Opinions On 1.5V AA/AAA Lithium Rechargeables

kilogulf59

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Greetings,
I'm wondering which 1.5V AA/AAA lithium rechargeable batteries you folks like. I have a few applications where my 1.2V NiMH Eneloops don't work well. Instead of using primary cells I figured it would be cheaper (and less polluting) in the long run to get secondary cells. Especially since I'm about to order an XTAR BC8 charger, which handles lithium's as well as NiMH.
BTW, I'm not very battery tech-savvy, I'm just a user.
Any help or guidance would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you,
Ken
 

chillinn

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My complaints
  • Lithium 1.5V rechargeables are expensive, $6-$7/pc.
  • The number of recharge cycles is probably exaggerated, and even then it is significantly less than Eneloop, which cost about half as much
  • Unless they have a built in micro USB charger on the cell, they require a special dedicated charger, which is just more expense either way
  • capacity is usually confusingly shown in mWh, rather than mAh, for no good reason, leading to math, though their capacities are generally satisfactory
  • current ratings seem to be obfuscated on most brands.

That said, for flashlighting, in essence they are tightly regulated batteries putting out a steady 1.5V, which is kind of neat.

Because XTAR sells their own, and they don't obfuscate the current rating (which is 2A), though I have never used them, I know the name XTAR and their other products are well received, so I'll cautiously say theirs.

Here's a teardown of a Tenavolts.

Here's a shootout. I did not know Vapcell also made 1.5V Li-ion. I like their INR cells, so I expect they're a safe bet also.
 
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chillinn

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Also interesting was the 2-year NiMH daily use test.
That was interesting. Duracell and Energizer NiMH are pretty decent. The Duracell 2450 at least are very likely rewrapped Eneloop Pro, as Duracell sold Duraloops before, but this is the first I heard they had Duraloop Pros. I have some Energizer 2000mAh NiMH, and they have a different discharge profile, seem a little ampier than Eneloops with slightly more voltage, at least when new. IKEA Ladda 2450 have gone up in price from $6/quad to $10/quad, but they're still the best value being they are rewerapped Eneloop Pro, even with the caveat that Eneloop Pro and Eneloop will have the same capacity after about 50 cycles, and Eneloop will cycle 1500+ more chargers than Eneloop Pro.

I'm waiting for more Limited Edition Eneloop to appear before I purchase again. It's been awhile since any have been seen, though 8 packs of Glitter and Disney can be found on eBay from Japan for like $150, which of course is so far beyond ridiculous that it's not even funny anymore.
 

kilogulf59

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As far as NiMH's go, I started years ago with Eneloop Pros, then added some Amazon Basic Blacks (Japanese made and Eneloops from what I was told), and now I picked up some regular Eneloops. All work well for me and I have AA and AAA cells. I'll probably just stick with regular Eneloops in the future.

I'm still hemin' and hawin' about the lithium secondary cells...
 

hsa

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Same here. White and black eneloops have worked so well I think I am just going to stay where I am at. Energizers work well too.
The new stuff does look interesting though.
 

Macgravy

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I believe that the AA's are current limited to 2 to 2.5 amp hours and the AAA's are like 1 amp hour. At least that is what I seem to remember. So if your load is larger than that the battery shutsdown due to the protection system install inside the battery.
 

aznsx

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'm wondering which 1.5V AA/AAA lithium rechargeable batteries you folks like.

I don't currently have any of this type of cell, but I'm probably in the same spot you are. I've had some reservations about trying them, a big one of those being the characteristic of some to go from 1.5V flat horizontal output line, directly to straight vertical line drop to 0 V instantly and without warning when fully discharged.

For this reason, I'd probably start by trying the XTAR units first, simply because it appears they may have possibly somewhat solved this serious shortcoming - TBD. I'm not aware of others that do this yet, therefore I would try theirs first if that's the case. That sudden death syndrome is not something I relish. Theirs ostensibly reduces output voltage when its state of charge is approaching minimum to allow the powered device to detect the impending doom, rather than dropping to zero output instantly. Depending on how it works, that could give their product the edge.

