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Thread: Why AW cells?

  1. #1

    Default Why AW cells?

    Hello everyone. I have been using rechargeable batteries for 25 years now. My first setup was a GE charger and batteries in the mid 80's. I learned from a young age that they saved me a lot of money in my Walkman and boombox. I moved on as batteries changed a bit and now I still have and use my Rayovac 3in1 charger with Rayovac NMAH batteries. I did not know about Eneloops or AW until this forum.
    I have never had an issue other than the battery wearing out with my setup. My question is (in the real world) what makes Eneloops and AW so loved here? I mean a graph is nice but in the real world can you "see" the difference? Are the slightly better runtimes worth the money so to speak? What is wrong with a setup like this: http://www.batteryjunction.com/6rcr123a-combo.html
    I am certainly no expert but I have been looking online and it seems like there is no AW charger meaning you are still using XYZ brand charger (which is made in China) to charge a quality battery. I am not trying to cause a flame war, I am just trying to understand and learn. Why pay more if that $27 will do the same thing? I will buy AW's and a good charger if there is a legit reason for it if I find that primaries are not meeting my CR123 needs. I use CR123 batteries in my Fenix P3d and my Quark 123 regular and I have no modded lights. Thanks for the help with this.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Why AW cells?

    First off, I'll say that the only charger I use for my AW batteries is the Pila IBC charger. (I use if for my IMR batts as well) To me, it's second to none when it comes to charging 14500's, CR123A's, 18650's, etc., basically any battery that's compatible with the charger. I avoid the cheaper chargers at all costs. It's not to say that that the other chargers are any less good at what they do, but my Pila always charges to the same voltage everytime, cuts off the charge as advertised, and I've never had an issue with it. I can't say the same for some of the other chargers I've used. Again, not saying other chargers are bad and will always fail on you, but when a piece of equipment works as good as the Pila does, why mess with it? It's the same reason why I only use a LaCrosse BC9009 for my Eneloops. I have 2 each of the Pila and LaCrosse chargers for loads of charging fun!

    As for eneloops and AW's, it's the quality and consistency they come with. I've had fewer AW's and Eneloops go bad on me than any other brand, plus, and this is the key, their rated capacity tends to be more accurate than other brands. Pila brand batteries are also very good, BTW.

    Again, there are definitely other brands out there that are good as well, but for me, these two in particular are worth the price based on my good experiences with them. All of my flashlights that accept the types (sizes) that these two manufacturers offer, carry said batteries.

    I also have some of the Lifepo4 batteries that you have a link to, along with the charger. They're OK, but not spectacular. The capacity compared to an AW123 will be much less and they are an example (in my experience) of a battery that does not meet the advertised capacity. They certainly work, though... One note: the charger is ONLY COMPATIBLE with the Lifep04 batteries. Do not buy this rig and think you can charge other chemistries with it. I would not take this rig, given a choice, over a Pila and a good set of AW's by a long shot. The other difference is voltage. The lifep04's in this set are a nominal 3v vs the AW's 3.7; keep that in mind based on your intended use. You CANNOT charge Lifep04 batteries in the Pila charger.

    I'm no expert either and can't qoute the electrical theory or chemistries behind the products, though I've read as much about them as I can. Instead, I'm just a dude who likes stuff that works the way it's supposed to; the AW's, LaCrosses, Eneloops, and Pilas fit that bill based on my experience
    Last edited by Darvis; 07-18-2010 at 09:01 AM.

  3. #3
    Flashaholic* Black Rose's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why AW cells?

    Eneloops - they are able to deliver higher current levels than its competitors. Eneloops also have superior LSD capabilities (can hold their charge for up to 3 years).

    Depending on your use, you may not need those qualities.
    In my case, I have banished most alkaline cells from our home, so having a rechargeable cell "at the ready" like an alkaline cell is critical.

    I use Eneloops as well as Rayovac Hybrid/4.0/Platinum LSD cells.
    I just happen to have more Eneloops & Duraloops because they were available at better prices than the Rayovac products.

    AW cells - The main issues are cell consistency, age, and safety.
    AW sources quality cells for his products and adds his own protection circuit to the protected cells.

    With the lower cost cells, the source and age of the cells is a mystery, so it's more of a lottery (some are great, some are crap).

