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FYI - Potential safety issue with CR123A lithium batteries...

Discussion in 'Flashlights & Other Illumination Devices' started by bigfoot, Oct 5, 2006.

  1. Codeman

    Codeman Loaded Pockets

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    GreenLED's right. The only way to safely match cells is to determine the charge or capacity (mAh) of the cells, which is current flow for a given time. Voltage is a different attribute of electricity. While the cheap battery meters that use voltage may given you an indication of a single cell's state, it may not because it's measuring the wrong thing. For that reason, they simply can't be used to match cells, which is what being safe requires.

    It's kind of like a river's flow. Current is like knowing how much total water is flowing past a point for a given amount of time, while voltage simply tells you how deep & wide the river is. Say we have 2 rivers that are the same width. Well, one could be a shallow mountain river that has far more total flow than a deep but slow river because the shallow mountain river is flowing faster. In other words, the deeper river has the potential for more flow, but if the water is moving slowly enough, the faster and shallower river can easily have more actual flow.

    You can have a cell with almost no charge left that still has an apparently good voltage. If you put that cell in a light with a cell that has the same voltage but a lot more charge, the low charge cell will be "used up" quicker than the good cell. When that happens, the low charge cell will start absorbing electricity from the good cell. Then two things can start to happen -a cell that was not designed to be re-charged is re-charged, and its polarity may/will be reversed by that re-charging. That's when bad things happen.

    To re-use the river analogy, having mismatched cells (unequal charge remaining but similar voltages) is like having 2 rivers of the same depth and width, with one having a faster current that is running into a one with a slower current. Where's all the extra water from the faster current going to go? Out of the banks and you have a flood. The same thing happens with mismatched cells. What we want is for the current to flow smoothly and that requires similar currents.

    ZTS tests using a pulse load method for testing. That's the most efficient way to determine remaining capacity with any useful accuracy. Yeah, it's a bit of money. If you want to be safe, though, it's really the only way. ZTS isn't the only such company making testers, but they've proven to be reliable. Plus, when you think about it, the piece of mind they give you is worth a lot more than the testers cost, IMO.

    Hope this helps!
     
  2. luigi

    luigi Loaded Pockets

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    Thanks GreenLed and Codeman!
    It seems I will have to order a ZTS after all...

    Luigi
     
  3. greenLED

    greenLED Empty Pockets

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    ...and after Codeman's excellent analogy, I now completely understand! Thanks for sharing that.
     
  4. Codeman

    Codeman Loaded Pockets

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    No prob. I've got 3 yrs of college engineering courses going to waste (switched to computer science), so it's nice to put it to some use every once in while!

    I don't know where I first heard the anology, but it was probably in the early 80's when I was in school.
     
  5. Sarratt

    Sarratt Empty Pockets

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    For what it's worth here are two photos (if uploading works) one cell is real and one is fake.

    You have to look very carefully.... hint, it's in the spelling.

    Sadly I own three fakes.
     

    Attached Files:

  6. Codeman

    Codeman Loaded Pockets

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    :welcome: to EDCF, Sarratt!

    It would be very easy to miss that, but the real manufacturer is highly unlikely to make that mictake. :D ;D
     
  7. parnass

    parnass Loaded Pockets

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    Welcome to EDCF, Sarratt. Interesting photos. :highfive:
     
  8. greenLED

    greenLED Empty Pockets

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    Indeed! Thanks for sharing.
     
  9. cat

    cat Loaded Pockets

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    I wonder if it isn't a deliberate error. :shrug:

    What brand is that, that's made by Matsu:censored:a?
     
  10. greenLED

    greenLED Empty Pockets

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    Those look like some Panasonic I had a while back.

    Most importantly, IMO, where did you get them from? So we can avoid that place.
     
  11. KiloKeychain

    KiloKeychain Empty Pockets

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    The CR123A battery problem.

    Considering there are alternatives, I go for rechargable Eneloop AAA/AA cells. The Crees/SSC LEDs are so bright that there is no reason to "cheat" with CR123A batteries. I do have special purpose lights that run on RCR123A lithium-ion cells but only ONE cell. My next light is a 18650 protected lithium-ion powered light with low voltage warning curcuit and a tail clickie that will blow the switch cover if it ever vents.

    My family uses AAA/AA powered lights exclusively since they just want the thing to turn on and won't be concerned about the cells inside. Considering I have found remotes with one alkaline and one rechargable cell inside :rant: :brickwall: I don't want lithium-ion or primary lithium cells around for them to test their luck. Single cell lithium-ion or AAA/AA cells only spoken here.
     
  12. Sarratt

    Sarratt Empty Pockets

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    The place that I got them from no longer sells "Panasonic". It was last year.
    They are a good place and were taken as well so unless its of crucial importance I'd rather not name names.
    I thought that posting the photos would give people who had concerns a way to tell the difference.
    I'm pretty new to posting on forums and I'd rather not besmirch anyones reputation needlessly.

    Of course I could be wromg

    Hope this makes sense and I'm really not trying to be difficult :)
     
  13. SureAddicted

    SureAddicted Empty Pockets

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    There are also some SureFire fake 123's. The way to tell if you have the real deal is there is a code (or its the date) on the body, the fake doesn't have this.
    In my 9P i bought a 3 weeks ago, the batteries that came with it has a number which is 06-2017. I bought a few spares at the same time and the number on the spare batteries are 04-2017. I'm guessing the first 2 digits are the year they were made :shrug:

    If it has the numbers printed on the side...its the real thing.
     
  14. Codeman

    Codeman Loaded Pockets

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    The date on Surefire cells are for expiration: MM-YYYY. Take 10 years off, and you've got the month/year of manufacture.
     
  15. Mike V

    Mike V Loaded Pockets

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    Thanks for posting the image of the fake CR123 batteries compared to the real thing.

    I now know that I have a heap of fakes that I bought on E-Bay.

    I've just proved again that you usually get what you pay for.

    This seller now sells batteries that look similar, but now say "Alison" not "Panasonic."

    I think when I bought them, the description of the ad probably didn't specify Panasonic batteries, but just had a photo of them.

    So I suppose "Caveat emptor" and he didn't actually say they were Panasonic batteries and I just assumed they were because they looked like Panasonic batteries.

    I wonder if the performance of the real Panasonic batteries is actually better than the fakes?
     
  16. AndyTiedye

    AndyTiedye Empty Pockets

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    Some 2x123 LED lights will run just fine off of one 17670 li ion rechargeable.
     
  17. Lord Bear

    Lord Bear Loaded Pockets

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    WOW! This is MAJOR. Since I have a bunch of incandescent bulb, 2 battery Surefires from the old days am I in DANGER? My BOB only has E1B Backups and a T1A is that safer? Should I ditch my L4 Lumamax and my KL5 mated to M2 Centurion? Please, please advise.
     
  18. Lord Bear

    Lord Bear Loaded Pockets

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    To clarify have only used SF123 batteries but have lost track of older-newer batteries and WHAT THEY ARE CURRENTLY FEEDING!
     
  19. Lord Bear

    Lord Bear Loaded Pockets

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    Uhhh...on top of all else I have an X300 on my Glock 19 and an X400 on my Glock 21!
     
  20. jp2515

    jp2515 Loaded Pockets

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    Using Surefire batteries shouldn't cause any issues. However in the 2 cell lights, it is advisable to change both batteries at once to avoid any issues.