Lithium vs. L.E.D. Flashlights


Rebel Gunman HK
January 27, 2005, 11:48 AM
Ive been looking into getting a good compact carry flashlight and I need somebody to explain to me why in the world someone would carry a lithium powered light with a xenon bulb that will only burn for about an HOUR? (Lithium batteries go for about $8 a pop) vs. carrying a AAA or AA powered L.E.D. flashlight that is just as bright & lasts a looooong time on cheap batteries? Who can afford Lithium power??? Please educate me or am I correct in going with L.E.D. :confused:

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January 27, 2005, 12:00 PM
8$ each? Check out SureFire brand batteries they are much cheaper.

A LED light is a better "work" light, when you need enough light to see what you are doing (working on a car, tracing phone and LAN cables through a building, etc.).

The xenon bulb lights have more distance and higher output (though some serious competition is starting to popup) and are better for target ID.

Some nice lithium powered LED lights are becoming available, and not all of them from SureFire. Some of them will be promoted at this year's SHOT show. I expect SureFire will have to lower their prices or lose a large portion of the market.

January 27, 2005, 12:01 PM
The price of the quality lithium batteries from Surefire direct
You can get 15 SF123A lithium batteries for $15 US so this really cuts your cost and the SF lithium batteries are the best. I bought the M2 and converted it into a LED by installing the KL3 LED Head. The Xenon bulbs are really bright but as you posted have much shorter lives. It really depends on your needs. I have more then one SF light I have a small Z2 also a M3 also the M2. There are other good flashlight Mfg.s who make both Xenon and LED lights that are less costly then Surefire but Surefire lights are quality lights. :)

January 27, 2005, 12:01 PM
First as a rule incandescent lights can still be made to be brighter and throw a bit more. Not that you cannot get LED lights that are easily tactical bright.

Second the charm of lithium batteries is that they have a huge shelf life of at least 10 years and work in a huge range of temps. Basically you know they will work when you need them even if they have been sitting in the flashlight for years.

My personal choice is Lithium batteries in a quality LED light. I think the best mix right now for me is the Inova T2 which is a two CR123 battery light with a 40 or so lumen output, good through and regulated 5-6 hour runtime at full brightness. Diminishing brightness for a few hours thereafter.

Remember LED become much less efficient at higher voltages and brightness levels. So take an Inova T3 that has a very strong 85 lumen output. It still only has a runtime of about 2 hours or so at full brightness which is comparable to some incandescent tac lights. The benefit I find is that after that two hours you should still have some usable light to navigate by for a bit.

LED bulbs as far as their toughness are the way to go.


January 27, 2005, 12:10 PM
You've got things confused. There are different types of bulbs [LED,Xenon etc] and different types of batteries [lithium, alkaline etc]. I have alkaline powered LED and also lithium powered LED .The advantage of the LED is that is very efficient and thus lasts a long time. The life is proportional to the number of LEDs and the brightness is proportional to the number of LEDs. So - I have a 3 LED light with 1 lithium battery.Very small lasts a long time. I have a Surefire G2 with 2 lithium batteries .Small but will illuminate to 100 yds though the battery lasts 1 hour.I have a 7LED light with 2 C cell alkaline , lasts about 40 hours . There are also rechargeble batteries of various types. So you have a big choice ,just figure out what type of use you will have and go from there.

January 27, 2005, 12:13 PM
I have posted before on how highly I think of Inova's product and if you are looking for a good solid everyday carry light that is not meant to be a "tactical" burn out your enemy's retinas then the Inova X5 is hard to beat.

Very bright, flood type light. Runs on batteries already drained so much they won't function in other lights, has a runtime of like 20+ hours is relatively small, built like a tank and is reasonably priced around $30.00.

The T series is a step up in brightness and throw and have some nice features and get into tactical brightness but darn if that little X5 isn't just about the best light I have ever used. I got my first one over a year ago and I am on the same set of CR123 batteries that it came with. I compared it to two new ones I got this Christmas and it is still just as bright as new, maybe a hair dimmer if any. So even at $8 a battery that is pretty cheap light per dollar, factor in online prices for CR123s and you should be set.


Rebel Gunman HK
January 27, 2005, 01:19 PM
Thanks for the input. I can see using lithiums in lights with L.E.D's but I think I'll stick with standard akalines. Thanks

pete f
January 28, 2005, 03:01 AM
Go to wally world and but the 20 dollar brinkmann flashlight and then see howmuch better that is than a 4 times bigger maglight. You will not go back and i buy lithium batteries bulk for about 90 cents each.

