21700 or 18650 - just starting out

WYlightGUY

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I am a novice flashaholic, having a few original Quarks, ZLs, and a MDC. These are all AA lights which I love.

In another thread I asked about finding a 5-6" long ~1" diam woods/trails light with more power. Something floody enough for no tunnel vision, but enough throw to ID things @ 50-100yds. Some suggestions were MH10v2 or MD2/Wildcat or D4V2 or Elzetta AVS bravo/charlie.

These would require stepping into the world of high power Lithiums of which I have no experience. Reading many articles here, most folks are happy with 18650s, but mostly because they have a investment/experience with them. The 21700 seems to be the next gen of that size of battery, and I have found a few lights in the 700 format (SC700d, D4K1, Malkoff build with 21700 tube?, E07x, others?) that might fit my trails requirements.

So I was wondering:

For those of us just starting out, which high power lithium would you recommend investing in for the future?
 

ChrisGarrett

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I use 21700s in an Xtar PB2S—Samsung 50Es, but have no lights that use that form-factor.

They offer advantages over the ubiquitous 18650 that some may prefer, but not for me.

Flashlights will be slightly bigger/better, but that doesn’t matter much, to me.

For my power bank, they made sense.

Chris
 

scout24

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As an ecosystem, 18650's are hard to beat. They are found everywhere, used in everything, and super high draw cells are available if needed. Unless you have an extreme use case where carrying a spare cell is an issue, I'd stick with 18650's. The added runtime of 21700's can be overcome, and heat limits the ridiculously high lumen one minute runtimes offered by most "look at me" offerings. If I were to magically have all my 18650's disappear and UPS wasn't running, there's four vape shops inside a half hour's drive where I could purchase cells.
 

Chicken Drumstick

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I am a novice flashaholic, having a few original Quarks, ZLs, and a MDC. These are all AA lights which I love.

In another thread I asked about finding a 5-6" long ~1" diam woods/trails light with more power. Something floody enough for no tunnel vision, but enough throw to ID things @ 50-100yds. Some suggestions were MH10v2 or MD2/Wildcat or D4V2 or Elzetta AVS bravo/charlie.

These would require stepping into the world of high power Lithiums of which I have no experience. Reading many articles here, most folks are happy with 18650s, but mostly because they have a investment/experience with them. The 21700 seems to be the next gen of that size of battery, and I have found a few lights in the 700 format (SC700d, D4K1, Malkoff build with 21700 tube?, E07x, others?) that might fit my trails requirements.

So I was wondering:

For those of us just starting out, which high power lithium would you recommend investing in for the future?
Batteries are cheap, just use whatever the light takes.... I really wouldn't put any effort into deciding otherwise.

Most chargers will charge different sizes.

A Digital Multi Meter is handy to check voltages.... but these are dirt cheap. Under £/$10 delivered from ebay etc.

As for actual torches. Flood and long distance don't really do hand in hand unless you are pushing MASSIVE lumens. But that comes with massive heat too.

Take a look at some of the Convoy lights. Great quality, choice of emitters and good tints and lots of models. All for very good prices.



 

3_gun

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I still have & use some GREAT 18650 lights but run times are the top 3 items on my must have checklist & 5000mah beats 3500mah all day, everyday so the vast majority of new lights I buy are 21700 format. I seldom run over 300L as a steady level & 21700 can give me over 8hrs at that level, I have drained 18650s at the same levels in a days use.

My current EDC is the new D4k duel channel light from Hank lights. Insane outputs but solid runtime(s) if you stay away from the "I want to melt rocks" levels. I used the A2 program to turnoff turbo & limit ramping to about 2000L per channel & only allow a single channel to run at a time. Crazy bright still & less of a fire hazard.

As a side note it is smaller than every other 21700 & 18650 lights I have except for the D4v2 Hank lights & even there it's only about 1/8" longer

[ added after seeing above post ] the duel channel feature gives you the chance to have throw AND flood LEDs in/from one light. (or tint ramping) I went with W2 for throw & h351 for flood + good CRI. Both channels can be run together on turbo but it gets HOT really quick. Switching channels just takes a quick 3 clicks (2 click+3rdclick n hold) for the power button.
 
