Since I'm into lighting options these days, I figured I would compare the three most commonly used lanterns: propane, kerosene, and battery-powered to see how they stack up to each other. In this case, I'm comparing a Coleman Two-Mantle Propane Lantern, Stansport Kerosene Lantern, Rayovac Sportsman LED Lantern, and I threw in another small battery-powered the Dorcy Mini Brite Lantern as it's been a camping favorite with the kids for quite some time. Pricing ranges from under $10 for the Dorcy to about $35 for the Coleman propane lantern.
I figured the easiest way to compare them is to put them in a table and list the following attributes: costs (for unit and others besides fuel), anticipated working times (according to manufacturer estimates or my best guess), fuel to working time cost (comparing cost of fuel to estimated burn time as cost/hour of use), relative brightness (via my own pictures), and my comments at the end.
I would say the two biggest concerns would be cost to use and brightness. Granted, there are other potential costs but these are the biggest. In the cost to use category the Rayovac battery-powered lantern wins quite easily, though, a close second could be the kerosene lantern if you can buy lamp oil or kerosene in larger quantities. The other concern, brightness, is obviously relative in the pictures provided but I would say that the Coleman propane lantern is the winner followed by the Rayovac. All-in-all, therefore, I would say that the Rayovac is the clear winner, in my opinion. To be fair, however, I do not own a good quality kerosene lantern so it could still turn out to be a close second.