Choosing a first 18650 flashlight

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phouton
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Choosing a first 18650 flashlight

Who would like to help me choose an optimal first 18650 flashlight? Smile I just recovered 8 18650 cells from an old laptop and would like to make use of them. More details on the cells here: http://budgetlightforum.com/node/69763

I’m looking for something broadly practical. Most of the time my use of flashlights is around the house for repairs or inspecting electronics or working around the car, etc.

My shortlist currently contains the Sofirn SP40, SC31[B], SP33, and Astrolux EC01.

I’m leaning towards the SP40 because the 90-degree light, option of using as a headlamp, and the magnetic tailcap all make it the most versatile as a worklight. Also, being a lower current-drawing light, along with the SC31[B], might be more suitable for my old 18650 cells. I do wish it had a moonlight mode and the luxury of regulated output, but I don’t know if such a perfect light exists, especially at a similar price.

  • Are there suggestions for other models I should consider? Admittedly my knowledge of flashlights is limited!
  • I would also appreciate any comments on the safety of these and other flashlights with older LiIon cells. eg. do they have built-in “foolproof” safeties, or do they require the user to be responsible to choose appropriate cells?
Kilroy
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I’m still a newb, but I’ll throw my 2 cents in.
The SP40 looks like a solid choice, especially since you like the 90 degree uses.
The SP33 seems a bit much for old 18650s. The EC01 will probably be limited at the top end but that is okay, nice UI.
If you don’t need USB I’ll suggest considering what I wish I had gotten first, BLF A6.
Moonlight, regulated lows, lovely simple UI.

jon_slider
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I recommend buying a light with High CRI
for example the FW3a or FW1a

or go for the gusto!

Lightbringer
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Get a vipon code for a Teslacom light, to burn off 4 cells at a time.

~15bux with coupon, built quite very nicely, crappy UI (hella bright, half-hella bright, off), but if you only need 2 speeds for poking around the yard, garage, etc., it’s plenty worth it.

Nothing fancy. No ramping, no moonlight, no press’n‘hold shortcuts, nothing of the kind. Just a simple stoopit but incredibly nicely built light on a budget.

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Lightbringer
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jon_slider wrote:
I recommend buying a light with High CRI
for example the FW3a or FW1a

or go for the gusto!

You intentionally trying to set the poor guy on fire? LOL

He’s using laptop pulls…

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toddcshoe
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If you aren’t looking to set your pants on fire and just want a good around the house light. Convoy S2+, pick your options and enjoy. Convoy’s AliExpress Store has all you need. All the tint and CRI options you need. I have a bunch of them all over the house. I don’t carry them. A bit too long for me but, you might not mind. I carry Zebralights or a DQG Tiny 18650 most of the time in my pocket. None of those need high discharge cells. Your laptop pulls will do just fine. I like small and simple for my pocket. Smaller? Ultratac A1. Stomps the Tool AA in my opinion. Eats any kind of AA/14500 you feed it. Smaller? Sofirn C01, AAA twisty, plenty bright when it’s dark.

Watch out for those guys, they will have 10,000 lumens in your pocket before you know what happened. Big Smile

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Kilroy
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toddcshoe wrote:
If you aren’t looking to set your pants on fire and just want a good around the house light. Convoy S2+, pick your options and enjoy. Convoy’s AliExpress Store has all you need. All the tint and CRI options you need.

That was my first, I quite like the S2+ for general use. Sadly I didn’t know any better at the time and got the old firmware which I don’t like so much.

