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What 18650's?

Discussion in 'Flashlights & Other Illumination Devices' started by Boudreaux, Apr 22, 2017.

  1. Boudreaux

    Boudreaux Loaded Pockets

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    What brand do you use in your lights? I just recently had two of mine crap out on me, so I am in the market to replace them.

    Thanks,
    Boswell
     
    Last edited by Boudreaux, Apr 23, 2017
  2. chaosmagnet
    • GITD Manix 2XL Owner
    • In Omnia Paratus

    chaosmagnet Loaded Pockets

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    I've never seen an 18630 but I've done very well with Nitecore, Efest and Ultrafire in lithium ion rechargeables.
     
    #2 chaosmagnet, Apr 23, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2017
  3. Westerdutch

    Westerdutch Loaded Pockets

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    AW sells these, i have a couple of his imr cells. But honestly i don't use this oddball size much, most of my lights use either 18650 or 16340.
     
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  4. Boudreaux

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    18650's! Brain and fingers weren't on the same page!

    Thanks,
    Boswell
     
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  5. Westerdutch

    Westerdutch Loaded Pockets

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    In that case, if you don't need protected cells just grab any genuine base cell. LG, Panasonic, Samsung they are all decent enough and as long as you don't run speciality/custom crazy flashlights the highest capacity cells will do just fine. If you do need protected sets sites like fasttech will add circuits to panasonics for a couple pennies (about $12 for a pair of protected 3400mAh cells).
     
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  6. Safety1st

    Safety1st Loaded Pockets

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  7. Lateck

    Lateck Loaded Pockets

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    I use Orbtronic batteries.
    Great service and support for a fair price.
    https://www.orbtronic.com/
    They have 18650's and more.

    Lateck,
     
  8. DCBman

    DCBman Loaded Pockets

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    Some words of wisdom (and warning) here...

    Not all 18650 batteries are the same! And, some of them can catch on fire and/or explode (for seemingly no reason). Guess what the number #1 device is to find this out? Yep, a flashlight! Here's why... A high current draw on a moderately charged battery (not dead) can create a thermal runaway condition in the battery. In other words, you can't stop it even if you turned off the device. And, what's a good, great actually (maybe even the best), example of a high current draw device? Yep, a flashlight!

    18650 batteries have become wildly popular due to the 'vaping' market where they are commonly used. As a result, there are hundreds (possibly even thousands) of fakes out there. These counterfeits are known as "re-wrapped" batteries, and they're just that...re-wrapped. There are only five (5) companies who manufacture 18650...only 5. Anything else is a fake. These companies are: Sony, LG, Samsung, Panasonic and the newest one Aspire. Anything else is a re-wrap.

    This is a really long and involved story, and unfortunately I don't have time right now to cover all of it, so I'll have to be brief (i.e. more later if interested). I'm sure people have many questions like... if they're re-wrapped why aren't they the same? And...if they're fake, where do they come from? (probably chief among these questions). And, there are answers to these questions, but this is where some of it gets complicated (and windy).

    The short answer to the these questions is...these manufacturers (the 5) make batteries for all sorts of markets (100's of thousands of markets). 99.9% of these markets are not the consumer market for "batteries". In other words, the battery gets incorporated into a larger product and is usually not replaceable (literally billions of electronic devices). Consumer grade 18650 batteries, which are sold as "batteries" for use in a product, have protective circuits installed in them to prevent over-discharge (anything below about ~1.3V) and subsequent thermal runaway. The same companies who manufacture these batteries will sell them to anyone...without this protective circuitry in them. The reason is, the buyer is incorporating them into a product which has the protective circuitry built into it thereby achieving the same safety factor. This would make the protective circuitry in the battery itself redundant and another point of failure, so they eliminate them. Of course, they're also WAY cheaper without the circuitry in them too...especially if you're buying 1.5 million batteries at a time.

    So now enter the less than scrupulous folks out there who see an opportunity to make an extra buck by throwing caution to the wind. They buy up these batteries intended to be sub-components of a larger assembly and wrap them in their own seemingly 'new' skin and sell them to consumers sans the protective circuitry. The protective circuitry causes the battery to literally shut off when it discharges to 1.3V (no harm, no foul). Without it they can discharge to zero (but will probably thermally run away first). When the batteries drop below the 1.3V charge and they're exposed to a high current draw (such as a high intensity flashlight) they will run away. Because most flashlights are tightly sealed to protect against moisture, guess what?...you're holding onto a hand grenade! The hot gases have nowhere to go, and the case eventually "vents" sometimes catastrophically (i.e. explodes).

    Over charging is a whole other issue too. There are tons of chargers for sale out there, but most of the cheaper ones are not regulated well enough to deal with the peculiarities of lithium batteries.

