18650 batteries

Muse

Lifer
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I have a lot of Eneloops, a few LADDA too (sold by Ikea and purported to be rebranded high capacity AA or AAA Eneloops). I bought a pair of cordless lights off Amazon that I like that came with a couple of not-high capacity 18650 batteries.

These lamps have 3 brightness settings. On high, maybe have 3 hours before the lamp starts getting pretty dim and I have to recharge. Being colorblind I find it really hard to charge the batteries while in the lamp (it's hard for me to determine of the red light has turned green, a tiny LED). So, I bought a cheap charger that accommodates either one or two 18650 cells. It's way easier for me to decide if the LED has turned green (why the hell can't they make it red and blue???? The page at Amazon indicates it does go from red to blue, but NO! It's red to green and for me that's always a toughie).

That charger may not be the best idea, undoubtedly made in China, there could be a question how safe it is. But so far so good, I haven't detected a problem. Should I get a better charger?

Now my immediate question is getting a couple of spare 18650 batteries. The batteries supplied say absolutely nothing, no labeling whatsoever. The lamps have a stick-on label that says 1200mah, and I suppose that's to say that each battery has that capacity, but I would be taking their word on it. I think I saw that 600mah 18650 batteries exist, not sure. The highest capacity I've seen for sale online are ~3200mah, IIRC, but they are pretty expensive. Maybe somewhere in the middle is the sweet spot in terms of "bang for the buck." Obviously, capacity and cost aren't the only considerations, when it comes to rechargeable lithium batteries, safety is a big concern. I saw something online just now saying that protective circuitry (I presume in the battery) is important.

I need some guidance here, thank you!
 
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Red Squirrel

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I imagine the states has more selection than here but you want to find a dedicated site that sells that kind of stuff. Something reputable with decent reviews. Here there's https://18650canada.com/ . Amazon, Ebay, Aliexpress etc is most likely going to have mostly bootleg cells and it's very hard to know what's good and what's not without running it through a battery(no pun intended) of tests.

For charger look into Xtar chargers they are considered a good brand. You don't want to skimp on the charger since if there is something that causes a fire, it will be that. Ex: some cheap chinese ones that just dump 5v straight into the cell.
 
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mindless1

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I'm not seeing anywhere on the amazon product page that it takes 18650 and 1200mAh is very, very low for that size but I have to assume based on your further text that this must really be what they are.

Is there an indentation at the top or extra length to indicate it is a protected cell with a puck at the top for the protection circuit? If so then you want to replace with a protected cell, and might be a good idea anyway unless the battery bay contacts can't accommodate a longer cell.

The highest legitimate /accurate/honest capacity is around 3400mAh, Panasonic NCR18650B
being one. Edit: There are now legit major brand 3500mAh cells. [/edit] I'd only buy major brand not generics. Sony, LG, Samsung, Panasonic, Sanyo, etc. As far as bang for buck that is up to you to decide, how much more to pay for more capacity. Being a light like that, it has low current draw so you can pretty much ignore the current specifications which tend to drop for the higher capacity cells.

Generic Chinese charger, is a gamble. It could be perfectly fine, or well designed but garbage construction or poor quality control. If it seems to work then I would keep using it as long as it doesn't overcharge the cells past 4.20V. The "0" matters, cell life goes down as they go above 4.20V. Granted, a tiny bit above, cell life goes down a tiny bit but also goes up below 4.20V with a loss of capacity but disproportionate to the gain in cell recharge cycles.

In the long run, if you are using rechargeable batteries much, yes a better charger is a worthy investment, something that can take both NiMH and Li-Ion, charge them both simultaneously even, allows picking charge rate, can show cell voltage in realtime, etc.

