next outage.

More features

Rechargeable light bulbs come in various lumen outputs, color temperatures, and recharge times. They are known to be reliable and affordable and require little to no maintenance.

There are several top brands of rechargeable light bulbs available on the market. Brands include Safelumin, JackonLux, GE Lighting, Neporal, and Flyhoom.


A quality flashlight is a fundamental piece of preparedness gear. Consider a quality flashlight as one of the fundamental pieces of your preparedness gear. All family members should have a dedicated flashlight and headlamp for home use. Each family member should have a flashlight and separate headlamp added to their grab-and-go bag. Both types of flashlights have advantages in different emergency scenarios. Headlamps allow for hands-free lighting, while handheld flashlights give you more control.

When looking for a flashlight, there are three important things to consider: the fuel source, the brightness, and the bulb type. By considering these three factors, you can find a flashlight that meets your needs and preferences.

Fuel Source

The fuel source determines how the flashlight is powered, whether it be by batteries (disposable or rechargeable), solar with USB, and hand-crank.


This is the cheapest option. Decide on disposable or rechargeable. For regular, be sure to rotate them so they don’t become corroded. Learn more about your battery options and how to store them for best results. Be sure not to leave any batteries inside your flashlights while not being used. Learn more about choosing and storing batteries.

Solar with USB

These flashlights are powered by solar energy stored in rechargeable batteries. Look for one that includes a USB charging capability in case of inadequate sunlight.

Brands include PET T09 Solar Flashlight, Delxo Handheld Solar Powered Tactical Flashlight, Greadio Emergency Weather, Flashlight & Radio, and Spurtar Solar Flashlight.

Hand Crank

Works by hand cranking a permanent magnet motor, which then generates electricity for illuminating the attached LEDs. This makes a good backup flashlight in case you run out of power for others.

The Simpeak Hand Crank Solar-Powered Flashlight can be charged using both solar power and a hand crank. It is lightweight and compact, making it easy to carry with you wherever you go. The flashlight features a hand crank that can generate power for more than 10 minutes of lighting with just 1 minute of cranking. It also has a solar panel that can charge the flashlight, although it takes 40 hours to fully charge the flashlight using solar power alone.


Lumen Output

A lumen is a unit of measurement for the total amount of visible light emitted by a source. It is used to measure the brightness of a light source, such as a flashlight. There is no one standard range for lumen output for a flashlight. It varies depending upon the intended use and size. For everyday use, a lumen output of 1-300 is sufficient.

Top brands include Cree and Feit Electric. For outdoor use, 300 to 980 is recommended. Top brands include Philips Hue and Sengled.

Bulb Type

LED Bulb

LED flashlights are known for their wide, bright-white beams and have largely replaced those with traditional incandescent light bulbs. LEDs in modern flashlights are brighter, more durable, and much more efficient than incandescent bulbs, which means batteries last longer.

HID Bulb

High-Intensity Discharge (HID) flashlights can produce an extremely bright light. They work by having an electrical current run through a ball of ionized gas. They are not as common as LEDs but are much more powerful.

Note: New standards are calling for the complete phase out of incandescent bulbs by the end of 2023.

Handheld brands include - GearLight, SureFire, Streamlight, Fenix, and Nitecore. These brands offer a range of handheld LED flashlights with different features and at different price points.

Headlamp brands include - BioLite, Energizer, Fenix, Petzl, Police Security, Coast, Black Diamond, and Ledlenser. These brands offer a range of headlamps with different features and at different price points.

LED Lanterns

Battery-powered lanterns are a safe and convenient source of light during power outages or in other situations where you need portable lighting. They are designed to be portable hand-held lights and are usually equipped with a handle. Battery-powered lanterns are a great alternative to gas-powered lanterns because they can be used indoors, they are generally lighter, quieter, and safer to use around children as they do not generate heat. They are also a popular choice for outdoor activities.

They are available in a variety of styles and sizes, with different features such as adjustable brightness settings and energy-saving modes. When choosing a battery-powered lantern, here are some features to look for: brightness, battery usage, durability, and size and weight.

Different features


The brightness of battery-powered lanterns can vary depending on factors such as the brand, model, and usage. While they cannot give out the same intense light as gas-fueled lanterns, some can provide up to 1000 lumens.

