The Best Emergency Lights for Homes in 2024!
Excluding major weather events, an average US household experiences around 112 minutes without power per year. In fact, a power outage is so rare that it is considered almost an emergency. As with any other emergency, having an emergency light nearby can reduce discomfort and improve your safety, especially in the evenings and during nights when daylight is not available. Let’s o on and learn more about the best emergency lights that you can purchase.
First things first: power outages can be both planned and unplanned. If planned, power outages will be announced (usually on the utility company’s website or in public media), so that you will have enough time to prepare. Power outages of this kind can happen for a variety of reasons, including:
- Regular power grid maintenance,
- Temporary shut-offs for network expansion or modernization efforts,
- Temporary shut-offs: blackouts and brownouts as a last-resort effort to decrease the load on the network.
On the other hand, a power outage does not have to be planned at all. In this case, the most uncomfortable element in a blackout situation is the element of surprise. After all, nobody likes to have their lunch or dinner half-cooked when the power goes out. There are several reasons why your area may be experiencing an unplanned power outage:
- A felled tree cut off the energy supply,
- A car accident took down a power line pole, effectively shutting off power to your area,
- Too-high of demand forced the utility company to resort to a power outage as a means of preserving the gid,
- Weather extremes, such as a snowstorm, an ice storm, or a similar event disrupted power lines.
In all these cases, you will experience reduced comfort. In the winter of 2021, 246 Texans lost their lives in a snowstorm that left almost the entire state with no power. Surprisingly to many, a single candle could have saved all those lives, both as a source of emergency light and as a source of emergency heat.
With all this in mind, let’s consider the best kinds of emergency lights out there. Many of these are battery-powered and will enable you to have emergency lighting once the bright lights on your ceiling go out. Let’s consider them all and see which type of emergency light you need and how to choose the best emergency lighting for you.
Types of Emergency Light Sources
First things first, understanding your lighting needs is a must. If you live in a single home that you spend only a portion of the day in, you will have different news for emergency lights and will need a flashlight with a different battery life than a big family. Likewise, living in an apartment will mean lower light needs compared to someone who lives in a house, and especially lower than someone who may live in a remote area that has a large yard, or a farm, where the lighting needs of animals have to be taken into consideration as well.
If you live in an area that is especially prone to power outages, you may want to consider installing a solar array with a solar battery. This way, once the power is out, you will still be able to enjoy having lights around the house. Depending on your energy needs, you may choose to install more than a single solar battery. They mostly come in ~10 kWh size and can be stacked for more energy storage. Considering that an average US household uses around 30 kWh of power a day, you may need up to three of these batteries, if you experience frequent outages that last hours at end.
It should be noted that a simple solar system will not provide any power during a power outage unless you have a solar battery. In most cases, you will need a battery that can store solar power to be able to go through a power outage. Your emergency flashlight may be a better, and much cheaper alternative, as long as it has a decent battery life.
Battery Powered Lights
In case of a power outage, you may want to have battery-powered lights nearby. The best emergency lights, after all, will be easily accessible, easy to use, and will pack a good battery life ensuring many hours of use as emergency lighting. A simple night light may not be enough, especially if you have to head out to check the power meter and the fuse box.
For this reason, investing in any emergency device with rechargeable batteries, such as lithium batteries is a great idea. There are many alternatives that do not use batteries, such as propane lanterns, or a good camping lantern. However, these may need some time to get going, and even then, the fumes they release may be toxic and may even carry carcinogenic particles in the smoke. Always consider safety before making a purchase.
Chemical Light Sources
Chemical light sources include glow sticks of different manufacturing. Once you bend the glow stick, the chemical reaction releases very little energy in the form of light. Unlike some batteries, glow sticks emit light that is similar to LED light, although much lower in brightness. This is still enough light to perform some basic duties, although reading or seeing distant objects may be difficult.
However, considering that crime rates increase during power outages, it may be better to look for a better option. Although glow sticks can last 4-5 years, and produce light for some 6-12 hours once they are broken, the light they emit is not strong enough to replace good, water-resistant emergency lighting options with rechargeable batteries.
Solar Powered Lights
If there is a power outage, solar-powered lights may prove to be very beneficial. Although they (mostly) do not shine as bright as flashlights or LED lights with rechargeable batteries, these lights are a great way to illuminate your garden path or your front-yard access, although they may pose issues if you need to illuminate the inside of your home. The reason: is there’s no light inside to charge and nobody has time to take them out daily just to keep the batteries full of juice.
