I have found that there are 3 types of opinions towards Milwaukee’s line of RedLithium USB rechargeable LED flashlights and worklights.
First, there are the users that own and LOVE their rechargeable Milwaukee flashlights.
Then, there are potential users who are open to trying them out, but aren’t quite ready to open their wallets yet.
Finally, there are some people who haven’t bought one yet, objecting to the use of proprietary Li-ion batteries.
To help out the second group of people, those who might need a push off the fence, here are 5 reasons why you NEED a Milwaukee RedLithium USB flashlight or worklight. If you’re still not convinced, then maybe they aren’t for you after all, and that’s okay.
1. Lots of Flashlight Choices
There’s a flashlight. It’s am little chunky, but durable and bright.
This is the Rover “pocket flood light,”which is probably going to be the most versatile “starter” light for many users. If you start with this one, look for model no. 2112-21.
The rear magnet isn’t as strong as I’d like, but the base magnet is. You won’t notice anything on thicker or bare steel surfaces, but it’ll slide a little on thinner or thin and coated steel surfaces. Milwaukee increased the magnetic strength on their smaller and lighter alkaline-powered light. I use both, sometimes for different things and sometimes interchangeably.
You know, I thought I’d like the alkaline-powered Rover light better, but I don’t, partially because you can’t use it with rechargeable NiMH cells without losing the brighter setting. The RedLithium USB system has grown on me.
There’s a pivoting LED worklight as well. This one was a prototype at an NPS show, and so that’s why it’s more beat up than a production model.
Finally, Milwaukee also offers a pivoting-head LED flashlight with pocket clip and magnetic base. This one is a little pricier than the others, but offers selectable flood and spot light modes.
Milwaukee also has RedLithium USB headlamps. The RedLithium USB product lineup also has non-lighting tools, such as digital levels and heated gloves.
2. Built-in USB Charging Port
Each Milwaukee RedLithium USB flashlight or worklight has a built-in USB (micro) charging port, so that you can have it fully charged for use with minimal add-ons or accessories.
3. Swappable Batteries
But, you can also recharge the batteries separately. This way, you can pop in a fresh battery and have the worklight up and running in seconds, rather than having to charge the battery inside the flashlight.
Yes, I know some would-be users would prefer standard 18650-sized Li-ion cells, but this way of doing things – using a proprietary battery – provides for more predictable performance and easier sourcing.
Choosing 18650 cells and a quality charger requires some background research. If you need another RedLithium USB battery, you know exactly what to buy and without having to think about it or do any background research. You also don’t need any special chargers, with the built-in charger designed around exact RedLithium USB battery specs.
4. They’re Darned Useful
I’ve used mine a LOT. My Milwaukee-provided samples are sometimes used handheld, and other times they’re secured to magnetic surfaces.
When we had warranty service on our refrigerator, the tech had a RedLithium USB Rover.
An HVAC tech was here on two occasions, and both times his cordless worklight, which looked like some kind of small battery-powered halogen light, ran out of juice. “Here you go,” and my RedLithium Rover lit up the scene.
When another tech arrived to replace the heat exchanger gaskets, he had a beat-up but reliable Milwaukee M18 worklight. I showed him my selection of RedLithium USB flashlights anyway, and his eyes lit up.
I know that some of you have had great experiences with these flashlights and worklights (and headlamps), but it was the recent HVAC tech visits that really drove home a “Milwaukee is killing it with these products” mindset.
One of the tech’s halogen-styled cordless light was temperamental and its built-in battery ran out unexpectedly. The other tech’s M18 worklight looked much-loved, and it did the trick. But it seemed to me that they might have benefited from a worklight that they could carry up a ladder or down narrow basement stairs in a pocket.
5. You’ll [Probably] Love it
In general, I don’t like built-in Li-ion batteries. The ability to replace worn batteries is a plus, and I like that I can charge the batteries either in the tools or in a separate charger.
I was a little hesitant about how useful these flashlights would work out for me, but I’ve been using them more and more. At this time, I really really like them, and for different types of applications.