Bearbreeder
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Sofirn SC31b or SP40

The USB charging is VERY useful for normal folks (not flashaholics)

The SP40 is more useful as itll double as a headlamp as well

If you want a non USB light the BLF A6 with samsung bat is 22 USD on banggood with code AC18

Id take that over a convoy s2+, as not all drivers of the s2+ have LVP

And theres been recurring issues with the biscotti ones, in fact there was a post here a few days ago about it

LeftWing
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Hi Phouton. I’m going to say the Convoy S2+ as well. Buy from the store on aliexpress as toddcshoe recommends. Maybe best to get that first 18650 purchase out of the way without too much thought…cause after there’s “le déluge”.

toddcshoe
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Kilroy wrote:
toddcshoe wrote:
If you aren’t looking to set your pants on fire and just want a good around the house light. Convoy S2+, pick your options and enjoy. Convoy’s AliExpress Store has all you need. All the tint and CRI options you need.

That was my first, I quite like the S2+ for general use. Sadly I didn’t know any better at the time and got the old firmware which I don’t like so much.

I understand. I am not a fan of that firmware either. The Biscotti driver is quite good.

I don’t own a bunch of multi thousand lumen lights. I like simple, 3 or 4 modes, hidden blinkies, less than 1000 lumen lights for the most part. Hence my favorite lights aren’t exactly everyone else’s favorites nor are they the newest latest and greatest. Hope you find the perfect light for you. The deluge of hot rod triple and quad suggestions are sure to come. Enjoy. Smile

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phouton
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Thanks for all the suggestions! You gave me a good amount of review reading to do.

So far, the SP40 is still in the lead for me due to practicality of the wide beam angle, ability to “tail stand” with it pointing at something I’m working on, the bonus of the magnetic tail cap, ability to go probably as bright or brighter than I need, plus the great convenience of the built-in USB charging, which means I wouldn’t even need to get a charger right now.

I’d like to stick with single cell lights and I’m shying away from “hot rods” (literally haha) because although fun, I probably wouldn’t use those capabilities much.

Kilroy toddcshoe Bearbreeder LeftWing Great suggestions! The BLF A6 seems nice with moonlight and regulated output, though the lack of USB charging makes it hard to justify over the SP40. Similarly for the S2+. Both seem pretty refined though.

What have you done, @toddcshoe ?! Now I’m also tempted by the C01S. I dislike clutter and carry very little on me (sometimes not even a wallet). So a tiny AAA keychain light to go with my tiny 1.5” bladed pocket/keychain knife might be very useful and still satisfy the minimalism.

@jon_slider The C01S follows your advice of high CRI, but I’ll pass on the flamethrowers for now. Wink

@Lightbringer The price per lumen on the Teslacom is pretty fantastic. But aside from the points already mentioned, it seems to require button top cells, and my laptop pulls are flat tops, so that’s a non-starter.

In summary, SP40 is still in the lead (with a C01S trying to sneak into the order :S ). I appreciate learning of what’s out there and what others like/dislike in them. I’ll probably wait until 11/11 or BF sales before buying anything, so I’ll still be reading and rereading your suggestions and researching reviews.

BillyBobJoe
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If you want to try the Teslacom, its very easy to turn some flat tops into button tops if you have a soldering iron. Just search “solder blob 18650” on google.

phouton
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BillyBobJoe wrote:
If you want to try the Teslacom, its very easy to turn some flat tops into button tops if you have a soldering iron. Just search “solder blob 18650” on google.

I’ve soldered to NiMH batteries and it wasn’t pretty with my non-temperature-adjustable soldering iron. I’m definitely not keen on that idea with LiIon cells.

KeepingItLight
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phouton wrote:
I’m looking for something broadly practical. Most of the time my use of flashlights is around the house for repairs or inspecting electronics or working around the car, etc.

For indoor use and close work, I have a strong preference for smooth, wide beams. My favorite is a zoomie set to flood, but some sort of triple or quad LED using lenses, or perhaps a "mule" (i.e., a light with neither reflector nor lens) would do just as well.

Working on electronics and around the car screams headlamp. Hands-free is a big deal.

For almost any application, you can now get lights that have a good user interface, negligible power drain when off, high-CRI, neutral tint, and minimal or no PWM ("pulse width modulation"), so I tend to hold out for those as well.

phouton
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Yes, I currently use the SK68 on flood for everything. Sometimes at close very close range it’s almost too bright, while a bit further away I occasionally wish it were wider and brighter. Longer run-time and not noticeably losing brightness after 30 minutes would be my other desired improvements compared to it. Otherwise I’ve generally been quite pleased with it, especially for $7 ?