There are too many candidates to suggest one in particular, I'd make a short list and watch for a sale price, OR sometimes you can save money by ordering from a Chinese merchant like banggood, fasttech, or aliexpress if you can wait a month+ for it to arrive. Here's a ton of chargers analyzed https://lygte-info.dk/info/indexBatteriesAndChargers UK.html or you can get more info on chargers and batteries on flashlight oriented websites like https://budgetlightforum.com/ or https://www.candlepowerforums.com/

Like other commodities, there may be a battery shortage right now so best priced and reliable sellers, are out of stock.
 
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BoomerD

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If you want GOOD 18650 batteries, buy Sony/Murcata, Panasonic, Molicel, and Samsung, or (if you can find them) AW brand. A GOOD dedicated charger will charge your batteries better and safer than some cheaply made "device."


(I've done business with liion wholesale. Good people.)

Nitecore makes excellent chargers. I have a 2 bay charger similar to some of the ones listed here:
(it's where I bought mine)

I also have an XTAR charger that's served me well for over 5 years:

li-ion batteries (as I'm sure you know) can be dangerous if not handled or charged right. Take care of them, they'll last several years.
 

LikeLinus

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I've use Illumn a couple of times and they were great.

This is the charger I got on sale a few months back. It's probably more than you need, but I got a good deal and decide to be cautious and purchase something a bit higher end since they can be dangerous.

 

BoomerD

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I've use Illumn a couple of times and they were great.

This is the charger I got on sale a few months back. It's probably more than you need, but I got a good deal and decide to be cautious and purchase something a bit higher end since they can be dangerous.

Ooh...nice site. Thanks!

Also to be considered is battery type...flat top, or button top. It DOES (usually) make a difference. (Note, button top 18650 batteries are NOT like the button top on an alkaline- type battery. MUCH flatter, but still taller than a flat top)
 
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Muse

Lifer
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Ah, thanks for the responses!

A search brought me to the Xtar VC4 charger, which might be a good choice for me. Great reviews, has a very positive review from NLee the Engineer, who IIRC has made a great many extensive reviews on Eneloops and I'm sure many other related products. So, I have this bookmarked and unless I get a better idea, figure to order it shortly/soon. This charger has a caveat, you need a 2.0A USB adapter solution. I have at least one, and another I think is up to the task.

I'll check out the recommended sites to order 18650 cells.

The cells provided with those lamps (which I really like, the lamps, I mean) are 65 mm long (not including the positive terminal).
- -
65 mm

The 18650 cell is 18 mm in diameter and 65 mm tall; hence, its name 18650. Other cell form factors have standard sizes, too, but even though they're standardized, many alternate cell designs haven't achieved the same popularity. Sep 19, 2018
- -
Do these cells include protective circuitry? I have no idea. Here's what they look like:
18650 cell came with Miady lamps.jpg
 
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Red Squirrel

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Yeah some batteries will have a small protection board inside and it makes the cell a bit bigger. I think most flashlights and other products that use spring contacts have enough spring room to handle both types though.

When buying random stuff it can be hard to tell for sure though but reputable sites will tell you if it's protected. If you're not sure it's best to assume it's not. Especially cheap no name Chinese cells.

Technically all cells are protected, some will just give you a very violent audio-visual indication that it failed. :p
 
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mindless1

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Do these cells include protective circuitry? I have no idea. Here's what they look like:
Looks unprotected to me but there are more ways to determine it in-person.



The question is then, is this a poorly engineered product or does it have a protection circuit in it? Some manufacturers will rationalize that if it's a single cell, the forward drop across an LED is enough protection, but LEDs have been produced in recent years with lower forward drops than they used to, edging ever closer to battery manufacturers minimal discharge voltage limit.

Any major brand battery, manufacturer will have a spec sheet stating minimum voltage and you can measure your battery voltage now, vs current draw at minimum voltage, to see how the light handles low voltage batteries.
 
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mindless1

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Ah, thanks for the responses!

A search brought me to the Xtar VC4 charger,
Their description cracks me up!