    Bottom line, lithium batteries are a whole other breed of cat compared to regular batteries. They're awesome for their charge retention and sheer power, but like anything...there's no free lunch, and the cost on this item is 'danger'.

    Like I said, I have to run, but if you're interested hopefully this should provide enough information for you to formulate some questions which I will be glad to "try" to answer.
     
    Last edited by DCBman, Apr 24, 2017
    #8 DCBman, Apr 24, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2017
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  9. Westerdutch

    Westerdutch Loaded Pockets

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    Warning people for using 18650s is always a smart play, as they can indeed be dangerous. But please don't try to make your point by stating things that are simply wrong.

    Flashlights are not high current devices when compared to e-cigarettes, power tools, electric cars, electric bikes, hoverboards, or jumpstarters that all use 18650s. Vaping didn't make 18650s popular, laptops did way before anyone had even heard of an electronic cigarette.

    There's not only 5 companies that make 18650's, its not a protected patent pending name, it doesnt even say anything about the chemistry used in the cell. Anyone who can stuff some electricity generating chemicals in a tube of the right size can call it an 18650. Sure, there's only half a dozen producers that make a good 18650 but that doesn't mean that everything else is a re-wrap of one of those somehow.

    Any discharge down to 1.3v is too low. If you find a protection circuit that goes that low you might as well use an unprotected cell as far as overdischarge protection goes. Protection circuits are never built in to any cell (mechanical protection can be tho), they are added for specific markets by 3rd parties. The general consensus from manufacturers is that you should never go below 2.5 volts, on some cells going below 3.3 volts will already cause permanent damage.

    Discharging a cell down to below 1.3 volts or even 0 volts does not cause thermal runaway (most of the energy to run away with is actually gone at that point). High temperatures creates thermal runaway hence the name. This can be caused by too fast a charge, too fast a discharge, too high a voltage, mechanical damage or simply outside chemical or temperature influences.
     
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  10. True Talon

    True Talon Loaded Pockets

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    For flashlights I only use protected EVVA or Keepower. AW is also great but they seem to be much more expensive (at least where I live).

    For unprotected batteries I go with EFEST.

    I asked about Nitecore on either the CPF or BLF forums and got laughed at due to Nitecore using a "mystery meat" cell.......They should be okay.

    All the big five 18650 makers would be fine too -
    Sony
    Panasonic
    Sanyo
    Samsung
    LG
     
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  11. True Talon

    True Talon Loaded Pockets

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    I did have one unprotected 18650 catch on fire. It charged okay and when I put it into a light it didn't work. I took it out and it was really hot so I put it outside and it continued to get hotter until I couldn't touch it. Then it started to burn and split itself open.

    It all happened within a few minutes. After that I stuck to protected batteries for flashlights.
     
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  12. DCBman

    DCBman Loaded Pockets

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    Yow....OUCH!! You make a number of good (and accurate points). I appreciate your comments. However, I do feel a couple clarifications are in order. (and I should refrain from writing things in a hurry in the future...note to self).

    First, my intent was not to compare vapes to flashlights in terms of power utilization, and I don't believe I did really. My only point in mentioning vaping was to point out this is where the notoriety of "18650" lithium batteries came from. You are absolutely correct when you say they've been far more widely used in devices such as laptops, etc. This was basically my point about them being incorporated into a larger 'system', and not being sold as individual batteries. Again, I would argue that, until vaping came on the scene, the general public didn't really know what an "18650" battery was (at all) (because previously they were incorporated into sealed battery packs for laptops and other devices, not sold separately).

    What my point about flashlights was, is because they are sealed devices (generally) they do not allow for the off-gassing of a venting lithium battery, and they contain the heat to a flash point. You can read from many battery and flashlight sources which recommend against the use of certain rechargeable 18650 batteries in flashlights for exactly this reason. I'm honestly not making things up here. Further, if you look carefully at vaping products (again, not comparing to flashlights for power consumption) you will see many of them have vented enclosures and battery covers which are held in place by magnets (and not screwed or sealed). The venting issue is the reason, it's a safety feature.

    Additionally, I will concede the voltage issue. I may just have recalled incorrectly on this point. That, or things have changed since I did some research. In any case, I will say I cannot cite the minimum voltage statistics exactly other than to say there is minimum discharge voltage which people should be aware of for both safety and damage reasons.

    Lastly, I stand by my initial intended premise which was to point out that flashlights can stress lithium 18650 batteries to the point of generating potentially dangerous heat and gas levels inside a sealed container (i.e. a flashlight). And, due to the relatively constant and long duration (relatively speaking) voltage/amperage drain on a battery (any battery) used in a flashlight, unlike a vaping device (which is very short 'burst' type duration), the risk of heating, off-gassing and other negative side effects of 18650 batteries in particular used in flashlights increases the risk of a negative event to take place.

