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  1. #1
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    RCR123A batteries

    I did a little googling and noticed that some people burn out their flashlights by using RCR123A batteries instead of the intended CR123A batteries. The former are rechargeable. Well, I'll be! That explains how I've destroyed two flashlights! If I understand what I'm reading right, the CR123A provides 3.0 volts whereas the RCR123A provides 3.7v when charged.

    More reading shows me that there are 3.0v versions of the RCR123A available. Are these any good? Do I sacrifice capacity by using these? I don't mind, if it's not much.

    My idea is to use a general purpose, modern flashlight to use as a secondary light for my bike. I want it to be excellent, so I have my heart set on the Fenix PD30R5 PD30 R4 257 Lumen Cree XP-G LED Flashlight from Amazon.

    Is this a decent idea? I'm willing to be talked out of it.

    My primary light will be a stock B-M generator-powered light, but I want my secondary light to be excellent.
    Please email me rather than sending me a private message. My address is noglider@pobox.com

    Tom Reingold
    Residences: West Village, New York City and High Falls, NY
    Employer: Larry's Freewheeling, 301 W 110 St, New York, NY 10026
    Blogs: The Experienced Cyclist; noglider's ride blog

  2. #2
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    Yes, disposable CR123 lithiums are about 3 volts. Rechargeable LiIon RCR 123 are about 3.7 volts, but typically come off the charger at 4.2 volts. Some lights are designed for this, some not. You have to check carefully. For safety, stick to "protected" RCR123 with an internal low-discharge protection circuit. The "AW" brand is one of the best.

    I don't have experience with the 3 volt regulated RCR123, but at one time, the common wisdom was the the regulator circuit took up cell space and burned out under high current loads, thus not so good.

    In 2 cell lights, consider using a single LiIon cell the size of 2x123 (AKA 17670) which should be safer. Check if your light can work OK at the voltage of one cell, though.

    For chargers, some are crap, but Pila, 4Sevens, some Xtar and a few others are good. Candlepower Forums is your friend.

  3. #3
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    I have a fair bit of experience using LiFePO4 rechargeable cr123's. They are 3.0v only. They also do not spontaneously combust (aka vent with flame) as can the more common 3.7v Li-ion batteries. The downside, is they have a lower capacity. I have both the Tenergy and Powerizer brands. I prefer the Tenergy. You can get them and the proper charger at Batteryjunction.com .
    The Monkeywrangler's Blog
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  4. #4
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    Thanks, you folks.

    Now, as someone who knows enough about these lights to be dangerous, it's tempting to ask what flashlight to recommend, but I know it's too broad a question. I will hang out in candlepowerforums for a while to learn what there is to learn. Any other suggestions?

    And I guess the answer to my general question is yes, i.e. using a flashlight as a bike light is a reasonable idea?
    Please email me rather than sending me a private message. My address is noglider@pobox.com

    Tom Reingold
    Residences: West Village, New York City and High Falls, NY
    Employer: Larry's Freewheeling, 301 W 110 St, New York, NY 10026
    Blogs: The Experienced Cyclist; noglider's ride blog

  5. #5
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    I am currently running Four Sevens 123 Tactical lights on my road and MTB. I use the AW rechargeable batteries and the charger from Four Sevens. I haven't experienced any problems. I have used other Four Sevens lights and they are quick to respond to any questions about their lights.

  6. #6
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    Sure, a good flashlight can be a good bike light. The downsides are that you can't get super long runtimes; the long form factor can be difficult to mount on a bike; you generally have to detach and open the light every time you need to recharge.

    There are dozens of lights that perform similarly at similar prices, yet have details that differ in ways that appeal to some users. Some will say they are designed for 2XCR123 batteries, yet are a tad too small to use the single cell rechargeable equivalent 17670. Yet others are big enough to take the 18650 battery, which is a lot fatter, yet much shorter than 2XCR123. Some 2XCR123 lights can't take the voltage of 2XRCR123. Some have different LEDs in different tints. Some are flood and some are spotlights. Tailstand, or big rubber tactical button? On the side or on the back? Knurling? Anodize type 2 or 3? Levels and modes?

    You get the idea. One feature of Candlepowerforums is a section where members will recommend a light for you if you fill out the online form. You might try that. However, Fenixes are generally good, I have a couple, but not in 2XCR123. For that, I'm currently using a 4Sevens Quark X 123x2 neutral white, which has the newer XM-L LED, and works on 17670 (my choice), or in emergencies, 2XCR123 or 2XRCR123. The mode cycling drives me crazy, but you can get used to it. I also use the AW cells and 4 Sevens charger.

  7. #7
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    The rcr123's come off of the charger at 3.25 volts. This may be high for some lights that take cr123's. Scroll down the page. http://www.thomasdistributing.com/TE...et_p_2926.html

  8. #8
    Senior Member a1penguin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Litespeedlouie View Post
    You get the idea. One feature of Candlepowerforums is a section where members will recommend a light for you if you fill out the online form. You might try that. However, Fenixes are generally good, I have a couple, but not in 2XCR123. For that, I'm currently using a 4Sevens Quark X 123x2 neutral white, which has the newer XM-L LED, and works on 17670 (my choice), or in emergencies, 2XCR123 or 2XRCR123. The mode cycling drives me crazy, but you can get used to it. I also use the AW cells and 4 Sevens charger.
    The snobs at CPF won't recommend cheap lights :-) I recommend budgetlightforum.com and Night Riding forum on mtbr.com as good source for the cheapest of cheap but usable Chinese lights. I think you are better off going with 18650 lights. There are LOTS to chose from. For under $100 you can get 4 18650 batteries, charger, flashlight for bars and one for helmet. I've been using my torches for about 200 commutes without any problems. I recently upgraded my torches from P7 and Q5 to XM-L and XP-G. Stay away from anything but single battery lights.

    If you don't have severe budget constraints, go over to shiningbeam.com. The Blaze (and there is another similar one but they remove them from the site when out of stock) are good bar lights. The S-Mini (XP-G has a bit more throw) is an EXCELLENT helmet light (I have this one). These are Chinese lights but with customer service.

    I much prefer torches because I can't stand more wires and a strap-on battery to tote. Spare batteries travel well in the seat pack. If I trash one of the lights, I'm not out $200.
    2012 Cannondale Synapse 3, 2012 Trek 7.5 FX Disc, 2003 Trek 2200 WSD, 1997 Specialized Rockhopper Al Comp

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by a1penguin View Post
    The snobs at CPF won't recommend cheap lights :-)
    Haha, this is true but there is quite a hearty following of Fenix users.

    I started using flashlights because the one I had was brighter than any inexpensive QUALITY bike-specific light I could find. I ended up buying this kit [http://www.walmart.com/ip/Zefal-LED-...5620/14264318] for parts because the flashlight mount is very sturdy and fits the flashlight I use perfectly (and another after a small adjustment) with no shudder or chance of them coming loose. That specific mount may be too large for the PD30, but a small round gasket could fix that easily.

    4Sevens is also a good recommendation, I'm sure you could call them directly and tell they you are looking for a light with X lumens and Y runtime that will accept a rechargeable battery and they would be able to set you up with all of it. I'm think they sell Fenix, too, if you want to stay with the PD30.

  10. #10
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    I made the mistake of buying a backpacking lantern that uses CR123A batteries. I quickly found out how difficult it is to buy the batteries, so I then did extensive research to find out whether I could use rechargeables. I concluded that either it wasn't possible, or that the risk of burning out the lantern was too great. Plus it requires an investment in a new charger. Recharegeable AA's seem so much simpler (but less powerful).

    For flashlights I'm pretty happy with the Lowes Taskforce 3 Watt (about $25). I combine it with a Cateye headlight and a Coleman headlamp, maybe about 350 lumens all together.

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