    Take a look in the Smoke and Fire subsection of the battery forum.
    You'll notice that the vast majority of issues with Li-Ion cells are with the lower cost/bargain brands.

    I personally use AW 17670/18650 cells as well as the Trustfire "true" 2400 mAh 18650 cells.
    For chargers, I use Yoho-122 chargers for the big cells and a WF-138 for 16340 cells.

    Finding a lower cost quality charger for Li-Ion cells has been a quest for years. The Pila IBC is the best one so far, but it cannot charge LiFePO4 cells as far as I know.
    If the Pila IBC didn't cost as much as a hobby charger for me to acquire, I'd have one.

    I can't comment on the Tenergy charger & battery combo you linked to as I do not have that charger or the cells. I do believe there are several threads regarding it.
    Last edited by Black Rose; 07-18-2010 at 08:58 AM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Why AW cells?

    OK thanks for the advice. I see now why the AW's are nicer, in a nutshell better quality control thus making a better product. I will look in the marketplace to get pricing ideas for a charger and batteries and then see if that up front cost is worth it for my use compared to primaries. Where else can I get quality items like AW, Pila, and Yoho online?

  5. #5

    Default Re: Why AW cells?

    Bug Out Gear USA is one place to check for Pila products, I've also used Flashlightz.com as another source. AW; go with any reputable dealer in the marketplace- 4Sevens, Battery Junction, Lighthound, etc.

  6. #6
    Flashaholic* Black Rose's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why AW cells?

    Quote Originally Posted by lovenhim View Post
    Where else can I get quality items like AW, Pila, and Yoho online?
    AW cells can be purchased from AW himself in the Marketplace, Lighthound, and 4Sevens.

    In addition to Bugout Gear and Flashlightz, the PILA charger can also be purchased from Pila USA.

    The Yoho-122 is no longer available and has been since determined to not use the proper charge algorithm.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Why AW cells?

    The AW cells seem to be some of the best Chinese Li-Ion cells. My LG, Panasonic and Sanyo Li-Ion consistently outperform the AW cells in my collection. AW makes a wider variety of Li-Ion cells or at least ones we can get our hands on easily. No complaints with my AW cells but when I can find LGs for half the price and the LGs hold voltage better under load (slightly, not a huge difference) I have plenty of LGs.
    To be fair the LGs have no protection circuit but I find that a plus and don't believe it is as big a deal when dealing with quality cells. The protection circuit adds to the price of the AW cells and when a button top Li-Ion is needed AWs are the only cells I consider since all other button tops are Chinese made (to my knowledge).

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Why AW cells?

    Pila IBC Charger - someone ran a group buy ~18 months ago & I picked up one there.

    Rechargeable cells - measure the voltage after charging!

    Received 4 brand new AW 18500 Cells - for use in 9P sized light, used 2 that day, charged them over night & put them back in light - next day at work light would only go on VERY dim. Checked the cells & one was dead?? Emailed the vendor & they are sending me a replacement cell & a SASE for me to return the dead one. Quality cells often = Good service.


  9. #9

    Default Re: Why AW cells?

    I guess that I am looking for best value for the money. It was mentioned above and I fall in to this category that if I can get a quality product at half the price then I would buy it. I have always seemed to purchase factory parts or a "matched set" so to speak, so Rayovac charger with Rayovac cells, Motorcraft/Ford parts for a Ford vehicle, etc. It seems to me that when you do things that way you are less likely to run into problems and you have more of a chance of things working. I did not realize that the upfront cost of a Pila charger and AW cells was that expensive, so this makes me want to track my battery useage to see if I can justify such a purchase. I am not a hardcore 4 hour a day light user. Things that make you go Hmmmmm.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Why AW cells?

    1. One of the biggest advantages is the ability from AW cells, to power high-power incans without double- or triple-clicking. What other brand protected 18650s is capable of powering the WA1185 without problems?? Not Wolf Eyes, and not even the best Trustfires, believe me, I tried them...

    2. Capacity stated will not be far off reality, and the voltage retaining is much better than from those el-cheapo cells.

    3. Cell consistency is excellent. I've had many cells from other manufacturers bad from the start (those 3000mAh unprotected Ultrafire 18650s were no exception: one was 2400mAh, the other only 800mAh....)

