Wednesday, June 3, 2015

14500 vs AA: Are 14500 the prefect EDC light battery?

For many years I used a 1XCR123A light of some kind or another as my EDC light. 4Sevens, Fenix, lately Eagletac D25C. I like how bright they are but I don’t like how those batteries aren’t nearly as common as AA or AAA. From a survivalist perspective, commonality and availability is an important factor. You never know when you’ll need to improvise or make do with whatever you come across… and you’re far more likely to come across AA and AAA than R123As. Still, given the different modes flashlights have these days and that they can go for days at a time on moonlight mode I was still ok with that. Keep an eye on the batteries, replace when needed and don’t wait until they are completely dead.
The thing is, with LED technology getting better every year, I started carrying around 1xAA EDC lights, lately the Thrunite T10T, which is a nice, sleek titanium light. At 169 lumens its bright enough but I found myself missing the extra power of the Lithium batteries. After a bit of reading around in candlepowerforum and checking that the T10T could take it, I went ahead and got a couple 14500 lithium ion batteries (basically the same form factor as AA, but in li-ion).
Man! Those are nice. You visible get more lumens out of it (about 250 lumens), its rechargable so you dont waste money on batteries and if needed you can go ahead and use common AA found everywhere.
This works great for EDC since you can give a quick charge every few weeks to keep your 14500 in good shape. Maximum brightness, no more dead batteries all of a sudden, making it an ideal solution for having both brightness and battery commonality. Best of both worlds kind of situation.

Here you have a comparion of two 1xAA lights, Sunwayman Dolphin C15A on the left with a AA Duracel Primary, and the Thrunite T10T with a 14500 TrustFire on the right. When using Duracel AA, both are about the same brightness, so here you can clearly see the difference.

Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”.


Anonymous said...

I used to think so! I bought a pair of nice Sunwayman lights able to run on AA, 14500, or remove the extender and use CR123A/16340s. They were my main lights for about 2 years.

Kickass light output, but I just don't find they last long enough. I went to 18650 for my thrower and headlamp, and will be switching my EDC light over as soon as I find the right fit; for the size increase, tripling the runtime is really worthwhile to me.

The ability to use AA in a 14500 light is pretty darn nice though. My old lights will become vehicle or emergency kit fodder, and the versatility is a good fit there too.

Anonymous said...

You're putting a 3.6V battery into a slot that is only expecting to see 1.5V? That cant be good for the long term life of your device. While some products might be able to take it, you'll destroy others.

Berneck said...

That's exactly the reason I carry the Eagletac D25a. There are many arguments among flashlight people about what batteries are better for having in emergencies. A lot of them want nothing less than 18650's or CR123's. I understood this years ago, because AA batteries couldn't power the lights efficiently. That has all changed, and you can get very good performance from AA's. Some people will give examples of store shelves still having CR123's during emergencies, and no AA's to be found. While this may be somewhat true, you will still have a better chance of finding AA's over the longer term. Also, if you're truly prepared, you're never the one running to the store at the last minute.

I always recommend AA and AAA lights to people especially if it's their first flashlight. It's fine to expand from there, and have variety, but you need to start with the most common first. I also recommend Eneloop AA's. I would not recommend Li-ion batteries unless a person is familiar with the technology and will care for the batteries properly.

A final note on 14500 batteries.. They are much more powerful than AA's. DO NOT use them in a flashlight that is not rated for them. . While a light might work fine with a 14500 during casual use, you will likely fry the light during prolonged use. I would not chance it unless the manufacturer has said it can be used.

BM said...

Hey Ferfal,
Just how much do yu screen comments? I thought I made a pretty valid point that 14500 batteries are 3.7 volts while AA batteries are 1.5V, so swapping them around should be done with care. Not all devices can handle to rise in voltage.