 

chillinn

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the characteristic of some to go from 1.5V flat horizontal output line, directly to straight vertical line drop to 0 V instantly and without warning when fully discharged.
I'm not 100% positive, but I think they all do that. Also not certain, but I assumed that drop in voltage at the end of capacity was the protection circuit kicking in and not the Li-ion cell being drained to zero. I don't know either way, but I thought these were LiCo cells and all protected, in addition to the circuitry reducing voltage to 1.5V. Meaning, I thought that running these Li-ion 1.5V cells "dry" didn't hurt the cell, because it was just the protection kicking in, and the actual voltage was about 2.5V-2.7V at that point.
 

kilogulf59

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I believe that the AA's are current limited to 2 to 2.5 amp hours and the AAA's are like 1 amp hour. At least that is what I seem to remember. So if your load is larger than that the battery shutsdown due to the protection system install inside the battery.
I have no idea what the amp hours are for my intended applications. I would imagine that these would suffice for most AA and AAA applications or they wouldn’t be on the market, or am I wrong on this? Looking into it (and trying to relate Ah to something I can understand), Eneloop AA’s have 2000 mAh and the Pro AA’s have 2500 mAh. I’m trying to figure out if this is going to be a problem or just numbers on paper?

@aznsx and @chillinn at the risk of sounding really stupider here, what you’re saying is that when these cells get low they shut down, without a warning? Akin to flicking a light switch to off? I thought that was a characteristic of Li-ion cells, that they produce 100% until they’re dead. I’d assume that anything remotely critical would have some sort of warning built it. I have two Wuben flashlights, which take a single 18650 each. The lights will quickly flash several times, when first turned on, when there’s about a half-hour’s worth of run time left. Where was I going with this 🤔? Oh, I see this characteristic as being both a plus and minus, however it can be lived with.
 

chillinn

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what you’re saying is that when these cells get low they shut down, without a warning? Akin to flicking a light switch to off? I thought that was a characteristic of Li-ion cells, that they produce 100% until they’re dead. I’d assume that anything remotely critical would have some sort of warning built it.
It is not a characteristic of Li-ion cells, generally, just the ones with protection. LiCo chem cells will form dendrites if the cell voltage drops below 2.5V, which can short the cell, and if placed back on a charger, they can catch fire or in rare cases catch fire and explode. Other chems of Li-ion can tolerate overdischarge below 2.5V, but it still damages the cell, and enough of that abuse will result in a cell that no longer has much capacity or holds charge, or puts out any amps.

As far as I know, no cell, of any chemistry, primary or secondary gives any warning when it reaches the end of its capacity, though you may be referring to the end of a discharge profile where the voltage rapidly drops down to nothing, though it isn't instantaneous.

But you're making it sound as though not having any warning, when an AA Li-ion protection kicks in and cuts voltage, that it could damage the device you're using, and I'm unaware of any device that uses batteries where that is the case. What CPF members rely on is their familiarity with their cells' capacities, and unconsciously keeping track of how many minutes they've used their lights. Though there were a few early flashlight models with low voltage protection (LVP), in the last few years a lot of flashlight models appeared with LVP built into their circuits. The point of LVP, however, is to protect your Li-ion cells, not to protect the flashlight.

A number of flashlight models have appeared that also have a built-in voltage meter. Zebralight's built-in voltage meter is notoriously inaccurate, but it only indicates 1-4 flashes, and it gives some idea of remaining capacity, though in my experience if the cell is removed and reinstalled, it seems to reset back to 4 flashes even though the cell may be nearly depleted. Any light with Andúril 2 firmware has a decent voltage meter once it is calibrated. When activated, it will tell you the (more or less) resting voltage of your Li-ion to the tenths of volts using two sets of numbers of flashes.

I am not sure I understand your concern. Run AA Li-ion into their protection without worry, that's what it is there for, to make certain you don't damage the cells with overdischarge and have an event when recharging. With enough familiarity with your cells' capacity, you should begin to have some idea of your cells' remaining capacity and just instinctively know when to swap in fresh cells.
 
