Survival Gear/Training: Batteries (gadget, personal use under survival conditions)
*note I will do another one later regarding larger needs, i.e. vehicle, generator loading, drycell vs wet vs deep cycle etc.
As most know, today there are literally hundreds of different type and kind of batteries out there, in size, in type, in power, in function.
I will try to touch on the most common, not only due to there being so many BUT because you don't need or want every kind of battery in a SHTF situation.
The first thing you need to do is make a firm decision on what, if any, electronics you intend to keep, store and/or use on a personal level (bigger items next time) in a SHTF scenario.
For example, radios? watches? Weapon scopes? Night Vision? Electric Razor? Flashlights? Laptop or Tablet?
Once you have narrowed down exactly what you intend on keeping and using, you then need to determine what kind of power needs it has.
For me, all of my items can be charged directly via solar, other DC input, batteries or ac power. I always, or at least try, to choose gear that has some form of redundancy because we don't know what may happen or be required until it does.
The next step I take is to try and use all the items I want or need that also utilize the same power or batteries. i.e. this flashlight can also use the same batteries found in that lantern and that radio. this watch battery can also be used in my firearm tactical illuminated scope, my lit compass and my mini light. this battery can be used in my tactical lights, my tactical radio, my hand warmer and so on.
Try to pick both items and batteries that can be used across multiple items. And even better, try to use items that can use different KINDS and SIZES of batteries!
For example, I have some LED tactical flashlights that can use 18650 batteries, LiFpo batteries, CR123 standard batteries or even AAA standard or lithium. My emergency radio can use a portable phone type battery pack, AAA batteries or a USB solar power source. I even have a flashlight that can use D cell, C cell all the way down to AAA batteries without any special modifications.. it is built that way.
Once you have selected the devices you intend on using and keeping, next you need to select your power sources to keep those batteries charged. As you saw in the previous article, you will need to also select a smart charger as well and I recommended those I have fully tested and use myself in real life.
As I also have mentioned previous, I made my choices using the criteria that there would NOT be any readily available power, the possibly I may be mobile on foot and so forth. I chose excellent portable and foldable solar power (See previous articles) for my primary charging, hand crank and a mini wind turbine as my secondary source. And of course should there be the option, I can still also use all these via a DC plug in a vehicle or ac power off a generator or other source.
Now, it is time to decide on the batteries them self that you intend on using. In this article, I will post images AND links to the brands and types I personally use. However note that there are MANY different manufacturers making the same type battery albeit under their name.
So I am going to mainly focus on the TYPE of battery you should be thinking of using more than name brands although the ones I do list below are the brands I use myself and can recommend from my own use.
Batteries have different performance levels based on the type of design of the battery. For example, every knows about standard batteries you use once and throw away. Most people have also heard of NiCad rechargeable batteries and even NihM rechargeable batteries.
More and more today, however, Lithium Ion batteries are becoming more and more common and they DO offer some very big and distinct advantages to the myriad of other types. However what many of you may not know is that there is another type of battery in this category as well, the Lithium POLYMER battery. I will go into more detail on that in a bit.
But those are not the only types out there. There are also LiFpo batteries, there are lead acid and some other very non-descript, most used overseas oddities too (which we will not be discussing).
From there, we also know there are different types and sizes of batteries. From button or watch batteries to C/D cell to AA/AAA to CR2 and CR123, from 10440 to 14500, from 18650 to 26650... and everything in between. And that is not all..
There are also 1.2 volt, 3 volt, 12 volt, and numerous other voltages in batteries.. and it is VERY important you know exactly what your device needs because in some cases using the wrong battery will burn out your device.
For example, how many of you are aware of the 14500 battery? Are you also aware that is exactly the same size as the AA standard or even most of the rechargeable types of AA, the only difference being they are lithium Ion in terms of look and type?
However what if I told you using one in that portable device you always use standard AA batteries in would burn out instantly if you put one of these AA batteries in it? You would wonder why, correct?