Heat-losing Stripe Crack
The stripe crack is designed for heating losing, which is helpful to control the temperature and improve the charging efficiency.
It's talking about the vent slits molded into the plastic, as if nobody ever thought of that before.
 

mindless1

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Can you elaborate? How can I make determinations concerning the safety of the cells? Edit: Oh, I didn't notice the link, I'll have a look... thanks!
Well it has over 4500 ratings and I only saw two 1-star that mentioned smoke or melting, so odds are good it's not going to burn the house down, but I can't guarantee anything without knowing how the light behaves in a low voltage condition or if that was even the cause of smoke/heat/etc. vs defect or overcharging.
 
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LikeLinus

Lifer
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Ooh...nice site. Thanks!

Also to be considered is battery type...flat top, or button top. It DOES (usually) make a difference. (Note, button top 18650 batteries are NOT like the button top on an alkaline- type battery. MUCH flatter, but still taller than a flat top)
This is actually great advice. When I started looking for batteries, I had no clue there was flat top vs. button top. So it was interesting to learn a bit more about that and the protected vs non-protected versions as well. That site is nice because you can sort your search for exactly what you want.

I picked up a few of the 3000mAh Samsung INR18650-30Q Protected High Discharge Button Top. Can vouch those are great batteries that I'm currently using.
 
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Muse

Lifer
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This is actually great advice. When I started looking for batteries, I had no clue there was flat top vs. button top. So it was interesting to learn a bit more about that and the protected vs non-protected versions as well. That site is nice because you can sort your search for exactly what you want.

I picked up a few of the 3000mAh Samsung INR18650-30Q Protected High Discharge Button Top. Can vouch those are great batteries that I'm currently using.
Looking at the battery chamber for my Miady lamps, it looks to me like a truly flat top battery won't work in it. The positive terminal connection won't be made because there are plastic tabs that would prevent contact unless there's a protruding nub. I could, I suppose, remove those tabs somehow but it would be anything but easy!
 

LikeLinus

Lifer
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Looking at the battery chamber for my Miady lamps, it looks to me like a truly flat top battery won't work in it. The positive terminal connection won't be made because there are plastic tabs that would prevent contact unless there's a protruding nub. I could, I suppose, remove those tabs somehow but it would be anything but easy!
I certainly wouldn't alter my flashlight to try and force a battery in. Purchase the correct batter with a button top. If you don't have a previously used battery and are unsure, look up the model number and see if you can find more info.
 

nakedfrog

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Looking at the battery chamber for my Miady lamps, it looks to me like a truly flat top battery won't work in it. The positive terminal connection won't be made because there are plastic tabs that would prevent contact unless there's a protruding nub. I could, I suppose, remove those tabs somehow but it would be anything but easy!
I got a headlamp that was intended for that type, and after a little research, decided to shim my flat top batteries up with a slim circular magnet that I already had around (bought like 50 for a project a few years back). It hasn't presented an issue being used that way in 10+ hours.
 

Muse

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If you feel like taking a drive, this place is in Sunnyvale:
Batteries n Bulbs Superstore | Over 25000+ Batteries and Lighting Products to choose from

Give them a call. Next to a really good Thai place also.
I was gonna go to Costco today, I usually go every other Thursday, but had a filling at new dentist yesterday, so put off to today the Costco ~5 miles each way drive. But I'm thinking, TG next week, busy at Costco, I don't really need anything that bad. Plus I saw a story on TV last night about the epidemic of freeway shootings around here lately. Something like 80 instances this year or something. A woman was shot dead yesterday on I80 IIRC. She was a passenger in the car. Looks to me like she wasn't targeted, but who knows. 2 YO was killed around 2 weeks ago in I80, gang members shooting it out on the freeway. Folks are nervous. Sunnyvale's a long ways.