January 28, 2005, 12:02 PM
paid $20 for 20 pack and $6 shipping from battery station. where did you get yours pete?

January 30, 2005, 08:03 PM
if shelf-life is the determining factor you got to choose lithium batteries. use the LED bulbs for close-in work. try to combine them both for max benefit.

Rabid Rabbit
January 31, 2005, 08:28 AM

I just found this place and plan on ordering a couple replacement heads for the 7 3-D mag lights and 5 mini mags lights we have stashed in our cars, house and bikes.

Double Naught Spy
January 31, 2005, 09:25 AM
Lithium batteries and xenon bulbs and one hour run time, why? Simple. These are very bright, very compact. The short run time isn't really a problem for most folks who don't use their lights very much. I went with a Scorpion because it did a better job than my 5 D cell mag lite and the price for batteries was comparable to run each.

What about the Inovas? They are good and have twice the run time with lithium batteries, plus the bulbs don't burn out. Their peripheral shine, however, does not do near the job that you get with Scorpions and Surefires, but the XO5 and T5 produce a very good spot.

April 2, 2009, 09:17 AM
Yeah their are now some nice lithium powered LED lights that are becoming available at the market... LED could be a better in working some things.. but a lithium could do a max power light... and a distance...

Flashlight z (

April 2, 2009, 09:40 AM
I have a Surefire G2 by my bedstand because, as others have said, lithium batteries are very reliable. I don't plan on using nor have I used that flashlight a whole lot, but I have had it for probably 2.5 years with occasional use and it still works perfectly with no noticable diminishing of the light.

For daily use, I haul around a Ray-O-Vac 1 watt LED light powered by AA batteries. I like the light a great deal, and I like the easy to find batteries. It's a nice light, but to be honest with you, another reason I like it is that if I lose it, I am only out 20 bucks. It rides in my bag everyday, and gets used surprisingly often.

black bear
April 5, 2009, 12:28 PM
If you want your Lithium batteries to last a long time, geta Fenix TK-10 flashlight, it will last 10 hours at 60 lumens and 1.5 hours at 225 lumens.
This is probably the best of all the pocket/belt flashlights and is ideal for law enforcement.

If you don't want to spend any money in batteries (after initial purchase) get the Fenix TK-11 with a 18650 rechargeable battery and a Ultra Fire charger.
The runtime will be 2 hours at 225 lumens and 12 hours plus at 60 lumens.

I make ultra powerful flashlights for a living, I don't have in my line a pocket light, if I were to design one, it will be exactly the same as the Fenix TK-11.

Black Bear

April 5, 2009, 01:40 PM
you're mixing things up. Lithium is the power source and LED is the type of bulb. You can get lithium powered LED lights.

The CR123 batteries were needed to drive the xenon bulbs that were required a a few years ago to get a pocket light to a bright enough level (generally minimum of 65 lumens) to be used for defensive purposes. With the rapid development in LED technology in the last few years they can now put out over 100 lumens with a AA battery so there is no longer the need to use CR123's to get the necessary brightness. LED's have a huge advantage over other bulbs as they don't generate much heat, they use very little power, and they are as close to unbreakable as you can get.

You can now get lithium AA and AAA batteries which are worth the premium over regular batteries for powering high output devices like flashlights. Rechargeable are really the way to go though. Especially with the newer ones that hold their charge for almost a year in a drawer. The reason to choose the lithium or rechargeable over standard is the power drop off curve. Alkaline batteries have a fairly steep and continuous drop off in power level where the rechargeable and lithiums will drop off to about 80% and then maintain that output level until almost to the point when they die at which time there is a very rapid drop. Check some of the battery run charts at

If I were going to buy a new defensive light I'd probably go with either AA LED from Fenix or this NiteCore One AA gives 145 lumens and it has one of the best designed switches available at any price.

More info than you ever wanted about flashlights can be found at

April 5, 2009, 08:29 PM
The Cree led's are unbelievable in output and/or longevity as well as run time.

I carry a little 20 lumen single AAA light in my pocket no matter what and have retired all incadescent bulb lights probably forever. My Fenix L2d is the same size as the xenon bulb light I used to carry but puts out well over twice the light and for longer.

Flaslights have grown up since the time when a Maglite was about the best you could get.

Here's a Fenix seller with most all models:

And for something in a flashlight/campstove/cigarette lighter/firestarter/eyeballcooker stick around here until you can smell the eggs in the morning:

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