Buying Cheap Used/Recovered 18650 Batteries for My Survival Stash

What is best for the prepper: Brand new 18650 batteries for $10 each or recovering used or surplus batteries for a fraction of that price?

If you are a frequent reader, you know that I like the 18650 rechargeable lithium ion battery. When I buy portable electronics and lights, I go out of my way to buy those that use the 18650 battery.

The 18650 is the most popular Li-ion battery in the portable electronics world and was used to power some of the earlier electric cars. The 18650 cells powering electric scooters, skateboards, laptops, power tools, and probably millions of other rechargeable devices. It has a nominal voltage of 3.7 volts and usually offers between 2,600 and 3,400 milliamp hours (mAh). By combing batteries together serially and in parallel, you can devise battery banks that are 12, 18, 24 and 48 volts and provide kilowatts of power. You just have to use the right quantity of cells to fit your application.

Until now, I had been buying commercial 18650s from well-known brands like Tenergy and prominent flashlight makers. Most of these batteries are made by companies like Samsung, LG, Sony, and Panasonic and given a private label treatment by flashlight makers and other companies. Branded 18650s usually cost around $10, although the higher mAh and high-discharge batteries can cost up to $20 each.

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Why Every Prepper Should have a Headlamp (or Three)

Flashlights are handy, and I carry one as part of my EDC, but headlamps allow you to go hand-free which is important when you have chores to do in the dark.

I used to wear one of my headlamps only when we had a power outage or when I was working in the crawl space or the attic. I would rarely wear one if I went outside carrying a shotgun to see what went bump in the night.

Now I wear one every night when walk the dog. That’s when the rechargeable batteries come in handy.

Every night, I walk the dog sometime between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. At first, I used my EDC flashlight, a 1,200 lumen handheld torch that uses an 18650 battery. I quickly switched over to one of my headlamps that uses two 18650s and has three brightness settings. When the brightest setting and the medium setting are about the same, I know it’s time to recharge the batteries.

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Prepper Diary January 28: Time to Charge the Batteries

A search through our stock of radios leads to a marathon battery recharging session.

I was going through our boxes to find the FRS radios so that my wife can keep in touch with me while I am hiking around the area, and I decided to inspect all our radio components.  They are each stored in .50 caliber ammo cans lined with corrugated cardboard to provide a poor-man’s Faraday cage.

When I opened the can for our Sony shortwave radio, I was surprised to find 8 regular AA batteries and 10 Eneloop rechargeable batteries and a charger tucked away in there. Not knowing how old they were, I stuck the stored AAs in the “use first” pile, grabbed one of my other Eneloop chargers so I could charge them all in at once, and started charging them.  That took the better part of the day as they were quite dead.

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The Best Batteries for Preppers

When the power goes out, either for a few hours or forever, most of us reach for a battery powered device. Here’s our advice for the best batteries for preppers

The Sixth B: Batteries

If you’re a prepper, you’ve probably heard about the five Bs: Beans, bullets, Band-Aids, bullion, and the Bible.  This is useful, short-hand way of reminding you that to prepare, you need food, self-defense, first aid, a way to preserve your wealth, and to protect your soul. 

I’d like to propose an additional B to this traditional list: Batteries.  Because in a TEOTWAWKI scenario, electrical power will be the only thinking keeping us clinging to the modern world instead of slipping back to the dark ages.  If you doubt this, just ask home owners in California what it’s like when PSE&G shut off power to help prevent wild fires.  Or asked Venezuelans what it’s like to have rolling black outs.  Talk to someone in an apartment building with an elevator, or on a rural property where their water supply requires an electrical pump, and see how their life changes when there is no power.

When power fails – either locally or on a regional or wider basis – there is a cascading effect that results in a loss of refrigeration, communication, transportation, computation, lighting, and modern entertainment.  Should the power outage last long enough, there are often subsequent losses of other utilities, such as water pressure, sewage processing, and natural gas.  Yes, even those on municipal water and sewage systems may be affected as pumps cease working and system pressure drops.

