Recommend First 18650 Excursion Purchases?

CZ9mm

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So, I've always used CR123's and recently have been using Eneloop AA's. I am now interested in 18650's with 2xCR123's as a backup. I am trying to make the decision between:

  • Nitecore P12
  • Fenix PD35
I like buying stuff on Amazon due to Prime, but am open to purchasing the light from anywhere recommended. I've been reading quite a bit about the cautions/dangers of Li-ion batteries and almost talked myself out out of it, but then I realized that most laptops/power tools/etc use them so as long as I am careful I should be ok.

So between those two lights, would one be recommended more for a first 18650 adventure or is entirely personal preference with no safety features differing.

In terms of 18650 cells, I suppose the bundled package for the flashlight, Nitecore 3400 mAh, and Nitecore charger looks appealing. However, I am 100% unsure whether the Nitecore batteries and charger would be a good purchase. So what batteries would be considered the safest/highest quality? Charger?

I suppose I also need a voltmeter/multimeter? Any "golden oldens" for this? I notice the Nitecores have a voltage readout function, is that to be trusted as a replacement for a manual meter or simply to be used in conjunction with a multimeter?

As far as safety goes, make sure they are not under voltage before charging, make sure they are not over voltage after charging, don't take hammers and bang on them, don't get them wet, don't mix them (hard to do in a single 18650 light), don't shoot them with .22lr, and don't carry paperclips bent in weird shapes inside my light with them. Anything else?

All advice will be greatly appreciated. Also, if this is in the wrong forum just let me know the correct one.
 

MBentz

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Because you don't state your needs for the light, it's hard to make a recommendation. You say it's a backup. A backup you carry on your person? If so I'd look for a smaller light.
 

CZ9mm

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Because you don't state your needs for the light, it's hard to make a recommendation. You say it's a backup. A backup you carry on your person? If so I'd look for a smaller light.

Sorry if that post was confusing. I meant that I would like to use a single 18650 cell and carry 2xCR123's as a backup to the rechargeable cell. The light itself with be my EDC light. Mainly I was wondering if one light stood out above the other as being a great first 18650 light. My only recent rechargeable experience has been with Eneloops and they are pretty straightforward and you can't really go too wrong with them.

18650's are quite another playing field and I'm just inquiring about what to purchase. I found the recommended charger list in the stickie. I suppose I'm wondering how the Nitecore branded charges line up against the recommended ones. I want to stay away from anything that could be considered low quality or potentially more dangerous than an alternative.

I also see that AW's are pretty much the standard for Li-ion cells.
 

Matt.m

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Keeppower are my go to cells. They get great reviews and the quality in my eyes is the same as AW. Much cheaper too. Check out illuminationsupply.com

As far as the charger goes. The nitecore isn't bad. It's a good all around charger. Only issue is it only charges at 750mah if you charge two cells. And 375mah if you add more. I have an xtar xp4 and it's served me well. Charges at 250, 500, and 1000mah. 4 independent channels.
 

CZ9mm

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So are both of the above lights (Nitecore P12 and Fenix PD35) essentially equivalent in terms of using 18650's (safety, reliability, etc)?
 

Matt.m

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So are both of the above lights (Nitecore P12 and Fenix PD35) essentially equivalent in terms of using 18650's (safety, reliability, etc)?

If you take care of your cells. ie. don't over charge them. Over discharge them or drop them I wouldn't be to worried about safety.

As far as reliability. If you get protected cells which the AW ICR and Keeppowers are there's a chance that the protection circuit could fail and cause the batteries to not work but it's pretty slim. I mean all electronics can fail at any point. All in all your looking at a reliable set up in my opinion.
 

CZ9mm

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If you take care of your cells. ie. don't over charge them. Over discharge them or drop them I wouldn't be to worried about safety.

As far as reliability. If you get protected cells which the AW ICR and Keeppowers are there's a chance that the protection circuit could fail and cause the batteries to not work but it's pretty slim. I mean all electronics can fail at any point. All in all your looking at a reliable set up in my opinion.

So something that seems possibly concerning to me is if you take the voltage too low they can cause issues, what happens if for example you are using your light while the battery is low? Can the flashlight drain the battery below that voltage or do they generally cut off and stop working before draining the battery?

Also, how huge of a concern is it in a scenario such as going out and about, using your flashlight and the battery getting now, to need to run home immediately and charge the cell vs letting the "low but not too low" cell sit around for a few hours/days before finding time to charge again?
 