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Macgravy

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@kilogulf59. You can get an idea of the load current on a battery by using the comparator of HKJ here. https://lygte-info.dk/review/batteries2012/CommonAAcomparator.php

On the pull down arrows you can select a lot of his tested AA and AAA batteries and you can put in higher load currents. I believe he starts out with .1 amp hour (or 100mAh) and 2 amp hours (or 2000mAh) already selected in the check boxes...You can select more load current, by checking the other boxes and get more curves that will show you the voltage drop due to internal resistance of the battery and other factors. If you pull down and select Kentli, a regulated lithium battery, the type you are referring to. You will quickly see the results of different load currents. And you can also select your Eneloops. There are 2 of the pro types from 2 different generations. (?) There are also other regular Eneloops too. Anyway when you check the box 3A (for 3 Amps). The Kentli goes into protective shutdown as shown by the almost straight line that goes from around 1.5v down to zero on the left side of the graph. And then you can compare that to your eneloops. The eneloops can actually put out much more current than the regulated lithium battery if you can take the voltage drop.
On the bottom of the pull down list are Alkaline type batteries....you will see very fast that these can not provide much load current at all.
And you can see the single use Energizer lithium batteries. Also towards the bottom of the list. Not good for much over 2 amp loads, for the AA's.
Hopefully this will help. If not, let me know and will try to come up with another explanation.
 

chillinn

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And you can see the single use Energizer lithium batteries. Also towards the bottom of the list. Not good for much over 2 amp loads, for the AA's.
IMO, L91 does just fine at 5A. Certainly not as well as Eneloop, but no other primary AA comes close to that performance under high load. If you don't have a charged Eneloop for Zebralight SC5x Mk II, which draws 5A, an Energizer Ultimate Lithium will fire the highest setting, either 475Lm or 550Lm depending on which color temperature you have, and still have some capacity.

Eneloop is ridiculous, though. I wish I could find a 10A 1V G2.54 bipin halogen lamp to run on a single Eneloop. It would probably flash at 1V, so 1.05V then, or overdrive 1.02V.
 
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kilogulf59

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It is not a characteristic of Li-ion cells, generally, just the ones with protection. LiCo chem cells will form dendrites if the cell voltage drops below 2.5V, which can short the cell, and if placed back on a charger, they can catch fire or in rare cases catch fire and explode. Other chems of Li-ion can tolerate overdischarge below 2.5V, but it still damages the cell, and enough of that abuse will result in a cell that no longer has much capacity or holds charge, or puts out any amps.

As far as I know, no cell, of any chemistry, primary or secondary gives any warning when it reaches the end of its capacity, though you may be referring to the end of a discharge profile where the voltage rapidly drops down to nothing, though it isn't instantaneous.

But you're making it sound as though not having any warning, when an AA Li-ion protection kicks in and cuts voltage, that it could damage the device you're using, and I'm unaware of any device that uses batteries where that is the case. What CPF members rely on is their familiarity with their cells' capacities, and unconsciously keeping track of how many minutes they've used their lights. Though there were a few early flashlight models with low voltage protection (LVP), in the last few years a lot of flashlight models appeared with LVP built into their circuits. The point of LVP, however, is to protect your Li-ion cells, not to protect the flashlight.

A number of flashlight models have appeared that also have a built-in voltage meter. Zebralight's built-in voltage meter is notoriously inaccurate, but it only indicates 1-4 flashes, and it gives some idea of remaining capacity, though in my experience if the cell is removed and reinstalled, it seems to reset back to 4 flashes even though the cell may be nearly depleted. Any light with Andúril 2 firmware has a decent voltage meter once it is calibrated. When activated, it will tell you the (more or less) resting voltage of your Li-ion to the tenths of volts using two sets of numbers of flashes.

