18650 Battery and Charger Recommendation

bradthebold

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Hi, I am getting an Armytek Wizard Pro headlamp and am wondering what the most useful and safe batteries would be. It comes with 1 3100mah unprotected Panasonic and a WF139 charger.

The best prices I could find are:
Unprotected Panasonic 3100 - $12.74/pair
Unprotected Panasonic 3400 - $14.79/pr
Protected Eagletac 3100 - $32/pr on ebay
Protected Eagletac 3400 - $36/pr on ebay

The protected versions cost more than double and are 3mm longer that may cause issues in some lights. The Armytek has over discharge protection, so should I still get protected batteries for it?

If I get another light that doesn't have discharge protection, would it be dangerous to use unprotected cells if you took them out and charged them when the light started to dim? Or should you just always use protected batteries in unprotected lights?

Then for a charger I have narrowed it down to the $17 cottonpicker's basic charger or the $50 Xtar VP1, though I am open to any suggestions. I have a DMM to check voltages and don't think I will care about fast charging or charging multiple at a time. I'm guessing I'd be lucky to use it once a month. Will the cottonpicker's charger (or any other cheaper one) charge safely and reliably?
 

mattheww50

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I guess the question really revolves around 'other' plans you may have. If the single cell Armytek Wizard Pro is going to be your only 18650 device, an unprotected 3100mAh or 3400mAh cell is fine, and
Cottonpicker's charger is kind of overkill. An Intellicharger I2 or I4 is about half the price, should work just as well. You might also want to look at the XTAR SP2 charger, which is also very good, but without
the visual effects of the VP1.

However if you plan on adding other Li-Ion devices to your stable at some point, you are probably going to want the cells to be interchangeable. If you have any devices that use more than 1 cell, you are
going to want protected cells, and probably want a charger with a higher charging current. Takes a long time to charge a 3400 mAh cell at 375 ma!

Whose protected cell you buy doesn't matter a whole lot, as long as there is a Panasonic cell inside (Panasonic only makes the battery proper, the protection PCB and packaging is done by someone else). You pay a premium for flashlight maker branded cells. They have to be double 'marked up', since the flashlight maker has to buy them from the company that adds the protection, and they have to buy the cells from the cell manufacturer. The reality is you should be able to find 3100 mAh protected Panasonic cells for less than $25/pair. What you do need to watch out for with protected cells is the actual size. The 18650 is nominally 65mm long. With protection it is longer, there are some protected 18650's out there that are actually 70mm long, and not all battery carriers can handle a 70mm long 18650. The 3400mAh cells tend to have a slightly larger diameter than the 3100's, and again, depending upon the design of the device, may not fit where 3100mAh cells are in use today.

I use protected Panasonic 3100mAh cells exclusively. While I own a V2 Intellicharger I4, I don't use it that much. With all 4 bays in use, it takes quite a while to fully charge 3100mAh cells. I just bought a VP1 in part to address that issue, although I really wish they would make a 4 bay version of the VP1
 

Knight_Light

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The best prices I could find are:
Unprotected Panasonic 3100 - $12.74/pair
Unprotected Panasonic 3400 - $14.79/pr
Protected Eagletac 3100 - $32/pr on ebay
Protected Eagletac 3400 - $36/pr on ebay

The protected versions cost more than double and are 3mm longer that may cause issues in some lights. The Armytek has over discharge protection, so should I still get protected batteries for it?

If I get another light that doesn't have discharge protection, would it be dangerous to use unprotected cells if you took them out and charged them when the light started to dim? Or should you just always use protected batteries in unprotected lights?

Then for a charger I have narrowed it down to the $17 cottonpicker's basic charger or the $50 Xtar VP1, though I am open to any suggestions. I have a DMM to check voltages and don't think I will care about fast charging or charging multiple at a time. I'm guessing I'd be lucky to use it once a month. Will the cottonpicker's charger (or any other cheaper one) charge safely and reliably?

Continuing our discussion from the previous thread.