Milwaukee’s newest RedLithium USB charger doubles as a battery bank for charging USB devices (using a RedLithium USB cell for power), which is another bonus. I consider the separate RedLithium USB chargers to be optional, and it’s good for optional accessories to have added functions and purpose.
The RedLithium USB lineup has been coming together, a little more so with each year’s new releases. I’d be willing to bet that there are some more tools on Milwaukee’s roadmap, but I wouldn’t say no to more lighting solutions. They’ve been getting it right so far.
I’d like to hear more about your experiences with these products. I haven’t seen many “in the wild yet,” but these products are also much smaller and easier to stash away than other Milwaukee innovations such as Packout tool boxes.
If you haven’t tried Milwaukee’s RedLithium USB LED flashlights or worklights yet, what are you waiting for?
Pricing and Spring 2020 Promo Offer
Even the least expensive Milwaukee RedLithium USB flashlight will sting your wallet a little more than with your previous flashlight and worklight purchases, but there are occasional bonus deals or promos to help soften the cost.
The flashlight and worklight kits start at ~$60.
Buy Now via Tool Nut – All Styles
Buy: Rover via Acme Tools
Acme Tools’ pivoting flood light promo kit is an example of a special bundle. You get a charger and spare battery for about the same price as the regular kit. In this case, I’d opt for the standard kit, as it’s eligible for Milwaukee’s rebate, which gets you the USB power source charger instead of the “standard” one.
Right now, Milwaukee has a rebate offer – purchase a rechargeable light, fill out the form, and you get a free RedLithium USB charger and portable power source kit by mail, including a spare battery. The bonus kit (48-59-2013) is valued at ~$50.
Rebate Details – ends 4/30/20
- (2110-21) USB Rechargeable 700L Flashlight
- (2111-21) USB Rechargeable Hard Hat Headlamp
- (2112-21) USB Rechargeable ROVER™ Pocket Flood Light
- (2113-21) USB Rechargeable Pivoting Flashlight
- (2114-21) USB Rechargeable ROVER™ Pivoting Flood Light
You know, that would solve my dilemma with carrying larger lights in when I don’t know if I’ll need them. Thanks a lot for making me need another tool.
I’m replying here cuz I couldn’t start a new one! First of all, I’ve been an HVAC tech for almost 20 years. No one changes JUST the heat exchanger gaskets. Either they changed the whole thing, or ur making this statement up! That does NOT happen!
That’s your comment? Self righteous HVAC tech. It happens. I’ve seen techs change heat exchanger gaskets many times. They can develop leaks. And who said “just”? By the way, the article is about flashlights. Step down off that high horse.
Thanks for the heads-up on that charger kit. I didn’t know it existed, much less being on promotion.
Happily, or sadly, I have all of the RedLithium led lights except the hard hat light. I agree with all your points but would like to add my thoughts on these:
1) The batteries last about 1-2 hours for most of the lights. For my typical usage over a day, I have to swap lights out at least once, usually twice. I swap lights because I hate swapping batteries on these things. It’s easier to pop the charging cable on it and use another light rather than remove a battery, open the charger, swap out and replace. These things are small and not quick to locate in a box/bag.
2) The plain flashlight has a terrible switch. The pivoting head flashlight is just better in all aspects except maybe build quality. I worry when it drops, unlike the solidly build plain flashlight.
3) Youtube reviews have really hurt the reputation of the Rover pocket flood light (your first pic) due to the one weak magnet. However, it’s my most used light by a huuuuuuuuuge margin. To hell with the weak magnet, this light is superior for up close inspections, lighting up tight spots, most pocketable and most agile.
The updated light with the carabiner is very well designed but is clunky in the hand. The magnet is very strong but it never makes it to the end of a day without growing a metal shaving beard. It’s more power efficient than the rover pocket flood light too. It’s more of a stick-it-on-a-panel to light an area type of light than the hand-held usability of the rover pocket flood light.
If you needed longer run time, what are the options. Could you run these with a larger M-12, M-18 battery with a power adapter?