    4. Sleeve wrapping is much sturdier than from most el cheapo cells, thus preventing shorts (!!)

    5. Bottom plate is STEEL(!) instead of a 35 micron copper base from a PCB

    6. Extra safety PTC added in addition to a high quality protection PCB


    Enough reasons to buy AW? If you really want a cell that delivers and keeps doing so for a long, long time with good safety, then there's no other to go for (maybe Pila or Wolf Eyes are the exception, but at least Wolf Eyes is NOT capable of powering high power incans....)


    Timmo.

  11. #11
    Flashaholic* pobox1475's Avatar
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    Cool Re: Why AW cells?

    I guess that I am looking for best value for the money. It was mentioned above and I fall in to this category that if I can get a quality product at half the price then I would buy it.
    I can understand that. In this case the best products available* are the best value. I agree with Darvis.

    I use AW protected cells exclusively with great results. They seemed to be the ones forum members recommended most often. I can not afford ($ and time wise) to monkey around with extermination. I charge them with a trusty Pila IBC. For my Eneloops (AA & AAA) I use a MAHA C9000 and feel it was well worth the investment. If / when the need arises for AA's able to deliver more power (very frequent use) I will go with Sanyo 2700's. Currently I am trying to pony up and get a MAHA C808M and 8 AccuEvolution LSD C cells to use in my XM BoomBox. These are my only unknown quantity.

    Good Luck and Happy Powering...




    * La Crosse chargers are of high quality and well loved. After deliberation I went with MAHA and assume I would have been happy with either.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Why AW cells?

    Well I am sold, if I do think I need rechargeable technology for my CR123 lights then I will save up and invest the money. I just did some video watching from a caertain Tube site and I did not realize how serious a battery explosion with one of these cells can be. It is not worth playing games for a $40 savings up front. Now, does that same rule apply to primary CR123 batteries as well? Should you get the $12 pack or pay twice the price for a brand name you know? I need batteries for my lights, I got the lights in a trade or two but no batteries to replace them when they die on me. I am looking at these batteries:

    $1.60 each +S/H


    12 for $12+S/H


    10 for $19 Free S/H


    I am not trying to push any certain brand, just want to make the right choice when I get batteries for my lights. Based on this purchase and how I use them I can decide if I need to invest in some AW's.

  13. #13
    Flashaholic* pobox1475's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Re: Why AW cells?

    Based on this purchase and how I use them I can decide if I need to invest in some AW's.
    I use primaries for back-up and potential emergency use (power outages). The main AW attraction for me is that when I use a light and an AW I can top-off the cell at days end. This way I have a very accurate measure of how much juice I have available during next use. Batteries have a way of dumping in the most inopertune of moments . Also not contributing to the chemical landfill is a virtue.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Why AW cells?

    I'm with pobox, I use primaries as back ups and follow his rechargable logic for my EDC lights. Very sound advice! As for primaries themselves, sicne I only use them for emergencies and a back-up supply, I tend to stick to known brands: Battery Station, Surefire, Duracell, Sony, I hear the 4 Sevens brand is very good as well. I've nevewr had a name brand fail me, but have had cheap no-name buck-a-piece batteries self dishcharge and even leak a browm gooey substance. Ligth any battery, rechargable or not, only buy what you will use! 2 rechargables; one main and one spare and rotate them. That, and maybe 5-10 primary 123's at most. Otherwise, you will just have money sitting there going bad on you. I learend this the hard way. Less is more.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Why AW cells?

    Quote Originally Posted by Darvis View Post
    I'm with pobox, I use primaries as back ups and follow his rechargable logic for my EDC lights. Very sound advice! As for primaries themselves, sicne I only use them for emergencies and a back-up supply, I tend to stick to known brands: Battery Station, Surefire, Duracell, Sony, I hear the 4 Sevens brand is very good as well. I've nevewr had a name brand fail me, but have had cheap no-name buck-a-piece batteries self dishcharge and even leak a browm gooey substance. Ligth any battery, rechargable or not, only buy what you will use! 2 rechargables; one main and one spare and rotate them. That, and maybe 5-10 primary 123's at most. Otherwise, you will just have money sitting there going bad on you. I learend this the hard way. Less is more.
    OK I was under the impression that I would "need" rechargeables for every light I have, this must not be the case. OK here is what I have or will have....:

    I have:

    Quark 123 regular
    Fenix P3D

    I will have soon: Quark 123 X2

    that is a total of 5 CR123 needed to power the lights. Now I understand that I can not use all three lights at once in a practical way, so what is a value based, quality, bang for the buck newbie rechargeable system? Please give me examples or even put a system together for me. I say this so I can see what the upfront cost will be for me if I decide or need to go to this system. I am still thinking a box of primaries at first to see how much I use the lights and batteries before I make the leap. Should I get 3.0V or 3.6V RCR123's for example for those lights? Thanks for all the help.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Why AW cells?

