I use flashlights a lot. Something got my attention the other week which is worth mentioning to folks. There’s been some trickledown from electric vehicles that has significantly improved rechargeable flashlights.
Up until recently the easy way to make something rechargeable was to put in NiMH batteries. The problem with that idea is that NiMH batts are 1.2V, not 1.5V. So the typical 3 cell flashlight or headlamp sucks with NiMH batts because it’s not getting enough V. And the typical small flashlight and most headlamps use 3x AAA batts which don’t have spit for amp-hours so if you use NiMH for those, you’ve got nuthin…low voltage and low amp-hours.
But now it’s all better.
Electric cars are apparently using not big batts, but lots of smaller ones. A common one is called an 18650. It’s about halfway between a AA and a C cell in size. 3.7V and the good ones are 3400mAh (3.4 amp-hours), which is darn respectable at that voltage.
And the best part is…they’re rechargeable.
With a pretty serious little power source, all the sudden helaciously bright rechargeable headlamps and flashlights are totally do-able.
“Protected” vs. “Unprotected”. Lithium batts can be a little exciteable. “Protected” means that the batt has a little circuit built in that puts limits on charge/discharge in order to keep the battery from, I dunno, blowing up I suppose. It’s hard to separate the lawyer-speak and marketing-speak, from reality. Near as I can figure, if you’ve got a quality charger and your application doesn’t push the batteries too hard, then “unprotected” is ok.
If, on the other hand, your application pushes the batt hard like (apparently) “Vaping” or maybe you’re not comfortable with a potentially explosive power source in your favorite sex toy, then maybe paying the extra cost for a “protected” battery is for you.
I bought 4x Panasonic “unprotected” batts, a charger that got good reviews, 4x little flashlights, and a headlamp. Panasonic batts are perceived, apparently, to be top notch in a niche that is full of BS marketing claims, the charger is supposed to be good with unprotected batts, and 4 flashlights allows me to put one in the garage, one in the trailer, and 2 for the kids to lose.
The headlamp came with a “protected” battery. It recharges via micro USB. That indicates to me that maybe it’s integrated charger sucks so maybe I won’t swap it’s batt out for the others I bought.
Last night I played with the headlamp. It has 5 levels of brightness. It’s top brightness level (supposed to be 1000lumens but who really knows?) was abso-fucking-lutely incredibly bright. And this coming out of a little lens the size of your pinky nail. I probably won’t use the brightest setting much tho. It’s burns thru power fast and maybe that’s not the best idea with unprotected batts.
So if your tired of flashlights and headlamps that suck, this is the shit. If you’re tired of the kids losing your flashlights, or leaving them under the couch ON FOR CHRISSAKES, I got nothing for you.