Greetings Mr. Rawles,
I may be able to offer a bit of information on the Petromax lantern to the readers. I purchased one prior to Y2K. I have used mine off and on during power outages over the years. One thing to remember about the Petromax is that their startup procedure is a bit different than Coleman lanterns. So any new owner must read the instruction manuals from cover to cover, and make sure anyone who would be charged with operating the lantern be fully aware of the startup procedure. A bit of a funny story was when we were hit by a power outage a couple years ago. I retrieved a flashlight just to see where I had packed back the Petromax in the bug out equipment. After unpacking the Petromax I proceeded to fill and start up the Petromax, and since it had be a long while since I fired it up I thought that I remembered the procedures. I always startup any liquid filled pressure lantern or liquid portable appliance outside of the house, just in case. Well, I did not remember the procedure as I thought I had, and I had created a very good flame-thrower! Not too good! My wife was standing at the door saying something to the effect, “Boy, you are going to burn the hair off your face!” WHOOSH! She was right, no eyebrows and one slightly damaged moustache! So to anyone who wants to use one of these re-read the directions if you think that you have any doubts about startup procedures. I mention this bit of comedy because if I had not followed my own procedure of starting liquid fuel lanterns outside, and making sure they were performing as they should before entering in the house or garage; the results could have been catastrophic. These are great lanterns, but as with all things safety first, and read directions or re-read them if it has been awhile since you have operated any equipment.
My personal opinion is that any group needs to have at least on of the 500 CP lanterns. I purchased it not only for general lighting but I saw a situation where you would need very bright white light in special circumstances such as repairing equipment at night and most importantly for medical, i.e. surgical procedures. With the hanging options, and reflector for the Petromax you have a perfect OR, or medical treatment light when there is no electricity. The large lantern when hung higher will allow lighting of a large area. As a table or room light the 500 CP is extremely bright. But the Petromax people, being forward thinking, have provided a solution. They have a frosted chimney to cut down on the harshness of the mantle’s light. That is next on the ‘to buy’ list. See:
At one time they had an amber chimney to keep bugs away for when the lantern is used outside, but I have not seen this chimney on their site. If you want to include this additional chimney you may need to ask if they still offer them.
One extra item that I purchased was the Easy Pump Valve. This valve allows you to attach a hand bicycle pump or a CO2 cartridge to pressurize the lantern. Using the standard hand pump can really do a job on your thumb, especially for older people like me. But this resolves that problem quite nicely.
For the 150 Lantern there is an Isopropyl Alcohol Conversion Kit, see: http://www.britelyt.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=BPP&Product_Code=ISPA-150CP
There is also a kit for the 500CP and 350 CP lantern to burn Isopropyl Alcohol more efficiently. http://www.britelyt.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=BPP&Product_Code=ALC-3350
I will not part with my Petromax, and plan on purchasing one of the smaller variants. To my knowledge this is the safest pressure multi-fuel lantern on the market for indoor use (excepting propane lanterns). There may be others out there I am not aware of. If there is, someone chime in and let everyone know. These are built to pass on to the next generation and can be rebuilt from ground up if needed during a time of disaster, providing you have spare parts. Purchasing the parts most susceptible to wear out or break at time of initial purchase is the way to go. I hope this helps, and remember, read all instructions on firing these puppies up. OBTW, here is Tech Link to Petromax Lanterns for those who have lost the instructions or for new people who want to read up before plunking down the bucks: http://www.britelyt.com/technical.htm – The Rabid One
Greetings Mr. Rawles,