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LEDs: The Prepper’s Bright Little Friend

In a TEOTWAWKI situation, you’ll need bright, efficient, robust lighting. LED lights are the answer.

I started prepping in the age of the Maglite flashlight.  I stuck with black, but I bought my kids nice shiny red and purple models.  They used them in the occasional power outage to go trick-or-treating. We bought large packs of Duracell C batteries at Costco and stacked them deep.

Fast-forward 20 years and things are way different. The flashlights I own are smaller, brighter and last longer.

Back then, I carried a Maglite in my car and one by my bed.  Today, I carry a tactical flashlight clipped to my pocket, and it’s far brighter, lighter and longer lasting.  I have a spare tactical flashlight and a headlamp in my car, and the three of them together probably take up less room than the old Maglite.  That’s possible because of the incredible advances companies like Cree have made in LED technology.

Many people think of LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, as those tiny red or green lights that tell us an electronic device is working.  And that’s true. They blink at us from smoke detectors, light up when we push a button on a remote, and signal that our computer is on.  But somewhere along the way, LEDs got brighter.  And whiter.  And then brighter still.  A couple times.

My first LED-powered tactical flashlight was an old O-Light, which I bought because I could not afford a SureFire.  I still have is stashed in my emergency equipment, ready to be loaned out to someone or to be used as a back-up should something else fail.  It was 400 lumens, which seemed pretty bright at the time.

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Day 10 of Quarantine: Quiet on the Home Front

After 10 days, we have adjusted to our life in quarantine and settled into a routine. We’ve adapted to being home full time and are getting along well. We’ve determined that it is important to have goals and to schedule at least one activity or chore per day.

It rained steadily today, which is good for the garden, but means we cannot work outside.  We pushed today’s outdoors activities off until tomorrow and did some reading and relaxing and we both had a conference call and later touched bases with family.  It was a good day. Very much like a lazy Saturday a few months back.

Forced to work inside, I worked out and then I cleaned and lubed the rest of my guns.  I found that most of them are in good shape – no actual cleaning required and just some light oiling.  Those that need the most attention are my daily carries, which tend to collect holster lint, and the rifle that often resides in the car.  The Remington 870 I keep by my bed was dusty and had some rug lint, but it functioned just fine.  Given the amount of dust, it probably good that it is a pump and not a semi auto.

While cleaning the guns, I also check the flashlights and optics to ensure they are operative and that the batteries are in good shape and that nothing has corroded.  Where possible, I use lithium cells, even with AAs, because they are not prone to corrosion like an alkaline battery.  Yes, lithium AA batteries are a couple bucks more expensive, but who wants to ruin an Aimpoint 4 because they skimped on batteries?   Plus, their longer shelf live and run time is bonus that might save your life on day.

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Coughing on Day 4 of Quarantine

This morning, the New York Times chart showed 4,482 known coronavirus infections in the U.S., a jump of 880, bring us back down to a 24 percent increase. Deaths jumped from 66 to 86, an increase of 30 percent.

My wife woke up today with a gravelly voice and a mild sore throat.  She said she felt “pretty good” but not 100 percent.  She was definitely hoarse. She got some coffee. A few minutes later, she coughed.

This is pretty frightening wake up call when there’s a coronavirus outbreak. It’s made worse in our particular case because she has asthma.  In the past, she has ended up in the hospital at least twice with severe pneumonia.  She gets bronchitis pretty much every year and deals with occasional periods when she has shortness of breath.   Her asthma is generally well controlled, and she usually avoids the flu, but who knows how her lungs will react to the coronavirus?  This is one reason we’ve voluntarily quarantined ourselves.

I hop on the county health department website and look at what it takes to get a COVID-19 test around here.  Basically, you have to have the appropriate symptoms and have failed a rapid flu test.  It doesn’t say where to get either test, but there’s plenty of info on who to call if we have no insurance.  Seems to me they may have their priorities a bit backwards. Let’s get the test first and worry about how to pay for it later.

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