    You're right, my example was a "one light" example... one in use and one spare. If you feel you need all lights ready to go, by all means, buy a rechargeable for each, or a combo of primaries, etc. My point being, don't buy 20 for your 5 lights.. There's a balance there somewhere and the RCR's tend to do better when they are cycled and maintained rather than sitting in storage. The primaries can sit, so they are not really much of an issue.

    My opinion on the value based system: Buy the Pila charger and at least 3 RCR123's, that you can always power at least 2 lights. If more are needed, go primary. If, after a while, you get more lights or need to power all, buy more RCR's, as many as needed. Up front cost is about the amount of one light... but after that, it's just the batteries as needed, plus all those guilt free lumens.

    As for voltage, that's a matter of the specs for your lights; read them carefully, they will tell you "this light has a range of 1-4 volts, or 1-3, etc." The quarks can handle the rechargables (I have a few, so I know) Fenix is hit or miss, so make sure to read the specs and buy acccordingly. Good luck!!!
    Last edited by Darvis; 07-18-2010 at 06:14 PM.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Why AW cells?

    Sounds good to me and thank you for the help. This is a great forum.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Why AW cells?

    Hey man, everything I told you, I gleaned/learned from this forum. Just passing along the good advice I received as the new guy a few years ago.

    Now, as for that next light, are sure you don't REALLY don't want a Ra Clicky instead?

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Why AW cells?

    Quote Originally Posted by lovenhim View Post
    so what is a value based, quality, bang for the buck newbie rechargeable system? Please give me examples or even put a system together for me.
    I have those lights and if that was all I was interested in powering for now I would go to Lighthound and purchase "Ultrafire 3.6 volt or 3 volt RCR123 Lithium Battery Charger" for $12.99 and 5 AW RCR123 batteries for $6.99 and never look back. The only other option I would consider is getting IMR RCR123 batteries (AW Brand) from the same place. No protection but they don't need it. Same price so you could try some of each.

    The charger does have the capability to charge Lifepo4 batteries which are probably a better fit for the PD3 but not necessary.

    Hope that helps, PM me if you want more details.

  20. #20
    Flashaholic* pobox1475's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Re: Why AW cells?

    will have soon: Quark 123 X2
    The neutral warm Tac 123x2 is my main house light.

    FYI it is best to run an AW 17670 protected (same physical size as two123's) in the x2 and P3D. Two primaries can be a little mismatched in voltage. With Li-Ions you generally want to avoid using multiple cells in one light. The disparity in current discharge can cause problems. Added benefit one 17670 is cheaper than 2 RCR123's. IMHO two 17670's and two 123's would set you up nicely. You really have to have an extended use session to deplete a 17670. Having six primaries for back-up's on hand would complete your power needs.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Why AW cells?

    Quote Originally Posted by pobox1475 View Post
    The neutral warm Tac 123x2 is my main house light.

    FYI it is best to run an AW 17670 protected (same physical size as two123's) in the x2 and P3D. Two primaries can be a little mismatched in voltage. With Li-Ions you generally want to avoid using multiple cells in one light. The disparity in current discharge can cause problems. Added benefit one 17670 is cheaper than 2 RCR123's. IMHO two 17670's and two 123's would set you up nicely. You really have to have an extended use session to deplete a 17670. Having six primaries for back-up's on hand would complete your power needs.
    The above is definitely an option but be aware 4Sevens tells me the Quark 123x2 will not stay in regulation using a single 17670. Tailcap current on my samples measures 920ma for the 17670 and about 450ma for the AW RCR123s meaning runtime difference would be negligible.

    My PD30 and several 123x2 Quarks are a very tight fit with the 17670 AW protected batteries. You have to press them in and then take the light apart at the head to press them back out. On several they will not go in without removing the sticker on the battery and are still very tight.

