6V "Lantern" Battery Lights - History? Anything good?

GarageBoy

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I totally forgot about these until I was cleaning out my office and found some old 6V lantern batteries lying around (garbage)

I'm guessing these were popular because it of their high capacities? But seems like every light out there that uses them are worth less than the battery itself? Were there any "good" lights/lanterns that used them, or did they come out at the same time as those molded plastic lights with the built in D handle? Also, I always thought it was funny that I've never seen a camp style lantern use a "lantern" battery
 

xxo

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There's a lot of history with 6V lanterns going back to the '30's. In the 60's through the 80's the eveready No. 108 floating lantern (AKA All American and Dolphin Mk1) was very popular because it it had a bright and throwy beam with good runtime and reliability (no need to smack it to get it to light up like you had to with most of the cheap 2D lights around back then).


There were also a lot of camp lanterns for area lighting, such as the rayovac No. 100 "table lamp"


The popularity of the 6V lanterns began to wane when Maglites and alkaline batteries became widely available in the 80's. But they are still being made today.

One of the most rugged 6V lanterns was the rayovac heavy duty industrial lantern which is a 110 lumen LED with a kick stand so that you can use it as a work light when set on the ground. Mine came with a 4D to 6V adapter, but it will also run on 6V batteries.

 

Lynx_Arc

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I still have one 6V lantern with a 4D adapter in it but the batteries started getting weak luckily I bought 2 6V LED PR base bulbs and had a warm white one that I got to work with it by flipping the batteries upside down in the carrier.
 

hsa

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This one will out throw many modern lights.
 

GarageBoy

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Hmm, that brinkmann does not seem to be available new anymore, but that's an interesting reflector set up.

Xxo, so that Eveready 108 is the shape I associate with 6v batteries. That lantern lamp is definitely a unique set up. After finding crappy 2D slide switch lights in the office, I see why 6v lanterns were a hit (also see why maglites we're so revolutionary). I even retrofitted it with an LED drop in (which lost a lot of output and flickered from the slide switch being dirty)
 

bykfixer

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A 6 volt lantern battery definitely out lasted a pair of D cells. Trouble was they were pricey so the average consumer put up with wack a palm round lights. An 8 pack of 9 lives batteries was less than one lantern battery.
 

Dave_H

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None of the few 6v lanterns I have (had) are that great, nor do the brands matter. One was a showerhead. Another was a bulb retrofit with Dorcy 3-4 cell (sub-1W) bayonet base which were popular a decade ago; not overly bright and the beam pattern and CCT changed.

I've been running down "recovered" (free) 6v lantern batteries, and opening them up to check inside. Duracell alkaline used four D cells with false bottom, as did at least one other brand. One which was house brand of a Canadian retailer actually used full-size H cells which are 1.5 times longer than D.

Zinc-carbon are not worth opening but did so anyway; they seem to use full-size cells.

A couple of batteries had 1-2 bad cells with the others either nearly or completely good. May have been a function of how long they were sitting around before I got them. Nevertheless, another example of having to discard something only partly used up, and buy more (but not in my case). I do have/use 4D holders, allows free use of cells, or a 1-4 cell holder for powering something else.

Dave
 

broadgage

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One of the best lights for this battery was IMHO the UK Ever Ready "power beam lantern" no longer made but good used examples turn up regulary on fleabay.
This light used a pair of 6 volt batteries in parallel and a 5.4 volt 0.5 amp bulb. Run time on zinc carbon batteries was dozens of hours. A 4.75 volt volt 0.5 amp bulb gave an improved light at the cost of reduced bulb life.

I still use one today, with an LED bulb.
I also have a modded example that uses 6 alkaline D cells 3S/2P and a 3.8 volt 0.3 amp bulb. That gives well over 100 hours service on one set of cells.
 

lunas

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I totally forgot about these until I was cleaning out my office and found some old 6V lantern batteries lying around (garbage)

I'm guessing these were popular because it of their high capacities? But seems like every light out there that uses them are worth less than the battery itself? Were there any "good" lights/lanterns that used them, or did they come out at the same time as those molded plastic lights with the built in D handle? Also, I always thought it was funny that I've never seen a camp style lantern use a "lantern" battery
I have Rayovak Lantern Sportsman 360 Large Camping Lanterthatus 4 of those bad boys I have been planning on modding it to run off a Lipo and I may add USB ports to charge phones off it in addition to changing,the florescent to led.
 