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brachypelma44

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Unless you have a specific need for a light to be really small and lightweight, I'd start with 21700 lights (or even higher if you like the idea.) I actually think the ergonomics are even better with 26650/26800, as those lights are often around the same thickness as the old D-cell maglites. They feel good in the hand.
 

Elijah

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For what it's worth, you can always put an 18650 cell inside a 21700 flashlight with an adapter, but not the other way around. Another consideration: 18650 lamps have been around for a long time, so there is more selection, but that will change over time as the 21700 format becomes more ubiquitous. If you can find what you like in 21700, then I would go with that format, and pick up a couple adapters in case you need to borrow an 18650 cell from someone or buy one locally in a pinch. Like @Chicken Drumstick said, batteries are cheap, so really no harm in mix and match if you can't find what you like in 21700 format. In the end, you really can't go wrong with either format, and if you are coming from AA lights, either format will be worlds better than what you are used to.
 

WYlightGUY

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Thanks for the replies, everyone. It appears starting with the 21700 is a good choice.

Now to find a torch that fits my criteria. I don't need "melt rocks levels" (I like that). Maybe 1000-1500 OTF max (a guess here as I have no experience with that kind of power). I know I would only need that for a few minutes. I would rather have a couple of levels below that (100 and 300?) for normal 90% of the time use.

The D4k duel channel 3 mentioned is interesting. I did not know that design existed.
Rotaries look appealing as well. HDS is way too expensive and the RRT01 (I have read) has the greenish tint Cree XPL that I don't favor.
 

Chicken Drumstick

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Just got an RRT01 Raptor with the Nichia 219c in. Very nice beam IMO. Not the highest out or throw.

1000-1500 lumens OTF is pretty high tbh.... even in 2022. At least for anything truly EDC able.

Check out the Convoy lights I listed. They do loads of great ones.

The Emisar D1 mini is also pretty cool or a little bigger the DM11


An SST-40 in the DM11 would make for a very nice compact outdoors light able to light up a good distance but offer nice tint and runtimes with good sustained outputs.



 

Elijah

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Just my $0.02, whatever you get, find something with a high CRI emitter. It's one of those things you don't think you need until you have it, but once you do, you miss it whenever you are using a light without it. Also, I will 2nd the recommendation to check out the Convoy lights. They make good stuff.
 

WYlightGUY

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Great info, I appreciate it!

Is there a source that compares all these emitter types and can help newbies narrow down a good neutral tint, and nice CRI? The emissar build page lists several options (SST, E21a, LH351D, W1, W2, etc). Likewise the Convoy has different choices dependent upon the series (and they have quite a few!).

Sorry for so many questions. <sigh>
 

Chicken Drumstick

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Great info, I appreciate it!

Is there a source that compares all these emitter types and can help newbies narrow down a good neutral tint, and nice CRI? The emissar build page lists several options (SST, E21a, LH351D, W1, W2, etc). Likewise the Convoy has different choices dependent upon the series (and they have quite a few!).

Sorry for so many questions. <sigh>
tbh the only way you can know is to try some. Youtube reviews and just use Google to find other reviews are your best best bets.

As a rule for max throw or max lumens you'll sacrifice tint and colour rendition. But I whole heartedly agree, once you've sampled a nice tinted light, you won't want to go back.

Small emitters usually make less lumens and throw more. Dedomed emitters also tend to throw more.

W2 is a nicer thrower, 6000k only. In a big light beam is pencil like, in a smaller light it is quite acceptable. Good for throw and reasonable lumen output for such a small emitter.

W1 throws more than W2, but is worst tint IMO, more blue. Smaller beam and less lumens. I have a couple and I think the W2 is much better overall.

SST-40 is a nice big'ish LED. Good balance of throw and output and 5000k is a nice looking beam. 5700k can be a bit green however. Very good general purpose LED.

