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Thread: Best battery size for vehicle-stored flashlight

  1. #1

    Default Best battery size for vehicle-stored flashlight

    Hi all,

    I'm looking for information about what kind of battery (AA, AAA, CR123, Alkaline, Lithium etc) would be best for storing in a flashlight kept in a vehicle? Where I live, summers can reach 90-100 degrees (hotter in a car), and winters can get down to 20 degrees or so. So, I'm looking for something that will last longest under those conditions and still provide several hours (~4) of a modestly-bright output (~10-30 lumens). I'll pick the flashlight once I have a battery type selected. I'm not in the habit of regularly rotating batteries, but I also understand that I probably will have to start. But, of all battery types, which will last longest under the described conditions?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Best battery size for vehicle-stored flashlight

    I see temps -15°F to 100F (probably 125+ in the car). I found Eneloops will lose a lot of capacity (about half) in just 1 year in my car...nowhere near the "70% after 10 years" (lower for older generations). So don't rely on those.

    Stick with CR123 or L91 (AA Lithium). Those will work in brutal temps and last up to 20 years (maybe even past expiration date). Of course, two CR123 or two L91 will give you more runtime.
    Last edited by markr6; 10-30-2015 at 12:59 PM.
    GOOD TINT!

  3. #3
    Flashaholic* parnass's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best battery size for vehicle-stored flashlight

    Quote Originally Posted by markr6 View Post
    ... Stick with CR123 or L91 (AA Lithium). ...
    Agreed. That's what I use in my truck and I live where winters are cold and summers are hot.

    Had frequent alkaline leakage problems with lights stored in the truck years ago before changing to lights using Energizer Lithium primary and CR123A batteries.
    Last edited by parnass; 10-30-2015 at 09:08 AM.
    Retired engineer, author. Running Linux.

  4. #4
    *Flashaholic* Str8stroke's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best battery size for vehicle-stored flashlight

    Another vote for Lithiums of some kind.
    Interested in Saltytri lights. Pm me!


  5. #5

    Default Re: Best battery size for vehicle-stored flashlight

    More specifically, I think a nice setup for a vehicle is:

    1. Headlamp with moderate flood for fixing a tire at night, searching through your trunk, looking under the hood, etc. For example, Zebralight H32Fw or H52Fw. Personally I find the pure flood on the H302/502 too floody but that's an option too)
    2. Torch with a decent amount of throw for spotting things in the distance. 200m throw should do it, but more won't hurt! Something like a Olight M22 (dirt cheap at gearbest right now)
    3. Spare batteries for each
    GOOD TINT!

  6. #6

    Default Best battery size for vehicle-stored flashlight

    Quote Originally Posted by wopr67 View Post
    ... So, I'm looking for something that will last longest under those conditions and still provide several hours (~4) of a modestly-bright output (~10-30 lumens)....
    With modest output requirements, I'd suggest a wide voltage (0.9-4.2v), mechanical clicky, single AA light, running a lithium primary (as mentioned above). The AA platform gives you the option of picking up any AA/AAAs at a gas station. And if you don't mind a bit of battery MacGyvering, some lights are easy to rig to run on any battery (eg, D cell through 18650).



    Cells 3,4 and 5 are good lithium primary candidates for storage:
    - Energizer L91, lithium iron disulfide LiFeS2, ~4.5 watt-hrs, but lower voltage/low max output
    - Saft 14500, lithium thionyl chloride LiSOCl2, ~9.4 watt-hrs, huge capacity but lowest continuous draw rating (~15 lms and below should be fine)
    - TI 14505, lithium manganese dioxide LiMnO2, ~4.5 watt-hrs, higher voltage/higher output, same as the CR123 chemistry
    Last edited by reppans; 10-30-2015 at 10:04 AM.

  7. #7
    Flashaholic* socom1970's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best battery size for vehicle-stored flashlight

    +1 vote for lithiums. 123 cells and/or Energizer L91 AA cells. I only use those in my car, nothing else.

    I keep a SF G2/M61LLL, a SF G3/M61LL, an Elzetta/M60 3cell/two-stage, a SF 9P with a Malkoff M31LL/ L91 AA cells, and both types of spare cells.
    "Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10

    Looking for a Malkoff Titanium VME head.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Best battery size for vehicle-stored flashlight

    Thanks everyone for the replies. Sounds like I'll be looking for a flashlight that takes AA lithium cells.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Best battery size for vehicle-stored flashlight

    Store bought lithiums work great in clocks and portable devices in my non climate controlled garage.
    And last longer in flashlights used in climate controlled enviornments.