Matt.m

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If you get cells that are protected they will shut off at a certain point usually around 2.5-2.7 volts. Most lights have a safety shut off where they will either flash, dim or just shut off with no warning. I'm not sure if the lights you have have the shut off. I know my zebralight sc600 MkII does. So when you use a protected cell it's two forms of protection. One from the light itself and one from the chip on the cell.

As far as charging. I really couldn't tell you. I know it's bad to let them sit at a very low voltage for a long time. I never have. If I use my unprotected cell in my zebralight at work and it dies, I just wait till I get home and charge it up. I would try and not letting it sit for days.
 

CZ9mm

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If you get cells that are protected they will shut off at a certain point usually around 2.5-2.7 volts. Most lights have a safety shut off where they will either flash, dim or just shut off with no warning. I'm not sure if the lights you have have the shut off. I know my zebralight sc600 MkII does. So when you use a protected cell it's two forms of protection. One from the light itself and one from the chip on the cell.

As far as charging. I really couldn't tell you. I know it's bad to let them sit at a very low voltage for a long time. I never have. If I use my unprotected cell in my zebralight at work and it dies, I just wait till I get home and charge it up. I would try and not letting it sit for days.

Isn't 2.5-2.75 volts about the low cutoff? I've read conflicting amounts (2.5 volts, 2.7 volts, 3.0 volts, etc). I suppose it also depends on the cell doesn't it?

As far as charging, I would always have the best intentions of taking care of the cell but I think it is also quite obvious that to use a light fully and then get home last at night, many of use would put charging of a day or possibly even more since we are supposed to monitor the cells when they charge. We may simply not have the time for a few days and I would like assurance that I'm not keeping a ticking fire starter in my house just because I haven't charged it. But it seems the primary concern is when you try to charge it after it has discharged too much, right?
 

Matt.m

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Isn't 2.5-2.75 volts about the low cutoff? I've read conflicting amounts (2.5 volts, 2.7 volts, 3.0 volts, etc). I suppose it also depends on the cell doesn't it?

As far as charging, I would always have the best intentions of taking care of the cell but I think it is also quite obvious that to use a light fully and then get home last at night, many of use would put charging of a day or possibly even more since we are supposed to monitor the cells when they charge. We may simply not have the time for a few days and I would like assurance that I'm not keeping a ticking fire starter in my house just because I haven't charged it. But it seems the primary concern is when you try to charge it after it has discharged too much, right?

Panasonic NCR18650B which is what's in the AW3400 and the Keeppower 3400 can be used down to 2.5 volts. Some people like to only drain their cells to 3 or 2.8 like you've heard. It's all personal preference.

But your correct in that it's not the discharging that they would flair up it's when recharging after the cell has been drained past it's recommended voltage cutoff.

I would recommend getting a DMM and just checking the voltage of your cells prior to charging just for some added assurance.
 

CZ9mm

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Panasonic NCR18650B which is what's in the AW3400 and the Keeppower 3400 can be used down to 2.5 volts. Some people like to only drain their cells to 3 or 2.8 like you've heard. It's all personal preference.

But your correct in that it's not the discharging that they would flair up it's when recharging after the cell has been drained past it's recommended voltage cutoff.

I would recommend getting a DMM and just checking the voltage of your cells prior to charging just for some added assurance.

So checking the cell/s with a meter before charging will not be an issue (albeit a strange and different hobby in itself). I found the INNOVA 3320 on Amazon for a great price ($20) with great reviews. Something like this or something more specific in mind?
 

Matt.m

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So checking the cell/s with a meter before charging will not be an issue (albeit a strange and different hobby in itself). I found the INNOVA 3320 on Amazon for a great price ($20) with great reviews. Something like this or something more specific in mind?

That would work perfect for what your looking to do.
 

ven

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Looking over the past few months on reviews from owners,feedback etc i am confident in saying which ever light you choose you will be happy with.

I reckon get one,then as 2 =1 and 1 =0 enjoy your choice for a month or so,then get other,as have a back up and can rotate,also gives a little extra interest too:thumbsup:
 

357mag1

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So something that seems possibly concerning to me is if you take the voltage too low they can cause issues, what happens if for example you are using your light while the battery is low? Can the flashlight drain the battery below that voltage or do they generally cut off and stop working before draining the battery?

Also, how huge of a concern is it in a scenario such as going out and about, using your flashlight and the battery getting now, to need to run home immediately and charge the cell vs letting the "low but not too low" cell sit around for a few hours/days before finding time to charge again?

I sent you a PM.
 

MBentz

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I've had good luck with the Eagletac 3400 cells, as well as the unbranded NCR18650B cells. I have a few Cytacs, but haven't really used them.

