Camping Light

by Aaron Schubert on June 28, 2010

PB110078 300x225 Camping Light

What Camping Light?

Camping is enjoyed by millions of people every year, because it is something different and it is often the best way to see so many great things in nature. A big part of camping is enjoying the evenings, watching the sun go down and having a big, warm fire. Night time can be very frustrating however, if you don’t have the right lighting. With the technology available today there is really no reason not to have a well lit up area. This makes it much easier to make dinner, wash the dishes, read a book or just do other general work that needs to be done. Having more than just one Camping Light will make your life much more enjoyable at night!

A good quality Camping Light will make all of the difference to your evenings. There is truly nothing worse than tripping of guy ropes and fumbling around in the dark because you don’t have the required lighting. With a little bit of thought, a small amount of money and some time you can have an area very well lit up. This makes a world of difference to your camping set up. Have a look at a  as these are cheap and if you get a good brand they will last for a long time.

P4253857 300x225 Camping Light

The common Dolphin Torch

What Camping Light can I use?

There are a large number of different lights that you can use for camping, but it really comes down to what you use for camping. Some camper trailers come with lights already in them, which just run off the batteries. Others can be fitted by yourself, or you can just use portable lights. The best Camping Light that we have come across though is standard fluorescent globes that you use at home, which run off a normal 240v plug, connected through an inverter to a battery. This provides considerably more light than any gas light would, at a fraction of the running and purchasing costs. These can be used in addition to your camper trailer or tent set up.

If you want something a bit more portable, using LED’s is by far the most efficient way today. These are almost impossible to break, they are fairly water proof and they hardly use any power at all. This means that your battery life is extended, and your overall costs are reduced. I would suggest that you need one structure which is set up (near where you cook) that has a good amount of lighting, and then a few options for those who want to go for a walk away from camp. Generally an LED torch does this job fine, but get something that is going to last! You can easily purchase a 5 dollar LED light, but they break within a few days of using them and when you are in complete darkness this is the last thing that you want to happen.

Something I would highly recommend on all 4wd Vehicles is a worklight, mounted on the rear of your vehicle. This is very helpful if you are towing anything, if you have a ute or if you work behind your vehicle at night. They use very little power, but make your life much easier than trying to work and hold a light at the same time.

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P4253854 300x225 Camping Light

My inverter that I use for camping

What is an inverter?

An inverter is basically an electrical device which converts the 12v current from a battery into the 240v power that is used in most appliances and lighting at home. These range in output power and size (and go up progressively in price as you get bigger ones). Dick Smiths sells an inverter for 50 dollars which will comfortably power your lighting, laptops, phone chargers, camera chargers and anything else that you throw at it. It comes with two cables, which can be changed at any time. One is for plugging straight into the cigarette lighter plug, and the other is to clip onto a battery. If you want to run lighting from an inverter, a car battery (or something slightly smaller) is about the minimum that you can have. If you use fluorescent light fittings you will find that the battery lasts for a lot longer than normal globes.

Sure, these are more expensive but if you look after them they will last for a long time. A normal sized car battery will power two fluorescent lights along with camera and phone chargers for at least four days, and if it runs out you can just charge it off vehicles with you. Of course, if you are hiking you don’t have the luxury of lugging a huge car battery around with you. Instead, you need to put up with the light weight LED torches to do everything for you.

If you want to go all out, you can get inverters which will run electric blankets, fridges, ovens and more so when you go camping you can feel exactly as if you were at home. There are some very impressive set ups out there, but you need a lot of space to take it all with you! Most inverters that you purchase today beep when the battery that they are running off gets low, so that you can start the vehicle to start it up. Alternatively, we just take a second battery so you actually are semi portable and you can drive off with the vehicle if you need to.

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P4043798 300x225 Camping Light

Our lighting setup means it looks like daylight at night!

Getting a light stand

The light stand that we use is about a meter and a half tall, with two lights which are on flexible conduit. You can take the globes out when travelling, and move the conduit around so that it faces where you want it to. The plug is the same as your 240v ones, and it plugs into the inverter. These are easy to make up, but you want to do it safely and get an electrician to check it out. Alternatively, many people just use old bed side cabinet lights as they do the same job. An inverter will work with a small power board too, allowing you to charge batteries, run several lights and play on your laptop at the same time. Of course, you need to check the total draw before trying it, because the inverter will not be happy running anything above what it is recommended for!

Ensure that you are using either LED light fittings, or fluorescent light fittings. These use hardly any power, and you will be able to camp for a week at least on a car battery without any issues. These are much more expensive, but just be careful to remove them when you are travelling, and store them in a wrapped up cloth.

P4043810 225x300 Camping Light

These are good, but heavy and they aren't that bright

Torches and lanterns

There are a lot of torches which you can get today, ranging from the size of a key right through to full on lanterns. Generally those with LED’s will outlast any other torch, and they are very difficult to break as well. You can get gas lanterns, but I have never been a fan of these given how much easier it is just to run an inverter. Having a torch or lantern is very important though, because you regularly will need to leave the campsite to go for a walk, to the toilet or just to get items out of your car.

I have bought a number of the cheap LED torches, which are absolute junk. They are poorly built, with cheap batteries and they won’t last you for more than a week. Its well and truly worth the money to get something that is built properly, and look after it. The old Dolphin Torch is still a very popular option, because they are cheap and they are durable. The only issue with these is that you need a rechargeable battery to get good value out of them, and they are incredibly big and heavy. You can purchase an LED torch that is a 10th of the size which will outshine a Dolphin Torch by a long shot, and these are much better. Its just a newer technology which is more effective. However, if you are comfortable with a Dolphin Torch then there is no point changing your Camping Light!

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PB110076 300x225 Camping Light

A set up from a distance

Using solar panels

If you are a serious camper, you can invest in some solar panels. Some people mount these on their roof racks, or on the camper trailer. Others just pull them out and set them up as required. These will charge several car batteries with ease (assuming there is plenty of sun) and they cost nothing to use either. The only issue is that they are easy to crack and damage, and they are fairly costly to purchase in the first place. As an alternative you can just turn your vehicle on and let it rev a bit higher than idle to charge any batteries that you are using.

A Camping Light doesn’t just have to be a cheap light from the local food store. There are many options which will make your life much easier, and they don’t cost very much either. An inverter makes the lighting at your camp site so much more simple and they are incredibly bright with fluorescent lights too (even the 15W globes). If you haven’t considered using one, now is your chance! If you have a different set up, please leave a comment; I would love to hear about it.

200811010112 300x225 Camping Light

If all else fails, use the head lights!

  • Darren Richardson

    Great info here Aaron. Thanks for taking the time to share it. I’m just getting into camping and this info is very helpful. Cheers Darren

  • Aaron

    Hi Darren,

    Thanks for the comment – I appreciate it :). Let me know if you have any specific questions


  • Billie

    Hi Aaron! I’m just getting into campin myself and your site is brilliant! I’m still buying all our gear and next on the list is lighting. I was thinking of purchasing some torches and a lantern. Any lanterns you recommend? Thanks in advance

  • Aaron

    G’day Billie,

    What do you want the lantern for? If it were me, I’d jump on eBay and get a $30 Cree LED torch (or head lamp), a UFO lamp for the tent and make up some LED strip lights for the rest. You can buy LED lights of eBay to mount on the rear of your car for about $60 a pair, or supercheap was selling LED floodlights on a stand for $60 the other day.


  • Billie

    Thanks for the suggestions Aaron! Ive started looking into ebay. to be honest I just liked the idea of a lantern because of the portability though not sure bout practibility

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