Hands-free and roll-free are a big deal too, yes! I’ve held the SK68 in my mouth and that was neither comfortable nor tasty.

There are lots of great lights for different applications, but I am trying to be disciplined and get one great generalist. Or was that two? Silly

KeepingItLight
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That's how it starts... just one or two.  wink

ValuseekeR
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Coupla thoughts on the C01S…

The standard UI with High then Low isn’t my favorite. Missed the BLF version that starts on Low.

The beam is very tight with little spill compared to my other 1xAAA lights. My preference is for wider, floodier profiles on the little guys.

Still a nice light, and of course these factors could be positives or negatives depending on what you need.

withoutink
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I’m just a couple weeks into my flashlight adventure, and I ended up getting the following as my first flashlights.

BLF A6 – fantastic little light.
Convoy S2+ – also a great little light. I would suggest the biscotti ui though.
Convoy C8+ – amazing throw
Emisar D4Sv2 – wow. That’s all I can say about this one.

For edc I like the s2+ and A6 the best (in regards to what I own so far)

Cheers-

Withoutink

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Flying Luminosity
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Holding a flashlight in your mouth is never a good idea.

Exploding flashlight kills man

Jack Kellar
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One more vote for the S2+. With the smooth reflector, it’s a general purpose beauty of just the right size, moreso if you pick a smaller LED like the 219C or (I figure) the SST-20. Just avoid the horribly outdated 3/5 firmware, that one is pants-on-head.

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If you want a tube flashlight for indoor use then the S2+ with Biscotti, 4000k hi CRI led and 60° TIR for a clean wide even beam is perfect, and for using it with laptop pulls i'd go for 4x 7135 (1.4A max) that will give 400-500lm wich is imho far enough for that kind of use

Simon from Convoy flashlight Store will customize it for you if asked to.

 

A 90 angled light might be fine too but i have yet to see one with all these features and such low price out of the store (on the other hand an X1R Eagle Eye is cheap enough and can be modded easily)

 

Edit : BLF A6 and all the other hotrods are very nice and all but i would not use them with laptop batteries

 

 

Bearbreeder
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Heres a reviewer using dollar store power bank battery pulls for BLF A6 testing, he even uses turbo

If you dont use the higher modes constantly itll work fine

Here is a BLF member a few days ago having a mode locked s2+ from biscotti. notice how folks are quick to recommend biscotti but dont answer if you get one of the problematic ones?

http://budgetlightforum.com/node/69732

Its an issue that shows up every now and then

https://www.reddit.com/r/flashlight/comments/bymyt3/beware_convoysimon_i...

https://www.reddit.com/r/flashlight/comments/c83fsz/convoy_s2_memory_mod...

If you are one of the unlucky ones then youll need to reflash or replace the driver. Which means soldering or more hardware, and on the 6/8×7135 versions even more soldering

Which might be fine for a DIY flashaholic, but maybe not for an average consummer

If you like the sofirn SP40 or SC31b just go with those

I have both, the SP40 is on my desk right now .. its a good value light

Lightbringer
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phouton wrote:
The price per lumen on the Teslacom is pretty fantastic. But aside from the points already mentioned, it seems to require button top cells, and my laptop pulls are flat tops, so that’s a non-starter.

When you’re pulling spot-welded tabs/strips off cells like that, you’re almost always going to have a tailing left over. Either sharp that’ll cut up your thumb when you try feeling if anything’s there, or the leftover weld that may just be a raised bump, or anything in-between.

Either way, it’ll all but never be a perfectly flat top unless you take a jeweler’s file to it or something.

Sure, it won’t have a great contact area, but it’ll be under pretty high pressure over such a concentrated area that it will make solid contact. And with current shared across 4 cells, no single cell is going to be traumatised too much by current draw.

