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Thread: CR123 vs AA Lithium

  1. #1
    *Flashaholic* this_is_nascar's Avatar
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    Default CR123 vs AA Lithium

    With LED emitter and driver/circuit being equal, which of these cell types would be more efficient as far as runtime and power.

    I understand the voltages are different, so maybe a comparison can't be made.
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  2. #2

    Default Re: CR123 vs AA Lithium

    Quote Originally Posted by this_is_nascar View Post
    With LED emitter and driver/circuit being equal, which of these cell types would be more efficient as far as runtime and power.

    I understand the voltages are different, so maybe a comparison can't be made.

    until recently, they had about the same power (Watt hrs), but the "improved" Energizer L91 Lithium now has about 10-15% more Watt hrs.


    http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/...03#post4970903


    Though drivers for a single cell light might be slightly more efficient for CR123's because there is less of a boost needed for 3V to the Voltage needed to run the LED.
    Last edited by xxo; 03-09-2017 at 09:16 AM.

  3. #3

    Default Re: CR123 vs AA Lithium

    I think it is pretty close to a toss up as in low to medium power LED lights can be designed with efficient circuitry that favors 1.5v chemistry over CR123 and will run well for a long time it is only higher output lights where the higher voltage of a 123 cell will have less power loss in lights with less optimal designs (switches, circuits, wiring).
    Pretty much it comes down to battery cost and availability and size/format of the light to what is best these days. 123s are harder to find locally and often tend to be more expensive and also are not as cross compatible with other devices which has you sometimes buying and stocking them for ONLY a very few devices and to get a decent price per cell almost forcing you to mail order them instead of buying them locally when needed.
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    Default Re: CR123 vs AA Lithium

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Arc View Post
    I think it is pretty close to a toss up as in low to medium power LED lights can be designed with efficient circuitry that favors 1.5v chemistry over CR123 and will run well for a long time it is only higher output lights where the higher voltage of a 123 cell will have less power loss in lights with less optimal designs (switches, circuits, wiring).
    Pretty much it comes down to battery cost and availability and size/format of the light to what is best these days. 123s are harder to find locally and often tend to be more expensive and also are not as cross compatible with other devices which has you sometimes buying and stocking them for ONLY a very few devices and to get a decent price per cell almost forcing you to mail order them instead of buying them locally when needed.
    I'm exclusively AA/AAA these days after surfing the early CPF CR123/CR2 wave. The actual brick and mortar availability of AA/AAA trumps, still to this day, 123. I can't stress how much my mind was changed after a couple days at work or on hikes when I had Don's lights and needed a replacement. Contrast to the other day when I need common alkaline AAA's? Right there in the drawer, just laying.

    I still love the CR form and even the crazier new stuff 188650(?)-ish BUT if I can't find it...

  5. #5
    *Flashaholic* this_is_nascar's Avatar
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    Default Re: CR123 vs AA Lithium

    Thanks for the info.
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    Administrator Kestrel's Avatar
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    Default Re: CR123 vs AA Lithium

    I've always been a little surprised that the release of the IMR14500 didn't have more of an impact; before it came out, 1xAA lights could not do more than ~80 lumens IIRC ?
    With that little powerhouse - in the same form factor - there was no reason that outputs couldn't bump by ~10x with redesigned circuitry - along with the newer LED designs of course.

    We never got that sort of revolution in the CR123 form factor - they were always quite capable of reasonably-high outputs, with the IMR123 providing only a modest improvement over that.

    Yet despite the fundamental output disadvantage of the 1xAA form factor historically, the 1xAA light was always reasonably competitive in the marketplace (for valid reasons discussed above, of course).
    But the subsequent release of the IMR14500 didn't seem to shift the scales further towards 1xAA lights any <-- which I think is interesting.

    JMHO (opinion/observation)
    Last edited by Kestrel; 03-09-2017 at 05:15 PM.

  7. #7

    Default Re: CR123 vs AA Lithium

    Quote Originally Posted by Kestrel View Post
    But the subsequent release of the IMR14500 didn't seem to shift the scales further towards 1xAA lights any <-- which I think is interesting.

    JMHO (opinion/observation)
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  8. #8

    Default Re: CR123 vs AA Lithium

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Arc View Post
    123s are harder to find locally and often tend to be more expensive...
    In complete agreement right up to where you suggest L91's are cheaper locally than CR123A. At your nearest Lowes, you will find Surefire CR123A 2-packs for about $4.50, while I challenge you to find a quad of L91 locally anywhere for less than $12. Online, one can get L91 in bulk cheaper, say 50x L91 for about $80, plus shipping, yet 50x CR123A (Ti Innovations from Battery Junction) is $48 w/ free ship. L91 are at least 75% more expensive per piece than CR123A locally, and at least 60% more expensive per piece in bulk online. But I suppose getting down to comparing the cost of the actual energy contained in the different cells may get their prices closer together.

  9. #9

    Default Re: CR123 vs AA Lithium

    I think the reason AA lights, in general, are not designed to be as bright as equivalent CR123 or Li-Ion powered lights is because manufactures realize that most people will run them on alkalines and get poor performance, so they scale back the output. With CR123's there are no alkalines, so they are able to power more powerful lights without this concern. If AA's are restricted to lithium/lithium-ion or quality NiMH's there is no problem either, in fact you have more versatility with AA's than with CR123's.