    18650 lithium batteries are naturally attractive to high intensity light users. This, due to the 18650's very high mAh potential in such a small package. Hence my cautions. I am in no way suggesting they not be used. I am only suggesting users inform themselves adequately about their properties before use, and further that there is a considerable lack of information 'out there' concerning their characteristics. And no, I do not work for a battery company, and have nothing to gain one way or the other, other than hopefully providing some useful information to save someone some grief.

    Hopefully this clarifies my original statement and intent.
     
  13. Westerdutch

    Westerdutch Loaded Pockets

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    Oh i understand your intentions were good for all the right reasons, but giving wrong information is worse than saying nothing at all in this case. If someone finds an old cell, measures it at 1,5 volts, recalls that's fine and puts in on the charger @ 1C charge you might be in for some premature fireworks. Could also be totally fine tho but it would certainly be something to keep an eye on. Also, sure the cells became more visible to the less educated public by vaping but at that point they were already being used in flashlights and also in the rc scene as in the form of pulled cells. But those people are mostly 'hobbyists' and as opposed to addicts they generally know what they are doing and will take responsibility for their own dumb actions instead of crying wolf when something explodes in their face. And they will, just like flashlights all those hip mechanical mods that people like to use have just about as little venting capability as a flashlight but they push batteries harder and cannot be fitted with protection circuits at all because of the high current draw required... honestly if i had to choose i rather have an 18650 explode in my hand than in my face. When a cell vents in a flashlight the rubber boot pops out and if that's not enough relief the glass will shatter in a beautiful rain of shards (don't ask me how i know this), some mechanical mods i have seen have less pressure relief than this (just a couple 2mm holes that automatically get closed off when a cell bulges), combined with the location where they are used aka in your face in combination with the users that generally dont give a darn about the technology and dangers behind it i rate them equally to more dangerous.

    How much current do you think a top-tier '1000 lumen' flashlight uses exactly if you don't mind me asking? And a mechanical mod?

    I fully agree that people willing to work with these high capacity cells need to educate themselves, one very important thing of educating is providing the correct information. That's why i 'attacked' your post as it gives some really skewed information, i usually do not do this and i apologise if i came across somewhat aggressive.
     
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  14. DCBman

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    Last edited by DCBman, Apr 25, 2017
    #14 DCBman, Apr 25, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2017
  15. Dingle1911

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    I like AW and eFest for my rechargeable lithium batteries.
     
  16. Westerdutch

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    Personally i rate AW cells as high as you can go but unfortunately I'm not the only one who thinks this. Because of that there's quite a couple fake cells on the market so make sure you get these from a reputable source.
     
  17. The Essential Illuminator

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    As mentioned the best [Big Five] manufacturers are SONY,SAMSUNG,PANASONIC,LG AND SANYO. Basically Four now as Panasonic/Sanyo have merged.

    If we choose quality batteries and use them properly they can be very safe regardless if they are Protected or Unprotected cells.A great and necessary piece of equipment to use them properly is having a DMM[Digital Multi Meter]. I measure the voltage before use, after use and after the batteries are charged.I am a bit fanatical.

    I know my batteries and lights so well[from Initial MAX output run time tests] that I have guessed the voltages numerous times after a 30, 40 minutes or so of use.

    I am at the point where I now have more High Drain[IMR] cells than protected cells. My Modded lights work best with them where I can get maximum output. I have several sets of 30Q and VTC6. Several LGHG2 AND VTC5 individual cells. My 18350 and 16340 are a mix of P/UP cells.Efest, KP,AW and the newest high drain King,,,,the Aspire 18350 discharged @ 500mA getting 1162mAh!That is what HKJ got. I got 1146[4 slot medain] w/ my Opus BT-C3100 2.2 Modified w/ top tier Delta fan 12v/0.12a/1.44w.

    All my protected 18650 cells are Panasonic based.

    The knowledge I have gained is from several years of being on CPF and BLF. I am sure I can learn more from the members on here!:D
     
    Last edited by The Essential Illuminator, Jun 23, 2017
    #17 The Essential Illuminator, Jun 23, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2017
  18. kikaida

    kikaida Loaded Pockets

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    Oh crap. I have a couple unprotected panasonics on the way. I'll just have to make sure to charge them every few weeks.
     
  19. The Essential Illuminator

    The Essential Illuminator Loaded Pockets

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    What was the brand/manufacturer of the battery? I would fathom to guess it was a cheap Chinese,,,Ultrafire,Trustfire ect instead of a quality Samsung/Panasonic/Sanyo/LG or Sony.
     
  20. Jammer Six

    Jammer Six Loaded Pockets

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    Nothing to do with the Chinese.