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...
 

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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