  10. #10
    Flashaholic* ChrisGarrett's Avatar
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    Default Re: CR123 vs AA Lithium

    Quote Originally Posted by chillinn View Post
    In complete agreement right up to where you suggest L91's are cheaper locally than CR123A. At your nearest Lowes, you will find Surefire CR123A 2-packs for about $4.50, while I challenge you to find a quad of L91 locally anywhere for less than $12. Online, one can get L91 in bulk cheaper, say 50x L91 for about $80, plus shipping, yet 50x CR123A (Ti Innovations from Battery Junction) is $48 w/ free ship. L91 are at least 75% more expensive per piece than CR123A locally, and at least 60% more expensive per piece in bulk online. But I suppose getting down to comparing the cost of the actual energy contained in the different cells may get their prices closer together.
    Ehhh, I don't know where you live, but here in Miami, I can go into a Publix supermarket and buy a 4 pack of Energizer Ultimates for $7.99 plus 7%. I can then drive over to Lowes and get that 2 pack of SF CR123As for about $4.50 plus 7%, so it's a wash.

    Buying CR123As at the supermarket will cost more for the Energizer and Duracell versions, but going over to Walgreens, or the CVS drugstore will yield a $7 per cell price, so one needs to shop around a bit.

    As far as the Titanium Innovations CR123As, I think a better comparison would be to compare the L91s to the Panasonic USA CR123As, which are at the top of the heap and an apples to apples affair.

    In that comparison, the cost isn't all that much of a difference.

    A plastic case holding four of each battery/cell is smaller than my LG flip phone, if runtime is so important.

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    *Flashaholic* this_is_nascar's Avatar
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    Default Re: CR123 vs AA Lithium

    What prompted this question was the fact the I have an Olight S1 Baton in neutral tint. It's a 1xCR123. I ordered a S1A in neutral, which is a 1xAA.

    I was trying to figure how they'd compare in usable light and runtime.
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  12. #12
    Flashaholic* hiuintahs's Avatar
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    Default Re: CR123 vs AA Lithium

    Quote Originally Posted by xxo View Post
    I think the reason AA lights, in general, are not designed to be as bright as equivalent CR123 or Li-Ion powered lights is because manufactures realize that most people will run them on alkalines and get poor performance, so they scale back the output. With CR123's there are no alkalines, so they are able to power more powerful lights without this concern. If AA's are restricted to lithium/lithium-ion or quality NiMH's there is no problem either, in fact you have more versatility with AA's than with CR123's.
    This is how I understand the relationship of these two types of cells. With a CR123 battery you can get more instantaneous power into an LED than that of either a lithium L91 or an Eneloop AA battery. The issue is that the LED forward voltage drop is right around the voltage of the CR123, whereas the voltage of AA battery is at least half that. A CR123A that is dumping 1 amp into an LED is like an AA battery outputting 2 amps. Thus I believe you first run into the max current capability of the AA cell before you do the CR123 cell.

    As has already been noted, both types of cells have about the same amount of energy. Thus if operating the LED flashlight at a medium or low level, both batteries will last about the same amount of time. The CR123 driven LED flashlight has the capability to hit a higher max output.......but that is dependent on the maker of the flashlight if they would like to take advantage of the higher instantaneous power output of the CR123 battery.
    Last edited by hiuintahs; 03-10-2017 at 11:19 PM.

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    Default Re: CR123 vs AA Lithium

    I have reviewed both types:
    http://lygte-info.dk/review/batterie...R123%20UK.html
    http://lygte-info.dk/review/batterie...20AA%20UK.html (This is the old generation)

    Because CR123 has more voltage than AA cells, the actual load current will be lower for drawing the same power.
    With leds there is also the efficiency of the boost converter, again it will be better with CR123 due to the higher voltage.
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  14. #14

    Default Re: CR123 vs AA Lithium

    What's the best single AAA light?

  15. #15
    *Flashaholic* this_is_nascar's Avatar
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    Default Re: CR123 vs AA Lithium

    Quote Originally Posted by mccraggen View Post
    What's the best single AAA light?
    Wrong thread for this question.
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  16. #16
    Flashaholic RollerBoySE's Avatar
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    Default CR123 vs AA Lithium

    Quote Originally Posted by HKJ View Post
    I have reviewed both types:
    http://lygte-info.dk/review/batterie...R123%20UK.html
    http://lygte-info.dk/review/batterie...20AA%20UK.html (This is the old generation)

    Because CR123 has more voltage than AA cells, the actual load current will be lower for drawing the same power.
    With leds there is also the efficiency of the boost converter, again it will be better with CR123 due to the higher voltage.
    The amount of total energy available is pretty darn close though (according to your tests):
    CR123A 3.180Wh (discharged with 1A)
    L91 3.217Wh (discharged with 2A, to compensate for half the voltage)
    Last edited by RollerBoySE; 03-11-2017 at 12:03 PM.

  17. #17

    Default Re: CR123 vs AA Lithium

    Quote Originally Posted by RollerBoySE View Post
    The amount of total energy available is pretty damn close though (according to your tests):
    CR123A 3.180Wh (discharged with 1A)
    L91 3.217Wh (discharged with 2A, to compensate for half the voltage)
    That is true when comparing single cell lights, if you go to 2 AA lithiums, the AA's will have the edge (Watt hrs/cell). With more than 2 AA's or 1 CR123, I guess it would depend on the circuitry running the LED.

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