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Thread: CR123A 10yr shelf life?

  1. #1
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    Default CR123A 10yr shelf life?

    I was just wondering, most of the better CR123A batteries have a very low 0.5%/year self-discharge rate. After 10yrs, the batteries still have 95% of their charge. Why then is their shelf life only advertised as being 10yrs? Is shelf life measured at the 95% of full charge point? If so, wouldn't brands like Titanium which have a 2%/yr self-discharge rate only have a 2.5yr shelf life?
    Just wondering as I tend to use my primary CR123As for back ups and run most of my lights off R123As.
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    Default Re: CR123A 10yr shelf life?

    Hello JSR,

    Where did you find a specification sheet on the Titanium batteries that lists the self discharge rate as 2% per year? As far as I understand the lithium / manganese dioxide chemistry all self discharges at the same rate, regardless of who's label is on it.

    At any rate, I believe the shelf life figure is dependent on the seals used in the battery construction. At the end of 10 years, the seals decompose and the battery quickly looses its capacity.

    Tom
    Behind every Great man there's always a woman rolling her eyes...

    Most batteries don't die - they are tortured to near death, then murdered...

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    *Flashaholic* greenLED's Avatar
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    Default Re: CR123A 10yr shelf life?

    Quote Originally Posted by SilverFox
    At the end of 10 years, the seals decompose and the battery quickly looses its capacity.
    Are you saying seal decomposition starts after 10 years? Thanks.

    I always thought the shelf life was akin to "half-life". That is, batteries would be worthless after 10 years.

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    Default Re: CR123A 10yr shelf life?

    Hello GreenLED,

    I believe seal decomposition begins as soon as the battery is manufactured, but after 10 years it has progressed to a point that it can no longer keep the good stuff inside the shell.

    The "lithium" smell is a bit of the good stuff leaking out.

    The reports I have read indicate that you can expect 95-97% of original performance after 5 years of room temperature storage, and through rapid aging, it is projected that you would end up with around 80-90% after 10 years.

    Tom
    Behind every Great man there's always a woman rolling her eyes...

    Most batteries don't die - they are tortured to near death, then murdered...

  5. #5
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    Default Re: CR123A 10yr shelf life?

    Thanks for the info SilverFox. I didn't know the seals decompose.

    I got the 2% self-discharge off Amondotech's site, here's the info:

    /************ Titanium CR123A
    Voltage 3V
    Normal Capacity
    1300 mAh
    Self-discharge Rate
    2% per Year

    Max. Constant Current
    1500mAh
    Max Pulse Current
    3000mAh
    Normal Weight
    16 g
    Operating Temperature
    -20 C ~ 60 C
    PTC High Current Discharge Protection 5AMP
    /************

    Here's the Sanyo info I got from Botac
    /************ Sanyo CR123A
    Specifications:
    3V 1400mAh Lithium Battery
    Wide operating temperature range: -40?C to 85?C
    High operating voltage of 3V and high energy density
    10 Year Shelf Life Low self-discharge rate
    (0.5% per year at room temperature)
    Higher Capacity & Longer Runtime.
    Longer Storage Life Li-ion chemistry provides 10 year storage life.
    Li-ion formula enables stability over a wide range of temperatures.
    All batteries are 100% leak-tested and come with a 1 year warranty.
    UL approved
    /*************
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    *Flashaholic* greenLED's Avatar
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    Default Re: CR123A 10yr shelf life?

    Thanks, SilverFox!
    So by 10 years, we might as well discard our "stash"? Even if that's the case, I don't think it gets any better than 80-90% remaining capacity after 10 years.

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    Default Re: CR123A 10yr shelf life?

    Hello JSR,

    I believe the self discharge rate for lithium / manganese dioxide is around 1.6% per year. The people at Botach seem to be a bit optimistic and AmondoTech seems to be a bit pessimistic.

    At 2% per year, you would end up with about 83% at the end of 10 years.

    At 0.5% per year, you would end up with about 95% at the end of 10 years.

    Someone will have to put one of each in storage for 10 years and do a test...

    Tom
    Behind every Great man there's always a woman rolling her eyes...

    Most batteries don't die - they are tortured to near death, then murdered...

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    Default Re: CR123A 10yr shelf life?

    The seals could leak in ANY battery after 10 years. But after that long in storage, I wouldn't rely on them for any long term use. That is a lot of electrical stress sitting in a tiny cell.

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    Default Re: CR123A 10yr shelf life?

    Sorry to bring up this old thread , but I need a couple of answers.

    I have just bought six Energiser Lithium 123 cells and am a little puzzled at the date.

    On the blue top panel it says + 123 , 3.0V , 03-2017.
    Printed on the side is 1207A
    Which is the use-by date ... is it March 2017 or is it July 2012 (or is that December 2007) ?

