Flashlights and CR123 batteries

Guitar Guy

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I think most of us have read the thread about the unfortunate fellow who got poisoned from some CR123 cells that failed in his light, possibly from an uneven state of charge. I hope he is doing well.

It got me thinking. I have some lights that run on a single 18650, or two CR123s. After hearing about a long shelf life for the 123s, and resistance to cold weather, compared to the Li-Ion 18650, I bought a handful to carry in my vehicles, as cold weather spares.

It's unlikely that they'll ever even get used, because in addition to the single 18650 light in my pocket, I also have spare Maglites with NiMH cells in each vehicle, and then the CR123s, so they're actually a backup to a backup.

After thinking about the thread about the failure, I'm thinking it would not be wise to just pop 2 of those several year old 123s into an 18650 light, out in the field, without first checking with a meter to see if the voltages are the same. None of them have been used, and they're still in the cellophane packs I believe, but just in case one is a dud, it could possibly cause a bad situation, where a good one is trying to charge a bad one.

Am I correct in taking this precaution?
 

ghostguy6

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Do you have a link to the original thread? I know there are some old ones but is this a new incident you are talking about?
 

Guitar Guy

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It's the old thread from 2012 that I was talking about. It's at the top of the sticky list under "flashlight explosion" in the "smoke, fire, close calls" section. I recently read through it and it got me wondering a little, since I never really use CR123 cells.
 

louie

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That kind of thread made me move to only 1 cell lithium lights. Anything that took two CR123 now gets a 16650 if possible, or an 18650 if it fits, or gets shelved. I decided I didn't need massive multi-cell power and it never gets that cold here. Multi-cell NiMHs don't bother me, such as two AA. Over reaction? Maybe.

I do have some backup CR123 primaries - buy in modest bulk (rebranded Ray-o-vac from Battery Station) and I test them occasionally. You can find duds after a few years.
 

aznsx

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If I used multi-123s for my car light(s), they would not be in original packaging, because I would have removed and checked their voltages before leaving them in the car. If you do that, re-check them in ~6 months and let us know if they're not still within a millivolt or a few. I think you'll find that if they're initially a good match, they're likely to remain so for quite some time, if not 'indefinitely' (although I've not run that test personally).
 

Monocrom

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That one member? Oh yes! Don't recall his name off the top of my head right now. (I'm just bad with names.) But I do vividly recall the topic. Also recall he made an update post about 10 years afterwards. He's doing better but far from well. The incident messed up his lungs. Likely not just long-term health issues, but permanent health issues. Cost him a great deal of money on doctor's visits and medical bills. He had to sell off a lot of his possessions to cover those bills.
 

alpg88

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I remember that thread, He was holding the flashlight in his mouth when it exploded, thus so much injuries. It must have been right stars and planet alignment in the universe at that particular time for it to happen, it is extremely rare occurrence, and extremely bad luck.
I use 2 cr123 lights for decades, no issues. I use well known brand cells, even those that were in storage for years.
btw there was also an explosion of 1 cr123 light under the seat of a car. so not only multicell lights explode.
 

Monocrom

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I remember that thread, He was holding the flashlight in his mouth when it exploded, thus so much injuries. It must have been right stars and planet alignment in the universe at that particular time for it to happen, it is extremely rare occurrence, and extremely bad luck.
I use 2 cr123 lights for decades, no issues. I use well known brand cells, even those that were in storage for years.
btw there was also an explosion of 1 cr123 light under the seat of a car. so not only multicell lights explode.
True. but as rare as a multiple cell explosion is; a single cell one is even rarer.
 

IMA SOL MAN

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I only buy and use Sure Fire's CR123A cells. If there is ever a problem with them, no problem bringing a lawsuit, as it is a US company. Some Chinese battery, pffft! Good luck! And, if it damages their (SF) light, no dodging the fault, since it is their brand battery. I only have two other brand lights that take that kind of cell--a Gladius and a Tekna, and I use the SF cells in them, too. So far, no problems.
 

alpg88

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Energizer, Panasonic, Duracell is what i buy, i used to buy sanyo as well, but they are almost gone today, never had a single issue with those, thou my new magtac2 came with tenergy cells. Only had few SF cells, that came with lights, no doubt great cells too, but i use very few cr123 lights, on rare occasions, and usually buy few at a store, as needed rather then order online.
 

alpg88

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sure fire, streamlight cr123 are made in usa. that i found online, and these 2 i have at home. (do not even remember buying Rayovac. Also made in usa.
 

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Monocrom

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As I understand it,
there is ONLY ONE FACTORY
in the U.S.A. which manufactures
CR-123 batteries.

Panasonic Energy
1 Panasonic Dr.
Columbus, GA 31907
Yup.
I even did a video about that on my main YouTube channel months back, and why I use only Streamlight brand CR123 primaries in my flashlights.... They're the cheapest ones that Panasonic puts a label on. (Bet my viewers weren't expecting that to be the reason.)
 

Guitar Guy

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OP here. I think I stand by what I said in my original post. I don't have a need, or intend to purchase lights which run on CR123 cells only. I only got a handful of them as a backup to my lights which could use them in place of an 18650 in an emergency, and since I usually have multiple lights with me in my vehicles or on camping trips, it is very unlikely that I would ever need them anyway.

The 18650 and the 21700 are my cells of choice, as they are decently sized and seem to stay charged forever. I do realize that any cell could have a failure, and that it is rare, but aside from the C & D NiMH cells in my modded Maglites, I have no real reason to venture into a lot of different sized cells. (although I do have some keychain sized lights that run on 16340s and AAAs) I do appreciate the comments & info., folks.👍
 

aznsx

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As I understand it,
there is ONLY ONE FACTORY
in the U.S.A. which manufactures
CR-123 batteries.

Panasonic Energy
1 Panasonic Dr.
Columbus, GA 31907




 

vicv

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Measuring the open circuit voltage of a cr123a isn't going to do you much good anyway. Unless one is severely discharged. But if they're new, that won't be the case. This chemistry doesn't self discharge. In 30 years they'll be identical to when they were new. Don't use them if you don't want, but there is no safety reason. Lithium ion batteries can explode when you charge them. Can. It has never happened to me or anyone that I know of. Except for when I purposely overcharged One to see what would happen.
 
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