Need advise on most efficient CR123a light

Kamerat

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Aug 24, 2012
Messages
216
Location
Norway
I love the size and power of 1 X CR123a lights. However, I've found that I very often only need 30-80 lumens indoors and that it would be very nice to find the most efficient light for this purpose. XP-G2 / XM-L2 can both be good I guess - but I don't know which is the most efficient for indoor use.

Edit: I'm looking for THE most efficient CR123a light out there when pushing 50 lumens.

I've tried to use the checklist:

1) How would you prefer to purchase the light?

____I would like to purchase the light in person from a brick and mortar store. I am located in ______________.
__X__This will be mail-order or Online (location doesn't matter).


2) Budget: An easy question, but you may change your mind after answering the rest! :)

____I don't know yet
____Up to $25.
____Up to $50.
____Up to $100.
_X___Up to $200.
____Up to $300.
____Essentially unlimited.


3) Format:

____I am not sure, please help me decide.
_X___I want a flashlight (hand held/self contained).
____I want a self-contained headlamp.
____I want a headlamp with an external pack/power source.
____I want a mounted light (typically for a bicycle or vehicle)
____I want a lantern/area light.
____I want a portable spotlight (it may have an external power source).
____Other ____________________________________________


4) Size:

____MICRO - Keychain size.
_X___TINY - Every day carry (2-4 inches).
____SMALL - Every day carry (4-7 inches).
____MEDIUM - Holster/belt ring carry. (>7 inches)
____LARGE - Big enough to need its own travel case.
____I don't know/I don't care.


5) Emitter/Light source:

__X__LED (known for efficiency, longevity, and compactness)
____Incandescent (known for superior color rendition)
____HID (known for max output, but often at the expense of size)
____I don't know.


6) Manufacturer:

__X__I want to buy a light from a large/traditional manufacturer that is ready to go out of the box.
__X__I would like a light from a specialty manufacturer (Possibly limited run/Custom).
____I am interested in assembling my own components. (for example a "host" or flashlight body from one manufacturer, and a "drop-in" emitter from another source).


7) What power source do you want to use?

____I intend to use "Primary"/Disposable Alkaline batteries based on the usual AAA/AA/C/D sized cells common to most stores.
__X__I intend to use "Primary"/Disposable Lithium batteries based on the usual AAA/AA/C/D and CR123 sized cells common to most stores (often a cold weather or long storage choice).
____I intend to use Rechargeable cells (NiMH or NiCD) based on the usual AAA/AA/C/D sized cells common to most stores.
__X__I intend to use Rechargeable cells based on less common formats (18500 or 18650 Li-Ion, RCR123, et-al).
____I want a light with an integrated rechargeable battery pack.
____I don't know/I need more information on power sources.

7a) If you have selected a rechargeable option
____I want a light that plugs directly into the wall (literally with prongs built into the light)
____I want a light that has a recharging adapter (your typical "wall wart")
____I want a light that snaps into a cradle (usually mounted on a wall)
__X__I want a separate/stand-alone charger (this involves removing the batteries to charge)
____I don't care


8) How much genuine out the front (OTF) light do you want/need? Sometimes you can have too much light (trying to read up close up with a 100 lumen light is not a happy experience).

____I want to navigate a dark room or read a map (1-10 lumens).
__X__I want an indoor "blackout" light (15-50 lumens)
__X__I want to confidently walk around an unlit/unpaved rural area (60-150 lumens).
____I want to illuminate my entire backyard or a campsite (150-300 lumens).
____I want to illuminate an entire field, the neighbor's front yard several houses down, impress my friends and neighbors, etc. (300-700 lumens).
____I want search and rescue type illumination (800+ lumens).

____SPECIAL NOTE: Burst/Turbo mode Category - There are several lights that will run at a super bright maximum for a very limited period (usually 5-10 minutes) and then will "step-down" to a lower level for thermal control. Check here if this is acceptable.


9) Flood vs Throw: Flood covers an area, Throw reaches out to a distance.

____All Flood: I am doing "arms length" tasks like reading and campsite cooking.
____Wide Flood: I want a defined flood area for semi-close tasks like after-dark campsite tasks or working on a car.
__X__Narrow Flood: I want a sharply defined flood area that will project some distance for tasks like trail walking.
____Wide Throw: I want a beam with a noticeable hot-center for distance throw and a significant amount of "side-spill". Good for rough trail hiking, search and rescue, and general distance work.
____Narrow Throw: I want a beam with a very tight "hot center" and minimal "side-spill". Good for distance viewing, fog, and looking through dense undergrowth.
____Turbohead: I want a far-distance projector with a sharply focused spot of light and minimal or zero side-spill. Good for extreme distance and impressing your friends.