    I want to use these in a single cell torch that will be left in the car forever ... The glove-box gets hot (really hot) and I would like to know if these cells will survive a few years in there ... At the moment , I have a single AA torch in there and it does get very hot in our sunny weather (in the UK) ... I don't want to ruin a perfectly good Eneloop ... So will the CR123A survive better under hot and occasional (seasonal) very hot conditions and also what is the cheapest 123 torch available ?

    I have ordered an iTP A1 but I wouldn't want to leave it just laying about in the car doing nothing ... Hence the need for another cheap single or two mode 123 torch.

    I don't want to go into the realms of using RCR 123s ... At least not to leave in the car.

    Any help would be appreciated.
    .

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    Default Re: CR123A 10yr shelf life?

    The Energizer CR123A I have here with me only has + 123 , 3.0V , 2016 on it (no month).

    The date code on the side is 0706A, meaning it was manufactured in July 2006.

    It's odd that your cell has 03-2017 on the top and 1207A (December 2007) on the side.

    Anyway, the use by date for your cell would be 03-2017.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: CR123A 10yr shelf life?

    Quote Originally Posted by Black Rose View Post
    The Energizer CR123A I have here with me only has + 123 , 3.0V , 2016 on it (no month).

    The date code on the side is 0706A, meaning it was manufactured in July 2006.

    It's odd that your cell has 03-2017 on the top and 1207A (December 2007) on the side.

    Anyway, the use by date for your cell would be 03-2017.
    Mine have a blue top end to about one third of the length and the lower two thirds is silver ... It says "Energiser Lithium Photo" on the side ... They all measure 3.25 volts , but that doesn't help really as they are primary cells.

    I only paid £2-97 for the six including postage and when I just now checked his stock they were all sold , otherwise I would have had a few more at that price.

    I will have a look at DX (and others) to see if there are any cheap one or two mode 123 torches to use in the car ... I don't know what the temperature range is with these batteries as they will get very hot in the glovebox in the car.
    .

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    Default Re: CR123A 10yr shelf life?

    I happen to have here a set of ten Titanium Power 123a lithiums that are the last of a pile of same given to me by a friend some ~4 years ago. Their voltages on a Fluke 88v are as follows:

    3.288
    3.293
    3.293
    3.296
    3.294
    3.293
    3.290
    3.293
    3.091
    3.293

    I also have two Surefire SF123As stamped and tested as follows:

    11-2017 3.078v
    12-2017 3.080v

    So assuming a nominal voltage of ~3.3v then the Ti branded lithiums are losing less than one fifth of one precent per year! Given the same conditions and likely age/starting voltage, the SF cells have been draining at a rate closer to 1.3-1.4 precent per year, still not bad at all...
    Last edited by BanditMonkey; 05-27-2010 at 06:40 PM.

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    Default Re: CR123A 10yr shelf life?

    I posted an eight year primary storage test in this section a few months back. Looks like I'll need to dig the link up. Based on what I saw, do not count on a reliable cell after only a few years in storage. A 10 yr shelf life is HIGHLY optimistic and a bit exaggerated.
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    Default Re: CR123A 10yr shelf life?

    Quote Originally Posted by MrMom View Post
    I posted an eight year primary storage test in this section a few months back. Looks like I'll need to dig the link up. Based on what I saw, do not count on a reliable cell after only a few years in storage. A 10 yr shelf life is HIGHLY optimistic and a bit exaggerated.
    Thats a shame , I've got six Energiser Lithium batteries that say 2017 which won't get a lot of use ... Have i wasted £2-97 of my money (for the six) ?
    .

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    Default Re: CR123A 10yr shelf life?

    No, you haven't wasted your money on the cells you bought.

    Not to discredit MrMom's information, but some of the batteries from his results contained the previous version of the Battery Station CR123A cells (Made in China), which were known to have poor shelf life.
    The various issues with those cells ultimately led to Battery Station having the new cells (2007 onward) manufactured for them by Panasonic.

    One thing that can happen with CR123A cells when left idle for long periods of time is that a passivation layer forms which may make the battery appear to be dead or have low voltage. If that happens simply run the battery in a light for a couple of minutes and it will usually "wake up".

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    Default Re: CR123A 10yr shelf life?

    Quote Originally Posted by Black Rose View Post
    No, you haven't wasted your money on the cells you bought.

    Not to discredit MrMom's information, but some of the batteries from his results contained the previous version of the Battery Station CR123A cells (Made in China), which were known to have poor shelf life.
    The various issues with those cells ultimately led to Battery Station having the new cells (2007 onward) manufactured for them by Panasonic.

    One thing that can happen with CR123A cells when left idle for long periods of time is that a passivation layer forms which may make the battery appear to be dead or have low voltage. If that happens simply run the battery in a light for a couple of minutes and it will usually "wake up".
    Many Thanks Black Rose.

    I have just received my new iTP A1 today and tried an old Duracell in it ... The cell was previously used in an Olympus camera , but I kept the cell anyway ... It has a number 9K08G5 on the side ... It worked OK but there was very little difference between medium mode and high mode ... I put one of the Energisers in and now there is the difference that I expected.

