Rechargable flashlights question.

RCRVRP

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Oct 20, 2019
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I see many LED flashlights advertised on the net with a charger built in so you can charge with a USB cable.
Some of these lights say they have an 18650 battery in them. Others don't say what the battery inside is.
So do some have a built in non removable/ non replaceable battery? With those when the battery won't take a charge you just throw the whole thing away?
Enlighten me please. Thanks, RCRVRP
 

letschat7

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Don't be like me and buy an assortment of 18650 lights and find out each has a different sized or type cell.

The best ones use an independant charger like the Pila.
 

RCRVRP

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Don't be like me and buy an assortment of 18650 lights and find out each has a different sized or type cell.

The best ones use an independant charger like the Pila.
I'm not very accustomed to the flashlight talk. Could you please explain your post a bit more for me?
 
Joined
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Columbus, Ohio
I see many LED flashlights advertised on the net with a charger built in so you can charge with a USB cable.
Some of these lights say they have an 18650 battery in them. Others don't say what the battery inside is.
So do some have a built in non removable/ non replaceable battery? With those when the battery won't take a charge you just throw the whole thing away?
Enlighten me please. Thanks, RCRVRP
Let's see if I can simplify this for you just a wee bit...

1. Built-in chargers are just that: they allow you to charge the battery without purchasing a separate charger.
2. Some lights with built-in chargering circuits have removable cells that can be charged either inside the light, or via an external charger.
3. Lights that have non-removable cells are sealed, and can only be charged via the onboard charging circuit.
4. Lights with non-removable cells will usually state the mAh rating of the light, which tells you something about the expected performance.
5. While lights with non-removable cells are not this community's favorite design, some have a legitimate use that may or may not meet your needs. (I'm thinking here of some of the ultra lightweight running headlamps as an example.)

6. This next bit - about what to do when a non-removable cell no longer holds a useful charge - requires a more nuanced reply. Non-removable cells are likely to be li-ion or some variation of that chemistry. Most of these chemistries will allow about 500 full charging cycles before the cell's capacity is reduced. Even a reduced capacity cell however will typically retain 80% (or thereabouts) of its original capacity rating as established by the manufacturer, continuing at that reduced level for a few hundred additional charging cycles.

[Geek Note: You might also extend the lifespan of your cells by charging it only to 80% of its rated capacity: doing so stresses the cell's internal chemistry only about 15-20% of the amount of chemical deterioration that a full charge induces, thereby extending the lifespan of your non-removable battery substantially. This applies also to cell phone batteries, by the way.]

Whichever charging practice you prefer depends on your needs and circumstances: LEO's for example will typically charge their lights regularly (if not daily) to 100%, for obvious reasons. You can readily estimate the useful lifespan of your non-removable cells to determine when you might need to replace it. A light that is fully charged on a weekly basis will retain most of its capacity for about nine years, give or take a bit depending on the quality of the cell installed by the manufacturer. That same light charged daily will likely start to exhibit a noticable decline in performance after just sixteen months. (Your mileage may vary. :cool:)

So the short answer is that the time to replace a light or headlamp with a non-removable cell is when it no longer meets your needs. If it still has useful life, give it to someone who might need it, even if it's operating at a reduced capacity. If it's truly dead, recycle it responsibly.
 

letschat7

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I'm not very accustomed to the flashlight talk. Could you please explain your post a bit more for me?
Sorry for late response. Had to dig out some lights and chargers.

18650 can be protected or unprotected, with USB charging, in a bracket, flat top or button top with over varying factors. They aren't like an AA alkaline battery that is more or less the same and suitable for all AA sized applications.

I had too much money and ordered too many lights too quickly and soon learned things didn't match up.

I really hate USB charging ports on lights or the cells but some people love them. That is for you to decide but I had to get some lighst with these features because I didn't have a choice.

I knew about 18650 back in 2010 but didn't get a light using it until late 2022 or early 2023. I was happy using CR123 instead. For people that use 2 or more in a light they may want to upgrade and you need a 16650 instead of 18650 or bore your light out which weakens them and voids warranties. I changed out a lot of parts in my Pelican to get a better light but it can be all switched back easily. A bored out Surefire 6P is that way forever.
 

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Dave_H

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Problem with rechargeable lights with non-removable (and possibly non-replaceable) cell(s) is that once they run down you have no choice but to put it aside for recharge, and use something else. This might not be good in an emergency.

Besides that, some lights try to hide capacity of the internal cell. Either they think it means nothing to the user (relying on their claims of run time), or it is so small as to be a negative selling point.

The idea of product life limited by non-replaceable cell, or is too expensive/difficult to replace, is disagreeable. This is avoidable in some cases. I still use small MP3 players, most of which run on AAA cell which can be replaced in 30 seconds.

I have/use a few small non-removable cell lights, used mostly around home where another light can easily be picked up in a pinch.

I do have one rechargeable headlamp with removable cell, otherwise, flashlights originally taking 3AAA but accept 18650 which is removed for charging, and can be replaced immediately.

Dave
 

Bucur

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Yalova, Turkey
Problem with rechargeable lights with non-removable (and possibly non-replaceable) cell(s) is that once they run down you have no choice but to put it aside for recharge, and use something else. This might not be good in an emergency.
This is very true and not only in an emergency. Needing another lamp versus simply a charged cell in the middle of a job makes hell of a difference even in non-emergency situations. Sometimes, one may have to spend more time for charging the lamp than for doing the job. Don't ask me why I regret for having bought a headlamp with non-removable battery. Never again.
 

Fuzzywuzzies

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Problem with rechargeable lights with non-removable (and possibly non-replaceable) cell(s) is that once they run down you have no choice but to put it aside for recharge, and use something else. This might not be good in an emergency.

<Dave>

This would be a key point, above. ^

Great replies thanks @Dave_H !

And welcome, @RCRVRP :)
 

Monocrom

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NYC
Proprietary battery that is captive/non-removable = Chuck it in the trash once the internal battery gets too old, can't take a charge, can't hold a charge.

On a specialized light such as a Thrunite TN50, it's not a huge issue. That light for example is not meant to be carried upon your person on a daily basis. Certainly not designed to be used on a nightly basis. If for some bizarre reason, it's the only working light you have on you, and you need it to last longer, you have plenty of other lower output levels to choose from rather than its highest setting of 16,000 lumens for a few seconds before it kicks down to a lower setting.

Not like that light has a countless number of competitors out there. Different story with a rechargeable LED model that runs off of one 18650. You can easily find models that are bright as Hell, have a removable battery, and can use literally any (or most) types of 18650 cells. So really makes no sense to limit yourself to a model with a proprietary and non-removable battery.
 
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