** General Battery Warning: Proper handling is paramount with batteries. They all contain volatile chemicals, some of which being poisonous to inhale or when venting can do so with 1300 degree flames. Even "safe cells" when under pressure, say in a steel tube, can cause enough force to turn the lens into a improvised glass scattergun. PLEASE be safe and read as much as possible on the topic **
* Nobody "frequently asks" these from me but it was a good way of randomly throwing some info/opinions around *
I've heard about batteries blowing up, is that common?
It's quite rare considering the amount of people using protected and unprotected lithium-ion batteries. Similar batteries are in your cell phones and a laptops.
Most problems occur with multiple cell situations where the voltage isn't matched. As the batteries have to work together if one is drastically low they tend to self-balance and can vent/pop. Another situation is people charging Li-Co cells (RCR123, etc) on cheap chargers and not watching them. They leave a battery on the charger that trickle-charges all night. Lastly some people overtax batteries beyond a safe level. If you use robust batteries for the job (preferably one cell), charge safely, and match voltages you should be fine. Using safer chemistry further minimizes the chances. If the light starts to get really hot at random and is making odd noises get it away from you!
I really want to use CR123's but am paranoid.
For primaries some good brands are Surefire, Panasonic, Energizer, Duracell, and Foursevens. There are others but that's a nice selection.
To match them you really want to get a load tester like the ZTS pulse load testing multi-meter as it will give you proper voltage. Match your primaries in close sets within say 3% of overall charge. 2.95v and 3.00v, etc.
I want a quality light but don't want to deal with specialty batteries, what options do I have?
It's very easy to get at least 300 lumens on two AA's. In fact, Zebralight has a single AA light called the SC52 that does 280 lumens! AAA's can't provide quite the same draw but 200 lumens is easy with two cells. I would get a pack of Sanyo Eneloops at Costco and find a multi-cell light...safe, easy and bright.
Can I literally blind an assailant? Is it a good defense to have a light?
The only likely way to blind someone is burn their retinas, pupils, or whatever that part is called
This is quite easy with a laser but hard with a flashlight as they have neither the intensity (heat) or frequency. If you held a light to someone's eye perhaps and definitely could with an incandescent as its possible to light paper on fire with a hotwire mod. UV LED's can have very damaging effects as well but are hardly fight stopping.
Your best scenario in a defensive situation is having the upper hand. People have horrible night vision so knowing where to go is invaluable. It's been a while since biology class but bright light can slam someone's pupils shut like a steel trap for a few seconds. In the dark or under the influence of alcohol the recovery time is delayed further. If you can blast someone in the face its best to blast them literally in the face (or run). If they can't see you they can still hit or grab you. But yes...1000+ lumens with any intensity will give you a **** headache.
How much light is enough?
Honestly 200 lumens with decent throw is a ton of light. You can navigate a dark room using 1 lumen at ease as well. Functionality and appreciation will make you carry the light, that's the most important thing.
Flood vs Throw? I can't decide.
In most cases flood for function, throw for fun. Walking inside a building in the dark doesn't require more than about 50 feet on average let alone 300 meters. While throwers can provide decent spill lighting the hot spots are so intense it can annoy you if for more than a few minutes.
Some of these lights don't have clips. I'm used to the Spyderco way!
You can free pocket them but with a keychain attachment you can also use a Tec Suspension Clip or even a tip-down Spyderco.
Cool White vs Neutral vs Warm?
I adore warm and willingly accept the efficient hit for small pocket lights. Sometimes cool tints are a but green which drives me crazy but not everyone cares. That said, neutral is quite pleasant and a much less brutal hit (10% or so instead of 30% or greater). For EDC my lights only see about 10-50 lumens on average so 200 instead of 400 isn't a personal bother.
What's a good rechargeable battery brand and charger?
AW makes terrific batteries and the most the IMR's I love. Their black/silver are protected Lithium-Cobalt recharges.I have a cheap digital multi-meter I use to check voltage occasionally and don't run them lower than 3.6v.
There is a person on Candlepower forums who also sells through the EDC forum shop (JS Burleys). His "Cottonpicker chargers" are USB powered and amazing with tiny magnetic leads and optional digital readouts.