    I put the old Duracell back in and ran it for about a minute then checked the three modes again ... I can now see the three modes clearly ... I made a tactical error and looked into the beam and now I can see a black dot wherever I look ... Must remember not to do that again ... Old Duracell is 2.85 volts , so is it worth using it or should it be disposed of ? ... I'm not certain at what voltage point the cell is classed as depleted , or whether to just use the torch till it dies and then put anothe 123 in it.

    Good news , the black dot has gone and normal vision has returned.
    .

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    Default Re: CR123A 10yr shelf life?

    Quote Originally Posted by Black Rose View Post
    One thing that can happen with CR123A cells when left idle for long periods of time is that a passivation layer forms which may make the battery appear to be dead or have low voltage. If that happens simply run the battery in a light for a couple of minutes and it will usually "wake up".

    that happened to me. I used 123s for a while, they got down to 2.9V, they recovered to 3V without load. Then I mostly used 18650s for a while. A year later tried these 123s, they seemed dead, 30 seconds later came to life.
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    Default Re: CR123A 10yr shelf life?

    Quote Originally Posted by Black Rose View Post
    One thing that can happen with CR123A cells when left idle for long periods of time is that a passivation layer forms which may make the battery appear to be dead or have low voltage. If that happens simply run the battery in a light for a couple of minutes and it will usually "wake up".
    I guess this also explains why, when I test 123s that have been sitting around for a year or more with a ZTS Pulse Load Tester, often the second read yields a higher capacity for the cell than the first test.

    Thanks to Black Rose for the passivation layer tech.

  19. #19

    Default Re: CR123A 10yr shelf life?

    Just tested a 9 years old cell (08/2012) and a 1 year old cell (06/2020) SureFire SF123A on CBA @ 1.5A discharge:



    SF123A 08/2012 :
    Description: 1 Other/Custom cell, 1.5 Ah @ 1.50A
    Started At: 7/27/2011 6:07 PM
    Discharge Rate: 1.50 A
    Starting Voltage: 3.26 V
    Ending Voltage: 1.00 V
    Total Time (hh:mm:ss): 00:49:50
    Tested Capacity: 1.246 Ah

    SF123A 06/2020:
    Description: 1 Other/Custom cell, 1.5 Ah @ 1.50A
    Started At: 7/27/2011 7:36 PM
    Discharge Rate: 1.50 A
    Starting Voltage: 3.26 V
    Ending Voltage: 1.00 V
    Total Time (hh:mm:ss): 00:52:14
    Tested Capacity: 1.306 Ah

    The old cell still deliver 95% of the capacity but the voltage is 0.20 V lower.

    The battery temperature rise A LOT when discharging at 1.5A. The cell max out at 124*F (room temp is 80*F) before the 1V cut-off. Here is the data recording on the Madusa PowerAnalyzerPro. The funky red temperature curve is cause by the temp probe tape falling off due to heat.

    Last edited by ecrbattery; 07-27-2011 at 09:04 PM. Reason: image resize

  20. #20
    Flashaholic* hank's Avatar
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    Default Re: CR123A 10yr shelf life?

    A thread on multi-year longevity -- anything new, has anyone seen side by side longterm comparisons done with enough cells to be good info?

    Failing that, has anyone seen a list of how long, if any, guarantee is offered on different brands of primary CR123A cells?

    Or even simpler, should I buy another batch of $1 Tenergys on sale like I did years ago (some survived, some dead when checked) ....

  21. #21
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    Default Re: CR123A 10yr shelf life?

    I found an old but unopened package with a Duracell 123 battery in a drawer last year.
    It had expiration year 2003 IIRC, so I guess it was manufactured 1993.
    I used it in my Novatac Storm without problem.
    When the cell got low the light stepped down but still pretty long useful light.
    I didn't use for very long each time and mostly on medium or low levels so I can not estimate the capacity but I think I had it in my flashlight for about 4-6 months.

  22. #22

    Default Re: CR123A 10yr shelf life?

    CR123's have extremely long lifespans. Quite amazing actually, I have a spent Kodak CR123 with a 2015 expiry (my oldest). Testing it on the tester shows about 2.75 volts. I'll keep this around for three more years then test the voltage then.

  23. #23
    Retired Administrator Norm's Avatar
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    Default Re: CR123A 10yr shelf life?

    keep in mind that just because you can measure 2.75V under NO load, does not mean that there will be 2.72V available when the cell is loaded by the device you install it into. Under a load, a dead CR123 will drop below 1V, but still read just under 3V open circuit.

    Norm

  24. #24

    Default Re: CR123A 10yr shelf life?

    Quote Originally Posted by Norm View Post
    keep in mind that just because you can measure 2.75V under NO load, does not mean that there will be 2.72V available when the cell is loaded by the device you install it into. Under a load, a dead CR123 will drop below 1V, but still read just under 3V open circuit.

    Norm
    yup yup! its not like i'm expecting it to rise from the dead.

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