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Rechargeable CR123 batteries for Steripen


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  • #3706403
    Iago Vazquez
    BPL Member

    @iago

    Locale: Boston & Galicia, Spain

    I have a Steripen Adventurer Opti  https://www.katadyn.com/us/us/36835-ADO-MP-Adventurer+Opti

    It uses CR123 batteries, which are pricey and not always easy to find. I was wondering whether anyone has had any luck using a rechargeable CR123 battery, such as https://www.fenix-store.com/fenix-arb-l16-700up-usb-rechargeable-battery/

    Thank you for your feedback!

    iago

    #3706404
    Michael B
    BPL Member

    @mikebergy

    I just bought a bunch of non-rechargeable CR123s from Amazon  – about $2 each. I thought that was reasonable compared to buying from a store. Not sure how many you are going through per year.

    Just looked at that rechargeable – that is a pretty good solution as long as you make sure to charge before going out to make sure it’s topped off.

    #3706407
    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member

    @retiredjerry

    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    I tried rechargeable CR123 batteries in Adventurer Opti but they only treated a few pints of water before they said they were not charged enough

    I also tried some non conventional brand non rechargeables and they didn’t work very good either

    #3706413
    Michael B
    BPL Member

    @mikebergy

    It is interesting the Steripen literature doesn’t give a real wattage spec for its lamp. That would seem to be more useful than stating “50L per set of batteries”.

    Jerry, which brand of non-rechargeable batteries did you try? I just got them for a little flashlight my wife carries in her purse, so not as big a deal as clean water.

    #3706557
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    a real wattage spec for its lamp
    They don’t, because such a spec would be meaningless. This is not an incandescent bulb.

    Cheers

    #3706575
    Ken White
    BPL Member

    @kenw

    I gave up on rechargeables for my various steripens and satellite communicators (when they used batteries). Many brands and I found the results to be inconsistent. That said, I use Panasonic 18650s to charge all my internal battery powered devices via usb with no ill effect.

    #3706581
    David Thomas
    BPL Member

    @davidinkenai

    Locale: North Woods. Far North.

    I’ve got the similar unit with the built-in rechargeable batteries and it does okay maintaining charge during storage.

    But I have an older SteriPen model that had “smart” switches on it (no definitive click like an old flashlight disconnecting the power) and it would drain batteries while in storage so I took to removing one lithium battery from it during storage and then re-installing prior to a trip.  For the few days of a trip, it didn’t seem to make a difference.

    #3706589
    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member

    @retiredjerry

    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    I forget now which brands I tried

    Maybe Everready non rechargeable worked

    Tenergy rechargeable did not work

    #3706597
    Michael B
    BPL Member

    @mikebergy

    They don’t, because such a spec would be meaningless. This is not an incandescent bulb.

    That is a silly notion. It has one function. It is exactly like a cycling light or any other LED with exception to the wavelength. Oddly, those other things typically list wattage for the various settings, or at least many of them do.

    #3706614
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    I cordially disagree.

    Cheers

    #3706810
    Iago Vazquez
    BPL Member

    @iago

    Locale: Boston & Galicia, Spain

    Thank you everyone for the feedback.

    #3706824
    Steve B
    BPL Member

    @geokite

    Locale: Southern California

    There are 16340 batteries that have a micro USB plug.  You could still use rechargeable, and charge them in the field with your power bank if needed.  These are great batteries for using in an older H3XX zebralight, retaining a feature that so many love in more modern lights.

     

    https://www.batteryjunction.com/olight-rechargeable-16340-lithium-ion-battery.html

    #3707024
    Joshua B
    BPL Member

    @leukos

    Locale: Indy

    I don’t own a Steripen, so I don’t know if it is designed for use with lithium-ion batteries.   Are the batteries used in parallel (3.0V) or series (6.0V)?  The reason I ask is that the working voltage for the batteries linked in the OP above would be 3.6V (parallel) or 7.2V (series).  If the Steripen electronics aren’t designed with a buck converter that can handle the extra voltage, you may fry the pcb.  Flashlights have been a hobby of mine for the last couple of decades, so I had to wrestle with these issues frequently to find rechargeable options.  If you can’t find an answer to these questions in Steripen literature, then the safer option might be to use LiFePO4 batteries.  These rechargeable batteries have a lower working voltage (3.2V vs 3.6V) and are “safer” to use in electronics not specifically designed for higher Li-ion voltages.  If you go this route, LiFePO4 require a special charger that charges at the lower voltage.  Here’s a link to one supplier: LiFePO4

    #3707025
    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member

    @retiredjerry

    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    I think the rechargeable lithium CR123 batteries have a lower voltage, and that’s why they don’t work very well.  They treat a couple pints of water, then stop.  For Adventurer Opti.

    It was quite a while ago when I tried that.  Memory cells weak : )

    That’s why name brand non rechargeable batteries are best.