No, it only uses those Red Lithium USB batteries . Want longer run time, have a spare battery.
I realize it would then become a corded tool. I was thinking of running a hard hat light. Running the usb cable off the back of helmet, down your back to a M-12 adapter on your belt. Might not be too inconvenient.
Why does using rechargeable batteries disable high mode? Is it a draw issue?
Rechargeable AA batteries typically operate at 1.2V, whereas alkaline cells operate at 1.5V. It’s possible that there’s a voltage converter or LED driver that really requires >2.5V for that second brightness level to be used. Milwaukee confirmed that the light works best with alkaline cells.
I think he’s only referring to the NiMH common size rechargeables. For example, a fresh AA alkaline has a max voltage of ~1.6V, and a nominal of 1.5V. Whereas a AA NiMH has a max of ~1.4V, and a nominal of 1.2V. The NiMH will provide it’s useable range for longer, but if the light requires a higher voltage for the highest setting (I have some like this), the NiMH will likely never get you there. BUT, you could possibly run it in the medium or low setting much longer, assuming the electronics can work with the lower voltage.
It’s kind of moot. Most new LED lights are designed to run on common alkaline (convenience), or common lithium rechargeables (performance). Streamlight sells some LED lights that run on common alkaline OR common lithium. The performance on lithium is vastly superior. Pretty cool concept. Way better than one of these silly Milwaukee lights that traps you on their battery platform. Streamlight and Olight are much better options. Even the HF slim bar light is better because it runs on an 18650, instead of some proprietary bullarky.
I’m going to recommend the exact opposite of this article. Boycott this stupid product line, not because of anything against Milwaukee. But because they’re obviously trying to trap you in their battery line. A better option already exists. Also, charging with micro USB can be tedious, as the standard was not designed for rapid charging (not all cables/chargers are equal). At least with 18650’s you can keep a couple charged, and they’re commonly used in other lights. They sell wall chargers for 18650’s, so you can charge more than one, and charge them fast.
You see it as Milwaukee trying to “trap” you into their battery, but I see it as a consumer-friendly measure.
I like to think of myself as an intermediate LED flashlight enthusiast. I’m most comfortable in the $25 to $85 range, and am particular about features and functions, but am not quite at the $200+ or custom flashlight end of things.
I don’t have any 18650-sized flashlights yet. Zero. I bought my first 18650 product last November – a collectible light saber. It comes with a charger and a store/maker-branded 18650 cell. They recommend that only their high-draw cells are purchased as replacements, but they also have unbranded cells for their lower powered emitters.
What’s the best 18650 cell for these flashlights? With RedLithium USB, users don’t have to figure anything out or go through any trial and error process.
Every RedLithium USB flashlight comes with one battery. With some bundles and the current rebate promo, you get a second battery for free. Most users won’t need more than that until the time comes and they need a replacement battery, at which time they’ll know *exactly* which one to get.
I get it, you want full 18650 compatibility, and the ability to use batteries you might already have from other rechargeable flashlights. But, you might not necessarily be the target audience for these products.
With my first Fenix flashlight, alkaline batteries were “just fine,” but required rechargeable NiMH cells if I wanted to be able to use the highest brightness mode.
With products like these, Milwaukee didn’t want to leave customers on their own to have to figure out what they need to power the flashlights.
If you want the functionality of these lights, you have to deal with the proprietary battery. For most users, there’s nothing to worry about for a couple of years, at which time replacement batteries will likely still be priced close to the current price of $19, which isn’t terrible.
Looking online, Olight 18650 cells range from $10 to $20 or so, but the different cells have different discharge specs and charge capacities. The 3200 mAh battery has a max discharge rating of 3.2A, the 3500 mAh battery has a max discharge current of 10A, and the $10 2600 mAh battery has a max discharge current of 4.2A.
There’s a book about web design and usability called “don’t make me think,” with the idea that you want a web layout and interface to be streamlined and intuitive. Proprietary batteries can be annoying for more advanced enthusiasts, but beneficial for all the rest. My stance would be a lot difference if the batteries were priced higher, such as at $39 or $49.