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Lynx_Arc

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I have modded a 4AA incan lantern long ago before luxeons were cheap with 4x5mm LED and a CCFL tube. With todays lithium ion tech and LEDs that are 4-5 times more energy efficient plus circuitry that is able to run them at sub lumen levels the need to have a large 6V sized lantern is gone. I will likely put the incan bulb back in my 6V lantern and toss it in a charity bin when the batteries give out that try to adapt it because I found a 2x18650 lantern/light with power bank function that is a lot more useful than the 6V lantern ever was. I also have a half dozen power banks that are in the 10,000 to 15,000mah range and my new lantern/lights also has power bank function on it. With all the tool batteries and a USB adapter I have about 50,000mah at 20V in a dozen batteries enough to charge a bucket full of phones.
 

xxo

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The Eveready Dolphins are legend in Australia. The Mark 1 Dolphin (1967) was essentially the same as the No. 108 All American, but Mark 2 (1972) through Mark 6 (2012) and the "New Dolphin" (2016) were designed for the Australian market. Over the years more than 20 million were sold in Australia and New Zealand.


 

Bicycleflyer

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I cannot contribute to the history, but this does remind me of my first “good” flashlight. Back-in the early 80s ( 1981 or 1982) I used to run fur traps. I would get up at 0430 before school to go check them. It didn’t matter the weather, I had to go. I saved my money and bought myself one of those sealed beam lights. I don’t remember the voltage, but the battery had two threaded terminals and you attached it to a handle/ light assembly. I found some old rope and made a sling for it. I would carry it over my shoulder. My first hands-free set up. It had really good throw and as I approached a set, I would just shine the light and if a set of eyes looked back at me, I had something. I would then approach carefully as we had plenty of skunks in the area. This is where that light really shines (pun intended) as I could identify the animal while still out of range. One morning I saw something at the edge of a field I was about to walk… that light lit up a bear.. paid for itself right then and there.

Compared to some lights I have now, it’s not nearly as bright or throws nearly as far. But in its day it was something special.. to me at least.
 

xxo

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I cannot contribute to the history, but this does remind me of my first “good” flashlight. Back-in the early 80s ( 1981 or 1982) I used to run fur traps. I would get up at 0430 before school to go check them. It didn’t matter the weather, I had to go. I saved my money and bought myself one of those sealed beam lights. I don’t remember the voltage, but the battery had two threaded terminals and you attached it to a handle/ light assembly. I found some old rope and made a sling for it. I would carry it over my shoulder. My first hands-free set up. It had really good throw and as I approached a set, I would just shine the light and if a set of eyes looked back at me, I had something. I would then approach carefully as we had plenty of skunks in the area. This is where that light really shines (pun intended) as I could identify the animal while still out of range. One morning I saw something at the edge of a field I was about to walk… that light lit up a bear.. paid for itself right then and there.

Compared to some lights I have now, it’s not nearly as bright or throws nearly as far. But in its day it was something special.. to me at least.
Could have been an Eveready Big Jim lantern or a similar light from rayovac or other brands. The Big Jim batteries had 8 1.5V F cells inside instead of 4 for the typical spring terminal lantern battery.
 

watt4

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I added a few of these lights (LED) after buying some rechargeable 6V batteries on clearance.

has anyone done runtime tests, either with original LED or with a dorcy 40 lumen drop-in?
 

xxo

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I added a few of these lights (LED) after buying some rechargeable 6V batteries on clearance.

has anyone done runtime tests, either with original LED or with a dorcy 40 lumen drop-in?
I got more than 25 hrs on AA eneloops in a ROV 35 lumen LED lantern like this:


They claim 120 hrs on the "general purpose" 6V lantern battery it came with, which seems about right. I would expect run time to be about double on 4 alkaline D cells or an alkaline 6V with 4 D cells inside - a alkaline 6V with 4 F cells inside should run about 20% longer.
 

