limited production :: hand crafted :: high performance :: rechargeable :: premium flashlights

This is my blog about creating a startup LED flashlight business. I'm a designer, fabricator, and strategist and I'm passionate about making ideas real. I believe that products are about people, that they should be built to last, deliver real value, and that we need to do a better job than we have in the recent past.

Most of my career has been contract or freelance work and I've crafted products and strategies for both big international companies and startups. I also used to work in the "industry" fabricating special effects for film and TV, along with the occasional hot rod. Bottom line, I love making things.

I'm starting this blog so you can follow along, from day one, and see what it's like to start a business, or fail in the process. Only time will tell, but I hope you find this interesting enough to stay tuned, comment, link, like, tweet, and (most importantly) participate in turning this idea into something tangible and valuable.

For a good place to get started with general info about who, what, why, etc., check out the "Stickies" on the left side of the page. Thanks for stopping by and please don't hesitate to ask questions and get involved!

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

What you should know about batteries

High quality batteries are the life-blood of any flashlight. This might sound obvious, but buying cheap batteries is often a "go-to" cost cutting measure. There is a reason you don't put cheap gas in a Ferrari, it won't run right. There are a lot of lithium-ion rechargeable batteries on the market with a vast range of quality. Cheap lithium batteries are at best unreliable; and at worst dangerous.

If it doesn't say AW then don't put it in your light. 
Fortunately I've eliminated the guesswork for you. AW lithium-ion flashlight batteries are simply the best you can buy, period. They are the only brand I'll sell along with one of my lights and I don't recommend that you put any other brand in there. If you are a flashlight expert, then do what you want. If not, trust me.

What, don't want to take my word for it? Candle Power Forums is THE place on the internet for discussing everything flashlight related. Turns out that a lot of "flashaholics" are also electrical engineers and rocket scientists that know a lot more about batteries than I do. So don't take my word for it. Go to CPF and see for yourself. You'll find one brand is recommended above all others, far above, and that is AW.

So the funny thing is AW is a small far as I can tell. So why are AW batteries the gold standard? First, it appears to me that AW's goal is simple: be the best. It's not just because they are twice as expensive as other batteries. They have been tested and retested by the CPF community against every "other" brand and they simply perform better, for longer. AW sells (almost) exclusively to the after-market flashlight community and those standards are exceedingly high. Remember the rocket scientists? They have lab equipment. 

Just a scale shot
AW quality starts with the raw li-ion cells. When batteries are manufactured they undergo a battery of tests (hehehe) to determine their performance characteristics. These batteries are then "binned" according to quality. The high quality ones go to big companies like Toshiba, Dell, HP, etc. Instead of getting tossed, the lower quality cells go...other secondary online battery retailers. AW buys top bin cells from Panasonic, not second rate ones. Then each cell is fitted with a custom circuit board that protects the cell from things like over heating, over voltage, under voltage, shorts, and excessive current drain.  

A lot of li-ion batteries are made in China. These of course are the cheapest ones. Now anyone who knows me, knows that I'm not against Chinese products. But in the case of li-ion batteries, word on the street (Science Street) is that they are inferior. Li-ion batteries store an immense amount of energy. You wouldn't want to store an immense amount of energy is a sub-standard container would you?

Stored energy wants to get out there and do something. Don't cheap out or they might do something besides turn on your flashlight.  

Here is what separates AW cells from the imitators: 
  1. Reliability: Less chance the cell will just stop working for no apparent reason (it happens) 
  2. Consistency: Every battery has similar performance (as opposed to variable) 
  3. Safety: Mechanical and electronic safety features (a "protected" cell)
  4. Lifetime: Longer total life span because of the characteristics above 

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