The reason is simple, and WHY they did this, is beyond me... but they did and this is why you have to be careful.
Standard batteries, NiHm and NiCad rechargeables are 1.2 volts. AA Lithium 14500 batteries are...... 3.0 volts!! Even though they are the identical size.
They were created to offer more power and brighter light to the new generation of LED flashlights. However even LED flashlights are NOT ALL EQUAL nor can they all use the better battery standard. In fact, I will do a full article shortly on LED lights and the technology and what I use and why.
So back to batteries. You need to be sure of what you device can and cannot use for batteries. Of the devices I chose for my kit and storage, all can use standard as well as standard rechargeable. I decided to stick to the older standards for those devices because during a SHTF, I figured it would get too confusing for items that use the AAA or AA standard since the industry for some unknown reason decided to make the 3.0 volt version the identical size as the 1.2 volt version.
But what I did do, is for my LED lighting, I chose items that could use BOTH the old standards AND the new more powerful and MUCH longer lasting 3.0V lithium.
There is one other strange twist to this as well when it comes to 9v batteries. Those do also come in lithium as well as the old standards... and those, are all 9 volt across the board. So with those you do not have to worry about this higher/lesser voltage issue.
To date, I have only seen this issue in AAA and AA lithium sizes. ALL other sizes seem to be standard, i.e. as I said, 9 volt.
When choosing all my gear I also decided that ultimately, if at all possible, I wanted the devices to use lithium for a number of huge and very important reasons.
1) Lithium do not lose their charge like standard batteries, nor as even NiCad and niHm rechargeable batteries do. This is a major problem especially when trying to store away gear for SHTF. Within a few months or less, most batteries of these types will have lost part of most of their charge. While you can recharge the two latter types, what if you need them right now and don't have time for a charge period?
That is where Lithium shines. Charge them up and they hold their charge for a very very long time. Eventually they too will slowly lose a charge but it takes quite a long time for that.
2) Weight. Standard and old type rechargeable batteries weight a lot, especially if you need a lot of them.
Again, this is where Lithium, especially polymer, can make a huge difference. Depending, they can be 1/2 if not even less than a comparable batteries weight. For every one standard 9 volt, for example, I can carry THREE (3) lithium 9 volt batteries!
There are a few exception to this but that is usually because they are much more powerful, i.e. the 3 volt AA vs a 1.2 volt AA. They weight about the same.
3) Electronically smart charged. Lithium batteries have small chips in them that work with the chargers which allow them to keep from over charging or over heating. Not only that, once charged, the chips regulate power so they can be maintained at peak performance and be left in the charger without any worry.
Additionally, if a lithium starts to show its age, many times the chip will actually revive a lithium using a smart charger. This is called 'saving' a battery and is a combination of the chip in the battery itself and the charger talking to each other.
This dramatically increases not only the number of charges you can put on the battery but the overall life as well.
4) Finally, another huge advantage is that Lithium batteries produce an even voltage over the entire charge with no fluctuation in voltage, again thanks to the built in chip. In other words, where a standard AA will start producing less and less voltage as it drains (i.e. the light gets dimmer and dimmer), a lithium remains fully lit and active until it just turns off. When lithium goes dead, you know it! That is why most new LED flashlights and other items have battery indicators so you get an idea of how much more charge there is.
There is, however, one drawback to lithium... Price. Depending, good lithium batteries can be up to twice as expensive as standard and NiHm/NiCad recharge types.
For me, it is worth it, no argument.
So now that decision has been made, you need to make a list of the types and sizes of the batteries you need.
For me, I will give you the list that I use and why. I will start smallest to largest.
a) I use the Casio Pathfinder series watches I wrote about a month ago or so, therefore I have no need of any watch batteries since they are solar charged on the move.