9a) Distance: How far away will you typically need to see with this light (check all that apply)
____Less than 1 yard/meter (reading, other close work)
_X___Less than 5 yards/meters (looking for something inside a dark shed/garage/basement)
____5-20 yards/meters (check out a noise in the backyard)
____30-50 yards/meters (I have a big backyard)
____50-150 yards/meters (I live in a very rural area/farm with wide open spaces)
____150+ yards (I am searching from a helicopter)

10) Runtime: Not over-inflated manufacturer runtime claims, but usable brightness measured from first activation to 50% with new batteries (Measured on maximum continuous output).

____Up to 30 minutes (I want the brightest [and potentially smallest] light for brief periods)
____30-60 minutes (I have plenty of batteries just ready to be changed)
____90-120 minutes (Runtime is moderately important, but still not critical)
__X__3 hours + (I critically need this light to run on max for extended periods in between battery changes/charges).




11) Durability/Usage: Generally the old phrase "you get what you pay for" is very accurate for flashlights.

____Not Important (A "night-stand" light).
____Slightly Important (Walks around the neighborhood).
__X__Very Important (Camping, Backpacking, Car Glove-box).
____Critical (Police, Fire, Search & Rescue, Caving, Survival).
____I don't know.


12) Switch Size, Type, and location (choose all that apply):

____Any size switch will do.
____I need a BIG switch (I'll be using gloves or have very large hands or coordination issues).
__X__I want a forward clicky (Helpful for momentary activation and signaling).
__X__I want a reverse clicky (For use with multi-mode/level lights).
__X__I want a momentary switch (Predominantly for use with signaling and short bursts of momentary light only).
____I want a twisty switch (Tighten the head/tailcap to activate, and the light will stay on until the head/tailcap is loosened).
____I want a body mounted switch (near the head, like on a Maglite).
____I want a tail mounted switch (found on the majority of today's high end lights).
____I want a remote switch (usually found on high-end bicycle headlights)
____I don't care.
____I don't know.
____Other, please specify____________________.


13) User Interface (UI) and mode selection. Select all that apply.

____A simple on-off with only one output level is fine for me.
__X__I want 2 light levels. (Brighter/short runtime and Dimmer/long runtime.)
__X__I want multiple light levels. (Some lights have 5-16 light levels.)
____I want a programmable light.
____I want a selector ring.
____I want a strobe mode. (Oscillating pattern to confuse/blind aka "Police Mode")
____I want SOS mode. (blinks in ---...--- emergency pattern)
____I want a beacon mode. (Regular flashes at full power to show location.)
____I don't care.
____I don't know.


14)Material/Finish/Coating

____Plastic/composite body (this may limit your choices significantly).
____Anodized Aluminum – either type II or III (Hard Anodized) (Aluminum, specifically HA, is the most common material/finish for today's higher end flashlights).
____Stainless steel (durable, but much heavier than aluminum)
____Titanium (durable and nearly as lightweight as aluminum, but can be moderately to significantly more expensive).
_X___I don't care - BUT I LIKE Ti.
____I don't know.
____Other, please specify____________.

15) Water resistance
____None needed
____IPX4 (Splash resistant)
__X__IPX7 (Waterproof to 1 meter/30min)
____IPX8 (Submersible to greater than 1 meter for 4 hours)

16) Storage conditions
__X__In house (temperature/climate controlled environment)
__X__Emergency kit (long standby periods)
____Automobile glove-box (wide temperature swings, long standby periods, critical reliability)
____Other_________________________________________ ____


17) Special Needs/extras: Is there anything else you want or need that hasn't been mentioned? Select any/all below.

____Red filter (for preserving night vision).
____Other filter colors (Amber, Green, Blue, _________).
____Dedicated R/G/B secondary LEDs.
____"Hybrid" light (bright incandescent combined with long running LEDs)
____Pocket/belt clip
____Holster
____Wrist/Neck Lanyard
____Crenulated bezel
____Non-sparking, Intrinsically Safe (IS) for use in explosive environments
 
Last edited:

NoNotAgain

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Jan 25, 2014
Messages
2,364
Location
Blue Ridge Mountains, VA
Lots of lights meet your requirements, but the one and only single CR123a light that I own is a Led Lenser F1. It's 3 inches long, has a pocket retainer clip, two light settings (400 and 60 lumens) and a strobe feature. As found on a popular auction site, you can expect to pay $70 or so.
It's one of my EDC lights. Runtime averages close to two hours on high and 4 hours on low. Not bad for a light the size of a roll on mints.
 