However, as even the best lanterns run out of light, having a rechargeable battery that you can recharge with the help of the Sun is a big help in situations when you may experience long periods with no power. Similar situations include weather extremes, such as snow storms and hurricanes, when entire areas can be shut off for weeks. In reality, solar-powered lights are a great tool to have and a great way to keep yourself and your family safe when disasters strike.
An additional option with solar-powered lights is to purchase regular flashlights and LED lights with a rechargeable battery and a USB cable for charging. Even if you do not have access to electricity, rolling out a mobile solar panel may be able to provide just around the power to keep your handy lantern (LED lantern) juiced up and ready to roll. The soft light may fade as the night is coming to an end, but solar lights can be recharged as soon as the sun is up.
Manually Powered Lights
Manually-powered lights may be another solution for light issues when there is a power outage. Although they may not be the best option for times when there is a prolonged power outage, they are a perfect device for emergency preparedness. Namely, they can be in your emergency kit for years and not lose any of their functionality. There is no need to store batteries and even the best lantern cannot compete with the shelf life of a simple device such as a hand crank or a shake flashlight.
Perpetual Light Sources
Perpetual light sources may seem like a fantasy, but they do exist. Relying on a material known as strontium-aluminate, they absorb photons during the day and release them during the night. There is no long battery life, as they do not have one and you do not even need a wall- charger, as these lights need just a bit of light to last you for hours. A good and reliable light source, they do not have adjustable brightness, offer few lighting options, and are not as good at providing light for an entire room.
Nevertheless, they are a great way to provide light to navigate a room, are a great nightlight mode option, and are a reliable light source without the need to resort to open flame or rechargeable batteries. Emergency lighting like this is perfect: the light is activated as soon as it is placed in a dark room, or as soon as the lights go out.
Open Flame Light Sources
Open-flame light sources are shunned by many because of their safety concerns. Besides being a fire hazard, using them in your everyday life would be a big problem, because of the burn risk, the pollutants they release in the air, as well as the limited hours of light you get before needing to refill the fuel. However, they produce more lumens of light and can be extremely durable, with fuel that can last you for years on the shelf. They are a great addition to your emergency kit, but should only be used as complementary lights.
Adjustable brightness, being able to place this source of light in strategic locations around your home, and other features may be perfect for all those looking for this way to illuminate the night. Some models feature a collapsible design, although the need for refueling them may prove to be too much of a hassle. However, with up to 200 hundred hours of burn time with a single quart of liquid paraffin, for example, you should consider giving this source of light the chance. As this is the oldest way to illuminate a room, there are many varieties to choose from:
- Emergency candles,
- Oil lamp,
- Kerosene lamp,
- Liquid paraffin lamps,
- Propane lanterns,
- Outdoor liquid fuel lanterns,
Beware that you should always keep the space well-ventilated when relying on these sources of light, especially as they emit pollutants into the air and some of those may even include carbon-monoxide (very toxic), and carcinogenic particles, such as PM2.5 particles. Always remember to stay safe during an emergency.
Best Emergency Light For Power Outages
When looking for the best lighting options for a power outage, it is very useful to understand your energy needs and your light needs for moments with no electricity. If you are a small family that likes to gather in the living room, then a single large source of light may be enough, with an additional smaller source of light to make the bathroom trips. On the other hand, if you are a large family, living in a large home with a yard, you will need several strong sources of light.
The same goes if your home is also your office, in which case you may also need a UPS to keep your computer and your router running. In addition to this, having a weather-resistant light source is a great addition to your emergency kit, as you may need to head outside periodically. While a good old camping lantern may be all you need, you may also need to have more emergency lighting options for outside, sometimes even with a motion sensor to keep any strangers at bay.
And so, while some may only need a few flashlights, some may want to consider installing a solar battery to deal with all their energy needs. Having some additional benefits from your emergency lighting for a power outage is great, and here are a few of them:
- No alkaline batteries, as the light emitted is much stronger with rechargeable batteries and a good LED light,
- The ability to recharge over your car charger,
- Reduced fire hazard, which means no fire extinguisher is needed,
- Adjustable brightness,
- Being able to provide many hours of light on a single charge,
- The option that the outside light automatically turns on when motion is detected, and
- That the light is suitable for indoor use.