SST-20 is smaller and will offer more throw and less lumens in the same light. Also a nice balance for good all round general purpose. 4000k high CRI is loverly IMO. Again higher K can be a bit green. There is a warmer tint, but Ive not tried it.

As a rule all of the Nichia's (219, 519, E21, etc) produce nice beams. But will make less lumens and less throw than the SST-40 and/or SST-20 as a rule.

I like the Samsung LH351D in my Manker MC01 at 4000k and high CRI.

Quite a few other LEDs out there like XHP50.2, XHP 70.3 HI, FC40. All with pros and cons.

A lot of it comes down to what you intend to use the light for.

Cool lights make greens and browns look a bit nasty outside. Although too warm a tint can make whites indoors look a bit yellow or brown.

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KITROBASKIN

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Get two flashlights! Emisar is a good value. Convoy is such a good value (though I would not order from alieexpresslanetopossiblefrustration)

It’s ok to ask good questions as you have been doing. The dedomed 5700K 519a is so nice and punchy. Those quad lights can really eat up the electrons when getting frisky but are nice for area lights. Get the flashlight(s) you want, whether 18650 or 21700.
 

Elijah

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It comes down to personal preference. Given that I usually use my lights at night, I tend to prefer a warmer tint, something in the 3000-4000k range, but that's just me. If color rendition is your main focus, then a 95+ CRI in a 4500-5000k *should* give you the best spectrum on both the blues and reds, but I honestly DGAF if my high-CRI 3000k is accurately representing the blues while I am taking out the trash or trying not to trip over roots walking in the woods. What I'm saying is don't stress too much about which emitter the light has. If you have the option, go with a high-CRI light, and choose the color temperature that you like best, but at the end of the day, it's just a flashlight, and it's better than being in the dark :)
 

3_gun

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I've gone big throw (250yds+). I've gone big flood (25yds or less). I've tried mid-range lights (hots w/good spill). The main thing that makes a light "crap" for EDC is a bad (U)ser (I)nterface or UI. The second is the lack of range between moonlight/low & high. If you want to play on my team you need a UI with shortcuts to commonly used levels & those levels should start below 5L & currently reach 8k/L in the same light. Then you need run times at a steady 3-400L (no steps or dimming) of about 4hrs MIN & at least a 25yd throw even if it has to be turbo to get it done. A CRI of at least 90 is nice but not a deal breaker on mid or long throw lights, flood lights need 90 or better. There are more than a few 18650 & 21700 lights that can/will do this on the market today

Anduril as a UI is AMAZING !!! It allows use to set levels & shortcuts to your needs, truly making it YOUR light. My EDC is an Anduril UI. I set stepped ramping to use 3 level of about 20 for low 200ish for med & 600 "about" as high. Press & hold from off starts me at about 3L, a dbl click from off goes to 600 & a normal single click is programed memory at 125L'ish. A dbl click while on goes to full turbo. 3 clicks while on switches me over to step less ramping with holds its own settings. Press n hold is 1/2L, seamless ramping runs from around 20L again but up to around 2500L, then a dbl click again to 8000L turbo. Memory again is around 125L'ish.

Borrow a light or two or keep your first buys to 14500 lights & around $25 to get a feel for what works & looks best to you. When you find the sweet spot they (test lights) are great for the tool or glove box & as loaners
 

3_gun

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[add] Fenix and Acebeam make lights with good UI & builds w/o costing to much. Sofirn makes some good non Anduril lights as well as Anduril at very affordable prices & good performance. Watch the for sale area of the board to save some $$ on gently used lights. Good reviews can be found by 1lLumen, zeroair & FLASHAHOLIC online
 

WYlightGUY

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Yes! This info is tremendous.

I am looking hard at the D4K dual channel 21700. Just trying to determine the best choice of throw and flood emitters available as options on the build website. Right now the W2 6000k (throw) and 519a 4500 domed (flood) are my front runners.

Does anyone have experience with these for these throw/flood applications?
 
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