I do agree that there is a little bit of a necessary education with 18650’s. And I also agree that making it less complex will help with sales. I think Olight has done a good job of labeling the batteries as “customized” when they’re not considered a standard 18650. They also do a good job informing you what lights the customized cells are intended for. From what I can tell (I didn’t do so exhaustive research exercise), Streamlight has moved to a single style of custom 18650 with a USB charging port. Other than the addition of the charging port, it appears to output within the standard range, and could be used with any other product that uses standard 18650’s. But that’s probably more reading than your average Joe cares to do, unfortunately.
(I moved your comment, I assume this is where you intended to reply to.)
It’s partly about education, but also availability.
Right now, you can buy replacement RedLithium USB batteries at the places you buy the RedLithium USB LED lights and tools.
How many brands of individual 18650 cells can you buy at these places, such as Home Depot?
Tool Nut doesn’t sell 18650 batteries. Acme Tools doesn’t sell 18650 batteries, and the only thing that comes close is the Streamlight Protac HL USB. MSC Direct carries Streamlight batteries, at $25 each (I see $20.75 in-cart signed-in), but they’re drop-shipped with a 1-week ETA. Zoro does sell a couple of 18650 batteries, all drop-shipped.
There’s also the strong possibility that Milwaukee engineers wanted the custom-enclosed batteries, as the contacts are rerouted towards the front and on the side. This way, the ends of the flashlights don’t have electrical contacts in the way required by devices that work with standard 18650 cells.
I’m not saying you’re wrong in your frustration, and am only trying to describe the benefits as I see them.
Locking/welcoming customers into the RedLithium USB system could also lower the barrier when it comes to other tools. If someone already buys into the system, perhaps they’ll be more likely to buy additional products?
Of course replacement batteries are going to be a profit source for Milwaukee, but I don’t think that was their [primary?] focus when they decided to base RedLithium USB batteries around 18650 cells instead of just offering custom-wrapped 18650 cells that could be replaced with other brands’ batteries if desired.
I’ve been using 18650 cells for many years and have come to love them. I recommend avoiding buying them online as there are many counterfeit distributors out there. But any common name brand ie. LG Sony Samsung battery are trust worthy. Also to be noted is less known batteries EFest (the purple one) are fantastic. My recommendation is to go to a reputable vape shop. They have been using high draw 18650 batteries for years in their devices and will have the good ones. Plus any battery questions you have they can probably answer as they have done their homework already
I’m a fan of Milwaukee’s innovations and have invested in one M18 Rover floodlight. For smaller head-strap LED light, I’ve been using the Nitecore HC60 for a couple of years and it has never let me down. Plenty bright and the battery lasts. It’s durable due to the metal construction which adds to the weight however. I might look at those camping/hiking lights for the next purchase but not sure if they’ll hold up as well as the Nitecore or these Milwaukees.
Reason 6: All but the basic light use Milwaukee TrueView LEDs for truer colors. I think TrueView’s color rendering index (CRI) is 88, a score that I would rate VG+, just shy of Excellent.
Way overpriced here in Canada for all of the lights IMO… Pricing structure is way off for what you get
You do realize that inside the Red Lithium it is just a high capacity 18650… Right? It’s a wrapper
It’s not just a wrapper, there’s a custom enclosure, and the contacts are on the edge of on side, as opposed to being at opposites as with standard cells.
The custom enclosure could just be routing the contacts from the top and bottom to the side… Have you cracked one open?
I love my Milwaukee tools, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is a proprietary standard meant to lock in consumers. Standards exist for a reason. If Milwaukee is concerned about availability they could sell branded 18650 and post specs so consumers would know what cells to use (and not use).
Sad to see something so useful overshadowed by poor meta-product choices. Interchangeable 18650 products are a horribly underserved market in the US.
Yes, but why? What kinds of benefits might this provide in regard to tool features, durability, or how they’re designed?