If it's based on the Panasonic NCR18650B you should be fine as long as you follow the basic precautions. I hear good things about Orbtronic as well.
 

357mag1

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You do realize both of those lights step down after a couple of minutes and do not maintain that high output?

I myself would not pay for the 3400 when I can get quality protected 2600s using Japanese cells for under $7. Nothing wrong with the 3400 and 3600 cells I've just never needed them. I have them but they are a luxury not needed. Feel free to pay the extra cost if that is what you want.

I have more lights and batteries than sense so I'm not the best example to follow.
 

MBentz

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You do realize both of those lights step down after a couple of minutes and do not maintain that high output?

I myself would not pay for the 3400 when I can get quality protected 2600s using Japanese cells for under $7. Nothing wrong with the 3400 and 3600 cells I've just never needed them. I have them but they are a luxury not needed. Feel free to pay the extra cost if that is what you want.

I have more lights and batteries than sense so I'm not the best example to follow.

I got my 3400 mAh NCR18650s for a little over $7 each. The deals are out there.

Edit - Just checked my receipt. $6.90 each.
 
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SilverFox

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Hello CZ9mm,

I use an Eagle Tac T20C2 for work. It has a bright and a not so bright setting. When the bright setting will no longer work I know that it is time to charge the cell. I carry spare CR123A primary cells as a back up and will use those as necessary.

As far as letting discharge cells sit around for an extended period of time that is something you want to avoid. When you get home and it is late just pop the cell on the charger for 15 minutes or so and then take it out of the charger. The next day if you still can't find enough time to charge it, put it back on the charger for another 15 minutes. After this you can leave it for several weeks before charging and since you have some charge in it there won't be damage from sitting for an extended period of time in a discharged state.

The biggest danger from Li-Ion cells is during charging. The next biggest danger is from use if you happen to short the cell. These cells don't like to spend a lot of time fully charged or fully discharged. If you can put a little charge back in shortly after you have drained it you will find your cells last a lot longer.

Tom
 

CZ9mm

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Hello CZ9mm,

I use an Eagle Tac T20C2 for work. It has a bright and a not so bright setting. When the bright setting will no longer work I know that it is time to charge the cell. I carry spare CR123A primary cells as a back up and will use those as necessary.

As far as letting discharge cells sit around for an extended period of time that is something you want to avoid. When you get home and it is late just pop the cell on the charger for 15 minutes or so and then take it out of the charger. The next day if you still can't find enough time to charge it, put it back on the charger for another 15 minutes. After this you can leave it for several weeks before charging and since you have some charge in it there won't be damage from sitting for an extended period of time in a discharged state.

The biggest danger from Li-Ion cells is during charging. The next biggest danger is from use if you happen to short the cell. These cells don't like to spend a lot of time fully charged or fully discharged. If you can put a little charge back in shortly after you have drained it you will find your cells last a lot longer.



Tom

That's a great idea. Theoretically something like one of this Belkin 15 minute timers would be great for this purpose...if you trust it.
 

RIX TUX

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So, I've always used CR123's and recently have been using Eneloop AA's. I am now interested in 18650's with 2xCR123's as a backup. I am trying to make the decision between:

  • Nitecore P12
  • Fenix PD35
I like buying stuff on Amazon due to Prime, but am open to purchasing the light from anywhere recommended. I've been reading quite a bit about the cautions/dangers of Li-ion batteries and almost talked myself out out of it, but then I realized that most laptops/power tools/etc use them so as long as I am careful I should be ok.

So between those two lights, would one be recommended more for a first 18650 adventure or is entirely personal preference with no safety features differing.

In terms of 18650 cells, I suppose the bundled package for the flashlight, Nitecore 3400 mAh, and Nitecore charger looks appealing. However, I am 100% unsure whether the Nitecore batteries and charger would be a good purchase. So what batteries would be considered the safest/highest quality? Charger?

I suppose I also need a voltmeter/multimeter? Any "golden oldens" for this? I notice the Nitecores have a voltage readout function, is that to be trusted as a replacement for a manual meter or simply to be used in conjunction with a multimeter?

As far as safety goes, make sure they are not under voltage before charging, make sure they are not over voltage after charging, don't take hammers and bang on them, don't get them wet, don't mix them (hard to do in a single 18650 light), don't shoot them with .22lr, and don't carry paperclips bent in weird shapes inside my light with them. Anything else?

All advice will be greatly appreciated. Also, if this is in the wrong forum just let me know the correct one.

Zebralight SC600 II
 
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