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CR123A vs 18650 cell
- Sep 05, 2018 -

Two variants of Lithium batteries are ideal for flashlights: Lithium-Metal and Lithium-Ion. In this article, we'll state the difference between them to help you choose the battery right for you.

CR123A (Li-MnO2, non-rechargeable)

CR123A is currently the most popular model of lithium primary batteries, and one CR123A costs about $1.2. Once depleted, they must be replaced. Most tactical flashlights require two or even three CR123A batteries for operation. In this regard, CR123A seems to be a costly option, but why do people still use CR123A batteries?

CR123A batteries have a considerable wide range of operating temperatures, meaning they can withstand extremely cold or extremely hot environments. Moreover, they boast a lengthy shelf life, up to 10 years under proper storage conditions. 

Pros:

  • Can retain charge for up to 10 years

  • Wide operating temperature range (-40oC - 60oC)

Cons:

  • Not rechargeable

  • Inappropriate for high output flashlights

  • Expensive

18650 (lithium-ion, rechargeable)

18650 also happen to be the batteries used in Tesla's electric cars. Compared with CR123A, they are a little less tolerant to extreme environments.

Pros:

  • Rechargeable

  • Inexpensive

  • Can support much higher currents

Cons:

  • Poor shelf life

  • Slightly more complex (risk of overcharging/overdischarging)

Apart from the differences above, you'd better make your choice after understanding the flashlight manual and battery availability near you.