What is an RCR123 Lithium Battery?

The question, what is an RCR123?, is often asked by newbie rechargeable battery seekers. And with good reason! RCR123 batteries are a terrific and inexpensive alternative to expensive disposable CR123 batteries. How so? Read on.

RCR123 Basics

  • It’s a rechargeable battery
  • Its chemical composition is Lithium-ion
  • Its voltage is typically 3.7 — but can also be 3.6
  • It’s the *same size* as a disposable CR123 (3.0 volt) lithium battery

* They can be roughly 1mm longer than a CR123, due to the added protection circuit

RCR123 lithium batteryAn RCR123 is also known by its alternate name…which actually describes the average size of the battery: 16340.

I think from the dimensions of this EagleTac cell, you can deduce what 16340 means. The numerals 1634 pretty much describe the size. The “0” at the end, like ANY Lithium-ion battery, denotes that the cell is round!

The RCR123 (16340) Allure

One of the biggest uses for RCR cells these days are LED flashlights. The allure as far as that is concerned, is when you’re using them in high-drain devices. Today’s flashlights typically need a lot more voltage to operate, and can drain a battery fairly quickly.

Since the RCR cell is rechargeable, its relative lost cost, when compared to buying disposable CR123 batteries in a retail store, is a no-brainer! The only caveat to ‘some’, might be that unlike CR123 batteries, the rechargeable variety can only be purchased online! Obviously, you can buy disposables online as well, often for as little as $1 a piece. Very cheap when compared to $5 each…in most retail stores. But again, even at $1 each, you can deplete a CR123 in no time. Meanwhile, the RCR123 only needs to be recharged.

Warning! Don’t Buy Cheap!

This same warning applies to ALL lithium-based batteries! This article explains why buying cheap rechargeable batteries can be a bad decision. Stress

Do a bit of brand research. Basically you can’t go wrong if you stick to cells marketed by flashlight manufacturers.

A few good examples are:

  • Nitecore
  • EagleTac
  • Xtar
  • Olight
  • Eastshine

None of these RCR123 brands will cost more than a few dollars per cell. The best advice when faced with a myriad of choices, is to avoid those which have an mAh capacity of more than 800. There are many out there at VERY tempting prices, whose capacities exceed 1000 mAh. These cells are not be trusted! And those over-inflated capacities are completely bogus!

Any RCR123 that’s worth its name, will have a capacity in the 750 mAh range. Ultimately, when used in a high-drain device, an RCR123 won’t provide as much lasting power than a CR123 disposable. BUT…it’s the rechargeable factor that exceeds the supply of power.

Is Protection Better?  image holding umbrella

Most, SHOULD have the word “protected” written on the label. This means that the cell will cease to provide power when drained to a preset threshold.

RCR123 batteries described as “IMR” are a slightly different type of chemistry. They provide a good solid shot of intense power for any device that draws a lot of voltage, but they’re not protected. This just means that depending on the device (or flashlight) that they can be depleted to zero volts. Most battery “experts” will advise against running a cell that low on a continual basis.

My Recommendation

An RCR123 battery is an excellent choice for any device where a rechargeable battery can be used. There are dozens of flashlights that accept them, both in single and double form. They’re a convenient size, and are packed with power!

Your choices at this link are plentiful. Just remember the guidelines I described above so you don’t find yourself in a questionable position!

Your questions prior to a purchase will also be answered if you let me know in the questions area below.


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  1. You never mentioned whether the higher voltage would be compatible. The cr123 is 3v and rcr123 is 3.7v, is the higher voltage going to be safe for a device designed for the non rechargeable 3v

  2. Thanks for the article. New to LED flashlights and the one I bought, EC11 takes both.

    • Thanks for the comment Gary! EC11 is a great little light. My choice of battery in that one is a 18350.

      Let me know if you have any further questions.

      • Thank you, 18350 it is. Is charger quality as important as battery quality or no?

        • Hey Gary!

          Just as there are cheap batteries…there are also cheap chargers. Basically they would be “no-name” generic types which have no more than 2 slots. Most “branded” chargers are good quality. Most (if not all) have some sort of digital display, and have either 2 or 4 slots. I particularly like the MiBoxer brand.

          Thanks for the question 🙂

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