Why don’t you just get these protected cells “Panasonic NCR18650A 18650 3100mAh 3.7V Protected Rechargeable Li-ion Batteries (2-Pack)” FASTTECH SKU 1315402 $17.08 for 2

And you can get this charger if you want to save some money. “Miller ML-102 Universal USB Smart Charger (Version 3)” FASTTECH SKU 1158900 $7.47
 

bradthebold

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Sorry, I left out my future plans. Right now, I don't plan on getting another light soon. I was thinking about just getting a cheap 18650 light, but the cheapest decent light is at least $50, so I'll probably just wait for now. That is the main reason I was concerned about the protected batteries, for other potential lights.

The reason I chose the Eagletacs for comparison was because they are the shortest I've seen at 68mm and the only protected cells I've seen that fit in a ZL H600 for example. They are pretty expensive though. The protected 3400mah Panasonics on fasttech are only $16.21 a pair, but they're 69.4mm long. They would be disappointing to get if they didn't fit in any lights. I think they would fit in the Wizard without issue though, if I should use those instead of the unprotected version. That's only a few dollars difference. What I was thinking was I would just get the cheap $13-15/pair unprotected batteries now and deal with protected ones later if I need, assuming the Wizard and charger would be safe with unprotected cells.

As for the charger, I was shied away from the Intellicharger by another member due to mixed reviews and out of spec termination voltages. From my reading it seems like a decent charger, just not the best. It is half the price of the VP1 though. The basic Cottonpicker's charger I was looking at is only $17 though, the cheapest of anything, without the voltage meter. It's 700ma. I'm open to anything though and just looking for the cheapest charger that uses the right algorithms and won't overcharge though because I don't think I'll be using it that often to need superfast charging or a display.
 

TheSpicyTuna

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I'm a pretty new guy and I'm planning to get the Xtar Vp1 to charge my 18650's. My newness previously stated, I will also be going with protected cells.
 

Sagebrush

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Sanyo UR18650F 2600mAh Protected is my preference. $11.03 for two great high quality cells shipped from FastTech. They also have NCR18650B 3400's for $17 per set. Haven't found a better source for batteries anywhere. I have an I-4 charger and it terminates at 4.18, its a good budget unit, works fine and it can charge your AA's and such.
 
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bradthebold

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Panasonic doesn't make protected batteries though, do they? So who is adding the protection to the fasttech cells for so cheap? They're also pretty long and wouldn't fit some lights, thought they should work in mine if they're better than the unprotected ones.

I've seen mixed reports about the i4. The idea is great. HKJ says it uses CC/CV charging for lithiums, but it doesn't use -dv/dt termination for NiMH. How does that affect the termination, life span, etc of Eneloops if it doesn't use the proper algorithm. I would like to get some Eneloops as well, but it seems like no one uses this charger for that. And I don't know why people say bad things about the i4 if it uses proper termination for the lithiums though.
 

ChrisGarrett

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I've got two unprotected Pannie 3100s and two protected EagleTac 3100s for my ZL 600 and Fenix PD32. I use the Xtar WP2 II that I paid $18 shipped and they all work fine.

The WP2 II will only charge at 1A and 500mA, but that's fine for my needs. It does have a 5v/500mA USB OUTPUT, so you can charge some stuff up with a full cell. It gets a pretty good rating from HKJ and its big flaw is, is that it doesn't quite charge cells up to 100%, or 4.20v. It can, but not always. This is actually a good thing, as it extends cell life a little bit.

Chris
 

New-XMLight

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[...]and am wondering what the most useful and safe batteries would be.

For "safe batteries" i would recommend "protected" batteries. I only use "protected" ones.
I wanna feel "save" and have reliable and easy-care batteries...

Because of the better voltage level when dischargin i prefered "2600mAh" for my Niteye MSC20. But MSC20 is a smaller one.
If you could spend some more money there are really good 3400mAh protected with Panasonic NCR18650B)

br

PS.: As charger i also own the XTAR WP2 II.
 

Sukram

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For "safe batteries" i would recommend "protected" batteries. I only use "protected" ones.
I wanna feel "save" and have reliable and easy-care batteries...