So what's a P60?
This is a short answer to a potentially long question. I'm more than happy to help specifically if you PM me
In short you find a host that will work with the battery(s) you want to run. Then you find the appropriate P60/D26 (26.5mm reflector) drop-in which range from $7 crap to $60 custom ones. Next you simply unscrew the host, wrap the drop-engine for heat transfer, put the appropriate batteries in, and bingo...custom light!
Single 123 cell hosts I would recommend are the Dereelight Javelin head/Dereelight C2H body or Solarforce L2m. The Deree is smaller with a recessed tail clicky so it will stand on its end; it also has a great wire clip. The Solarforce is bigger but much cheaper and has more aftermarket support for accessories. Either of these you will want at least 1.2v-4.2v operating range. If you find a 3-4.2 it will be very dim on a CR123 depending on how strong the battery is.
If you want a CR123x2 or 1x18650 light the Dereelight C2H host or Solarforce L2 is great. The Dereelight is again more expensive but a but more refined and space efficient. The Solarforce more accessories and dirt cheap. There are various variations of the Solar Force but you should get the aluminum tubed ones as the plastic body does not heat sink well. You could always get a Surefire 6p as well but it won't take a 18650 without being bored out and modded. If you want to run a moderately bright LED and occasionally CR123's go for the 3-6v drop-ins as they will run well off a 18650 too. If you run two RCR123's at 8.4v the LED will likely pop.
It's best to confirm your drop-in will fit the host if either is non-typical. I wouldn't run 2xCR123's in anything hotter than 2 amps on high, preferably 1.5 amps. You can use high in bursts but its a ton of strain. Most mediums are 50% power so even a hot XM-L should be fine but better safe than sorry. A single 18650 often works and will have at least twice the runtime handing the output with ease.
I want a TON of runtime. What can I do?
It's a dumb response but medium or low mode instead of high. If you have a 600 lumen light with any throw a low mode can last 5-10 times longer at 60-120 lumens. Medium can be two hours on a 18650 battery. You could run an extension tube as well with the right driver which would give you a nice club as well
. I just had a pocket thrower built that tosses a beam twice as far on low as my Peak Logan does on high with a IMR16340. Flood is handy up close but obviously inefficient use of light for an endurance race.
What's the brightest light I can pocket?
You can easily build a 700-1000 lumen light. After that its price tends to climb or its usage declines. P60's aren't great with heat. Take a look at Electrolumens XM-L EDC R.
What are some nice EDC brands?
I like Foursevens Quark, MiNi and Preon lines. Zebralight makes the SC31, SC51, SC52, SC80 and larger SC600 for a great value. Peak LED makes the Eiger, Logan and El Capitan which are real winners. Dereelight Solarforce, Surefire, Nitecore, Fenix, Olight, EagleTac and Sunwayman are all winners by reputation as I only have owned most of those brands.
Really if you pay a decent amount of money and people are generally giving positive reviews your odds should be quite good. Nothing is guaranteed but its a good gamble.
What's the best LED for an EDC light in your opinion?
Cree XP-G or XP-G2 for a throwy EDC. Cree XM-L or XM-L2 for a bright and floody one. Keychain sized lights if equipped with a XM-L usually don't drive them hard and they are floody...XP-G all the way.
What is "PWM"?
Pulse Width Modulation is a way many drivers regulate output by turning a LED on and off about a thousand times per second. It's only a real problem when the frequency is very slow on the lower modes as it makes a shadowing effect that can make people a bit queasy when using the light around moving objects in the dark. This isn't a problem on high or even medium. Some folks are sensitive to it, some aren't. It's like the Tea Cup ride at Disneyland
. Typically when people say something has no PWM or "bad PWM" they are focusing on extreme examples over current regulation vs PWM. Believe me, if you read up on a light someone will say if its good or not.
Whats the difference between PCB and PTC?
PCB: A protection circuit in the negative side of protected rechargeable (Lithium Cobalt usually) batteries. Protects against over discharge, charge, and over current. Often will reset when placed on a charger.
PTC: A vent that will respond to excessive heat and will attempts to increase resistance to save the battery.
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