What you’re saying is that you believe this design and proprietary interface is “meant to lock in consumers.” I’m agreeing that being locked in to the battery form factor is a consequence, but I really don’t think it’s the intent.
I had the AA version before someone walked off with it on a job. I did get the brighter setting using fresh eneloops. The light was a good spectrum and intensity for short throw, working with the light right-beside me.
However, working with the light right-beside me, I could hear it had a very audible electrical whine that bothered the heck out of me.
Has anyone noticed this or observed it with the red-lithium version?
Does seem a touch expensive just for such a small torch”flashlight)…besides inside old laptops u can get Samsung,etc 18650’s so..what’s the problem..!!??
All depends on the users choice in my opinion..I have 2 “headlights” @ 2 different battery packs 1 is 4 * 18650 [email protected] Other is 6 * 18650. Both are decent @ bright.also highly depends on the wattage of the bulbs useddoes it not..??
My guess is that we won’t see multi-battery tools based on this system. It’s possible, but users who want brighter and larger LED lighting products have plenty to choose from in Milwaukee’s M12 and M18 cordless lines.
Let’s say a maintenance tech has a flashlight given to him by the supervisor. “Hey boss, I need a new battery.” Are they supposed to search for a laptop battery to take apart, or try to navigate the myriad of difference 18650 cells you can buy online and with all different specs? No, they’ll either order from their regular supplier, or pick one up from the store. How many different 18650 cells do they sell at Home Depot or trades suppliers that carry Milwaukee products?
I’m not saying your frustration is wrong, I’m only trying to show you why this is going to be simpler and easier for the gross majority of users and Milwaukee’s target audience.
I have the whole line of the red lithium lights. My only complaint is battery life even on a lower power mode.
I think they are missing the boat not adopting USB-C. At least an alternative charger that is USB-C based. I’d also like to see them offer two USB plugs on new items. Same with M12 power source, in offer a USB-C version.
I know for headlamps the 186500 would be preferred, but I wish they used 21700 instead.
the 2351-20 M12 is the best small light ever-and it works with all my m12 batteries…for longer than I want to work-lol
I am very impressed by what I see in this lineup, but I am ultimately not going to buy in here, despite being a huge Milwaukee fan.
The fact of the matter is that at this voltage the 18650 cell is the universal system. Usb rechargeable 18650 cells exist, and higher capacity cells are coming out all the time.
Eventually, another good manufacturer will make a system of tools in this range, powered by regular 18650s and they will pick up a good amount of market share.
This system will ultimately go the way of other proprietary 4v systems – into obscurity.
Milwaukee’s build quality speaks for itself, which is why their corded tools (which ran on a non-proprietary power source) sold so well. It’s a shame they had to go with this setup, because I think they could have made an even better system running naked 18650s and even CR123’s (especially the headlamp) .
You people making all these trivially, ridiculously, LONG comments, with all the little details, and Part Numbers, and all about things worthless for the average man, Really need to get Out of your parent’s house, and get a real life.
I say that, because I Work with people who sound Just like You, and That’s where they live.
I Appreciate the initial review though. I need a better light, and I never considered Milwaukee for what I need. I Will check into because of This article.
Where would we be if nobody shared some of their knowledge or particular insights about something or another, whether it is from their education, job, hobby, …
That is part of the attraction to ToolGuyd and its commentariat!
Unlike some other prominent sites with mostly PR statement “ review “ articles and and average of 0.x comments per article.
It would have been nice if you provided some more information.
How long does it take to charge a battery?
What is the capacity of the batteries?
How long will the light operate on a charged battery?
What is the light output ?
For which one? There are 4 flashlights and 3 headlamps, each with different outputs and multiple modes. I’ll see what I can put together, but it’ll likely have to be a follow-up post.
Battery is 2.5Ah. Charger output is 2.1A, and I don’t see specs for in-device charging.
the reviews on Acme for this product are horrible. the magnet on side either falls off or are not strong enough to hold the light
this so reminds me of the Ryobi Tek 4 battery which has been out for years! I have the electric screwdriver and the electric cutter