Choosing a first 18650 flashlight

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

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

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.

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.

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


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. :slight_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. :slight_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. :slight_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. :smiley:

Fooey. In a pinch, I can even use flattops as long as the tops aren’t recessed. It squeezes the shrinkwrap, but still makes contact. So for my Q8 and DC7, I’m using BTs, but can use FTs if I had to.

I agree the s2+ is a good light in many respects. It might not be the very best in whatever area but all things, including the price, combined it’s a good deal.

Many focus on a certain aspect of a light. Size, floodiness, brightness, tint, etc
I think the very first step is deciding what’s important for you.
For me that is:
Size. No more than 90mm long. I own the S2+ but it’s a but to long for my taste
Runtime. No ideal LEDs in the S2+ for me.
Yeah, I’ve become very picky. It stops me from buying useless stuff…

You work on cars so a light that comes with a diffuser may be something to consider. A cob light…


Dont worry too much about it unless ur inspecting picassos

Remeber that folks who do the most outdoors arent flashaholics, but those “extreme sport” people who lose their lives with a misstep

I can tell you they dont worry about nichia this or 4000k that

If you want high CRI go fo it, it wont make you do any sports better outside though :wink:

While ZL makes great lights, I have one of their headlights, they score not so well on size.

DQG Tiny 18650 25mm x 87mm (6830)
DQG Tiny 26650 33mm x 92mm (9533)
SC600F IV Plus 30mm x 97mm (9137)

What makes size so important? If it’s for fitting in regular pockets daily, I would think the diameter of most cells would be annoying. I would think NiMH AAA would be better, or is there any smaller exotic rechargeable?

As for CRI, I don’t have any experience with it in flashlights, but folks here really seem to emphasize it. I did compare regular and “HD” CRI household LED bulbs at home and honestly unless viewing them back to back I couldn’t tell them apart. I’m sure nobody else at home even noticed the difference. Color temperature on the other hand got a lot of comments. 5000K got tons of complaints and it is relegated only to the garage. Even 3000K got some grumblings and 2700K was preferred. Tint is mildly noticeable as some b(“HD”) bulbs have a strange purplish hue. I suspect it’s mostly a question of the brain adapting to differences, or perhaps in some cases, not.

It’s tricky, I have a lot of good AAA lights, but still haven’t found the perfect “goldilocks” light yet.

Mode order isn’t a dealbreaker for me on these, but given the choice and my typical uses, I prefer lights that start on low in order to preserve night vision.

For instance, I always keep a light with a good moonlight mode on my nightstand and use it daily when I get up in the morning so I can get dressed, etc, without disturbing my wife.

Right now that light is a Reylight Pineapple Mini. Beautiful light, great modes, nice emitter with good temp, tint, and high cri. The downsides are that it’s fairly heavy and if you unsrew the head enough to prevent accidental activation, it tends to work it’s way completely off. So its home is on the nightstand and not in my pocket.

The Thorfire TK01 is my current keychain light, but last time I looked I couldn’t find them for sale anywhere, so they may be discontinued. Not really sure though. Lightweight, good beam, another great emitter for temp, tint, and cri. Cool feature is the captive head. Twist to turn on and off, but it doesn’t come off. You can when lightly “stick” it in the off position so it won’t turn itself on. Only sort of downside is that it one mode, no low or moonlight. High is ~85 lumens iirc. It’s about perfect for the keychain really, just the puzzling lack of availability.

I also bought a copper Lumintop Tool AAA a while ago. Seems well regarded here and it’s also available in an aluminum version. Again, nice emitter. In fact they might all be Nichia 219c, but there is some variation in them so I’m not 100% sure. Only problem with this one is that my daughter claimed it almost immediately so I never really got to use it to form an opinion. *looks like they’re using an Osram emitter now that I’m unfamiliar with.

So those are the ones that feel worth mentioning as benchmarks for my comments about the C01S. Sorry if it isn’t terribly helpful though.

Hope Thorfire makes more of the TK01. Bought 3 of them initially but gave 2 away to friends. Then when I finally went to get a new backup for it, they weren’t around anymore… That’s actually what prompted me to get the C01S. Which again is a nice light, but not quite in line with my ideal preferences.

-Note on cri. It’s not as important as getting a good temp and tint for your uses and preferences, but I notice the difference and prefer high cri when available. The difference between a good quality emitter in the 70-80 range and a 90+ cri light isn’t huge like it could be vs. some garbage light with low cri and horrible temp/tint, but I think for a lot of us here when you’re this far down the flashlight rabbit hole, why wouldn’t you want the best quality when it comes to the actual light coming out of them? For edc type use I want the light to be pleasing and colors to pop. For a long-range thrower or whatever I might care more about other things.

Yeah, if a light is nomem, I kinda insist it be l→h. My E03 is m/l/h, and for a good while I was using those Tenavolts in ’em to keep good mode-spacing, but just a few days ago I said screw it, I’m carrying it and using it pretty much as a 1-mode light (when I don’t want to unclip my MH20), so I’m back to using a 14500 for brighter levels even if they’re not spaced too well.