    Coast lights and Lux- Pro are readily available and if your car is broken into not likely to get stolen.
    Last edited by bykfixer; 10-30-2015 at 01:26 PM.
    John 3:16

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Best battery size for vehicle-stored flashlight

    if you want absolutely reliable


    multicell cr123 light
    -------------------------------
    and use these cells specifically

    Panasonic BR series

    these are used in spaceflight and missile platforms that need dc power battery backup to
    just sit in horrible conditions and work when needed, no BS, no leaks, no outgassing

    http://www.digikey.com/en/product-hi...ical-batteries

    I suggest the CR123 sized BR 2/3

    http://www.digikey.com/product-detai...A/P133-ND/6676

    http://store.batteryspecialists.com/...s-br-2-3a.html

    you can leave these 180 degree heat for 10 years and expect them to function normally
    Last edited by 127.0.0.1; 10-30-2015 at 02:36 PM.
    posted by jh333233
    Dont cheat me, im expert in using crap light

  11. #11

    Default Re: Best battery size for vehicle-stored flashlight

    ^^ good info.

    Ps, love the screen name.
    John 3:16

  12. #12
    Flashaholic* KeepingItLight's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best battery size for vehicle-stored flashlight

    Quote Originally Posted by 127.0.0.1 View Post
    if you want absolutely reliable

    multicell cr123 light
    -------------------------------
    and use these cells specifically

    Panasonic BR series
    Great info in what is turning out to be a great thread.

    I just checked the specs of the CR123A-sized Panasonic BR-2/3A-3V 1200mAh. It is rated for a maximum continuous current of 2.5A. That compares favorably with the 1.5A of most standard CR123A batteries.

    That's good news for those who want to stay within spec with flashlights like the Nitecore MH20, Olight S1, and the ZebraLight SC32w, all of which pull more than 1.5A from CR123A on their highest modes.

    Edit: Sorry to say, the spec I found on the BatterySpecialists.com web page is wrong. The maximum continuous discharge for these batteries is only 2.5mA. Thanks to Robert M. for catching my error.

    Quote Originally Posted by RobertM View Post
    Actually, the spec is 2.5mA, not 2.5A. These are for low draw applications.
    Quote Originally Posted by KeepingItLight View Post
    Thanks for this.

    I was relying on the info from the BatterySpecialists.com web page linked in by the following post. Although it says, "Max. recom. Cont. Current: 2500mA," it also has a link where you can download the Panasonic datasheet. I should have done that. The datasheet confirms the 2.5mA maximum that you supplied.
    Last edited by KeepingItLight; 11-01-2015 at 10:33 AM.
    Prince plays George Harrison's masterpiece While My Guitar Gently Weeps. R.I.P.
    Great vocals & guitar by LeAnn Rimes & Joss Stone as they cover Gershwin's Summertime.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Best battery size for vehicle-stored flashlight

    Quote Originally Posted by bykfixer View Post
    ^^ good info.

    Ps, love the screen name.
    Apparently (authoritatively even) he's him...

    -jk

  14. #14
    Flashaholic* mattheww50's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best battery size for vehicle-stored flashlight

    Depends a little on the application. If the flashlight has a true lock out (no parasitic drain), the CR123 lithium cells are probably the best. When not in use (no current drain at all) the chemistry in effect hibernates, so these cells tend to have very long shelf life. If you have an application that has a parasitic drain, the cells remain active, and they run down in much less time than the nominal shelf life, no matter how small the drain. The only rub with CR123's is that they don't work very well when they are cold. I have a Sunwayman V25C in my car with CR123's.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Best battery size for vehicle-stored flashlight

    I'd place my vote on an AA light with a lithium primary because of the wide availability of AA's. It could be harder sourcing a CR123 if you need one. That said, you can get some pretty amazing CR123 lights with good runtimes and levels in remarkably small sizes. I like my Olight S1, for example.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Best battery size for vehicle-stored flashlight

    In those conditions lithium primaries will outperform others. Li ion is not a serious option, I'm tired of those being recommended. Lipo are even worse, NiMH worse, and cadmium worst.

    Alkaline are undeniably better than any rechargeable, because LiIon are not batteries, they are capacitors, and capacitors loose energy overtime.

    Alkaline compete with lithium when price becomes an issue, which for storage, unless you have 50 cars, should not be a problem, so lithium primaries will rule. Lithium AA/AAA have very little energy for their volume and price, 123s of various sizes are much better.

    If you lived somewhere it gets cold (20° is not cold) then I would recommend Alkaline as it will outlast lithium in the cold (20-40 years, in fact my grandpa gave me a refrigerated6v that was 40years old) lithium primaries reaction doesn't slow in the cold, so they work better when on, but waisted when off.

    Lithium vs alkaline is a classic example of the better the material being burned, the more expensive you have performance for what you get. Rubidium batteries are way more powerful than lithium, and perform in -200F, but they cost to much to make for consumers to use, they are not even mentioned. Far far superior to lithium, but performance doesn't matter if things cost to much. Why are cars not madebpf titanium?...

