If you've seen my other reviews you already know that I'm a "car-camper". I drive a pick-up truck and am quite happy to bring items that will keep me comfortable when I camp. I enjoy being outdoors, but don't get any special satisfaction from being cold, wet, underfed, etc. One of the basic pieces of equipment in my campsite is my Coleman Powerhouse Lantern. Simply stated, it is capable of throwing out enough light to allow everyone to move around without the need for their own flashlight in camp. Conversely, you can also turn the light down to a barely perceptable level when you just want to give yourself enough light to take care of your immediate space and don't want to intrude on the solitude of the night.
Recommend this product?
My experience is that arrival to camp on the first day is generally after dark. Getting everything unpacked and set up can be an unpleasant chore if you're constantly fumbling around in the dark looking for equipment and places to set up shelters. I pack my lantern so that it can be one of the first things out. It gets lit, hung with a hanger in a nearby tree, or set on a table, to allow everyone the advantage of seeing what's going on. Many campers have transitioned to the LED headlamps for thier primary lighting. I have several, and use them extensively, but they are limited in that they only light small areas. This lantern has the ability to give everyone around the ability to take an active part in the night-time activity without worrying about tripping in the dark.
Coleman's liquid fuel lanterns require a little bit of learning to make them work correctly. It isn't difficult, but first-time users would be well served to read through the directions and learn how to light the lantern in their yard at home. There are only a couple of moving parts, but you want to be familiar with your equipment before you get into the field. I've seen lots of complaints from people who just didn't understand how the product is supposed to work.
A few observations:
1. When you first install the cloth mantles, tie them on in accordance with the instructions and then snip off the extra length of the strings. They're made extra long to make it easier to tie them on. Then use a match, or lighter and set fire to the mantles. Let them burn completely before you ever put fuel in the lantern. During this step, you will want to be outdoors. The burning mantle puts out a fair amount of smoke. Also, remove the top of the lantern and glass globe during this step. There's no need to get them covered with soot from this initial step. Pre-burning the mantles allows them to come into shape and will ensure that the lantern will light easier once it's filled with fuel. Take your time with this step and make sure the mantles are completely burned. Note: Once lit, the mantle will turn white and is essentially a stiff peice of ash. It is fairly delicate and will break if bumped or touched. If this happens, remove it, tie on a new mantle, and repeat the process of burning the new mantle.
2. The lantern comes with a filter funnel. You'll want to always have this around when your adding fuel to the lantern. I recommend the purchase of one of Coleman's lantern cases. (I use the soft-sided one sold by Coleman that sells for about $21.) That way you'll have a place to store the funnel and some extra mantles with the lantern.
3. Fill the lantern with fuel at home. Unless you're going to be gone for more than a week, that will probably give you enough burn time so that you won't have to refill with fuel before you get home. If you're going to be using it on high for many hours, then bring along your gallon of fuel. Note, that this lantern can burn either Coleman fuel, or unleaded gasoline. Don't mix the two together though, and if you choose to use unleaded gasoline, make sure that yours doesn't contain ethanol. Most unleaded fuels sold in the western US have ethanol as an additive. It's marked on the gasoline pump at the station. It shouldn't be used in these lanterns as it will cause the lantern generator to get sooty and clog up quickly. Unless you've got a source of "unadulterated" unleaded gasoline, just stick with Coleman type white gas. There are a couple of different brands sold in sporting goods stores. Any of them will work fine.
4. The lantern will get very hot when in use. The upper lid and glass globe will cause serious burns if touched. This isn't an item for young children to use or carry. This can be difficult because little kids love lights. The cost of inattention can be high, so please make sure your little ones understand when you tell them that it's HOT, like the stove.
5. This version of Coleman's Dual Fuel lantern, the "Powerhouse" differs from their standard Dual Fuel lantern in that it's about 25% brighter on it's highest setting. You pay about $10 above the cost of the Dual Fuel Lantern but I think it's a good investment when your'e trying to light up a large area.
6. The lantern is designed to light with either matches or a lighter. It doesn't have an automatic lighting system built in. If you're somewhat handy with a drill, you can buy one of Coghlan's lantern lighting kits and drill a single hole at the base of the light chamber and install a flint-wheel spark mechanism. They sell for less than $4 at most sporting goods stores and work pretty well. They also come with a spare flint, stored under the handle so you can replace a worn out flint with a new one. The design of the heat shield on the lantern makes this addition a little harder, but it only took me a few minutes to add to my lantern. If you choose to use matches, I think it's easiest to remove the top and glass globe to light the lantern. There's a single nut on the very top that you remove by hand that allows you to remove these two peices. Light the lantern, let it warm up for just a few seconds and then reinstall the globe and top and hand tighten the bail nut. It's a no-brainer for most people. I've never had very good luck trying to poke a burning match up through the hole in the base of the light chamber. They always seem to go out at the wrong time.
7. Don't use this indoors. The lantern burns a petroleum based fuel and needs lots of oxygen. It gives off stuff you don't want to breath. It's an outdoor product; remember that and stay safe.
8. When lit, make sure that the lantern is put on a stable base, or hung from a secure device. Coleman (and Coghlan's) both make wire lantern hangers designed to wrap around a tree that will allow you to hang the lantern high enough to light up a substantial area. They sell for about $8 and are a worthwhile investment. If you don't hang the lantern make sure you put it on a steady base. It shouldn't be in a place where it will get knocked over. You've got fire inside that globe. It's a wonderful tool, but must be treated with the appropriate respect.
Having said all that, it's a wonderful product. They're well built, and will provide decades of use with reasonable care. Coleman has an outstanding policy of building products that can be repaired, rather than replaced. If anything ever goes wrong with your Coleman Lantern, repair parts are easy to acquire and most can be installed by the owner. It's rare to have to send anything off to a repair facility. Most of the basic parts are carried at any WalMart, Target, local sporting goods store. Other items can be ordered from the Coleman web site.
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