Coulomb.

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I totally forgot about these until I was cleaning out my office and found some old 6V lantern batteries lying around (garbage)

I'm guessing these were popular because it of their high capacities?
Early carbon-zinc cells had extraordinarily low capacity and gradually improved as the years went by. In, say, 1960, alkaline cells weren't readily available, and most carbon-zinc batteries (AA C D, 2-3 cells) paired with typical incandescent flashlight bulbs would deliver maybe 2 hours runtime. Even so, there would be a noticeable dropoff in light output after the first 30 minutes.

The 6v spring-terminal lantern batteries of the day used four F cells internally which had a nominal capacity about 1.5x four D cells. Because early carbon-zinc cells performed poorly with high drains (and the 500 ma lamps of the day were high enough drain to qualify) the F cells would outlast the D cells more than 1.5x. Early on they were used for taillights in cars where runtime was more important than portability. There were also electric railroad lanterns that typically used two of the 6v spring-terminal lantern battery that would last for an entire night; I would imagine that they used lamps that drew less than 500 ma but I can't find sources to confirm that.

But seems like every light out there that uses them are worth less than the battery itself? Were there any "good" lights/lanterns that used them, or did they come out at the same time as those molded plastic lights with the built in D handle? Also, I always thought it was funny that I've never seen a camp style lantern use a "lantern" battery

The spring-terminal batteries have been around a long time, I don't know, probably before the 1920s, in any case long before the molded plastick light. I believe the "lantern" nomenclature comes from their use in automotive tail lamps and railroad lanterns.

I guess I would say that I've never seen a higher-end or higher-performance light that used them. In the 1950s-1970s the higher performance lights would use the long rectangular screw-terminal lantern batteries that were roughly twice the size of the spring-terminal ones. I saw some 1970s ones that had sealed-beam light heads that performed fairly well for their day. It was also common for higher-end lights of the 1950s/1960s to use larger numbers of D cells rather than lantern batteries. I remember a family member having a long-throw light that ran on 7 D cells and had a reflector maybe 5" in diameter, for example.
 

fivemega

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In most cases, old lights have problem with junk carbon zinc batteries which can deliver no more than 1 Amp which was good enough for general use but for proffesionals they used lead acid batteries such as these which can deliver more power (brighter bulb) and more economy for longer / everyday use.
Today, Li-ion batteries solve all problems. Higher capacity per volume, (higher run time), lighter weight, no problem if left discharged, no unhealthy gasses produced when charging and lower cost.
 

xxo

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According to a graph on a Eveready PR13 replacement bulb package (bulb made by Philips in Holland), probably from the early 1970's, run time for a no. 509 Carbon Zinc battery was just under 10 hrs and about 17.5 hours with a no. 1209 heavy duty 6V battery. Bulb life was given as 15 hrs, which would imply that typically, the heavy duty No.1209 battery would last 2 ½ hours longer than the bulb.
 

xxo

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Some more on run times -

Rayovac lists their lantern at 4.5 hours running a 75 lumen krypton bulb off of a heavy duty battery (apparently the same light with the same 75 lumen krypton bulb is listed at 3 hrs run time when sold with a "general purpose" battery). Basically the 75 lumen krypton bulb about triples the output (assuming that the old vacuum bulbs were around 25-30 lumens out the front) with about ¼ the run time.


QHk68pq.jpg


Comparing the 75 lumen krypton bulb lantern to a similar 10 LED Rayovac listed at 85 lumens, both running a heavy duty battery- you get 10X the nominal run time with the LED (45 hours vs 4.5 hrs). A Rayovac lantern with a 35 lumen LED factory drop-in is listed at 120 hours of run time on the lowly general purpose battery.


2aSB680.jpg


Switching to a 6 Volt alkaline with 4 D cells inside should more than double the run times of the heavy duty battery and more than triple the run time of the general purpose battery. A alkaaline 6V with 4 F cells inside should increase the run time an additional 20 % over the ones with 4 D's inside.


Considering the long run times and modest cost, someone (non-flashlight person) looking for a cheap light to keep for emergencies could do a lot worse than a basic LED 6 Volt lantern.
 
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