I've been doing a LOT of online shopping during the pandemic, I think never as much as the last 2 weeks or so. Been on Amazon Prime since about a year ago, which really helps. I shop Ebay a lot too. I'm thinking for 18650 neither are a good idea, though. I'm afraid of getting counterfeits.
 

mindless1

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Looking at the battery chamber for my Miady lamps, it looks to me like a truly flat top battery won't work in it. The positive terminal connection won't be made because there are plastic tabs that would prevent contact unless there's a protruding nub. I could, I suppose, remove those tabs somehow but it would be anything but easy!
I'm not suggesting doing it instead of buying button top batteries, but plastic tabs are easy to remove using a hot knife blade tip on a soldering iron (or old school, take some knife you don't like and heat it, lol) . You just need to make sure there is enough plastic left for structural support, including the battery contacts in this case. There might not be, and no need to do it.... at least not in this case, a lot of my 18650's I harvested from tool battery packs and none of them are button top.

Been on Amazon Prime since about a year ago, which really helps. I shop Ebay a lot too. I'm thinking for 18650 neither are a good idea, though. I'm afraid of getting counterfeits.
I'd buy from Amazon if sold by, not just fulfilled by, if there were no 3rd party sellers' stock intermingling with Amazon's sourced stock. Ebay, only if a major merchant (with their own website) that also happens to have an ebay store, never from some small merchant on either site.

However there is some protection. With a decent charger having a discharge capacity test, you can tell if the batteries meet their spec, and "usually" counterfeit cells weigh less. Major brand cells, weight is usually listed in their datasheet. I still wouldn't buy from a dodgy 3rd party then increase risk of having to resolve problems later.
 
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quikah

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I was gonna go to Costco today, I usually go every other Thursday, but had a filling at new dentist yesterday, so put off to today the Costco ~5 miles each way drive. But I'm thinking, TG next week, busy at Costco, I don't really need anything that bad. Plus I saw a story on TV last night about the epidemic of freeway shootings around here lately. Something like 80 instances this year or something. A woman was shot dead yesterday on I80 IIRC. She was a passenger in the car. Looks to me like she wasn't targeted, but who knows. 2 YO was killed around 2 weeks ago in I80, gang members shooting it out on the freeway. Folks are nervous. Sunnyvale's a long ways.

I've been doing a LOT of online shopping during the pandemic, I think never as much as the last 2 weeks or so. Been on Amazon Prime since about a year ago, which really helps. I shop Ebay a lot too. I'm thinking for 18650 neither are a good idea, though. I'm afraid of getting counterfeits.
I think you have a better chance of the Amazon truck running through your front door than being the victim of a freeway shooting. Understandable though it is a long way to drive for a battery.

They do free shipping, so give them a call. Their website is pretty lackluster, not sure you could actually find what you need on there. Better to give your money to a local business than Amazon IMO.
 
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Muse

Lifer
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I think you have a better chance of the Amazon truck running through your front door than being the victim of a freeway shooting. Understandable though it is a long way to drive for a battery.

They do free shipping, so give them a call. Their website is pretty lackluster, not sure you could actually find what you need on there. Better to give your money to a local business than Amazon IMO.
Speaking of trucks...

Yesterday morning I was wondering what the racket was (lots of those happen in my neighborhood in Berkeley, CA). It wouldn't quit, was steady. I should have taken pictures. Two gigantic tanker trucks, super long, were parked across the street from me, end to end. A big round flexible tube pipe about 8" in diameter snaked from the mysterious building across the street to one of the trucks. A probably Mexican guy with very limited English was working at the back of the truck with the tube-pipe going to it and I asked him what was going on. He said the "base" (basement) was full of water. I had to wonder if the bomb cyclone from almost 3 weeks ago had something to do with it, maybe not. Some mishap. They were doing asbestos abatement there some months ago, I think. Building's kinda of quasi governmental, maybe part of the school district adjacent a park. I've voted there many times. It's a big brick structure. Must have been a whole lot of water in that basement to require those two massive trucks. I don't remember seeing trucks like that anywhere. On the side of the one I looked at it said "Los Banos, CA."

 
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