Flashlights or torches play critical roles in almost all outdoor activities, especially when camping. Hence, every camper should possess a reliable torch in his/her arsenal together with the best 18650 batteries for flashlights.
18650 batteries belong to a class of high-capacity batteries used to power advanced, high-performance electronics as well as simple devices such as laptops, cameras, car batteries, and flashlights.
Possessing energy equal to 3 regular batteries, you can rest easy knowing that you can count on your 18650 battery-powered torch during evening treks, blackouts, night tent lighting, search parties, and even road trips through off-the-beaten paths.
After all, a flashlight is only as good as its batteries. No matter how fancy or expensive your torch is, the longevity of its running time will depend on the batteries.
Let’s learn more about 18650 batteries, shall we?
A Quick Overview At Our Top 4 Picks For The Best 18650 Battery For Flashlight
What Exactly Are 18650 Batteries And What Good Are They?
With all the available batteries out there, you might be wondering why you should get an 18650 battery, the "gasoline of the 21st century", for your torch.
18650 batteries are 3.7-volt lithium-ion batteries, a size classification of Li-ion batteries, which are rechargeable. Its name was rooted from its dimensions which are 18mm x 65mm.
If you’ve ever held one in your palms, you’ll notice that they’re a bit larger than the AA battery but has the same exact shape.
Furthermore, the 18650 type is one of the most energetic and widely available lithium-ion battery type as, it is utilized by a wide array of devices such as laptops, vaporizers, electrical vehicles, robots, solar grids, and almost any tools and equipment designed to store energy more efficiently.
So, with all those information, you might have already have a concrete grasp of the things that make 18650 batteries ideal for torches. That includes:
They Are Rechargeable
Are you tired of constantly throwing away and replacing empty batteries on the go? We feel you! Apart from it’s not a very cost-effective action, improper disposal of batteries can be harmful to the environment.
We prefer rechargeable batteries more because you can charge them on the go. How convenient is that?
They Have Longer Run Time
A single 18650 battery has a run time equal to 3 to 4 AA batteries due to its higher voltage – it provides thrice the amount of watt –hours for the same capacity.
Depending on the torch’s bulb, the average AA battery can last up to 10 hours of use. Since 18650 batteries have thrice the power of AA batteries, it may last up to 30 hours in a single full charging.
Moreover, a unique thing about this particular battery type is it has no memory effect. It simply means that the user doesn't have to completely drain or discharge the battery before recharging, compared with other battery chemistries.
18650 batteries are generally lighter than others of the same size, courtesy of the lightweight lithium and carbon comprising the battery’s electrodes.
Lithium, being a highly reactive element, stores a lot of energy within its atomic bonds. This unique feature translates to a high energy density for this particular battery type.
For a better understanding, put this into perspective: a typical lithium-ion battery can store 150 watt-hours of electricity in 1 kilogram of battery whereas an NiMH (nickel-metal hydride) battery stores approximately 100 watt-hours per kilogram, and a lead-acid battery can only pack about 25 watt-hours per kilogram.
Looking at lead-acid batteries, it takes a hefty 6 kg to store the same amount of energy than that of a 1 kg Li-ion battery – that’s a huge advantage for 18650 battery types.
18650 batteries may look flawless and perfect, but they do have a few disadvantages as well.
Disadvantages Of 18650 Batteries
- 18650 batteries last an average of 2-3 years; well, it’s not exactly a disadvantage considering that disposable batteries only last for days. These cells start the process of degradation as soon as they leave the factory.
- Heat hastens the deterioration of 18650 batteries. They deteriorate much faster than they normally would when exposed to extremely high temperatures. Hence, you should store them in cool, dry places.
- They have no memory effect but they cannot be completely drained or else, they’ll become defective. It’s worth noting that the nominal voltage for an 18650 is 3.7; thus it shouldn’t be discharged below 3.0.
Additionally, when buying 18650 batteries, you should opt for one which features a protection circuit. This design is like an insurance policy against charging failures; it protects the battery from accidental overcharging or over-discharging. The circuit ensures that the cell’s voltage doesn’t fall below 3.0, the threshold.
- They need a charger. Owning rechargeable batteries means that you will need a charger to go with it. These chargers tell the actual mAh capacity of the battery, allowing you to see if it’s getting the right fill and when it loses efficiency.
The LCD screen tells you the real mAh capacity of your batteries, so you can make sure they are getting the advertised amount of fill or identify when they are losing efficiency.