However, I have 2 other items, one being a night compass and another a set of binoculars that use standard AGC 377 button/watch batteries. So I keep two packs in my kit of those. They are only found in standard regular and are not available in rechargeable of any style.
b) I keep both CR2025 and CR2032 flat watch batteries in my kit. Now many watches use these so depending you may very well have these listed in your needs. But another big area they are used in is my scopes and lit holo sights for my weapons! So I keep 4 packs of each of those two types.
c) Next, I have AAA and AA NiHm rechargeable (1.2 volt) that are for use in pretty much most things like radios, flashlights and any other small electronics. I keep 5 ten packs of each type.
d) I then have 2 ten packs each of the AAA 10440 Lithium and AA 14500 Lithium rechargeables. These I have specifically and only for the small pocket and lightweight high powered LED flashlights I keep in my kit and storage. While those lights CAN also use standard and standard recharge batteries, these specific models can take advantage of the greater power of these 3.0 volt version as well and let me tell you, the difference is eye blinding bright!
I will speak more on this in my article about lighting.. In fact that article WILL have a video showing all the different lights and options in use that I have created.
e) From there I keep a 4 pack of standard 9 volt rechargeable niHm batteries, a 4 pack of Lithium Ion Rechargeable 9 volt batteries and a 4 pack of Lithium Polymer 9 Volt as well. I do not have a lot of gear that use these specifically however 9 volt batteries have a lot more uses than just powering gadgets.. and we will cover that some time in the future.
f) From there I then have CR123 and 18650 Lithium ion and Lithium Polymer. Again for use in LED lights and some of my weapon scopes etc.
Before I go further, let me talk about about Lithium Ion and Lithium Polymer.
Lithium Ion - Instead of heavy lead plates and acid electrolyte, the trend is to use lightweight lithium-ion battery packs that can provide the same voltage as lead-acid batteries but at over 1/2 the weight and with sustained voltage and power over the life of the charge.
Lithium Polymer - Are basically the same thing! Except you most commonly know and use them everyday.. in your cell phone or tablet device. They are the flat pack batteries you see in those devices. Now there is some confusion about this sometimes because there is also in development an actual polymer battery.. but in this case, these flat packs are and work the same as round or other shape batteries that are lithium based.
There is one exception and that is that there is also a CR123 LifPo battery as well which I use in replacement of standard CR123 rechargeables for reasons I outlined above.. weight, current etc..
Anyhow, I use the CR123 size and the 18650 size in most of my LED tactical lights.. Two CR123 fit in the same space as one 18650 as well which is convenient. So in some of my smaller LED tac lights, I use the lighter CR123 LifPo batteries to save even more weight. Most of my highend honking big lights though require the large and powerful 18650 (6800 mAh) or even the even bigger 26650 versions. As you will see in the upcoming video though, those lights turn night into day.. literally!
They also make 2000, 2500, 3000 and up mAh versions of those sizes as well but I go with the most mAh's... the more, the longer they keep a charge going.
If you have any questions about anything, let me know.. Down below I have listed the links for the batteries I use as well as photo's.. note especially the AA standard 1.2 volt and the AA lithium 3 volt variant and that they are basically identical in look and size.
Oh, one last point, the good companies producing these DO stamp them clearly so all you need to do is just check to make sure you get the right ones for the device you intend on using them in.
For me, I just keep my AAA and AA lithium 3 volt in a separate case and know to only use them in the LED tactical lights I specifically bought to use them for that very reason.
<b>9 volt LITHIUM rechargeable</b>
9 volt nihm rechargeable
9 volt Lithium Polymer Rechargeable (LOVE these batteries they are so light)
AA niHm 1.2 volt standard rechargeable Batteries
AA LITHIUM 3.0 volt Rechargeable *** REMEMBER not for use in standard and older electronic devices
AAA niHm 1.2 volt standard rechargeable Batteries
AAA LITHIUM 3.0 volt Rechargeable *** REMEMBER not for use in standard and older electronic devices
18650 Lithium ** 6800 mAh version
* 3000 mAh