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Author Topic: Battery question  (Read 1347 times)
Hawkmoon
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« on: April 02, 2017, 09:17:11 AM »

No, I haven't stopped beating my wife recently.

I have an older tactical flashlight (older enough that it was sold as a "tactical" flashlight, but it doesn't offer either multiple light levels or a strobe mode). One interesting feature is a three-part body -- the basic light holds two CR123A batteries, but there's an insert that goes between the main body and the tailcap to extend it by the length of one battery, allowing for the use of three.

My problem is that it just eats batteries. I put new batteries in, set it on the counter in the kitchen near the telephone, and when I go to use it a few weeks later ... it's dead. Meanwhile, the cheaper lights that use three AAA alkaline batteries from Wal-Mart last for months, and the larger Mag-Lites that use C-cells or D-cells last well over a year.

How long should I expect CR123A batteries to last?
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Ben
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« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2017, 09:34:54 AM »

I have lights that I use a lot and the 123s last longer than any alkaline batteries. I am wondering if there's something wrong with your light. Even if not, and it's an older light that maybe takes more juice, you're probably better off in the long run (considering battery replacement cost) buying any of the newer lights out there. Many good lights (for what appears to be your intended use) can be had in the $20ish range, often with multiple battery options, including rechargeable.

My EDC light is this one:

https://www.amazon.com/Keychain-Flashlight-Rechargeable-LumenTac-Recharger/dp/B018QG6TY0/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1491154752&sr=8-3&keywords=Fenix+E15+Maximum+450

I probably use it at least every other day for short periods and am only recharging it once a month and only because that is a schedule I've set. It hasn't actually died on me yet.
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Brad Johnson
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« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2017, 10:01:46 AM »

My Surefire uses dual CR123 batteries. I use it every day and still get more than a month per set. Sounds like something is wrong with your flashlight.

Brad
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Mike Irwin
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« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2017, 10:36:41 AM »

Agreed, it sounds like a flashlight issue, as that's not normal.

I use my Surefire P2 as my car light, and use it in the mornings when I'm dropping Seren off at doggy daycare. A few minutes of use a day, and it's still going strong.

But... I just remembered...

I have an LED in it, not a regular bulb.
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« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2017, 12:32:52 PM »

I had a 4-AA cell cassette recorder that did the same thing.  I finally inserted a conductor-insulator-conductor arrangement with Al foil and a piece of plastic  and inserted that between the batteries to read "off" current drain.  Sure enough, the darned thing would pull about 10 mA (IIRC) even when it was off.  Never bothered to diagnose why, threw it out, but I suspected a faulty switch in there that still made a high-resistance contact even with all the buttons "up."

Hard to do that with a flashlight, but there must be some drain in there killing the batteries.

I've got another detective story about dribbly current drains, but I'll let that go for now.
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Hawkmoon
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« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2017, 12:51:21 PM »

The light I'm asking about is an LED.

I still can't find any reference to it on the Internet. Do you suppose there's a reason why it's no longer being sold?

The name is Detonics, and it carries the old Detonics logo (snake in a triangle). It had to have been made for the old Detonics by someone, but I've never seen anything like it.
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« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2017, 02:02:49 PM »

I still can't find any reference to it on the Internet. Do you suppose there's a reason why it's no longer being sold?

Given the described age, it's about like asking why 2010 model cars are no longer sold.

There has been substantial development in LED flashlights, as you mentioned.  The LEDs themselves are cheaper, more powerful, and more efficient.  Last decade, they were somewhat less efficient than CFL lights.  Today, they're substantially more efficient than even straight tubes.  The electronics are better.  Etc...

You're looking at a whole new flashlight to integrate all of the new technology, so why sell the old one?  Especially when it's LED emitter probably isn't produced anymore, or even a compatible one.  The electronics are all different.  Etc...

That said, I think state of the art has moved past CR123s for the most part into rechargeable lithium-ion cells.

If possible, you might want to test the resistance of the flashlight when it's 'off'.  I get the feeling that you'll get a number much lower than an open circuit.
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zxcvbob
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« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2017, 02:14:23 PM »

So what brand of CR123's do y'all buy?  I have a LED "tactical" flashlight that uses 3 of 'em.  I don't use it much. 

I tried two 18650 or 18500's (whichever give a length close enough) rechargeables and they didn't work.  Voltage must not have been right.
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Hawkmoon
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« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2017, 03:24:29 PM »

So what brand of CR123's do y'all buy?  I have a LED "tactical" flashlight that uses 3 of 'em.  I don't use it much. 

I tried two 18650 or 18500's (whichever give a length close enough) rechargeables and they didn't work.  Voltage must not have been right.

I'm not sure how much voltage matters. I've seen several lights that offer the option of CR123As or 18650, and they just list a different lumen output for the CR123As. The light I asked about has a body with a removable section at the rear. The main body holds two CR123As, but with the extra module in place it takes three. They're all in line (series), so with two batteries the LED is seeing 7.2 volts and with three batteries it's seeing 10.8 volts.
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« Reply #9 on: April 02, 2017, 03:27:14 PM »

I have several Surefire lights that take either one or two CR123 batteries.  The little Titan Ti light usually gets almost a year on a single battery.  The others that take two seem to last as long.
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Brad Johnson
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« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2017, 05:24:25 PM »

So what brand of CR123's do y'all buy?  I have a LED "tactical" flashlight that uses 3 of 'em.  I don't use it much. 