Button Top vs. Flat Top
As you begin the process of scouting for 18650 batteries, you’ll notice that some have the button tops which are typical of regular batteries while some sport a flat end.
In many situations, the head's structure makes no difference. But for some flashlights which feature a battery spring or a direct electronic connection to the bulb, a flat-top cell won’t usually work because the interior requires a tight-fitting cell that only button-tops can provide.
The bottom line is, when shopping for an LED flashlights, pay attention to the battery configurations suitable for that particular torch. Or better yet, ask the sales representative which 18650 battery style will work best.
Product Reviews: Our Top Picks For The Best 18650 Batteries
Featuring a raw look and a standard 2500 mAh capacity, this terrific battery will perform well given any rough nights at camp.
Perhaps, you’re thinking that it has a low capacity because you’ve probably seen 18650 batteries bearing 3000-3500 mAh, but a low capacity battery generally has a higher energy output.
We’ve tried this battery out to test its effectivity. We left the bulb on overnight and came back the following morning to see how much charge the battery has. Surprisingly, the charger’s LCD monitor displayed a 90% charge remaining, and we’re just stunned to learn how long-lasting it is.
The only con of this product is the lack of charge protection features; hence, the "raw" appearance. Since it lacks protection, users should be careful when charging the product – do not overcharge or discharge completely.
- Has a high power output
- Lacks protection features
These button top 18650 batteries from EBL packed in stable storage boxes comes pre-charged and ready for the long night ahead.
Uniquely, these EBL cells have zero memory effect, meaning they can be recharged a thousand times (1200 times to be exact) when they are fully or partially drained.
Furthermore, it has a degradation protection feature during charge and discharge cycles which are designed to extend the battery’s lifespan.
However, know that these batteries won’t work with E-cigs and such which only accept flat-topped 18650s. So if you’re thinking of getting this product for your torch and E-cig, don’t do so.
Also, we’ve encountered a slight problem when testing these babies not long ago. Upon charging it, we noticed that they don’t reach 3000mAh, its indicated output.
They only charged up to around 2500 mAh, and they drain much faster than others bearing the same capacity.
- Has a very high power capacity
- Has degradation protection features
- Has zero memory effect
- Has a button top; fits more comfortably in flashlights
- Great case included
- Lacks safety features
- Does not charge up to its indicated capacity
One of the most powerful 18650 batteries that exist today is the Panasonic NCR18650B. This one features high-energy density, which makes it reliable and stable. It can become a vast oasis of power that can operate various devices such as flashlights. It has an extensive lifespan as well, which makes a good choice for those who are constantly dwelling in the outdoor world.
It also offers quick charging time. You would never have to wait for an entire day before these batteries are back and kicking again. It is notable that the shelf life of the Panasonic NCR18650B can extend for up to three years. Of course, that's a feature that improves its practicality. Meanwhile, the battery comes with a heavy-duty plastic case. The latter enables you to store and transport the batteries with ease.
- Each battery comes with 3400mAh rating
- Fast charging feature
- Ideal for outdoor applications
- Extensive lifespan
- Comes with a portable storage case.
- Discharge rate is not that optimal.
The LG IMR18650 HE4 High Drain Li-ion is a standard battery that can offer optimal performance at a very practical rate. It can offer a continuous discharge of 20A at temperatures of -20 degrees Celsius to 75 degrees Celsius. With its nominal capacity of 2,500 mAh, it is undeniable that this battery can operate different devices aside from your flashlight.
I have to indicate as well that this battery comes with the innovative IMR Li-ion composition: the lithium-ion manganese oxide. It is a popular option for applications and devices that have an incessant need for high-discharge currents. Thanks to the same design, the ion flow of the battery has been optimized as well. Because of this, the internal resistance of the cells has been reduced drastically.
- High-current dischargeS
- Designed for quick-draining devices
- Rugged and durable construction
- Doesn't drain too quickly
- Stable performance even in extended usages.
- No noticeable drawbacks.
The essential features a reliable 18650 battery should have that users should look for are the following:
- High power capacity
- A structure that makes it versatile concerning fitting within devices
- A protection circuit
- Ability to hold its charge
- No memory effect
We also admired the added security features of this product such as the nickel-plated poles, a metallic film enveloping the batteries, and the thermal overheat protection – this product truly caters to the user’s needs and convenience.
Hey, camper! Have you tried using an 18650 battery for your torch? Do you think we missed some great stuff in our list? Let us know what you think in the comment section below. Please share this post before leaving. Cheers!
See more: 5 Best Rechargeable Flashlight for Camping.
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