I am not sure I understand your concern. Run AA Li-ion into their protection without worry, that's what it is there for, to make certain you don't damage the cells with overdischarge and have an event when recharging. With enough familiarity with your cells' capacity, you should begin to have some idea of your cells' remaining capacity and just instinctively know when to swap in fresh cells.
Thanks. So far, I have only two lights that use Li-ion 18650s and when I get the flashing warning, I charge 'em. Works fine. I use a Nitecore New I2, works great.
 

kilogulf59

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@kilogulf59. You can get an idea of the load current on a battery by using the comparator of HKJ here. https://lygte-info.dk/review/batteries2012/CommonAAcomparator.php

On the pull down arrows you can select a lot of his tested AA and AAA batteries and you can put in higher load currents. I believe he starts out with .1 amp hour (or 100mAh) and 2 amp hours (or 2000mAh) already selected in the check boxes...You can select more load current, by checking the other boxes and get more curves that will show you the voltage drop due to internal resistance of the battery and other factors. If you pull down and select Kentli, a regulated lithium battery, the type you are referring to. You will quickly see the results of different load currents. And you can also select your Eneloops. There are 2 of the pro types from 2 different generations. (?) There are also other regular Eneloops too. Anyway when you check the box 3A (for 3 Amps). The Kentli goes into protective shutdown as shown by the almost straight line that goes from around 1.5v down to zero on the left side of the graph. And then you can compare that to your eneloops. The eneloops can actually put out much more current than the regulated lithium battery if you can take the voltage drop.
On the bottom of the pull down list are Alkaline type batteries....you will see very fast that these can not provide much load current at all.
And you can see the single use Energizer lithium batteries. Also towards the bottom of the list. Not good for much over 2 amp loads, for the AA's.
Hopefully this will help. If not, let me know and will try to come up with another explanation.
WOW! I'll have to play with this and see if I can finger et out. Thanks. Just based upon what you said and what I use, I doubt I have anything that would tax those XTAR cells.
 

chillinn

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Thanks. So far, I have only two lights that use Li-ion 18650s and when I get the flashing warning, I charge 'em. Works fine. I use a Nitecore New I2, works great.
Sounds like a LVP or low voltage warning feature of the light, not the cells. Though protected LiCo 3.6V cells will cut off at some voltage near 2.5V.

As far as I am aware, the only AA flashlight with LVP is the Zebralight SC5 series, which begins to step down when voltage is low and cuts off at 0.95V. (I just checked, and Lumintop Tool AA 2.0, which is unregulated, will cut off at 0.9V, which should work effectively as LVP for NiMH). I'm pretty sure not even Zebralight's SC53 series lights have LVP for NiMH.

But because Zebralights are tightly regulated for constant brightness, there would be no point in using AA Lithium other than Energizer Lithium primaries. Also, the SC5 series draws 5A, and the protection circuit on the AA Lithium secondaries would probably kick in at 2A, meaning AA Lithium secondaries wouldn't work on the highest modes. But there may be an advantage with AA Lithium secondaries in the Tool AA, since it is unregulated, though it apparently draws 2.68A on turbo, which cell protection would defeat if it cuts out at 2A.

The AA Lithium 1.5V secondaries are ideal for a flashlight that is unregulated and without LVP, such as the Mini Maglite Xenon 2AA. They would keep the lamp at constant brightness and you would never need worry about damaging the cells. I believe Streamlight ProTac 2AA and 1L-1AA are unregulated without LVP, also, so they are a good application of protected Lithium AA secondaries assuming they draw 2A or less. LED Maglites are apparently regulated, but don't have LVP, so there is some also benefit there.
 
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Macgravy

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Oh Boy...Now I know why you might have been confused....When I stated.....I believe that the AA's are current limited to 2 to 2.5 amp hours and the AAA's are like 1 amp hour. At least that is what I seem to remember. So if your load is larger than that the battery shutsdown due to the protection system install inside the battery.

Those currents should have just been amps...not amp hours...I should have stated ...load current limited to 2 to 2.5 amps....Not Amp hours.

Very sorry about that
 
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