18650 batteries for dummy

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18650 batteries for dummy

Postby GroundquestMSA » Mar 24, 2013 2:34 pm

I've read over a lot of the info here and on candlepowerforums but much of it is presented in battery lingo that I don't understand. I just bought a second ZebraLight and need to buy more 18650 batteries. I bought the ones I could get the fastest last time and have been using Tenergy 3.7v 2600mAh with no problems yet. I'm looking at Panasonic 3.6v 3100mAh right now after some attempts at research.

Could someone explain what the difference in v and mAh rating means in practical terms (and small words), and let me know if there are any batteries that should be absolutely avoided?

Also, are 18650 chargers as vital to the long term success of the battery as AA chargers seem to be for AAs? If so, what chargers can you recommend.
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Re: 18650 batteries for dummy

Postby firemedic1015 » Mar 24, 2013 3:11 pm

Take a look here for the answer to some of your basic battery questions.
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Re: 18650 batteries for dummy

Postby BenS » Mar 24, 2013 4:15 pm

mAh is basically how long the battery will last. The higher the better. The voltage is something that should typically be the same for all 18650 batteries. You shouldn't have to worry about that. I think there are some new 3400 mAh batteries out there now. I personally have 2 2500 mAh EagleTac and 1 3100 mAh Xtar 18650 battery. You will want to get the ones with protected circuits if possible and you really shouldn't get anything super cheap like trustfire, ultrafire, or even tenergy that seems too good to be true. Supposedly Callie's Kustoms makes very good batteries. AW, Redilast, nitecore, and maybe klarus are good too. I don't have an exhaustive list of the good and bad, but that should give you an idea.
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Re: 18650 batteries for dummy

Postby Cody JW » Mar 24, 2013 5:54 pm

I am not well versed on them but I heard Chad say he uses the Panasonic with a Pila ?? charger- I think. I know Chad has several 18650's he uses with the Zebra and Spark. Chad did say to get a quality charger that will not burn batteries up.
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Re: 18650 batteries for dummy

Postby David Grimes » Mar 24, 2013 9:21 pm

While I do not have experience with several of the types listed in the earlier post, I do own some legitimate Ultrafire 18650 batteries and they are excellent in my opinion. There are lots of knockoffs of Utrafire batteries (which is odd since they come from China/Hong Kong or similar to begin with). My batteries I know are the real thing and they have never let me down. I have Ultrafire 3.7v 3000mAh batteries, they hold an excellent charge and will run my 1200 lumen cree just fine. They last well as long or longer as the manufacturer of the light claims for runtime.

This is just my personal experience with these batteries, I just wanted to put out another opinion on them. I should note these batteries are not in my caving light, I have them in a tactical flashlight I use around the house so I am not sure how they would handle the different environment with the moisture and mud but I assume it would not make a big difference.
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Re: 18650 batteries for dummy

Postby Chads93GT » Mar 24, 2013 9:36 pm

Panasonic's are top of the line. Period. I just had a battery nerd explain the volts and miliamp hours to me (mAh) last week at the local batteries plus store but I cant regurgitate it now. Sorry. There have been many tests involving all 18650's on the market and Panasonic's were at the top of the list, 3100 mAh, unprotected (you don't "NEED" protected cells for zebras). Now you can get 3400 mAh Panasonic protected cells but they may not fit in the zebras due to being too thick, by something stupid like a quarter of a millimeter.

Friends of mine bought some "5000 mah" batteries for their zebras and they lasted about an hour. Total junk. Pila IbC charger as well. Its a smart charger and wont cook them.

Basically mAH, or Miliamp hours is how many amp hours the battery holds. If your zebra draws 1 amp at 750 lumens, with a 3100 mAh battery it will run for 3 hours and 6 minutes. If your light puts out 1500 lumens at 2 amps, then the battery will go dead in an hour and a half, unless you have 4 of them running your head lamp at 1500 lumens, then it will take 6 hours to go dead. Beware, not all batteries actually hold what they are rated at.

the mAh is simply the rating. A 3100 mAh Panasonic will supply 3.1 amps for 1 hours, or 6.2 amps for 30 minutes before going dead. Its simple mathematics.
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Re: 18650 batteries for dummy

Postby GroundquestMSA » Mar 24, 2013 9:50 pm

Thanks Chad. I'm realizing that a lot of the batteries sold are all Panasonics with various wrappers.
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Re: 18650 batteries for dummy

Postby Chads93GT » Mar 24, 2013 10:11 pm

If that is true, then get what you can. I have the green panasonic NCR-18650a's and when panasonics say 3100 or 3400 mah, they are what they are advertised, not some other 5000mah rating which actually has 2000 mah.
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Re: 18650 batteries for dummy

Postby GroundquestMSA » Mar 25, 2013 5:26 am

Chads93GT wrote:If that is true, then get what you can. I have the green panasonic NCR-18650a's and when panasonics say 3100 or 3400 mah, they are what they are advertised, not some other 5000mah rating which actually has 2000 mah.


Those are the same ones I've been considering. The rebranded panasonic cells I'm finding are all more expensive.
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Re: 18650 batteries for dummy

Postby Chads93GT » Mar 25, 2013 8:27 am

Just get the plain green cells then. No sense paying more. I got mine from eBay or amazon out of china. It took them a while to get here but that's ok.
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Re: 18650 batteries for dummy

Postby kevinm » Mar 26, 2013 12:54 am

Be careful of eBay Panasonics. Since Panasonics are known to be good batteries, there are many forgeries out there. AW, Kallie's Customs, Pila, Tenergy (surprisingly), and LG all make good cells. Redilasts (genuine; there are forgeries) are also very good. Trustfire is hit or miss (I have some RCR123's that died after a week and others that lasted a year).

If in doubt, get cells with a protection circuit. If a Li-ion battery is discharged too far, it will be ruined. The circuit protects the cell from that. The Zabralights and Sparks both have programming that prevents this over-discharge under normal circumstances. It is possible (there have been reports) of people destroying their cells in these lights by running them too long on the low modes, over-discharging the cells.

Also, note that not all 18650's are 18x650mm. Some are too long or too fat to fit in some lights. It's supposed to be a standard, but it's not.

Pila, Nitecore, and many others make good chargers. Nitecore even has one that will charge 18650's, AA's, AAA's, C cells, 10440's, and others.


If you have a handle on all that and want to play slightly nerdier games, the different cells have different mAh capacities at different discharge currents. Some work very well at high current; others don't. Silverfox on CPF did a HUGE amount of battery comparisons with full discharge curves.
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