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manithree
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phouton wrote:
Yes, I currently use the SK68 on flood for everything. Sometimes at close very close range it’s almost too bright, while a bit further away I occasionally wish it were wider and brighter. Longer run-time and not noticeably losing brightness after 30 minutes would be my other desired improvements compared to it. Otherwise I’ve generally been quite pleased with it, especially for $7 ?

Hands-free and roll-free are a big deal too, yes! I’ve held the SK68 in my mouth and that was neither comfortable nor tasty.

There are lots of great lights for different applications, but I am trying to be disciplined and get one great generalist. Or was that two? Silly

It sounds like you might like the YLP Panda 2M CRI The beam is so wide, smooth, bright, and beautiful that it’s my EDC right now. I need a headlamp every morning to unlock my bike, and since I rarely go back in the house after that, it just stays in my pocket.

Warm tint and high CRI are extremely valuable to me (YMMV), especially for electronics. The only thing I don’t like about this particular headlamp is that if I don’t twist the cap to lock it out, it does occasionally turn on in my pocket. It’s extremely unlikely to catch on fire, I just don’t want an unexpected dead battery.

Jack Kellar
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Bearbreeder wrote:

If you are one of the unlucky ones then youll need to reflash or replace the driver. Which means soldering or more hardware, and on the 6/8×7135 versions even more soldering

Which might be fine for a DIY flashaholic, but maybe not for an average consummer


Please, you make it sound so much harder than it actually is. Doing a driver swap on two Convoys was literally my first solder job ever and it turned out fine.

jon_slider
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phouton wrote:
@jon_slider The C01S follows your advice of high CRI, but I’ll pass on the flamethrowers for now. Wink

the C01s pocket clip is reversible, so it also works as a hatlamp
I use Eneloops, so the charger I suggested meets that need for me

the 18650 lights I suggested were to meet your criteria of 18650 power, they are inexpensive and capable of very low modes, which I find very useful

I would throttle them down so they never get too hot to hold,
by setting the thermal sensor to its minimum value
they can also be set to muggle mode, which similarly will prevent high heat

I have Zero interest in more than 600 lumens, more than that is not sustainable anyway.
I usually use less than 200 lumens and have no 18650 lights, they are too heavy for my EDC

my criteria are,
1. High CRI
2. Low Weight (less than 100 grams with battery installed)
3. aaa and 16340 are my battery choices.. no AA, and no 18650 for me

I do think you are on the right track by specifying what battery size you want to use, that really helps focus your options, and adding a High CRI criteria, shortens the list significantly.

enjoy whatever you choose, youre getting plenty of suggestions
I hope you share your impressions once you have tried some lights

Bearbreeder
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Jack Kellar wrote:
Bearbreeder wrote:

If you are one of the unlucky ones then youll need to reflash or replace the driver. Which means soldering or more hardware, and on the 6/8×7135 versions even more soldering

Which might be fine for a DIY flashaholic, but maybe not for an average consummer


Please, you make it sound so much harder than it actually is. Doing a driver swap on two Convoys was literally my first solder job ever and it turned out fine.

Please ..

You make it seem like you need to fix your own brand new light

Now you need a soldering iron just to get a s2+ with biscotti issues to work properly now

I mean a normal consumer is looking for a light that works out of the box properly. Not a DIY fix it upper Wink

Or you could buy a light without that issue, or one where they actually have actual warranty beyond sending a new driver

buck91
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LeftWing wrote:

Hi Phouton. I’m going to say the Convoy S2+ as well. Buy from the store on aliexpress as toddcshoe recommends. Maybe best to get that first 18650 purchase out of the way without too much thought…cause after there’s “le déluge”.

Perfect first 18650 light. Low cost, how quality and very customizable if you message the Convoy Store. I have one with an OP reflector and SST-20 which I love. I actually want to build a S2+ host, just need to find a driver I like which would be compatible with 18650 or 2xCR123 operation.