Kamerat

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Aug 24, 2012
Messages
216
Location
Norway
Thank you for the reply! I'm using a HDS 120 hi-cri now, and really enjoy the fact that I can use lower settings for longer runtime. Would also be great to have more that 4 hours with 60 lumens on a cr123a. Looking for a more efficient light :)
 

Kamerat

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Joined
Aug 24, 2012
Messages
216
Location
Norway
Impressive! Exactly the type of answer I am looking for. Is there any light with longer runtime at around 50 lumens than the Fenix PD22?
 

välineurheilija

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Jun 29, 2011
Messages
673
Location
Finland
Lots of lights meet your requirements, but the one and only single CR123a light that I own is a Led Lenser F1. It's 3 inches long, has a pocket retainer clip, two light settings (400 and 60 lumens) and a strobe feature. As found on a popular auction site, you can expect to pay $70 or so.
It's one of my EDC lights. Runtime averages close to two hours on high and 4 hours on low. Not bad for a light the size of a roll on mints.
Two hours on 400 lumens that WOULD be great but look at the runtime graph here.
http://www.led-resource.com/2013/04/led-lenser-f1-review/
 

Kamerat

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Aug 24, 2012
Messages
216
Location
Norway
I just saw that the Fenix PD22 do not accept rechargeable batteries, that is a deal breaker for me and my wallet.
 

Kamerat

Enlightened
Joined
Aug 24, 2012
Messages
216
Location
Norway
Thank you, I looked at the review here on CPF and it says 4 hours and 55 min at around 50 lumens with the XM-L2 version. Very interesting.

BTW, I have the D25Cvn - a totally different animal with all guts, no runtime! I great light for its purpose.
 

jabe1

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Apr 25, 2008
Messages
3,063
Location
Cleveland,Oh
I think the Fenix can use RCR, just not officially, and may lose low mode.
Zebralight SC30/31 would work I think. If you could find one.
Even the Thrunite Neutron 1C does pretty well.
 

NoNotAgain

Flashlight Enthusiast
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Jan 25, 2014
Messages
2,364
Location
Blue Ridge Mountains, VA
Two hours on 400 lumens that WOULD be great but look at the runtime graph here.
http://www.led-resource.com/2013/04/led-lenser-f1-review/

I guess that the real world doesn't mean a lot to the reviewer of led-resource. Not saying that the review is bad, just it's not how I use this light.

My use has been a couple of minutes at a time, then the light has been turned off. I don't know if I would use the light at 400 lumens for two hours straight as it wasn't designed for this use. I have used the light for a series of five minutes on then ten or more minutes off to test out the battery life. I haven't seen the regulation kick in on the five minute stints.

I've got lot of different lights,and one of my EDC lights wouldn't be used constantly for hours on end.

A previous manager of mine asked why did I need such a large light referring to my 6D cell MAG light with a Terra-lux LED conversion (it stood on end beside my desk). I said that the light was for my use and asked why was he interested (a non-flashaholic)? Same guy would frequently ask to borrow a screw driver or an adjustable wrench. Two weeks later we had an earthquake, the emergency lights failed, and I was the only one that had a light to see to exit the building from my work area.
 

reppans

Flashlight Enthusiast
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Mar 25, 2007
Messages
4,873
Just some thoughts from a sub-/low- lumen efficiency guy collecting in the AA/14500 market. I have a light box and occasional test my light side-by-side for efficiency (lumen-hours).

- Careful comparing spec sheet marketing hype - ANSI rules are wide enough to drive a truck through. The lumen-hours difference between conservative and exaggerating manufacturers can be ~2x in specs, for more-or-less equivalent performance. If you go with a reputable name, and current-regulated clicky/twisty, I think you'll find actually performance a lot closer than what the specs might say, so I'd personally just go with the light with the best features for YOU. At a minimum, compare Selfbuilt's output/runtime graphs for BOTH lights (or near equivalent as this gives a sense of manufacturer conservatism/exaggeration).

- Not sure if you're married to the 16340 format but I'd suggest considering the 14500 cell too which has ~25+% more capacity, and has the option of 2500 mah Eneloops (also a lot more energy than a 16340). 3V CRAAs are available for $1.50 (equiv. to a CR123) if you want Lithium primaries. And, in a pinch, you can buy cells in any gas station or cannibalize from another device - for me, that represents a lot of emergency runtime.
 

välineurheilija

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Jun 29, 2011
Messages
673
Location
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I guess that the real world doesn't mean a lot to the reviewer of led-resource. Not saying that the review is bad, just it's not how I use this light.

My use has been a couple of minutes at a time, then the light has been turned off. I don't know if I would use the light at 400 lumens for two hours straight as it wasn't designed for this use. I have used the light for a series of five minutes on then ten or more minutes off to test out the battery life. I haven't seen the regulation kick in on the five minute stints.

I've got lot of different lights,and one of my EDC lights wouldn't be used constantly for hours on end.

A previous manager of mine asked why did I need such a large light referring to my 6D cell MAG light with a Terra-lux LED conversion (it stood on end beside my desk). I said that the light was for my use and asked why was he interested (a non-flashaholic)? Same guy would frequently ask to borrow a screw driver or an adjustable wrench. Two weeks later we had an earthquake, the emergency lights failed, and I was the only one that had a light to see to exit the building from my work area.
Yeah true but i was just pointing out that with clever marketing everything isnt allways what it seems most of us on the forums know rightaway that there is a catch in those runtimes but there are people out there wondering how dim a 400 lumen light is after its been on for 15 minutes :)
 
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