Because of the better voltage level when dischargin i prefered "2600mAh" for my Niteye MSC20. But MSC20 is a smaller one.
If you could spend some more money there are really good 3400mAh protected with Panasonic NCR18650B)

br

PS.: As charger i also own the XTAR WP2 II.

Usually I use protected batteries in my lights but in my predator I can use unprotected batteries because of built-in battery protection. I think it depends on your light and its electronics.
 

New-XMLight

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I think it depends on your light and its electronics.

...and your mindset.

I like double check / safety and even if my flashlight has built-in protection i use protected batteries.
But maybe that's kind of :duh2:

greetz
 

bradthebold

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Does anyone know who adds the protection to the Fasttech Panasonics and if they're quality or not? They seem to be the cheapest protected cells by far.

Edit: Plus the protected flat-top 3100s are only 68.5mm long, which seems decently shorted for a protected cell I think.
 
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Labrador72

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Does anyone know who adds the protection to the Fasttech Panasonics and if they're quality or not? They seem to be the cheapest protected cells by far.

I am curious to know that too! I have seen a couple of retailers selling those cells in Europe too so I'm inclined to think it's not Fasttech who adds the protection.
 

bradthebold

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So I'm still wondering about the quality of the Fasttech protected Panasonics, are they good quality?

Disregarding the higher charging rate and voltage meter of the VP1, is the VP1 any better than the intellicharger? Is there anything wrong with the intellicharger?

How hard on Eneloops is the intellicharger since it doesn't use the correct termination algorithm?
 

DellSuperman

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So I'm still wondering about the quality of the Fasttech protected Panasonics, are they good quality?

So far all my experiences with FastTech cells have been positive.
Sanyo, Panasonic & even the NiteCore (which was actually Samsung cells underneath)

- JonK
 

bradthebold

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Do you mean you have the protected cells? The unprotected ones look great, just not sure about the protected ones since they dont' have any info.
 

TheRealDoodle

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Callie's Kustoms 3400 mah protected cells, $12 and some change on their website ... Those are the best batteries I've ever had. As for chargers whoever mentioned the xtar wp6 II above is a genius!
 

Sagebrush

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I still think the FastTech NCR18650B's are awesome. Great price, great performance. I see no reason to use anything else if you want and can fit the suckers. I also own the Sanyo protected 2600's. For around $5 per 18650 they can not be beat currently. For the price and the performance I mainly run the Sanyo's. Not interested in buying relabled cells for more money.
 

Mass. Wine Guy

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I just bought this Ultrafire light: http://www.manafont.com/product_info...-18650-p-13366

Does anyone know of any current good deals on good 18650 batteries?

It's my first non-AA flashlight and I need to buy a couple of good quality batteries. Orbotronic, Panasonic and Ampmax all get good comments. I found this charger and battery set on eBay. I like the charger, but are Soshine batteries ok?:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/221204479815...84.m1438.l2649

There's another auction for the same charger except for four battery charging compartments.

I'll check out the Sanyo batteries, too.

Thanks very much.
 

peterlonz

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I am fairly new to this technology but own three LED flashlights running Li-ion 1865 batteries.
I have discovered some issues that affect me & may be of interest to others.
1) I can't now recall which (or if any) of my flashlights features low voltage protection circuitry, that's stuff that 18 months down the track is hard to remember, especially as some do & some dont!
2) So ideally you would want protected batteries. But if you use your flashlight regularly or very irregularly you will probably get into the habit of regular charging or regular checking so then who needs "protected"? Bear in mind the extra length of protected batteries is itself a problem, they need forcing to fit my flashlights.
3) Using Li-ion batteries intelligently requires you to own a decent quality Digital Multi Meter (DMM). That's the only way you can know for sure the cut off charger voltage & the point at which to recharge batteries. Remember the cheaper chargers are not very reliable & can easily overcharge. I saw 4.27V once & still charging!
4) Regarding choice of battery brand I'd accept the general advice here, but remember batteries are relatively expensive so you need a quality charger that is known to be reliable, so don't buy Soshine or rubbish like that.
If you know you can depend on your charger you just pop the batteries in & charge & forget.
 
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