18650 Batteries Are the Best
Rechargeable batteries are here and they are the future. This new technology has gone beyond way beyond what traditional alkaline batteries can handle, and if you are sticking to the old ways then you are doing yourself a disservice.
As we discussed in our eneloop review, you are throwing away money. A lot of money.
You are also sacrificing power.
Rechargeable AA and AAA are great, but they can only pump out so much juice. If you want truly powerful lighting systems you're going to need more than they can provide. That's why we've switched all of our camping and emergency lights over to the 18650 battery platform.
Why? Because 18650 batteries can output 3.7V of power, as opposed to 1.7V for traditional AA and AAA's.
This means lights using these kinds of batteries give you way more lumen and candela output (discussed in detail later) in the same sized lights you are used to using.
Heck, they are the same kinds of batteries Tesla is using to power their cars!
So, they are brighter, last longer, rechargeable, and are 10x less-expensive to use over the life of the product. Its time to make the switch.
Don't worry, we'll show you how!
BTW If you buy anything with the links we provide on this page we might get a small percentage of the sale from the manufacturer. For more info click here.
An Intro to 18650 Batteries
The 18650 batteries are lithium-ion rechargeable batteries. They have 500 full charge and discharge cycles before they start to lose a little efficiency.
Unlike the older style rechargeables, there is no "memory" effect which means you don't need to fully charge/discharge with each use. These newer 18650 lithium-ion batteries work the same way that those in your phone or electronics do.
The first 4 digits of the designation “18650” indicate the physical dimensions while the 5th digit indicates it is a cylinder cell.
A standard 18650 battery is 18mm in circumference by 65mm length. They are commonly found in laptop battery packs, flashlights, electric vehicles, cordless tools and other devices that require portable power.
Some types of 18650 are modified by adding either a button top and/or internal protection circuit. This can change the physical length of an “18650” battery from 65mm to 70mm or longer.
The batteries you want have the internal protection circuits. This protects against possible fire or explosions - a smart idea! Also look for batteries with pressure relief vents which will expel waste gas in the rare cases of internal short circuits thus also preventing explosions!
Don't worry, it's pretty hard to make these explode. You really gotta pierce them and/or heat them up which is not likely to happen.
Our Favorite 18650 Battery
Typical Price: $23
Specs: A massive battery with 3500mAh of power and our favorite feature, a built-in micro-USB charging port. This allows you multiple ways to charge it up: via external charger, in the device, or stand-alone with a readily available micro-USB cable. Also includes a charging indicator light. It also includes a protection circuit in the anode to help prevent short circuits, over charge/discharge and over heating.
Most 18650 batteries will require a charger to bring them back to life unless you have one with a micro-USB port or the device has charging capability.
I've found having a charger (I have 2 each with 2 bays) is the fastest way to get them back to life, especially if you have to charge a big pile of them to charge.
Fenix sells 2 and 4 bay chargers, with or without batteries. They have short-circuit, over-current, over-voltage, and reverse polarity protections built-in. They can take dead batteries that other chargers won't charge and recondition them back to life.
The nice thing is they work with more than just 18650 batteries: Li-ion batteries: 10440, 14500, 16340, 18650, 21700, 26650 Ni-MH or Ni-Cd batteries: AA, AAA, C
Lumens & Candela
Lumens refers to the total amount of light emitted by a lighting device (in this case an LED torch light). The higher a lights lumen value, the greater a particular area is lighted up.
Candela refers to the amount of light emitted by a light in a particular direction.
When buying an LED torch light, you aren't really concerned about its lumens value because you will only use this device to illuminate a very small area, and that's where the candela measurement it important. It tells you how much light is concentrated at a particular area.
Just keep this in mind when searching for and comparing lights, especially spot lights or torches. It isn't all about the lumens, they just get the most marketing hype.
Fenix makes a huge amount of lights powered by 18650 batteries and is one of our favorite and most trusted manufacturers. We have a ton of their flashlights, headlamps, and lanterns and have been using them for years. Here are some of our favorites.
Typical Price: $110
This might be our favorite lantern at all time, and we have a detailed review of the Fenix CL30R here. Can run on 1, 2 or 3 rechargeable 18650 batteries (comes with 3) with up to 300 hours of runtime in Eco mode. Has a built-in USB charger to backup as a power source for portable electronics. Waterproof. 5 light modes + SOS flash. Just an awesome lantern that really stands out from the crowd.
Typical Price: $60
The perfect choice for a packable solution to include in a Bug Out Bag, the CL26R has a huge amount of features and does everything you could want it to. It's not just a 400 lumen lantern, it has multi-directional lighting modes—three brightness levels of 360° light, a front light and two brightness levels of down light from the lamp on the bottom. Red light for night vision. Waterproof and shock resistant. 240 hours of run-time on the down-firing lamp, and 30 hours in full lamp mode on low.
Typical Price: $95
Had this lamp for a year now and it is just the bomb.com. It's like carrying a lighthouse on your head. Spotlight modes and floodlight modes allow you to shoot a hot beam a long way or a nice dispersed light for up close work. Waterproof and dust proof.
1000 lumens with 6,677 candela in Turbo mode. Up to 300 hours runtime in Low floodlight mode. It's a little bulkier than other headlamps but it's not uncomfortable and once you get used to the light this thing puts out it's hard to use anything else!
Typical Price: $60
This is a great little EDC light with max output of 1000 lumens and a beam distance of 830ft (253m.) 18650 Li-ion battery included. Five output levels + strobe: controlled by the side switch which also includes a battery level indicator.
Integrated micro-USB charging port makes it easy to keep it ready to go. Waterproof and dust proof.
Typical Price: $70
This is a fantastic little flashlight. We have one as our everyday carry. See our full review of the Olight S2R Baton II here. 443 ft of beam distance with 1,150 max lumens with 4,600 candela. 60 days runtime at ultra-low power level 5. Cool magnetic USB charger. IPX8 waterproof rating.
Streamlight is a well-respected manufacturer known throughout the first responder and military community for years.
Typical Price: $40
A perfect lamp/light combo for a bug out bag. The Siege X is a 2-in-1 lantern/flashlight combo which provides 360° of lantern light and a directional flashlight. Battery level indicator.
IPX7 waterproof to 1m submersion - 2m impact resistance. High for brightest light: 325 lumens; runs 4. 5 hours. Diameter: 2. 12" - Height: 4. 35" - Weight: 6. 8 oz. with batteries.
NIghtcore is a similar company to Fenix, very innovative, always pushing the envelope on new technologies and feature-sets.
Typical Price: $39.95
A super compact lantern with great light output weighing less than 3 oz with the battery. Beam Diameter: 22 Yards (20m.) High: 205 Lumens / 3 hr 30 min and Low : 12 Lumens / 62 hr. White and Red LED lamps. IPX6 water-resistant: protection from heavy rain.
Typical Price: $59.50
A budget-friendly headlamp with a ton of features. Peak Beam Intensity: 1,000 lumens with 3,400 candela. Peak Beam Distance: 128 yards! High: 420 lumens / 2 hr 30 min and Ultralow: 1 lumen / 680 hr. 3400mAh li-ion 18650 battery included.