I was carrying my Wuben i332 for a while, too. Nice and Star Tracky look, but again, starts-on-high. Nice for a light when you want it to go full-tilt, eg, snooping around at night, etc., but don’t even think about night-vision.

All those lights, for me to get the most use from them and to use them, they either need to start on low, or have shortcuts to low/moonlight. Only lights where I’ll typically never need to preserve night-vision will go into rotation like that. All others are “special-use” lights.

Never had one of their headlamps. The SC64c is very slightly longer than my DQG. Few 5mm or so. I don’t have a way to super accurately measure the difference. The SC600 I have is probably 10mm or so larger than the DQG. Maybe a hair longer than that. They are all short enough to carry, for me, but, I don’t like carrying the 600 too much. Head size is a bit big for my pocket. Those two and a SC52w are the only ZL’s I have. I still don’t carry any of them more than the DQG. AA/14500, AAA, 16340, 18350 or any other oddball short cell doesn’t have the run time I need. I would have to carry around too many spare cells, at that point it becomes more problems that it’s worth to me.

Sorry for the late reply, I work from home 100% of the time, so I am normally home all week. I only take a light with me when I leave the house and know I am going to be out for the evening. . I have been carrying the BLF A6 when I am out and I like it a lot. I did just get a Sofirn sc31b, which I will also be taking out of the house for a bit to see how I like that one. I think I will eventually get a decent 14500 and settle with that though. Again, I am new at all of this so I am just leearning. As to Biscotti, I wasn’t aware of the issues some of the lights have, I have it on my two C8+ and I like the options it provides better than the simple modes my S2+ came with. I have one more S2+ coming today (I think) but I don’t recall if that one has the Biscotti… We shall see. Good luck in whatever you choose, this hobby is certainly enlightening. :wink:

Lumitop Copper Tool w Nichia and eSwitch, from

I dont usually keep a light on my keys, Im a minimalist

buy I do like to use a jump ring with a quick release so I have the option to group my light with my keys, such as when traveling.
Here is a thread about AAA options, with pics:

I like the reversible pocket clip for use on a baseball cap as a hatlamp too

for those who do not yet appreciate High CRI… which chicken looks more appetizing?:

the main advantage of High CRI is that it shows Reds that Low CRI does not…

I suppose if you just want to see the Bear, it makes no difference what color it is…

ValuseekeR Thanks for the helpful comments and comparisons.The Thorfire TK01 is pretty neat, with the captive head being a distinguishing feature. I’ve been wondering what prevents the heads from falling of twist-type flashlights, and how common that is. The Lumintop Tool AAA looks nice too, but I wish it were smaller. In general I haven’t found exotic material flashlights overly interesting (yet) due to being worse in weight, cost, thermals, etc.

Lightbringer Interesting. I don’t have an actual EDC, but thinking about it I suspect most of my use would be on high/medium, while only rarely would I want low/moonlight for extended or dark use. But that’s just a guess. Goes to show the range of use-cases. At the moment I simply don’t have a strong opinion on light mode order.

withoutink Do you not find an 18650 flashlight too bulky to carry without having a specific reason for it? By carry I mean on your person. Perhaps some toss it into a bag, in which case that’s less of an issue. Yes, quite an enlightening hobby. :smiley:

jon_slider Nice pic! The top chicken looks more “normal” to me, though a bit overexposed and maybe a bit yellow/green, but still recognizable, while the bottom one looks like it’s under a heatlamp with unrepresentative coloring. Both make me hungry though! :wink: Thanks for that AAA thread, very useful with ideas. I tend to be minimalist too, and if it’s not on my keychain I won’t take it with me at all.

For an actual EDC, AAA feels like the upper limit or maybe even past it. Some interesting options include ThorFire TK01 (nice captive head, but no availability), Thrunite Ti3, Lumintop EDC01, Astrolux A01, Olight i3E EOS (maybe the shortest of the bunch), and of course the Sofirn C01S. They’re all about 70mm x 15mm, with some shorter by ~5mm.

Then I started seeing tiny keychain flashlights and the small size (40mm x 14mm) and weight (12g) are so appealing! The identical looking Olight I1R EOS and Lumintop EDC pico. There’s also the Manker TC02 but I’m not sold on touch control, and that shape is… well… different haha

If you need high CRI to eat chicken …

Well then thats definitely the epitome of some kind of privilege :wink:

Just pick a lamp and buy it, dont overthink it

Especially the sofirns, if you get tired of it then give it away or it becomes a beater lamp

Theres alot of overthinking on these forums

Its what you do with the lamp that matters, not what a spec sheet that might or might not be accurate says

Why do Low CRI people hate hearing about High CRI,
and become insulting and disrespectful,
calling it overthinking, and a privilege, to see real colors.

Maybe they are overinvested in Low CRI lights :wink:

Or maybe Im overinvested in High CRI… lol

Friends dont let uniformed friends buy lights with Low CRI.
Low CRI is so… yesterday… lol

Or maybe these high CRI folks use their nichia for dog walking and BBQ

And not much else :wink:

Interesting how the OP preferred the low CRI chicken in yr photo

Seems he needs to be sent to a high CRI re-education camp :stuck_out_tongue: