Breakdown Flashlight: Alkaline vs Lithium

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Texas_Toast, May 3, 2019.

  1. Texas_Toast macrumors 6502a

    Texas_Toast

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    Location:
    Texas
    #1
    I could use some advice on the best type of flashlight to buy to be stored in my car trunk and used as a "breakdown" flashlight.

    In the old days, you didn't have many choices, so you likely ended up with a cheap plastic flashlight from K-Mart with alkaline "D" batteries.

    Yesterday I saw a really slick looking mini flashlight that claims to have 700 lumens yet is the size of a small pickle!

    However, as I was buying it tonight, I saw that it uses lithium batteries. (Not sure if they are lithium or lithium-ion.)

    Either way, after frequently hearing about people's iPhones and MacBook catching on fire, it got me to thinking that maybe buying a "breakdown" flashlight that uses lithium-based batteries isn't such a good idea?! :eek:

    To further complicate matters, in another thread of mine, I was advised *not* to leave an iPhone in my car glovebox year-round because it will kill the battery for good due to the extreme temperature changes. (I wanted to buy an extra iPhone and leave it in my car so I always have a decent, yet small, camera with me.)

    So back to my "breakdown" flashlight...

    What is the best way to go?

    Seems to me that those old-fashioned $5 alkaline battery flashlights from K-Mart usually lasted for a couple years in our cars before we had to replace the batteries, but then maybe that is my senility kicking in?!
     
  2. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6

    ucfgrad93

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    Colorado
    #2
    The problem with keeping batteries like that in your truck is the heat that builds up. I would suggest that you get a flashlight that you can carry on your person instead.
     
  3. Zenithal macrumors 604

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    Sep 10, 2009
    #3
    LED flashlight. Ideally you want something with high lumens. Buy cheap but decent batteries. Replace batteries every 4-6 months.
     
  4. Texas_Toast thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Texas_Toast

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    Texas
    #4
    It's a breakdown flashlight in case i break down somewhere or have an emergency.

    Would you strap a first-aid kit to your back for fear that your bandaides might get damp in your vehicle in the winter? :p

    This was never an issue in "the old days", but I'm not sure what would happen with the lithium battery flashlight I was looking at...
    --- Post Merged, May 3, 2019 ---
    Yes, the lithum flashlight I bought is LED. But it comes with Lithium batteries...

    So is it dangerous to store lithium batteries in my car trunk?

    (I'm not in Texas right now, but in the summer it will get in the 90s outside and maybe hooter in my trunk.)

    I would be pissed if I burnt my car to the ground because a lithium flashright battery exploded/caught fire.

    And even if that didn't happen, would a lithium battery die quicker than an alkaline battery?

    I bought the 700-lumen lithium flashlight and also a 300-lumen (?) alkaline flashlight as a backup.

    Figured I would come here and try to get educated on the pros and cons of each, and any risks that I should know about in advance!!
     
  5. Zenithal macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2009
    #5
    Going to be honest here, I'm not sure. I've never heard of a lithium battery exploding on its own unless it was punctured or exposed to direct heat. If it makes you feel better, Tesla home batteries and Tesla cars use lithium battery technology. A trunk isn't exposed to direct sunlight, but most AA batteries can operate up to 60C or just over 140F. Personally, I use Eneloop batteries which are NiMh. They're rechargeable and have a battery discharge rate than anything else I've used. They're designed to work in cold and hot.

    I can't remember the last time I bought traditional batteries.
     
  6. Texas_Toast thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Texas_Toast

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    #6
    It seems you hear a lot in the news about laptops and smartphones (?) catching fire on planes and such, no?


    But Tesla uses Lithium ION batteries, and obviously they have to produce a better product than a flashlight battery, so not sure that is a good comparison.


    I just bought a collapseable cooler by CleverMade, and I figure that if I store things like my flashlight in there, even on a 100 F day, that should be enough. (I wouldn't think your trunk would get as hot as your dashboard or even the inside of your car which gets sun through the glass from all directions?!)


    So would you lean towards the alkaline flashlight?

    Here are the two competing flashlights I bought at Target...

    Energizer Vision HD Performance - Flashlight - LED - 3-mode - daylight


    Energizer Led Vision HD Performance Tactical Light, Black
     
  7. Zenithal macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2009
    #7
    Damaged and or third-party batteries. Aircraft are also pressurized to an altitude greater than most people live at. This includes the cargo hold. You're comparing apples to oranges here.

    Lithium ions are built slightly differently to be able to be charged. The concept isn't radically different here.

    SUVs typically don't have a true separation between the trunk and the main cabin apart from a felt covered privacy extension.

    Personally, I'd rather spend a similar amount or more on a higher quality flashlight. I recommend looking and asking for options on Candle Power. I don't post there anymore and haven't in years to be honest, though everyone is very friendly. With a roadside flashlight, you ideally want as much light possible. That and higher quality flashlights come with features like strobing or rapid flashing patterns, such as SOS, built into them.


    Your idea of using a small cooler isn't a bad idea at all.
    --- Post Merged, May 4, 2019 ---
    And while you're at it, I'd look into collapsible light-up traffic cones/roadside emergency cones. High-visibility safety vest doesn't hurt either.
     
  8. Gutwrench Contributor

    Gutwrench

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2011
    #8
    How about a regular flashlight and a bunch of chemlights?
     
  9. BigMcGuire Contributor

    BigMcGuire

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    Jan 10, 2012
    Location:
    California
    #9
    Leaving lithium ion batteries in your car is a bad idea. It gets way too hot, even in the glove box, for anything like that to exist.

    I've been using these flashlights for years now: https://www.amazon.com/Anker-Tactic...er+flashlight&qid=1557008300&s=gateway&sr=8-3

    Even on the lowest brightness it is brighter than my 4D Maglite.

    Last time I needed a flashlight when I was in a situation like a flat tire = my cellphone's flashlight did the job very well.
     
  10. Zenithal macrumors 604

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    Sep 10, 2009
    #10
    Another fine choice but I've never liked the chemlights you could buy as a regular Joe. Most of them seem to be low power and aimed at the EDM groups.
     
  11. Gutwrench Contributor

    Gutwrench

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    #11
    White phosphorus illum? You just have to complete the repair in 30 seconds.
     
  12. Zenithal macrumors 604

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    Sep 10, 2009
    #12
    No, Barto. The light sticks you can buy in stores generally aren't big and bright enough like the ones government, local or national, order from. The ones I recall using were maybe an inch to an inch and a half thick and nearly a foot long. Snap it in the middle or whack it on the side of a Suburban's bumper or whatever car we'd taken from the vehicle pool. It gave off a relatively bright glow for at least 4 hours. Put it in a tube and tape the end off and you had a really ghetto flashlight with a restricted beam path if you didn't want glow all around you.

    Most of the ones you get today are thin, small and weak.
     
  13. Texas_Toast thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Texas_Toast

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2016
    Location:
    Texas
    #13
    Okay.


    I have a Honda car. ;)


    So much to research and so little time.

    Am unpackaging my two flashlights now and going to try them out since it is night time.

    Will have to research "quality" flashlights when I have time.

    How much should I expect to spend?


    How about some of the flashlights here...

    Our Top 9 Picks - Best Tactical Flashlight Reviews for 2019?

    https://outdoorsmagazine.net/best-tactical-flashlight/




    I haven't tried it out yet, but figured it was better than a duffle bag. Hopefully it keeps most of the heat/cold/humidity/dampness out?!


    Good idea. Yeah, this started out as a carry over from a travel bag I was building for myself, and I figured maybe I should try to organize/compress/improve what's in my trunk.
     
  14. Zenithal macrumors 604

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    Sep 10, 2009
    #14
    There's decent Chinese made 1,000 lumen lights with decent throw that use normal batteries. The good stuff tend to use rechargable li-on batteries because of their higher lumens and throw. Alternatively, you could buy a handheld battery powered spotlight or LED lantern.
     
  15. Texas_Toast thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Texas_Toast

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    Texas
    #15
    Any thoughts on any of the flashlights in the last link I provided? (That was the first one that came up in Google for "LED flashlight review"

    I think a few of those use AA alkalines...
     
  16. Gutwrench Contributor

    Gutwrench

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    #16
    Biting my tongue. Must resist. Must resist.
     
  17. Zenithal macrumors 604

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    Sep 10, 2009
    #17
    Surefire, Streamlight and Nitecore are brands I recognize. Don't recommend the latter. Fenix is a good substitute.

    If battery wasn't a concern for you, I'd have recommended the Emisar D4, which is under $40. Newer than older variants, no fancy stupid stuff like the D5 you'll never appreciate. Lasts forever. Various modes.
    --- Post Merged, May 5, 2019 ---
    I'm sure you can find something slender to pop in your mouth.
     
  18. Gutwrench Contributor

    Gutwrench

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    #18
    :mad:
     
  19. Texas_Toast thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Texas_Toast

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    Texas
    #19
    Is my initial fear of a lithium battery catching on fire in my car trunk a legitimate concern?

    And would this concern apply to rechargeable alkaline batteries?

    Lastly, how do lithium vs rechargeable lithium vs rechargeable alkaline compare to old-fashioned AA or AAA alkaline batteries when it comes to...

    a.) Withstanding extreme heat and cold like you'd experience in a car trunk?

    b.) Affecting how bright your flashlight is? (i.e. Is brightness entirely a function of the element or does it also matter what type of battery you use?)
     
  20. Zenithal macrumors 604

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    Sep 10, 2009
    #20
    That's a very good question. For people such as us who live in areas where it can exceed 90* ambient air during the summer, the concern is real. I don't want to put too much faith in my answers because I never thought of what could happen. I do know that a trunk usually doesn't get as hot as inside a car or a surface compartment like a glovebox. You can ask around if you want to be certain.

    As for your other questions.

    1) IMO it depends on the manufacturing of the battery; high quality unit or not. Eneloops operate well under heat and I believe down to -20F where they'll begin to fail.

    2) Depends on the battery. Also depends on the controller for the flashlight if it's got one. To give you an idea, the D4 under the right conditions is able to light a cigarette if you're patient enough.
     
  21. HDFan macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2007
    #21
    Doing a google search there are not a lot hits of car fires started by flashlights, but looks as if they do occur:

    https://www.kltv.com/2019/01/23/flashlight-battery-causes-car-fire-kilgore-college-campus/

    This was Texas, but in January.

    When there was an attributable cause it was due to an engine fire. I'm not including the fire where the driver had been shot in the head.

    And here's a police station event:

    https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2...tation-fire/85jN1MP0GuuKFhwaIRZV6N/story.html

    And a CDC report about an explosion in a firefighters pocket:

    https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/97-149/default.html

    In graduate school I got a knock on my door and someone said "Your car is on fire". Indeed it was. Luckily someone saw that the back seat was on fire and had called the fire department. They had already put it out, so not much damage other than having to replace the rear seat. The cause? A 5 gallon water bottle on the back seat! The sun had hit the bottle in a way that magnified the light intensity as it hit the seat and it caused a fire.
     

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20 May 3, 2019