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phouton wrote:
BillyBobJoe wrote:
If you want to try the Teslacom, its very easy to turn some flat tops into button tops if you have a soldering iron. Just search “solder blob 18650” on google.

I’ve soldered to NiMH batteries and it wasn’t pretty with my non-temperature-adjustable soldering iron. I’m definitely not keen on that idea with LiIon cells.

There is no temperature setting on an adjustable iron that is lithium chemistry safe. I run as hot as possible to reduce solder time.

Won’t claim it’s advisable either way.

wle
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get a convoy s2+
maybe with biscotti
great light, cheap

keep it, use it for 6 months

then come back tell us what bugs you and what you like about it

good chance that could be your final light
for $16 you can;t do much better

you might ultimately prefer smaller, built in charger, different led color or beam pattern, different UI, or just more lights for whatever reason

but that would be a great start

wle

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phouton
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Great discussion!!

ValuseekeR I haven’t yet decided if I prefer a UI with H->L or L->H. For a small actual EDC like the C01S I’m not sure it even matters. I’d think it’s most important if preserving night vision or dealing with very powerful lights. Do you have other small and lightweight AAA flashlights you recommend?

withoutink Thanks for sharing your firsts! Do you (and others) actually carry a 18650 flashlight on your person all the time? I’m not actually looking for an EDC, but if I do get one it will be something small that fits on a keychain, no bigger than the tiny AAA C01S.

Flying Luminosity That is terrifying, but it’s really unclear what happened in that explosion. In any case the one in my mouth was a NiMH AA and one aim of this 18650 flashlight research is to be practical enough not to need hands or mouth. Tailstanding, magnetic cap, 90 degree head, and/or headstrap, etc can all help with that. Smile

Jack Kellar buck91 One thing is amply clear: the S2+ sure is popular!

Kame Sennin I appreciate the numbers. I agree low current, medium lumens is most practical. What would you consider a safe current limit for laptop pulls? 4.8A was the max discharge current for these cells on the data sheet, and now with their age and increasing IR, the sustained current will be less. I noted some values for current draw from reviews. SP40
1347lm -> 3.11A, 453lm -> 0.99A. BLF A6 1512lm -> 6.17A, 1008lm -> 2.76A, 502lm -> 0.97A. So as long as the cells can provide at least 1-2A it looks like useful light output in the 400-500lm range and a bit beyond should not be a problem.

Bearbreeder You’re right, as much as modding might be fun, right now I have no intention of it. How do you feel about the CRI of the SP40? These beamshots of the SP40 4000K, 5300K, and Emisar D4v2 4000K CRI95 are interesting. And what would be your biggest complaints with the SP40?

Lightbringer Yeah those weld spot remainders are annoying but pretty minimal. Teslacom explicitly requires button tops. In any case, it’s not the kind of light I’m looking for at the moment.

manithree Great recommendation! The YLP Panda 2M CRI is the best contender against the SP40 so far. The smooth beam, compact size, moonlight, CRI, regulated output, and great reviews really give it some advantages. The only disadvantages I’ve found is the cost comes to about double the SP40 and it doesn’t have USB charging. Hmm… I’ll have to think. You made my decision more difficult. Thank you. Smile

jon_slider I appreciate the suggestions and I also considered that higher powered lights might still be good choices if I use them on low/medium with the laptop pulls, and then still have the option to buy better fresh 18650s to enjoy high/turbos. On the other hand I’d like to be sure they won’t be a safety concern. However the most pragmatic lights for my main use cases aren’t focused on max lumens anyway. As for EDC, I like your criteria, plus I think I’d stick to AAA NiMH. What are your favorites in this category? I am enjoying this multitude of suggestions. Smile

extremesquared I hope at least it wasn’t fully charged when you soldered! I won’t be trying it either way.. Stay safe!

wle You’re right that there’s no substitute for first-hand experience with a light… which is why I’m making use of everyone’s in this thread. Big Smile

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