Testing the 14500 IMR – AW vs. Lighthound

After many months of testing cells and not getting consistent results, I think I’ve ironed out most of my issues and wanted to share some results. I figured that this comparison may be of use to some people, so why not start here.

So here goes nothin…

The Cells:

AW IMR 14500

Lighthound IMR 14500


My wife’s old laptop

A second-hand West Mountain Radio CBA II with “Pro” software upgrade (calibrated so that the voltage under load read by the CBA matches within .01v of the DMM)

An Irwin Quick-grip clamp that’s been modified using a couple bolts covered in thick copper foil to which the leads to the CBA are soldered

LOUSY cheap DMM with a battery that’s on its way out (upgrading soon)

Areas of Uncertainty:

The CBA reads high when the cell is idle. The software can correct the voltage, but only under load. The graphs all start out north of 4.2v but the cells never read that high with the DMM.

The DMM. OK, I’m lazy and haven’t gotten an acceptable one yet and don’t even have a spare 9v in the cupboard. Once I get something I can trust, I won’t be concerned with either of these things.

I wish these tests were run with new cells, but comparing them to earlier tests, they appear to be performing “as new”.

The Testing:

Regardless of the cutoff recommended by the manufacturers all of my “3.7v” cells are tested to 2.8v.

Both cells were charged @ 1A and then again @ 0.4A to top them off.

Hot off the charger the cells measured the following (with DMM):

AW - 4.17v

Lighthound – 4.16v

Both cells are being tested with 1.5A.

The Graphs: (click thumbnail to open image in new window)

1.5 amp discharge

3 AW IMR 14500 and 1 Lighthound IMR 14500 @ 3A

AW IMR 14500s at 4.8 amps

Tested Capacity @ 1.5A:

AW #1 - 648mAh

Lighthound – 655 mAh

Tested Capacity @ 3.0A:

3 AW cells- 600+mAh

Lighthound – 255 mAh

Tested Capacity @ 4.8A:

AW - 296mAh - 335mAh


Well you decide. It’s a pretty even race at 1.5A. Personally I’d rather have the Lighthound IMR, but both perform well. (EDIT: I'm not sure now. It really is a toss up)


I only have one of the Lighthound cells, but I have 3 AWs. The Lighthound cell is slightly newer and has had a few less cycles, but neither cell has been abused. I plan on doing further testing on these cells (various loads) but I’m open to requests and have some other cells I’m anxious to get to, so I can’t make any promises. Thanks for reading and I’d appreciate any input you can give me on how I can improve my tests or what cells to test.

You want to try higher currents? The AW are rated MUCH higher for current.

Do AW have an online shop you can buy from? I've seen the threads on CPF but that seems a rather silly way to do business and even more so with the recent problems.

I’m basing the tests off of how I use these cells. I frequently use them in a Mini AA which draws about 1.4-1.5A on a fresh cell. I will test them at ~3A.

Lighthound and Overready stocks them. I wouldn't go on everready though-to many tempting expensive stuffs.


Yikes... I can't verify the health of this cell, but I just did a regular (LiCo) AW 14500 and the results were pretty pathetic. This is a 1.5 year old cell but hasn't been abused, so I'll have to check more of my AW14500s.

Capacity @ 1.5A - 311mAh


Well, considering the Lighthound version (BDL brand?) is half the price... I'm pretty happy I went with the Lighthound version. I wonder if they're the same cell, with normal variances. The overall capacities are strikingly similar.

Considering Lithium Manganese rechargeables/LMR/LiMn is primarily used to be driven hard and safely, I'd love to see a test a 3.0 amps. Let's face it, the main reason someone would be debating on these, would be to power some specie of XM-L, preferably at 3 amps, in a very small package ;) . Maybe then we'll see where the rubber meets the road.

Great writeup Mitro. I consider this a big validation for the Lighthound/BDL cell, which was recently disparaged by one user on the "IMR???" thread in the historic "LMR vs IMR" debate, in which I pretty much disagreed with him on all counts, and now I can prove him wrong on that final point I couldn't back up, and therefore didn't push back on. The AW sags a bit less, but again, who knows about variation.

I would expect Lighthound to be careful about the less-known cells he sells, but it's good to see evidence of the same.

Sidenote: I've since noticed that the letter "L" is transposed for the letter "i" on just about all my lithium cells, even normal Lithium Cobalt Rechargeable (LCR)/LiCo. Just about all of them say "iCR" (first letter left intentionally lower-case to ensure differentiation), only they then go and write theirs all upper-case, WITH the serifs. Wouldn't be so bad if they didn't include the serifs on the i's. And yes, even the BDL brand has "iMR"printed on it like the AW brand. Apparently the whole of the Asian lithium rechargeable battery industry doesn't know the difference between "i" and "L". [That last statement would probably get me censored on CPF, btw. And yet, it's true.]

You should really only be draining those at 1.2 amps max. Even then, its pretty bad for the cell. Its like discharging a 18650 at 5+ amps.

They are rated 750mAh. So 1.5A is 2C.

Rated is key. No LiCo 14500 gets 750mah- 16340's get 550ish, 14500 get 600 ish.

Sadly the Lighthound P&P charges are terrible on small orders :(

Tell that to the 2nd battery in the database. A good, new quality 14500 should be over 700mAh.

@.5 amps. I might of gotten 14500 numbers mixed up, they might be 700mah. But 16340 are about 30-50 mah lower than 14500.

How is the true capacity of lithium ion battery rated? Isn't it using a 0.2C discharge like NiMH? (edited for clarity)

Here is that AW (LiCo) 14500 discharged @ 0.5A:

It only managed 640 mAh, but seems pretty healthy. It looks like small LiCo cells don't have much purpose in my collection.

3 amp discharges tomorrow. :)

No, they aren't. Why no example? LH shipping charges start around $3, which is far lower than many online merchants, including domestic flashlight dealers. What was your quote? Then again, Noodles knows of an ecigarette dealer who will ship AW cells for $1.50 shipping (up to a certain number of cells).

I don't see much point in making a purchase of one BDL 14500 from lighthound, though. DON'T you need some extra crap you've been putting off buying? (Free shipping over $75! lol),

14500- 16340 batteries just score the rug. LMR will just barely kick the amps (depending on the quality) just a bit in this batt. size. So it's not all abot the mAh. I guess.

Here in the US get AW LMR to play with.


why the test are only at 1.5 amp?

we use imr batteries when we need too much highter currents

He'll be testing 3amp soon, possibly tonight. I think he mainly wanted to first test to see what, if any difference the batteries would show. Best to start slow, I guess. But yeah, 3 amps (and beyod, chuckle) would be more appropriate to see, but he knows that also. Remember this is his stuff though and these drain tests are hard on batteries. Then again, he mentioned his 14500's aren't of much use to him... >) <---- (BTW, why don't my 'devil horns' show up?)

Could people stop saying that the word "Lithium" starts with the letter i ??

Nice review just the same. I need to get me a few decent LMRs some time.