In the previous article, I showed off that I bought two tactical flashlights for next camping trips. These flashlights run on 18650 batteries.
So today I continue to write an essential part of flashlights, that is “what is the best 18650 battery and charger for flashlights?”
In a hurry and need to get the point?
Here is my recommendation for the best 18650 batteries for your flashlights:
The best cheap high-drain 18650 batteries for vaping or devices needs flattop battery:
The best charger for 18650 batteries is Nitecore D4 Smart Charger with integrated LCD panel & clearly displays.
Nitecore D4 is all in one charger for 18650, CR123A, AA, AAA rechargeble batteries.
Just like looking for best led flashlights, I also set some criteria of 18650 batteries and chargers.
So, what is the best 18650 battery? After few days digging in a deep searching for that question (yeah, I had quite free time), below are what the BEST 18650 batteries must have:
- Made by reliable brand such as Panasonic, Sony, LG, Samsung
- High-drain rating (Ampere): > 10A
- High capacity (mAh): > 3000mAh
- Built-in protection circuit for over-current; over-charge; over-discharge, and over-temp.
As for best 18650 battery chargers, I just use intelligent (or smart) charger because it keeps battery life long and maintains safety during charging.
Top 3 Best Cheap 18650 Batteries for LED Flashlights
I can’t wait to show you my review of top 3 BEST cheap 18650 batteries, it is not just good for flashlights but also for other devices such as vaping and toys.
1. ORBTRONIC 18650 battery review (capacity: 3500mAh)
This is one of the high-capacity 18650 battery for led flashlights or any devices which need the longest run-time possible.
It is very safe working because it had a good PCB protection:
- Over current (activated at 10A-12A).
- Over charge (activated at 4.35V).
- Over discharge (activated at 2.5V).
- Over temperature protection.
- DUAL short circuit protection (for external & internal).
Note: to recharge 18650 batteries, I don’t use dumb chargers, I use smart charger – Nitecore D4 Smart Charger is my choice.
It is easier to monitor status of batteries as well as safer. It is cheap BEST 18650 battery worth buying.
2. NITECORE NL189 – 18650 battery review (capacity: 3400mAh)
Nitecore is a big flashlight brand, and they have provided batteries and chargers for quite a time. So, I do not worry when choosing it.
Just like ORBTRONIC 18650 batteries, the NITECORE NL189 is integrated with overcharge and discharge protection circuits.
So it is safe to use and a popular choice for led flashlights and other heavy load devices.
I’ve bought and used both 18650 Orbtronic and Nitecore NL189 for my led flashlights for a week. I feel no difference between them, all work well.
3. The 18650 Flat Top Batteries Review for vaping
I haven’t used these 18650 flat top batteries before.
In searching 18650 process, however, I noted and picked out the list of best 18650 flat top batteries for your reference.
Hope to help you save time with this list:
* these are high drain (high amps) batteries and they are the best 18650 batteries for vaping
So you’ve already picked the good 18650 batteries and now you are looking for a good charger?
And, what do you need? A fast, safe, and reliable charger at good price?
Here are three BEST 18650 battery chargers – Nitecore D4, Nitecore I4, and XTAR VC4, you can’t go wrong with any one of them.
1. Nitecore Intellicharger (digicharger) D4 Review
As I said above, Nitecore D4 Digi charger is my favorite. It is a small, and all-in-one smart charger for almost all cylindrical rechargeable batteries such as:
- Li-ion / IMR / LiFePO4: 26650, 22650, 18650, 17670, 18490, 17500, 18350, 16340 (RCR123), 14500, 10440
- Ni-MH / Ni-Cd: AA, AAA, AAAA, C
The reason I like Nitecore D4 so much is each of the four slots can monitor and charge independently. Moreover, it integrates LCD panel that visually displays progress and charging parameters.
Plus, the Nitecore D4 is super easy to use, you just insert the battery into the slot and done. It will auto-detect the battery type and status, and then automatically apply charge mode (CC, CV, dV/dt) for each battery.
Note: CC: Constant Charge Current, CV: Constant Charge Voltage, dV/dt: delta Voltage/delta Time
And, other great features are:
- Automatically stops charging when complete
- Over-charge prevention to protect batteries
- Temperature monitoring to prevent overheating
- And made from durable ABS plastic for fire retardant/flame resistant
2. NitecoreIntellicharger (digicharger) New I4 Review
In my book, Nitecore New I4 is absolutely another good choice if you need a simple design charger at a reasonable price.
In fact, Nitecore New I4 features similarly to the D4.
The significant difference between D4 and New I4 is, the New I4 only has an LED light displays progress charging while D4 has a LCD panel.
The New I4 can fast charge at 1.5 A with one battery put into the slot while D4 is good at 1A.
So, which one is the BEST, Nitecore D4 or New I4?
Here is the comparison table of New I4 and D4:
Although Nitecore D4 and New I4 have the same features, the price of D4 is higher and completely worth a few extra dollars.
- D4 has an LCD display showing useful information about charging status and charging parameter for each battery.
- New I4 just has 4 color LED displays charging progress for each slot. However, New I4 is really good for the money.
3. XTAR VC4 Review
Xtar VC4 seems to be similar to the Nitecore D4 above, but VC4’s current charging is a little bit higher than D4’s.
Here is the comparison table between VC4 and D4:
The Xtar VC4 can charge 2 cells at 1 ampe each bay or 4 cells at 0.5 ampe each bay. The Nitecore D4 can only charge one cell at 0.75 ampe and 4 cells at 0.35 ampe each bay.
Moreover, VC4 has a USB interface that helps charging flexible and convenient.
In short, both VC4 and D4 are the best for 18650 batteries or any other. If you need fast charging, VC4 is my recommendation.
Note: charging cells at high current can cause short life cell, but if you’re in the rush, it is fine.
Personally, I like Nitecore D4 the most, I bought it for a few months ago and I don’t regret my choice.
Why SMART 18650 battery chargers are always the BEST choice?
Can a 18650 be charged without a specific charger? The answer is YES, of course. However, I don’t recommend you do that, why?
- Safety is first! This is one of the main reason I voted digital smart chargers. I do not want fire or/and explosion during charging by using dumb chargers.
- With a smart 18650 battery charger, you wouldn’t worry about over-charge, weak-charge and over-heat battery.
In addition, when battery is being charged, you easily monitor the status of battery such as voltage, current, estimated charging time, which dumb chargers can’t tell you.
If you don’t want to use default mode, you can probably set the current charging for fast charging or something like that.
How can you prevent 18650 batteries from exploding?
There are two main reasons for battery explosion.
The battery was short circuit, that means the positive (+) and negative (-) are in direct contact together via the metal objects such as paper-clips.
That causes temperature and internal current of battery increase quickly and explode.
Over-charging, over-discharging, high-current-charging, buying low quality batteries are the reasons why batteries explode.
Plus, you need to store batteries into battery case, that keeps your batteries out of short circuit.
How can we extend the life of 18650 batteries?
The lifespan of 18650 batteries depends on how you use and charge them. Here are these tips to keep your 18650 long-life:
Do not deep discharge (don’t let it discharge to empty or near empty). If the capacity of 18650 battery reduces to less than 50%, you should recharge it.
The high temperature will cause short lifespan and reduce capacity rating. That is why you do not store them in high temperature.
Do not charge batteries with high-current-charging:
In most of 18650 batteries, you should charge them with current under 1Amp. Although high-current-charging helps you reduce charging time but it also causes over-heating, explosion and short life battery.
The features 3 type of 18650 batteries in the market
Each type of 18650 batteries has separate-special-features. So, understanding about it is necessary to help you easily choose the right type.
Below are 3 popular 18650 batteries in the market.
1. IMR18650 – Lithium Manganese Rechargeable
The IMR batteries are HIGH-DRAIN rating and don’t need Protective Circuit Board (PCB).
It supplies big current immediately without heat or burns out the battery. Even if it is shorted, which won’t cause flames or explosion because Manganese is an awesome chemical.
That is why there is no built-in protection circuit to prevent over discharging and shorted.
Stay with IMR 18650 batteries – these are better for portable devices such as LED flashlight, power tools, vaping and more.
2. INR18650 – Lithium Manganese Nickel Rechargeable
These INR 18650 batteries are similar with IMR 18650 batteries but being added Nickel for optimizing performance.
The INRs combines the safety and low resistance of Manganese with the high energy of Nickel, which gives high capacity, HIGH-DRAIN and higher discharge than the IMR 18650 batteries and have higher price, of course.
3. ICR18650 – Li-Cobalt Rechargeable
The most quality ICR18650 are built-in with protection circuits because ICR 18650 batteries have higher capacity (mAh) but lower drain rating.
When you use high-current discharging or short circuit [get in an accident] it becomes too hot and may cause explosion. A protection circuit, in this case, will reduce the problems.
These ICRs are used in laptop batteries and other devices which need constant power over a long time.
If you need HIGH-DRAIN 18650 battery for portable devices such as LED flashlights, power tools, vaping…
… I highly recommend not to use ICR18650 batteries or at least choose ICR18650 batteries which have PCB (protection circuit board)
The last words
Hopefully, these information and review will help you choose the cheap best 18650 batteries and chargers for LED flashlight for the money.
Thanks for stopping by!