    Using the longer batteries would require you to step up to the WF-139 for about $5 more. You would need aluminum spacers to be able to charge RCR123 batteries in the WF-139 which Lighthound sells for $1.99 each.

  22. #22
    Flashaholic* pobox1475's Avatar
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    Ooo Re: Why AW cells?

    several 123x2 Quarks are a very tight fit with the 17670 AW protected batteries. You have to press them in and then take the light apart at the head to press them back out. On several they will not go in without removing the sticker on the battery and are still very tight.
    I got my 17670 (black with silver label) from 4Sevens at the same time as my x2 and the cell slides in and out effortlessly. I have been under the impression that the 17670 cells were designed to be used in 2 x CR123 lights.

  23. #23

    Default Re: Why AW cells?

    Quote Originally Posted by Darvis View Post
    Hey man, everything I told you, I gleaned/learned from this forum. Just passing along the good advice I received as the new guy a few years ago.

    Now, as for that next light, are sure you don't REALLY don't want a Ra Clicky instead?
    The RA I just put together on their site was $150, for that money I can get 2 Quarks and a lot of batteries. LOL

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Why AW cells?

    Quote Originally Posted by Darvis View Post
    I'm with pobox, I use primaries as back ups and follow his rechargable logic for my EDC lights. Very sound advice! As for primaries themselves, sicne I only use them for emergencies and a back-up supply, I tend to stick to known brands: Battery Station, Surefire, Duracell, Sony, I hear the 4 Sevens brand is very good as well. I've nevewr had a name brand fail me, but have had cheap no-name buck-a-piece batteries self dishcharge and even leak a browm gooey substance. Ligth any battery, rechargable or not, only buy what you will use! 2 rechargables; one main and one spare and rotate them. That, and maybe 5-10 primary 123's at most. Otherwise, you will just have money sitting there going bad on you. I learend this the hard way. Less is more.
    I will attest to the CR123A made overseas! Junk they are and counterfeits they maybe. Was at a friends house and found 2 boxes of 50 CR123 cells. They were not past their "expiration date" but after opening the boxes, sure enough a bunch were leaking something gooey or acidic. As for the charge, of the 100 tested, about half were dead, around 30 had a 20% charge and whatever was left had 40% charge.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Why AW cells?

    Get the Ra.

    Bill

  26. #26

    Default Re: Why AW cells?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bullzeyebill View Post
    Get the Ra.

    Bill
    You are a funny guy. I am joking, wish I could afford one, looks like a sweet light. People seem to love them.

  27. #27
    Flashaholic* pobox1475's Avatar
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    Broke Re: Why AW cells?

    wish I could afford one, looks like a sweet light. People seem to love them.
    Totally agree. I have been checking them out for past few years and built one with online configuration a few times. Can't seem to swallow the two to three times price over current possessed light that shine just fine. One day though... maybe???

  28. #28

    Default Re: Why AW cells?

    For the same reason why Bloomingdale over K mart.

  29. #29

    Default Re: Why AW cells?

    LOL! I'm ashamed to say how many Ra's I now own, But I will say this... If you get caught up in this flashaholics game, you will eventually buy one and then wonder why you didn't just bite the bullet early on... But that's neither here nor there.

    For your quark lights. If you already have a quark 123 single cell, just buy the 2x123 body for 20 bucks or so and then run the light on a 17670. It will stay in regulation that way and you'll get much longer runtime than the 2x123 configuration with no appreciable output loss. Just don't ever stick 2 cells in there by accident, or you will get the blessed POOF!!!! I think this is better than spriging for two seperate lights that are essentially the same light anyway. I have about 6 Quarks and have lego'd them in all kinds of configurations, but now they are packed away for good. The pre-flash just drove me insane.

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Why AW cells?

    Quote Originally Posted by pobox1475 View Post
    I got my 17670 (black with silver label) from 4Sevens at the same time as my x2 and the cell slides in and out effortlessly. I have been under the impression that the 17670 cells were designed to be used in 2 x CR123 lights.
    I have a Quark 123x2 that also takes 17670 cells with no problem but from experience not all 123x2 bodies do. I bought several of the Turbo AA models and extra 123x2 bodies so I can run them with either AAs or 17670 cells. Remember the bodies were made for 123 cells which are not quite as fat as 17670 cells.
    Last edited by 357mag1; 07-19-2010 at 04:43 PM.

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