Gas lighting has fascinated homeowners in search of beautiful, reliable lighting for their property ever since gas lights were the way that Charleston and other cities were lit in the 19th century. The flickering light that gas street lamps gave off was intense, yet romantic. It’s no wonder that more than a century after electric lights became the norm for lighting streets then homes that US cities like Charleston, Boston, South Orange, New Jersey, Riverside, Illinois, and Manhattan Beach, California have sections that still use the historic lighting. However, for many uses, electric flame lanterns now do the job that traditional gas lanterns once did. Not only do they do the job of providing light that resemble gas light if you use the right bulbs, but electric lanterns sidestep some problems that gas lanterns may have in some circumstances.
Installation Costs Of Electric Flame Lanterns vs. Gas Lanterns
If you want to install an electric wall lantern or post/column model in an area where an electric line is not near, you can usually solve the problem by digging a trench and running plastic shield cable underground from another outdoor outlet. While it is important to do the job safely and according to code, a homeowner with moderate electric skills and the willingness to dig can do the job in few hours. The cost might run from $100-500 depending on the distance from the power source.
Installing a gas lantern might be downright impossible if there is no gas on the property or problematic even if there is. Since gas is highly flammable and requires that the installer follow special procedures to calibrate the lines so as to avert leaks and explosions, gas line installation is the best left to a professional-grade plumber or gas line installer. If there is gas on the property, the typical range of costs to run a line to the fixture might range from $257-754, according to Home Advisor, with costs sometimes exceeding $1,350. For multiple gas fixtures, the costs will increase with each passing hour of professional time.
Depending on your budget and the complexity of doing the work, you may decide that electric lanterns are a satisfactory choice.
The Economics Of Lantern Use
Once installed, gas lights are more costly to operate than electric, especially since they are always on unless manually extinguished. Gas lights can cost an average of $10-30 per month, per light, based on prevailing rates for gas in your location. To determine the cost, first multiply the btu per hour rate shownfor your desred lantern by 720 and then multiply that result by CCF or CHF rate for your area. (These figures are usually shown on your gas bill.)
While you can have electronic ignitions added to your gas lights to enable you to turn them off and on easily, Lantern & Scroll and most lighting companies do not recommend them. Although they sound like a good idea, they have many shortcomings: they are costly, have a short life span, and tend to malfunction if the window frequently blows out the light. The units only last a few years and repair costs are sizable if they fail to work.
Electric lanterns might not be much cheaper if they were left on 24/7 and used incandescent bulbs, but there are two differences when you consider how they are used:
- Due to the ease of turn them off and on, porch lights, yard light, and other outdoor fixtures are turned on and off when needed. They are often put on timers so that they might go on at dusk and turn off at specified times.
- New bulb choices, such as LEDs, are more costly to buy but last much longer, which reduces operating cost.
Problems In Windy Locations
While gas lanterns are long-lasting and fairly trouble free, they do have some issues that electric lanterns do not.
As noted above, gas lanterns can blow out in the wind. In many gases, gas lanterns blow out due to faulty installations, loose or ill-fitting panes of glass, improperly adjusted gas flames, clogged bug screens, or obstructions to the porcelain tip of the burner. There can even be too much ventilation, which can be fixed by placing pennies over every other hole in the base of the lantern.
In particularly windy locations, this problem can be fixed with a wind guard that attaches right at the gas jet assembly. You may decide that installing electric fixtures will result in less maintenance and relighting.
Safety Issues With Gas Lanterns
While gas lanterns are safe to use in most exterior locations, they get so hot that they are not suitable everywhere. These lanterns expel heat that can reach 500 degrees, national safety standards mandate a 6” clearance on each side to adjacent walls and 12” between the top of the light fixture vent and ceilings constructed from combustible materials. (Clearance requirements may vary, based on local codes.) They are also noisy,
Heat and clearance issue make installing gas lanterns indoors dangerous, which is why Lantern & Scroll and many other lighting companies do not recommend gas lights indoor, even if they comply with standards set by the CSA Group, a body that sets guidelines for different industries. If a gas flame goes out, gas can fill a room to dangerous levels. If this happens outdoors, this situation wastes fuel.
Because of the heat, gas lanterns pose safety hazards to children, pets, and even adults if positioned too low. Electric lanterns fitted with LED or florescent bulbs emit no heat, noise, or exhaust.
Choose An Electric Lantern from Lantern & Scroll
If you want the nostalgic beauty of a gas lantern but yourself concerned about installation, economy, wind, or safety, an electric flame lantern may be your best choice. When you fit them with flickering candelabra bulbs, you can capture the look of gas lanterns while sidestepping the issues mentioned.
Most lanterns from Lantern & Scroll have electric versions of gas models. If, for example, you are looking at the Charleston Collection, every lamp in the collection is available in electric so you can choose that fuel type for all you lanterns or use gas for some locations. For example, you can place the CH-32 wall mount lantern in gas on your brick entryway, while choosing the CH-27 electric flame lantern for the siding above your garage door.
If need help deciding between a gas or electric reproduction lantern, contact us today.