  17. #17

    Default Re: Best battery size for vehicle-stored flashlight

    AA headlamp with lithium primaries.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Best battery size for vehicle-stored flashlight

    It should be noted not to let digital switch batteries turn you off. Just slip a piece of plastic in there and be sure you take a mental note. that's a silly thing to hold your choice back. be sure to try to turn the light on in order to check the effect of your power cut.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Best battery size for vehicle-stored flashlight

    ^^ good idea

    Building on that theme:


    ^^ ensure you remember with tags


    ^^ after removing the cap.
    John 3:16

  20. #20
    Flashaholic* Poppy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best battery size for vehicle-stored flashlight

    I keep a few lights in my car. A couple 2*AAA penlights and a 2*AA light for the 2AA light I also have a red traffic cone diffuser.
    Regarding batteries, the penlights might have alkalines in them, but they are primarily so the grandkids can use them to read. I might have duraloops in them. I do have a 2 AAA or 2AA battery usb battery charger in the car at all times.

    The 2AA light I keep powered with a pair of duraloops, and I top them off now and then. NiMH do perform fairly well above freezing, and better and better in more moderate temps. I can't comment on any loss of capacity because in reality they get very little use in the car. I also have a four pack of lithium energizers for back-ups. They're still fresh because the package has never been opened.
    My Grand Kids call me Poppy

  21. #21
    Flashaholic* RobertM's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best battery size for vehicle-stored flashlight

    Quote Originally Posted by KeepingItLight View Post
    Great info in what is turning out to be a great thread.

    I just checked the specs of the CR123A-sized Panasonic BR-2/3A-3V 1200mAh. It is rated for a maximum continuous current of 2.5A. That compares favorably with the 1.5A of most standard CR123A batteries.

    That's good news for those who want to stay within spec with flashlights like the Nitecore MH20, Olight S1, and the ZebraLight SC32w, all of which pull more than 1.5A from CR123A on their highest modes.
    Actually, the spec is 2.5mA, not 2.5A. These are for low draw applications.

  22. #22
    Flashaholic* KeepingItLight's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best battery size for vehicle-stored flashlight

    Quote Originally Posted by RobertM View Post
    Actually, the spec is 2.5mA, not 2.5A. These are for low draw applications.
    Thanks for this.

    I was relying on the info from the BatterySpecialists.com web page linked in by the following post. Although it says, "Max. recom. Cont. Current: 2500mA," it also has a link where you can download the Panasonic datasheet. I should have done that. The datasheet confirms the 2.5mA maximum that you supplied.

    Quote Originally Posted by 127.0.0.1 View Post
    if you want absolutely reliable

    multicell cr123 light
    -------------------------------
    and use these cells specifically

    Panasonic BR series

    these are used in spaceflight and missile platforms that need dc power battery backup to
    just sit in horrible conditions and work when needed, no BS, no leaks, no outgassing

    http://www.digikey.com/en/product-hi...ical-batteries

    I suggest the CR123 sized BR 2/3

    http://www.digikey.com/product-detai...A/P133-ND/6676

    http://store.batteryspecialists.com/...s-br-2-3a.html

    you can leave these 180 degree heat for 10 years and expect them to function normally
    With a max current rating of only 2.5mA, these batteries won't cut it in any flashlight you are using. The best they could do might be to supply the standby current for one the recent Nitecore flashlights that has a large parasitic drain.

    Even there, you could get into trouble. In his review of the Nitecore P36, selfbuilt measured standby current at 2.55mA.
    Prince plays George Harrison's masterpiece While My Guitar Gently Weeps. R.I.P.
    Great vocals & guitar by LeAnn Rimes & Joss Stone as they cover Gershwin's Summertime.

  23. #23

    Default Re: Best battery size for vehicle-stored flashlight




    John 3:16

  24. #24

    Default Re: Best battery size for vehicle-stored flashlight

    lol... "oops"

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Best battery size for vehicle-stored flashlight

    I suggest that the most important feature for a light that just lays in wait for long periods is a lock out tailcap. It is much easier to find a CR123 light with this feature than it is on an AA light. Something like a Surefire 6PX Pro, G2X Pro or clone is easy to find. I don't know of a solid AA or 2AA light with this feature. Maybe someone here does?
    Looking for something, use a handheld. Actually doing something, you need a headlamp.

  26. #26

    Default Re: Best battery size for vehicle-stored flashlight

    Quote Originally Posted by mbw_151 View Post
    I suggest that the most important feature for a light that just lays in wait for long periods is a lock out tailcap. It is much easier to find a CR123 light with this feature than it is on an AA light. Something like a Surefire 6PX Pro, G2X Pro or clone is easy to find. I don't know of a solid AA or 2AA light with this feature. Maybe someone here does?
    A bit of plastic between battery negative and tailswitch solves any parasitic drain issues.

  27. #27
    Flashaholic*
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    Default Re: Best battery size for vehicle-stored flashlight

    Quote Originally Posted by mbw_151 View Post
    I suggest that the most important feature for a light that just lays in wait for long periods is a lock out tailcap. It is much easier to find a CR123 light with this feature than it is on an AA light. Something like a Surefire 6PX Pro, G2X Pro or clone is easy to find. I don't know of a solid AA or 2AA light with this feature. Maybe someone here does?
    Personally, I don't think it's necessary unless you have an electronic switch but it's no problem finding flashlights that have that capability. My Fenix LD12, Fenix E21 and 4Sevens Quark Turbo QB2A all lockout.

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