Would you like to know the secret as to how law enforcement and military personnel always have really bright, yet compact flashlights? The answer is the way in which their light is powered. You are probably familiar with traditional alkaline powered flashlights and probably own a few, but you might not be as familiar with lithium flashlights. The following information is a brief introduction to CR123 lithium powered flashlights which describes some basic characteristics, benefits, and drawbacks. Although there are both incandescent and LED lithium flashlights available on the market, this information will focus primarily on incandescent or Xenon lithium flashlights rather than LED.
Unique Characteristics and Differences
Unlike the alkaline powered flashlights that you are probably used to which are powered by AA, AAA, C, or D alkaline batteries, the lithium flashlight is powered by a CR123 lithium battery. You may be familiar with this battery as it is often used to power cameras. Unlike traditional alkaline batteries, which have a nominal voltage of 1.5v, a single CR123 supplies up to 3.0v to the device it is used in. The CR123 has a capacity (1500 mAh) in close relation to an AA and AAA battery (2700 mAh and 1200 mAh respectively).
The heart of the lithium flashlight, its CR123 lithium battery, is the key element leading to the advantages and disadvantage discussed below.
First and foremost, due to the higher voltage of the lithium battery, a lithium flashlight tends to be much brighter than an alkaline equivalent. There are some rather bright alkaline flashlights available on the market, but there are equivalent lithium flashlights available that are as bright or brighter at a fraction of the size. For example, a 2-CR123 powered lithium flashlight is similar in size to a 2-AA powered alkaline flashlight, but is capable of producing over 4-5 times the light (the equivalent of a big and heavy 3-D cell flashlight). In fact, some 2-CR123 lithium flashlights, when outfitted with a high output Xenon bulb, can produce more light than a huge 6-D cell flashlight!
In addition to being brighter for its size, the lithium flashlight has one more big advantage over an alkaline light. If you have ever used an alkaline flashlight, you have probably noticed that it is brightest when the batteries are new and then not quite as bright as the batteries are used. With a lithium flashlight, this is not the case. Due to the lithium chemistry of the CR123 battery, a lithium flashlight tends to maintain its brightness over the useful life of the battery until near depletion. It is nice to know that your flashlight is not going to become dimmer when you need it most