Anyone who’s ever used a battery operated device, is extremely familiar with alkaline batteries. They’re the gold standard when it comes to the majority of electronics which use them. But, in recent years, rechargeable LITHIUM batteries have been gaining in popularity as well. One of these such batteries, is the 14500 lithium.
With the introduction of LED flashlights for example, the 14500 lithium battery has proudly placed itself among its prestigious lithium cousins. As pictured (for comparison) a 14500 lithium cell is identical in shape and size to a standard AA battery. But that’s where the similarities end.
Similar, Yet Very Different
- All standard alkaline batteries are 1.5 volts. Most lithium batteries (incl. the 14500) are 3.7 volts. That’s a major difference right there!
- Standard 1.5 volt batteries are disposable. The 3.7 volt 14500 cell is rechargeable.
- For flashlights in particular, the higher voltage provided by a 14500 battery, allows them to be much brighter than if they were using a 1.5v battery.
Check Your Voltage!!
What is absolutely essential, is that the device you’re looking to use a 14500 in, be able to accept a 3.7 volt battery!! The list of devices made to operate on a SINGLE AA (1.5v) battery, which can also accept a 3.7v lithium, is very limited. In fact, of all the gadgets I own that use AA’s, an LED flashlight is the ONLY one that can accept it…and the only one that actually benefits from it.
Let me expand on the whole flashlight thing.
Most flashlights that run on ONE AA cell, can also accept a 14500 lithium battery. On the other hand, flashlights that use TWO AA cells, CANNOT accept 14500 batteries. This is due to the voltage limitation of the light, which typically will have a limit of 4 volts. Therefore, ONE 3.7 volt battery is okay, but TWO of them, at 7.4 volts is too much voltage! It would physically kill the flashlight to feed it that much power!
The only reason for using a 14500 in a flashlight is for higher lumens. Naturally if the light was made to be able to accept 3.7v, the higher lumens the voltage offers, will be its main selling point. A flashlight that is specifically intended for ONE 1.5v battery, can usually accept a 3.7v as well. In that case, the advertised lumens will be LESS, since it’s INTENDED for 1.5 volts. Make sense?
I recommend reading the manufacturers specifications carefully, which should indicate the working voltage range. Having said that though, single AA lights WILL NOT list voltage limits. The only one that usually will, are the ones that can use both.
On rare occasions there might be a manufacturers note, warning against the use of higher voltage batteries. The warning will usually advise that if the higher voltage causes the LED to fail, it will void the warranty.
Sometimes, using a 14500 battery in a flashlight can cause it to become unusually hot. Caution is advised in that case, even though many flashlights have protective measures at dealing with excessive heat. Try to make sure the device you’re powering can handle voltages over 1.5, or the extra power could cause irreversible damage.
In general, when using Lithium-ion batteries it’s important to know how to handle them safely, and be aware of the possible dangers. This post discusses lithium battery safety.
For purchasing options of 14500 batteries from Banggood.com; click here!