Let’s put that in perspective. For outside use, a lantern with 800 lumens and 360-degree light coverage is sufficient. For more contained spaces, a lantern with between 40 and 100 lumens would be more suitable. If you want to have this kind of customizability, be sure to get one with an adjustable brightness setting.

Battery usage

Disposable batteries can give a battery-powered lantern about 10 hours of light. A rechargeable battery can give a quality LED lantern up to 20 hours on a high setting and 100 hours on a low. Learn more about choosing and storing batteries.


LED flashlights are known for their durability and efficiency. Some are made with military-grade and water-resistant material. Look for one that is built to withstand rugged use.

Size and weight

Consideration for portability and ease of use if you would like to add this to your grab-and-go bag. For home use, this is not as critical.

For emergency preparedness and long-term power outages brands include Coleman Multi-Panel LED Lantern, Vont LED Camping Lantern, LE LED Lantern, and Blazin’ Sun Rechargeable LED Lantern.

Indoor Solar Lights

An indoor solar light is a portable light that uses solar energy to provide illumination. These lights are designed to be used indoors and can be charged using solar panels placed outside or near a window. They come in various shapes, sizes, designs, and color modes and can be used for a variety of purposes such as lighting up a room, providing accent lighting, or as a backup light source during power outages. These long-lasting lights are widely used, are relatively inexpensive, and are easy to install.

There are different options like wall mount, pendant lighting, string lighting, and more. They come with LED lights, solar panels, batteries, controllers, and chargers. The solar energy can be controlled by a switch on the lamp or by remote control. You also have the option to have the light turn on and off automatically by connecting it to a solar panel.

There are many brands of indoor solar lights available on the market. Some popular brands include Niorsun (pendant light with 400 lumens), Mlambert (1000 lumens), Greenlight Planet, KK.BOL, Kyson, and EleLight.

Indoor Oil Lamps

Indoor oil lamps have been used for centuries and are still popular today for their warm, ambient light and decorative appeal. For our purposes, oil lamps are also a practical source of emergency lighting. It will burn brighter than an ordinary candle and it will burn longer than the typical candle. They come in a variety of styles and sizes but must be used with standard lamp oil, a derivative of kerosene that has been cleaned for indoor use. It’s more expensive than regular kerosene, but this is what makes it possible to burn indoors.

Indoor oil lamps can also be called flat-wick lamps or tubular lanterns. If you’re thinking of adding an oil lamp to your arsenal of alternative indoor lighting, make sure you purchase fuel for indoor/outdoor use as kerosene cannot be used indoors. Learn more about using and storing lamp oil.

Lamp brightness

The brightness of an oil lamp can vary depending on several factors, including the design of the lamp, the type of fuel used, and the size of the wick. It's important to note that oil lamps are not designed to provide the same level of illumination as modern electric lighting, so you may need to use multiple lamps or supplement with other light sources to achieve the desired level of brightness in a larger room.

If you choose to have an oil lamp as backup lighting, don't forget to store matches or lighters.

Brands include Hyoola, Lamplight, Ner Mitzvah, The Dreidel Company, Cooking Details, FIREFLY, and Dietz. These brands offer a variety of styles and designs to choose from, so you can find the perfect lamp to suit your needs and preferences.

Liquid Candles

Liquid Candles (aka candle oil lamps) are a type of candle that uses liquid fuel, usually, liquid paraffin (aka liquid candle wax), to produce light. Both terms, “candle oil lamp” and “liquid candle,” are used interchangeably to describe a vessel used to burn liquid paraffin. The bright flame that is produced burns cleanly and efficiently, without smoke or soot, so it is safe to use indoors. It generates a continuous flame much like those give off by wax candles. Liquid candles come in different styles and designs and can be used for decorative and emergency purposes.

Disposable & refillable

Liquid candles are usually made of glass and can be purchased in either refillable or disposable forms.

Disposable brands include Emergency Essentials 115-Hour Candles; Ready Hour 100-Hour Candle; Candlelife Emergency Survival Candle - 115 Hours; SDS Liquid Oil Votive Emergency Candle - 115 Hours; Hollowick Disposable Liquid Candles (various, 8 to 50 Hours); and more.

Refillable brands include Lucid Candle; Lux Mundi; and more. Learn about using and storing liquid paraffin.

When liquid candles should not be used

Be safe and don’t use liquid candles if you think your gas main might have a leak, such as right after an earthquake. If you have lost electricity right after a strong earthquake, use some other method of alternative lighting.

Note: Liquid paraffin oil is liquid candle wax and is for use in liquid candles/candle oil lamps only. It is not suitable for use in tubular lanterns or oil lamps that use flat wick or Kosmos or Matador type oil lamps. Use only standard lamp oil for lanterns & lamps that meet this description. In the UK Paraffin oil is made from Kerosene and cannot be used inside. Make sure you don’t mix up the two.

If you choose to include liquid candles as backup lighting, don't forget to store matches or lighters.

Wax Candles

Candles can be a valuable addition to any emergency kit as they can provide both light and and a bit of warmth during a power outage or disaster. Emergency candles are designed to be dripless, burn slowly and steadily, and produce minimal smoke so they are safe to use indoors. They are also reusable and unscented. Unlike flashlights or lanterns, they do not require batteries or maintenance and have no expiration date. When looking for what type of candles to stock up on, consider the survival candle.

They are usually sold as single candles and have a much longer burn time than regular candles. Brands include - UCO, Stonebriar, SE Survivor, and Bolsius.

If you choose to have candles as backup lighting, don't forget to store matches or lighters.

It is not advisable to rely solely on candles during a prolonged power outage. A single candle produces only a small amount of light compared to an electric light bulb. Additionally, candles can pose a fire hazard if not used properly. It is important to have other sources of light and heat in your emergency kit.

When candles should not be used

Be safe and don’t use candles if you think your gas main might have a leak, such as right after an earthquake. If you have lost electricity right after a strong earthquake, use some other method of alternative lighting.

Flameless Candles

Battery-powered candles are also known as flameless candles, LED candles, or electric candles. Flameless candles are a great alternative to traditional candles because they provide the same light but without the risk of fire or the mess of melted wax. They come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors; scented and unscented; and some even have features such as remote control and timers. Because we never know how long a power outage will last, it’s probably a good idea to get unscented. You can use the candles longer without becoming bothered by the scent.

Battery life

The battery life of flameless candles varies depending on the type of candle, the brightness of the light, and the type and number of batteries used. A good-quality LED candle flame can last 10,000 hours or more, but the batteries that power the candle require replacement every 300 hours or so.

Most flameless candles run on AA batteries that are not included in the purchase. Some use CR2 cylindrical lithium cell batteries that are included and last up to 200 hours before needing to be replaced.

Flameless candles are widely available online and in superstores. Some of the best brands include - Antizer, YIWER, Rhytsing, Eywamage, Y YUEGANG, LED Lytes, CANDLE IDEA, Vinkor, Incredle, and Homemory.

Glow Sticks

Also known as light sticks - the sticks generally contain hydrogen peroxide and color dye inside a plastic sleeve as well as a glass vial filled with phenyl oxalate ester. When you break the glass vial, a chemical reaction occurs (known as chemiluminescence) causing light to be emitted.Glow sticks are a great option for a power outage because they provide an instant and safe source of light. They are easy to use - you just need to bend, break, and shake them to activate the light.

Each stick can provide up to 12 hours of light. They are also non-sparking and non-heat-producing, making them safe to use in any environment, and can also provide some fun for kids in the process. Additionally, they are waterproof and can be used underwater. With safety glow sticks, you can have instant light for reading, signaling your position to rescuers, or alerting people to your presence. It’s a great addition to any emergency prep plan. Placing a powered light stick in the freezer when not in use will extend its life.

In a power-out situation, a light stick is meant only to supplement your more robust emergency light sources.

Brands include - Cyalume, Windy City Novelties, Recon Medical, Northern Lights, and Coghlan’s.

Fuel-Powered Generator

A fuel-powered generator can be a reliable source of emergency power when the electricity goes out. These generators run on combustible fuels such as gasoline, propane, or natural gas and can power either your home's lighting system or portable versions that allow you to use smaller lighting devices during an outage.

There are three categories of generators that can assist you when your home loses electricity.

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Gas Lantern

Lanterns have been used for centuries to provide light and have been popular since the 1700s. Today, lanterns are still used for outdoor activities such as camping and hiking, but can also be used for emergency lighting outdoors. They are designed to be portable and are usually equipped with a handle so they can be carried where ever light is needed. One of the major advantages of using a fuel lanterns is that it burns extremely brightly, even brighter than LED lanterns. However, unlike LED, fuel lanterns must be used outdoors due to the production of toxic gases.

They also generate a lot of heat so they must be used with care around children and pets. Gas lanterns run on at least 3 fuel sources: kerosene, propane, and white gas. Let's take a look at each.

Kerosene Lantern

Kerosene lanterns burn kerosene by pulling it up through a wick within the lantern which then creates light. It is also easy to ignite and can provide a useful source of bright light and heat. Learn more about storing kerosene.

Brands include Coleman, Dietz, Lamplight, Feuerhand, and DNRVK. Dietz has been in business since 1840 and is one of the most well-known brands of cold-blast kerosene lanterns.

Propane Lantern

Propane lanterns are typically easy to use, can generate a lot of light for a long burn time, and provide the bonus of adjustable brightness. Unlike kerosene, where you fill the lantern, a propane lantern needs to be attached to and fit the lantern. Learn more about storing propane.

Brands include Coleman, Lixada, Texsport, Docooler, and Stansport.

White Gas Lantern

White gas lanterns are a popular choice amongst campers because they perform so well. They burn hot, fast and gives off a very bright light. It also provides a lot of warmth while burning. While white gas itself is cheaper than some other fuels, the lanterns themselves require a bit more maintenance and are not as user-friendly as other types of lanterns. Learn more about storing white gas.

Brands include Coleman.

Tiki Torch

Citronella oil is an essential oil obtained from the leaves and stems of different species of lemongrass. It has a pleasant and natural aroma to humans but is probably best known for having the opposite effect on bugs. Citronella oil is a natural insect repellant. It can be used in outdoor lighting fixtures such as citronella lamps, tiki torches, and lanterns to keep bugs at bay. In the event of a power outage, citronella oil lamps or tiki torches can also be extremely useful for emergency outdoor lighting.

Not only do tiki torches provide steady light, but their ability to repel a variety of bugs is an added bonus. Learn more about storing and using citronella oil.

Outdoor use only

It is important to keep torches and oil lanterns away from flammable materials and never light them indoors. Citronella oil can produce smoke and soot, which can be harmful to breathe in and can damage indoor surfaces.

You can find a variety of citronella lamps, torches, and lanterns online or at stores like Walmart and Home Depot. Brands include Seraphic, WNP, Tewei, Sodelic, Birdrock Home, Dikaida, Deco Home, and T&H.

Solar Garden Lighting

Another way you can get outdoor lighting without electricity is the use of solar garden lights. These lights collect energy from the sun during the day (8 to 10 hours for full charging) and will illuminate areas surrounding the lights until the solar energy runs out. Most lights do not last the entire night. The cycle starts all over the next day. A huge advantage is they don’t need batteries or lamp oil to run, only the power of the sun. These lights are safe are affordable. They are environmentally friendly and will never damage anything they touch.

Different types of solar lighting

Types of solar garden lights include hanging lights, lanterns, and ground lights. Each brand of solar garden lights may have its own unique features and designs.

Features to consider

  • Brightness - make sure the lights are bright enough to meet your needs.
  • Durability - look for lights that are weather-resistant and can withstand outdoor conditions.
  • Energy efficiency - choose lights with efficient solar panels and long-lasting batteries.
  • Design – while you’re at it, see if you can find good lights that match your outdoor décor.
  • Cost – varies depending on brand, quality, and design but you should expect to pay between $5 to $20 per light.

Some brands may offer lights with different brightness levels, while others may focus on durability or energy efficiency. The best way to determine the differences between these brands is to compare their products and read customer reviews to see how they perform in real-world situations.

You can buy solar garden lights at many home improvement and garden stores, as well as online retailers such as Amazon and Walmart. Top brands include Gigalumi Solar Pathway Lights, URPOWER Solar Lights, and GardenBliss Solar Garden Lights.