What is the weakest lantern color?

When it comes to lantern colors, there are a few key factors that determine the brightness and overall strength of the light. The color of the lantern lens or globe plays a significant role, as does the type of light bulb or LED used inside. With the right combination of factors, certain lantern colors tend to appear dimmer or cast a weaker beam of light compared to others.

How Lantern Color Affects Brightness

The color of a lantern’s lens or globe acts as a filter, allowing some wavelengths of light to pass through while absorbing or reflecting others. Clear or transparent lenses allow the most light to pass through unaltered, resulting in a bright, white light. Colored lenses, on the other hand, filter out some wavelengths and let others through, resulting in a colored light.

Some colors inherently absorb more light than others. For example, red, orange, and yellow lenses transmit more light from standard incandescent bulbs, which emit most strongly in the red/yellow wavelengths. Meanwhile, green, blue, and violet lenses absorb more of the red/yellow light, transmitting less overall light and appearing dimmer.

Light Transmission by Lantern Color

Lantern Color Light Transmission
Clear/Transparent 90%+ (allows most light through)
Yellow 70-90% (transmits most visibile wavelengths)
Orange 60-80% (transmits longer red/yellow wavelengths)
Red 45-65% (absorbs more shorter wavelengths)
Green 30-50% (absorbs more red/yellow wavelengths)
Blue 15-35% (absorbs most red through green wavelengths)
Violet 10-25% (absorbs most wavelengths except violet)

As seen above, violet, blue, and green lantern colors transmit the least amount of light overall, while yellow, orange, and red transmit the most from a standard light bulb’s emission spectrum. This makes violet, blue, and green appear significantly dimmer and weaker to our eyes.

Light Bulb Type Also Impacts Brightness

The type of light bulb or LED used in a lantern also makes a difference in brightness and light transmission. Older incandescent bulbs tend to emit most strongly in the red/yellow wavelengths, so they pair best with clear or warm-colored lanterns. More modern LEDs emit a broader spectrum of light, including more blue wavelengths, so they can appear brighter in cool-colored lanterns.

Brightness by Light Source

Light Source Brightness/Light Transmission
Incandescent Bulb High transmission through clear, yellow, orange, red lanterns
Warm White LED Medium to high transmission across most colors
Cool White LED High transmission through blue, green, violet lanterns
Candle Low but warm light, pairs best with red/orange lanterns

With the right pairings, choosing a light source that emits more strongly in parts of the spectrum transmitted by the lantern color can optimize brightness. But some lantern colors like violet and green inherently transmit less light overall.

Factors that Reduce Lantern Brightness

Aside from color, there are some other factors that can reduce the brightness and beam strength of a lantern:

Dirty or Scratched Lenses

Dirt, debris, scratches, and foggy patches on a lantern’s outer globe or inner plastic lens can scatter and diffuse the light, making the beam appear dimmer. Cleaning the lenses helps restore brightness.

Old/Weak Batteries

Using old, low-charge, or weak batteries can dim the lantern’s light output. The light bulb or LED may become quite dim or flicker if the batteries lack sufficient power. Replacing with fresh batteries restores brightness.

Faulty Wiring

Loose, damaged, or corroded wiring can create faulty connections that reduce power to the light bulb or LED. This can cause flickering or reduced light output. Checking the wiring and connections helps maximize brightness.


If cold outside air is allowed to flow into the lantern, such as from loose globe seals or cracked housing, it can cool the light bulb or LED and reduce light output. Sealing drafts helps keep the lantern components warmer for brighter light.

Distance from Light Source

The farther away the lantern is from what you’re trying to light, the dimmer the illumination will be. Placing the lantern closer to the area you need lit will increase perceived brightness.

The Weakest Lantern Colors

Taking all these factors into account, the dimmest and weakest lantern colors tend to be those on the violet/blue end of the spectrum. Here is an overview of the 3 weakest lantern colors:


Violet lanterns transmit the least amount of light, absorbing nearly the entire visible spectrum except shades of violet. They filter out warmer wavelengths, producing a very dim, cool light. Violet is only slightly brighter than a black lantern.


Blue also ranks very low in light transmission, absorbing most yellow through red wavelengths. Blue lanterns excel at producing ambient mood lighting but are poor at providing useful illumination for tasks.


Green absorbs significant red/orange/yellow light, transmitting only cooler green/blue wavelengths. This can create an erie, halloween-like glow but isn’t great for overall brightness.

While pretty for accent lighting, violet, blue, and green lanterns make poor choices if you need significant illumination. You’re better off with clear, white, or warm yellow/orange/red globes for the brightest lantern colors.

Optimizing Dim Lanterns

If you have a very dim lantern with a violet, blue, or green globe, here are some tips to help maximize its light output:

  • Use a cool white LED bulb to better match the color transmission
  • Clean the outer globe and inner plastic lens thoroughly
  • Check for draftiness and seal any leaks
  • Use fresh, high-quality batteries
  • Inspect wiring and connections, repairing as needed
  • Place lantern as close to illuminated area as possible

Getting a higher-powered bulb or LED designed for that color can also help boost brightness. But switching to a clearer lens or warmer color will make the biggest difference in light output.

The Brightest Lantern Colors

For maximizing illumination, the brightest lantern colors are:


A fully clear glass or plastic lens allows over 90% of light to pass through unobstructed, creating the brightest beam. Any color light bulb or LED will appear vivid.


Warm yellow lenses transmit up to 90% of useful illumination, producing a bright light ideal for lantern applications. Works well with most light sources.


Orange globes also let through ample light in the 60-80% range, with a comfortable warm glow. Use with incandescent or warm white LEDs.

For the optimal balance of vivid light and charming lantern aesthetics, yellow and orange win out. But for maximum pure brightness, a clear glass lantern is undisputedly the strongest.


In summary, violet, blue, and green lantern colors produce the dimmest, weakest light due to absorbing large portions of the visible spectrum. Meanwhile, clear, yellow, and orange transmit the most useful illumination. Factors like light bulb type, cleanliness, power source, and draftiness also affect brightness. But switching to a warm colored or clear lantern globe is the best way to maximize lantern illumination.

So next time you need a lantern to truly light up an area, go for transparent, yellow, or orange lenses. Steer clear of violet and blue if you value raw luminous power over mood lighting ambiance. And for a decorative lantern, consider placing a brighter separate light nearby to provide the actual illumination.

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