Too many battery choices...help!!

trekker

Newly Enlightened
Joined
Oct 29, 2008
Messages
20
I'm considering a new flashlight (see this thread https://www.candlepowerforums.com/threads/211393) and am trying to understand the vast assortment of battery types. So I have two questions.

Can anyone point me to a basic understanding of the pros and cons of AA vs. rechargeable AA vs. 18650? vs. Li-Ion vs. NiMH vs. cr123 vs. lithium, etc.? It's really confusing for a newb.

Also, I have purchased rechargeable AA's at Wal-Mart in the past along with a couple of chargers (Duracell and Energizer). The packaging promises the batteries to be good for 1000? charges without memory, but that is not what I experience. Typically, those batteries are only good for about 6 months and then regardless of the number of recharges, they do not hold near the capacity that did initially...what am I doing wrong? Not draining them completely, not using them often enough, etc.?
 

Mr Happy

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Nov 21, 2007
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5,390
Location
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Not draining them completely, not using them often enough, etc.?
Most probably it is not you but the batteries, which simply don't live up to the claims made for them. For instance if you bought Energizer 2500 cells you may as well use them as paperweights.

Most important is the choice of battery. If you are just starting out and don't have a lot of knowledge yet, your best choice for a rechargeable solution is the Eneloop, or perhaps some of the similar kinds of "pre-charged" or "low self-discharge" NiMH cell from competing vendors (only beware, some indications suggest that competing cells like the Rayovac Hybrid don't hold up as well as Eneloops in use).

Of second importance is the charger. Try to avoid the hyped "15 minute" chargers. These will cook most cells into oblivion in short order.

You should avoid lights that take CR123A cells unless you are happy to buy bulk supplies of those batteries from online suppliers to avoid the very expensive retail price in shops. These cells also do not have a perfect rechargeable replacement, so keep that in mind too if you don't want to keep buying throwaway cells.

Other kinds of Li-ion cell can be good in lights designed for them, but probably should not be the starting out point for a first light as they are a bit more tricky to manage than NiMH.

For more general information, look to the sticky at the top of this forum that contains links to lots of useful threads.
 

trekker

Newly Enlightened
Joined
Oct 29, 2008
Messages
20
Most probably it is not you but the batteries, which simply don't live up to the claims made for them. For instance if you bought Energizer 2500 cells you may as well use them as paperweights.

Most important is the choice of battery. If you are just starting out and don't have a lot of knowledge yet, your best choice for a rechargeable solution is the Eneloop, or perhaps some of the similar kinds of "pre-charged" or "low self-discharge" NiMH cell from competing vendors (only beware, some indications suggest that competing cells like the Rayovac Hybrid don't hold up as well as Eneloops in use).

Of second importance is the charger. Try to avoid the hyped "15 minute" chargers. These will cook most cells into oblivion in short order.

You should avoid lights that take CR123A cells unless you are happy to buy bulk supplies of those batteries from online suppliers to avoid the very expensive retail price in shops. These cells also do not have a perfect rechargeable replacement, so keep that in mind too if you don't want to keep buying throwaway cells.

Other kinds of Li-ion cell can be good in lights designed for them, but probably should not be the starting out point for a first light as they are a bit more tricky to manage than NiMH.

For more general information, look to the sticky at the top of this forum that contains links to lots of useful threads.

Thanks greatly for the information! You confirmed my suspicions of needing to stay with rechargeable AA's. The Eneloops sound interesting, the only experience I have had with rechargeables are of the Wal-Mart variety and the energizers and duracells that I have used don't even serve as good "paper weights." :laughing:

What charger would you suggest? I tried to read the thread related to chargers, but it was so filled with graphs and technical jargon that I simply got lost. Is there a list somewhere that shows the top 10 or a good, better best solution?

If it will work, I would like to use the batteries not only to power my flashlights, but cameras, etc. Thanks again!
 

Mr Happy

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Nov 21, 2007
Messages
5,390
Location
Southern California
A readily available charger that I often suggest is the Duracell Mobile Charger, available for about $25 or so in Target and other shops. This is flexible and has many features for the money, including the ability to power and recharge USB devices like phones.

That is just one choice of many, however. When looking for a charger, it is best to pick one that says it can charge from 1 to 4 cells -- this means it has individual charge control on each cell (avoid those that can only charge 2 or 4 at a time), also look for a charging time of 2 to 6 hours -- this means it will have smart charge termination rather than relying on a simple timer.

Many of the "better" chargers are rarely found in shops and have to be bought on-line. The same is often true of Eneloops as well, unfortunately.
 
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