How to Install a Lantern Battery

by Grahame Turner

Despite their lower light output, electric lanterns are more convenient for the average camper since a convenience store is more likely to have a lantern battery than a bottle of kerosene or lantern oil. Changing a lantern battery can be simpler than refilling the gas reservoir. Lantern batteries come in two styles: screw top or spring top. Screw-top batteries have plastic caps, usually one red and one black; spring-top batteries have what appear to be springs mounted on the top.

Spring Top

Detach the housing door to the battery compartment of the lantern. Housing doors are usually on the bottom of the lantern and attached with a simple clip or a screw connection. The screws can be removed and installed by hand. Clips usually require either a sliding or rotating motion. The mechanism varies based on the manufacturer.

Slide out the old battery (it should fall right out). Note the orientation of the positive and negative terminals on the battery as you remove it.

Align the positive and negative terminals of the new battery to match the alignment of the removed battery (or the lantern's battery compartment). These terminals, which look like springs, are marked with a + (positive) or - sign. One is often centered (usually the negative terminal) on the battery top; the other is about an inch to the side.

Slide the battery into the battery compartment. Hold the battery in place and test the lantern. If the lantern does not light, turn the lantern off, remove the battery and reinsert after checking to make certain the battery terminals line up with the lantern terminals inside the battery compartment.

Screw Top

Detach the housing door to the battery compartment of the lantern. Housing doors are usually on the bottom of the lantern and attached with a simple clip or a screw connection. The screws can be removed and installed by hand. Clips usually require either a sliding or rotating motion. The mechanism varies based on the manufacturer.

Slide out the old battery (it should fall part of the way out). Unlike spring top batteries, screw top batteries are connected to the lantern via wires that are long enough to extend out of the battery compartment, allowing batteries to be changed more easily.

Loosen the screw caps atop the battery by hand. Once the screw cap is loosened, the wire should slide or fall right off. Note the wires' polarity (positive and negative). In most cases, the lantern will indicate polarity by using either red (positive) and black (negative) wires or one of the two wires will have white lines printed on it.

Unscrew the caps on the fresh battery and attach the wires to the new battery, ensuring that the negative wire is connected to the negative battery terminal. Tighten the screw caps until a firm connection between the wire and cap exists.

Hold the battery in place and test the lantern. If the lantern does not light, turn the lantern off, remove the battery and reinsert after checking to make certain the battery terminals and lantern wires are correctly matched or that the wires are firmly connected to the battery caps.

Items you will need

  • Lantern
  • Lantern operating instructions (optional)
  • New Lantern Battery (see Lantern packaging)

Tip

  • Generally, spring-top batteries are 6-volt, while screw-top are 12 volts.

Warnings

  • Don't change batteries while the lantern is switched on.
  • Never connect both terminals on the battery to each other. This causes a short circuit, which can spark or cause the battery to overheat and fail.

About the Author

Grahame Turner has worked as a freelance writer since 2009 and a freelance reporter since 2010 for Wellesley Patch and Jamaica Plain Patch in Massachusetts. He also works part-time as a bookseller at the Northeastern University bookstore. He is a Northeastern University graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in English.