SHTF Emergency Lighting

Today’s guest post entitled “The Best Emergency Lighting Options for when the SHTF” was kindly submitted by Danny from Alpha Survivalist.

The Best SHTF Emergency Lighting Options

Emergency situations can come up at any time. Nuclear attacks and solar flares might seem like things that might never happen. But hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding and other natural or man-made catastrophes can hit when you least expect them to; and when the SHTF, you need to be prepared.

Lighting is important for survival in such situations for a number of reasons:

  • It allows you to illuminate your environment and find the supplies or tools you need.
  • It gives you and your family peace of mind.
  • It can also potentially discourage intruders and burglars from entering your home when they see the light on.

We have found that two of the best lighting solutions you can use in a SHTF situation are hand crank emergency lamps that don’t require the use of batteries and dependable oil lamps. But what are the strong and weak points of each. And why do many preppers consider oil lamps to be the best solution you can think of?

Why Choose a Hand Crank Lantern?

hand crank lantern


In an emergency, a lamp that doesn’t require any power source. Other than its very own hand crank generator must be considered an absolute necessity for anyone serious about being ready for any eventuality. But what other benefits does a hand crank lamp offer compared to other forms of lighting?


  • As mentioned already a hand crank lantern is self-powering. As long as you are able to turn the crank it will generate light.
  • Generally much lighter than other lamps as there is no fuel needed and they only need very basic electronics to work. This also means they are easier to pack and bug out with, especially the smaller collapsible lamps.
  • No danger of fire as there are no flammable fuels used.
  • Many hand crank lanterns can also run on batteries if needed, be charged by integrated solar panels, by a car battery and USB ports.
  • Many lanterns can also double up as a hand crank charging unit, able to put enough charge on your phone for emergency calls, and more.

The main downside to hand crank emergency lighting is that the light they produce is generally not as bright as the better kerosene and oil lanterns.

When Are Oil Lamps Your Best Choice?

kerosene lamp 1

When the grid is down, an oil lamp or a kerosene lantern can be a great asset. Regardless of whether you fashion your own or purchase the best and most expensive oil lamp on the market. You’ll find it can offer many benefits that an electric lamp won’t:

  • Lamps that rely on burning oil, kerosene or propane gas will also create heat. If it gets cold because your generator can’t power your electric heaters, then the heat from your lamp can still keep you warm to some extent.
  • Oil lamps can run on many different types of fuel, so you don’t have to keep a steady supply of refined oil at the ready all the time. They can even run on used cooking oil, melted lard, and alcohol.
  • When the grid falls for longer periods of time, oil lamps will not lose their energy after a while. In contrast, batteries have to be recharged in order to be reusable, so there’s a limit of days you can hold out with just a few flashlights.
  • Oil lamps will keep burning even if there are electromagnetic disturbances such as the ones caused by strong solar flares or EMP attacks. In the event of a nuclear attack, the EM pulse resulting from a nuclear strike can take out most electronics, including your lighting.

The Best Oil Lamps to Consider

kerosene Lamp


The classic kerosene lamp is the best for outdoor and indoor use in emergency situation. The CO emissions are very low, so you don’t have to worry about suffocating by using these lamps indoors. Also, the lamps themselves use enclosed flames, so they are much safer than candles.


Many consider propane lanterns to be a good alternative to oil-based lamps. Although finding propane bottles or tanks can be harder during an emergency. These lamps can last for a very long time if you stocked up on propane in advance.

gas lamp

If you’re facing a SHTF situation, and you’re not ready, the great thing about oil lamps is that you can make your own. All you need is the fuel – which, as mentioned, can be just about any kind of oil or lard. As well as a sturdy jar or container, some cotton or twine for the wick, and a match to light it up. You can then rest assured that you have the perfect amount of light to get you through the emergency.

Which is the Better Lamp in an Emergency, Oil or Hand Crank?

In all fairness choosing the perfect emergency lighting solution boils down to personal preference. Oil lamps are generally better for lighting larger areas as they produce brighter light. However, if for some reason I had nothing to burn in my oil lamp. I’d be sitting in the dark wishing I had decided to get a hand crank lamp.

Personally, I like to cover all the bases so I’d go with predominantly oil-fuelled lamps with a hand crank back up lantern!

Best SHTF Emergency Lighting Options – Conclusion

Thanks, Danny for taking the time to write an article for Prepper Bits Blog readers. Considering the best options for SHTF emergency lighting is definitely something all preppers should consider. I’m sure our readers will find the information provided about the benefits and differences between the SHTF emergency lighting options available. Such as hand crank, kerosene, oil and gas lamps informative and helpful.

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