     

    #3707033
    Joshua B
    BPL Member

    @leukos

    Locale: Indy

    @ Jerry Adams

    Nope, starting voltage for Li-ion is 4.2V with a working voltage of 3.6.  That starting voltage is what can fry electronics that are only designed for primary cells (CR123a @ 3.0V).  Probably what you experienced was less capacity.  At best, rechargeable batteries tend to only have 60 – 70% capacity compared to non-rechargeables (primaries).

    #3707035
    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member

    @retiredjerry

    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    that makes sense

     

    #3707037
    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member

    @retiredjerry

    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    whatever the chemistry or electricals are

    they advertise 50 liters on a set of batteries

    if the rechargeable batteries have 60% the capacity, they don’t treat 60% of 50 liter capacity = 30 liters, it was more like 2

    maybe the non rechargeable batteries have a larger maximum current.  The Steripen bulb takes a lot of current.

    #3707039
    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member

    @retiredjerry

    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    googling a bit:

    CR123 non rechargeable has a max current of 1.5 amps

    RCR123 rechargeable 0.55 amps

    An adventurer opti treats 50 liters per set of batteries, 1.5 minutes per treatment, 75 minutes total, 1.25 hours

    CR123 is 1500 mAh, so, if it’s used up treating 50 liters (1.25 hours), then it uses 1.2 amps

    (oversimplification – the actual mAh is less if you draw more current, etc., but that would be in the ballpark)

    the 1.2 amps is less than the 1.5 amps a RC123 cam deliver – so that should work

    the 1.2 amps exceeds the 0.55 amp maximum an RCR123 can deliver.  Maybe when it’s fully charged it can deliver more current so it works for a short time.

    #3707048
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    My rule of thumb is to only use primary batteries in critical things, as the rechargeables all died far too fast on me. The idea that the rechargeables were better for the environment just did not work in practice.

    I also found that the brand name batteries were generally much better than the cheap ebay ones when it came to a high current draw. This does matter for things like powerful torches and Steripens, but not for other things.

    When I take a Steripen (which is not always), it is a Classic3. This one takes 4 off AA lithiums which can be bought anywhere.

    Cheers

    #3707092
    Joshua B
    BPL Member

    @leukos

    Locale: Indy

    @ Jerry Adams

    Good points about current limits.  Some rechargeable Li-ion batteries have a built in protection circuit that helps prevent bad things from happening (fire, explosion, venting with flame).  These circuits can limit current draw as well as offer low-voltage protection (or over-discharge).  This could also be an explanation for your experience of decreased runtime.

    Unprotected Li-ion cells used together in parallel or series are very dangerous.  Bad things can happen if the cells are unequally charged or one is compromised in some way.  Fortunately, most consumer electronics (phones, laptops, power tools, etc) have protection circuits built in to avoid this (as do the batteries linked in the OP).

    I don’t have a Steripen, but a simple multimeter could determine the current draw and then it should not be too difficult to find a brand of rechargeables with specs that can match that current draw.  But also try to figure out the voltage limitations of the Steripen circuitry before using rechargeables.

    @ Roger Caffin

    For the AA battery category, Eneloop AAs are a fantastic rechargeable.  They have a low self-discharge rate and have a relatively high capacity and high current draw that operates in a pretty wide temperature range.  They easily exceed the the performance of alkaline batteries (Duracell, Energizer, etc) in high drain applications.  However, you are absolutely correct that Lithium AA primaries are superior in capacity, weight, shelf life, and temperature range over any 1.2V rechargeable.

    #3747957
    Tim M
    BPL Member

    @timmo11

    This has been discussed on a thread 10 years ago – which means no-one has found a good solution to this except buy good name brand CR123s as cheap as possible

    Sorry I am not sure how to quote in, so I put in a screen shot.

    Long story short

    1) LiFePO4 don’t work because they can’t supply the required high current of ~1A. Those cells you linked to have a max discharge rate of 650mA

    2) The new version of the steripen can take take the higher voltage that ICR/INR/IMR chemistry puts out

    quote from earlier thread

    #3747958
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    Now that is really worth knowing. Thank you.
    Cheers

    #3747975
    Ian B
    BPL Member

    @wobbler

    Mine is a new model. Any one have a recommendations on any particular brand or specific battery based on personal experience please?

    #3748162
    Ben H.
    BPL Member

    @bzhayes

    Locale: No. Alabama

    Last I checked Katyden had a list of batteries that would work in the opti. I can’t find it now. I am not sure if they have made the electronics less demanding in the current version of the Opti. I always bought off of that list. I think I always got the Energizer lithiums.

    #3748902
    Rebecca 510
    BPL Member

    @wanderingrebecca

    Locale: East bay, SF bay area

    I had good results last year with the Fenix batteries in Iago’s initial link, although I didn’t get to test them for more than a long weekend. There’s one problem with them: the handy micro-USB charger makes the battery a little longer, and the cap on the steripen doesn’t screw down quite far enough to get a complete seal with the rubber gasket. If I can find my old broken steripen, I’m going to scavenge its gasket and see what happens when I stack two of them.

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