Choosing a first 18650 flashlight

Who would like to help me choose an optimal first 18650 flashlight? :slight_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: https://budgetlightforum.com/t/-/59175

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?

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.

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

or go for the gusto!

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.

You intentionally trying to set the poor guy on fire? :laughing:

He’s using laptop pulls…

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. :smiley:

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.

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

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”.

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. :slight_smile:

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.

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.

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.

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? :stuck_out_tongue:

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

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.

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)

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

Exploding flashlight kills man

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.