I have two old Coleman gas lanterns (model 220F). I think they are about 30 years old and they have not been used for years until this weekend. Despite their age and period of long storage they worked perfectly (they made things good back in those days). I had a job to do that was related to my work, that need to be done at night. So myself and 3 co-workers did it this Friday and Saturday night. We worked about 12 hours each night to get the job done. We were working in a wooded area, that was a long ways from any source of electricity. It would have been a real hassle to haul in a generator and we didn’t want the noise. So we used flashlights to work by. Everyone had Mag lights except me (they are not flashlight nuts like me). I decided to take the two gas lanterns, a Streamlight TL-3, a Scorpion and a Streamlight Twin-Task 3C. The two Coleman Lanterns turned out to be our most used lights to work by. The Streamlight TL-3 was new. I just got it Thursday and I had anticipate using it a lot. It was great for WOW factor. When the others would turn on their Mags and I would turn on my TL-3 they would say “WOW”. However, I used the TL-3 very little. It was too much light. Every time I used it, I would think this is more light than I need and I am draining 3 Lithium batteries. So I would turn it off and go back to the Twin Task or the Scorpion (actually the Scorpion was more light than I needed).
The two Coleman gas lanterns turned out to work so well, I decided that if I do this job again, I would like to have 2 more for a total of four gas lanterns. So I went to Wal-Mart today to buy 2 more lanterns. I found that the Lanterns have changed some what in the past 30 years. They look cheaper made to me (I could be wrong). Most are now Propane or battery Lanterns. Are the Propane Lanterns as bright as my old gas lanterns or even the new gas lanterns? I know the Propane bottle Lanterns are more convenient to use than the gas but I am more concern about brightness. I feel sure the gas is a lot brighter than the electric battery powered ones. Should I go to e-bay and try to find the old style Lanterns like I have? Are the cheap looking new gas Lanterns as bright as the old ones? I guess my real question is, I am I going to notice much difference in brightness between a twin Mantle gas lantern and a twin Mantle Propane lantern?
I don't know how bright the Gas lanterns are, but the propane lanterns are BRIGHT! Much much brighter than the battery lanterns. The new ones use mantles just like the old ones, and the mantles glow bright white hot. I think they're probably about the same brightness as the old gas lanterns, they just burn a different type of fuel.
PS--The reason they look cheaper now is that a lot of the main body pieces are plastic. I think Plastic gets a bad rap. Over time the plasic should hold up fairly well as long as you're not banging the lantern around hard all the time, and in any given situation, the fragile mantles and glass globe will give out long before the plastic will.
I bought a Coleman Northstar gas lantern 2 years ago. It has one big mantle. It is the brightest lantern I've ever had. I don't like propane because I like to camp in the fall when it can get down near freezing. Propane doesn't work very good when it gets cold out. The lanterns or stoves sputter and have reduced output. BTW the Northstar lanterns cost quite a bit more than the regular 2 mantle ones.
One other thing to consider, I think you can run several propane lanterns off a 20 lb. tank with an adapter.
Remember that gas lanterns will need a bit of warm up time during which it will flame and sputter and generally look really scary. That's why I'm not using my Northstar so much anymore. Gas only makes sense to me when I'm planning to run the light for at least an hour. If not I try to make do with electric.
Propane is pretty good and you can't really find any difference in light output with gas. But I dislike creating excessive waste with the cans. And they are more expensive than just using whitegas or petrol. If tanks are used instead of cans, they are heavy to lug around and you have to bring them in for refuelling, which I feel is extra lugging that I don't need. Of course propane reaches operating temperature alot faster without so much dramatic flaming.
Electric would be good if you could live with less light and shorter runtimes or lugging in extra batteries. They are really only preferred for short runs so that you don't have to wait for all that warming up or cooling down.
In the end, I think your existing setup may decide what you end up getting, since you really don't have any quibbles with it. It would be a different thing if you weren't really happy with gas, but since it is working alright for you, you might find that keeping all the equipment compatible would be an advantage. So stick to similar designs so that you can use the same fuel, same mantles, same spare parts, etc.