After all of those hours spent researching flashlights you probably feel pretty confident that you can pick out the perfect light. You know just what factors to take into consideration in order to find the perfect light, but now comes the question of batteries. After all, if you have spent hours researching the perfect light, you want to make sure it is being powered correctly and efficiently. Not using the right batteries can not only ruin your light, but it can also affect how well the light performs on a daily basis.
Sadly, choosing the right batteries for your LED is not as simple as running into the store and grabbing the first package of batteries that you see. Well, you can probably do that and get lucky in grabbing the right batteries on several occasions. However, picking the right batteries not only takes the size of batteries into consideration, it also means picking the right type of battery. In almost all cases, the product specification page is going to detail what batteries your flashlight requires. If only one kind of battery is listed, it’s easy. Where things get a little complicated is if more than one style of battery can be used.
Disposable batteries are the most common type of battery used in flashlights. The most common ones are AA and AAA alkaline batteries from manufacturers such as Energizer and Rayovac. You will recall these batteries from older flashlights, such as Maglites. With the older style flashlights your really big lights required 3 or 4 D cell batteries, while smaller less powerful lights used 2 AAA batteries.
CR123, which are lithium disposable batteries, are gaining popularity when it comes to powering flashlights. CR123 batteries are becoming a preferred choice because of how lightweight they are. The lightweight batteries barely add any weight to the flashlight, which makes carrying the light easier. CR123’s are also less likely to corrode inside the flashlight, which means you cans safely store the batteries in the light even when the light is not in use. CR123 come in the same sizes as alkaline batteries, but a single CR123 is more powerful than a single alkaline, has a longer shelf life, and performs better in colder temperatures.
The great thing about alkaline and lithium batteries is that they are widely available. Alkaline batteries are a lot easier to find, you will find them in just about every store and gas station you stop at. Lithium batteries are a bit harder to find, so while your local gas station may not carry them the local grocery store probably will.
If you don’t want to use disposable batteries you are in luck because many lights can be powered with rechargeable batteries. Like disposable batteries you have a choice between two types of batteries, the RCR123s and the 18650. RCR123s can be found at most local discount stores, as well as electronic stores. The 18650 is a little harder to find in retail stores, but can easily be found online.
The RCR123s are the same as the CR123s except they are rechargeable, so you don’t have to throw them out as they run out of power. The problem with the rechargeable CR123s is they will not last as long as regular lithium CR123s. Regular CR1213s have a 1500 mAH rating, while the rechargeable have a 700 mAH rating. The lower mAH rating means the batteries will only power the light for a shorter time than disposable CR123s and the more powerful the light the shorter the battery life. Another downfall to rechargeable lithium batteries is if they are overcharged they can become too hot to handle, they have even been reports of the batteries exploding and catching on fire.
Your other rechargeable option is the 18650, which is quite a bit more powerful than the RCR123. The 18650 is a lithium-ion battery that can be used in just about any light that currently uses a CR123. The great thing about an 18650 is that one battery can take the place of two CR123s. The only way to determine if your light can handle an 18650 is to check the product specification page. A single 18650 battery will cost more than two CR123s, plus you have to add in the expense of a charger. While the initial cost upfront is going to be more than other batteries, it will pay for itself in the long run because it can be safely recharged up to 500 times. To get an idea of how much money you can save, a 24 pack of CR123s costs about the same as two 18650s and a charger.
Most flashlights require you to use either disposable or rechargeable batteries. However, manufacturers do make lights that come with built-in chargers, such as the PowerTac E7, all you need is a USB port and cable.
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