Flashlights are probably the most versatile emergency lighting option for a power outage. Coming into a variety of shapes, sizes, number of lumens, and energy-source types, they are very versatile and can be taken just about anywhere – from your living room to a camping trip. In the case of a power failure, you may want to have a water-resistant model with a rechargeable battery with a good battery capacity. A USB port for easy recharge and a portable solar panel will provide light for months if necessary.
Lanterns, on the other hand, are less versatile and prove to pose some safety hazard. However, this is compensated by their very long run time. The low-tech solution, lanterns offer up to 200 hours of run time with a single quart of lamp oil or liquid paraffin. They are a great and versatile solution, with models such as a propane lantern, and other options. Make sure to aerate the room often as they release toxic chemicals when used indoors.
Candles offer a very long storage life and there is no risk of leakage. Candles are used for both the emergency lighting and decorative purposes. A single candle can burn upwards of 3 hours, with some, wide-diameter, candles burning for up to 100 hours. That’s 12 days at 8 hours of burn time a day. Candles, however, emit a lot of particles and other fumes that can put your health in danger and leave soot deposits over your ceiling. Make sure you ventilate the room when they are in use or use battery-powered candles.
Nightlights are a relatively good source of emergency lighting. If you experience a power outage, a night light will be able to shine for hours, offering low, smooth light for hours at a time. Some night lights come with a built-in flashlight as well. They should also have a charge indicator, so you know when they are ready to be used.
Headlamps may not be the best emergency lighting for the inside, but they are perfect for the outside. Headlamps mount to your head and offer several hours of run time. They are the best if you need to quickly check the fuse box or to illuminate the steps or another area where you may need both your hands free to do or fix something. Otherwise, they are not the best solution for space lighting, especially as their compact size usually means a limited amount of light can be emitted and that the battery is kept small, to be able to fit on your head comfortably.
Static-Placed Mobile Lights
Static-placed mobile lights are the next level of emergency lighting. During a power outage, you may want to place these lights strategically, to light a table where you may dine or play games, or even to light a ceiling and provide a soft light for the entire room, without the annoying light shining into your face. These lights are very good, as they come with larger batteries and may provide you with more light hours than would otherwise be the case.
Panic lamps are featured in a lot of new homes. Panic lamps mount to your ceiling or the walls and the lights turn on automatically once a power outage is detected. This is a great way to provide light during a power outage and do so without the need to go through a dark hallway looking for lights. In fact, this is the safest light source on our list, as the LED bulbs inside can run for several hours without a fire hazard. Once the power is back on, they will recharge on their own.
Do Wireless LED Lights Exist?
There are no wireless LED lights except those powered by batteries. One of the best emergency lightings, LED flashlights are the most frequently bought flashlight when power outages are scheduled or announced. Unlike a propane lantern, they will emit no toxic chemicals, and when coupled with rechargeable batteries, they can provide you with over a decade of service.
Are Rechargeable Light Bulbs Worth It?
Yes, rechargeable light bulbs are worth it. They come with a built-in battery that can recharge on its own when the electricity is on. When it is off, these lights will shine on their own, providing you with pleasant light and reducing your need to rely on flashlights or any other power light source.
How do Emergency Lights Charge?
Emergency lights charge on their own, as they are connected to the grid, just like any other light. In most cases, they charge automatically once the power is out and start giving off a bright light when the power is out. If you own a big home and would like to provide extra-safety features, this is a great thing to have.
How Long Can Hazard Lights Stay on Before Battery Dies?
Most hazard lights on both your car and in your home should be able to run for a few hours before the battery dies. However, if you have an older model of a car or if you have an older model of a hazard light, this time may be significantly shorter, sometimes even under an hour. Always check for different modes of operation and how bright the light is – the dimmer it is, the less juice there is in the battery.
Power outages do not happen often, but it is better to be prepared for when they hit. Similarly to camping trips, you should have a flashlight and a lantern for outdoor use, as well as some form of night light for inside use. Always include extra batteries or an external battery to recharge your chargeable devices, and ensure that there is enough fuel for the lantern for a few hours of run-time. In most cases, having a quart of fuel stored will provide around 100 hours of light.