I tried two 18650 or 18500's (whichever give a length close enough) rechargeables and they didn't work.  Voltage must not have been right.

I use Surefire. Available from multiple sources for $20-$25 per box of 12. I've seen no difference between them and brands selling for $4-$6 per battery.

Brad
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« Reply #11 on: April 02, 2017, 05:57:28 PM »

I use Surefire. Available from multiple sources for $20-$25 per box of 12. I've seen no difference between them and brands selling for $4-$6 per battery.

Brad

Same. I haven't bought any since my last bulk order a few years ago. It used to be that the Surefire site had them the cheapest, but it appears Amazon is selling them for the same price with Prime shipping.
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« Reply #12 on: April 02, 2017, 06:04:01 PM »

No, I haven't stopped beating my wife recently.

I have an older tactical flashlight (older enough that it was sold as a "tactical" flashlight, but it doesn't offer either multiple light levels or a strobe mode). One interesting feature is a three-part body -- the basic light holds two CR123A batteries, but there's an insert that goes between the main body and the tailcap to extend it by the length of one battery, allowing for the use of three.

My problem is that it just eats batteries. I put new batteries in, set it on the counter in the kitchen near the telephone, and when I go to use it a few weeks later ... it's dead. Meanwhile, the cheaper lights that use three AAA alkaline batteries from Wal-Mart last for months, and the larger Mag-Lites that use C-cells or D-cells last well over a year.

How long should I expect CR123A batteries to last?

That's abnormal. Contact your flashlight vendor and let them know.

I am a huge believer in 18650 batteries. See if they fit. If so, it's not a problem anymore. Top quality 18650's are $5 per, and good for couple hundred cycles.
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« Reply #13 on: April 02, 2017, 06:33:14 PM »

I scavenge 18650's from old laptop batteries.  Some flashlights that take 3 AAA batteries will accept a 18650.  Some require a 18500.  I have a few 18500's that I bought from Amazon Prime, but I'm moving back to the AAA's for those and using precharged NiMH batteries.  (the precharged ones, which usually have a white top, self-discharge *much* slower than normal nimh)
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Brad Johnson
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« Reply #14 on: April 02, 2017, 06:54:29 PM »

Salvaged 18650s may or may not have an integrated protection circuit. Heck, some cheapo no-names brands of new 18650 batteries advertised as having integrated protection are, at best, very questionable. Hawk, stick with standard CR123 cells unless you are intimately familiar with lithium cell technology, 18650 cell systems in particular. Lithium fires are bad, m,kay...

Brad
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RevDisk
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« Reply #15 on: April 02, 2017, 07:02:24 PM »

Eneloops are the absolutely best rechargeable AA's and AAA's I've used so far. They take up to 6 hours to recharge, but can be recharged 2000 times. They also can keep up to 70% of their charge after 10 years of storage.

And yep, I have salvaged a lifetime supply of laptop 18650's. I use new and much safer 18650's for the ones I carry on my person daily. Safety overkill? Probably. But $30 for 6x Samsung's safer chemistry batteries will last me a couple years. Maybe longer now that I found new shrinkwrap for my batteries. Found out my makita batteries are 6x 18650's as well. So, another handy source. Work goes through Dewalt batteries all the time, so... probably could source a hundred per year between them and the work laptops.

Salvaged 18650s may or may not have an integrated protection circuit. Heck, some cheapo no-names brands of new 18650 batteries advertised as having integrated protection are, at best, very questionable. Hawk, stick with standard CR123 cells unless you are intimately familiar with lithium cell technology, 18650 cell systems in particular. Lithium fires are bad, m,kay...

Mmm. Depends on the chemistry of the battery. ICR, yes, you want a protection circuit. IMR, because of the chemistry, it discharges much low temp, so it's very difficult to get it to ignite. Laptop batteries will be ICR for the moment, because cheaper. And the protection circuit is outside of the battery.

INR is somewhere inbetween, and that's what I tend to use. Samsung 25R's also have their proprietary polymer additive which allegedly helps too. I concur that it's worth buying new rather than using salvage if you're keeping it on your person. They're so cheap, why not? If not kept on person, I wouldn't be overly worried about using ICR 18650's in flashlights. Especially if you pulled the battery between use.

I definitely would not tell someone to ignore 18650's and stick with CR123a's. Just tell them not to pinch pennies and buy a good quality better instead of using used batteries. "Buy an IMR or INR battery with a name branch like Panasonic, Sanyo, LG or Samsung." is more than enough knowledge to be safe.

https://batterybro.com/blogs/18650-wholesale-battery-reviews/18880255-battery-chemistry-finally-explained

My source for 18650's: https://rtdelectronix.com/
« Last Edit: April 02, 2017, 07:15:10 PM by RevDisk » Report to moderator   Logged

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« Reply #16 on: April 02, 2017, 07:03:23 PM »

When I use scavenged 18650's, I assume there's no protection circuit.  I use them singly; I wouldn't trust them in series even if they came from the same battery pack.
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