Is a USB charging interface safer than a charging station?

Orion

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I have been reading some old posts about lithium ion batteries and potential for exploding. The first one I read had to do with CR123...two in a flashlight,...and one popped, causing the other to pop, and the person ended up with some serious medical issues because of it.

Another was talking about not charging too fast or too slow....and stop right when the cycle completes. It seems that it is quite risky to have these cells for sure.

So it got me thinking. I have a charging station, a Nitecore Intellicharger i4 that plugs into the wall socket. I also have a Nitecore single bay charger that connects with a USB. Finally, I have a few rechargeable cells that have a mini-USB connection on the cell itself, and charges via USB.

Is the USB type charging system considered a good and safe way to charge?

How good is the Intellicharger i4?

Lastly, Olight uses the magnetic connection and USB to charge their lights. How safe is their mechanism? And are their single cell lights mostly safe to use?

Are lights with two 18650 cells problematic?

On a side note: I have a close to 80 mostly spent CR123 cells that no longer were able to power a flashlight. Or if they do, when the flashlight is raised to high, it will dim the output. Strange thing is, most of these cells still show 3V.
Does a place like Battery Junction take them? If not [or you don't know what that store is], what is the best way to get rid of them?
 
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bykfixer

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I used to use an i4 but prefer the more intelligent D4. The i4 got hotter than I was comfortable with. The D4 runs much cooler and it can do LifePo4's.
 

LRJ88

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To answer most of your questions above; charging and cell technology today are relatively safe. Unless you're charging known bad or unsafe cells (trying to charge from below the safe voltage cutoff being a thing that counts as unsafe) and you've got a charger with a pretty good rep like the Intellicharger you should be fine. If you're worried you can invest in a multimeter and check your cells to make sure they don't go below safe levels, there's spec sheets for most cells today.

On-cell charging can be hit or miss, in some cases it's really good, in some cases less so. One thing to keep in mind is that if the charging board breaks your cell will become useless until you remove it and put new wrapping on it.

Olights are pretty safe as it is, some of them have pretty low low voltage cutoff but from my experience using them for years there's no real issue apart from aging.

Usually discarding cells is done in battery boxes in recycling stations, if you have one near you you could call them and ask.
 

DRW

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...

Is the USB type charging system considered a good and safe way to charge?

....
Chargers that plug into a USB port are simply chargers made to use 5v as the input voltage. The USB port does not provide any other benefit. This should work pretty well for single cell charging situations, but would be slow for most multi-cell chargers.

The USB spec started at 500 ma and has evolved into quite a few variations. It's important to know what the USB port you are plugging into can provide regarding amperage and match that with what the charger needs to function optimally.

USB C has a spec for Power Delivery (PD) and the voltage and current can be much higher for PD compatible devices. I haven't seen any battery chargers that utilize PD.

The i4 charger you mentioned needs 9-12v at 1000 ma.
 

Orion

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LRJ88, I do have a multimeter....and I did register 1.5 volts on a Nitecore 18350 cell. I did read your long pinned post, so understand that cell to be no longer used.

I really appreciate your reply, I know you put a lot of work into the topic. Just don't want to have a cell explosion and the potential hazards of it.

But as for regular CR123 cells, are they fairly safe from explosion if used in single cell lights?

DRW, thank you, also, for your reply.
 

Orion

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Here is another Olight question. I just recently purchased the Seeker 3 Pro and it has 4 tiny LEDs that indicate battery level. When is the best time to recharge? When it reaches one LED, or is it best to recharge at two LEDs?

With the topic of multiple cells being used, is it also a greater danger if you're using two 18650 cells, same as using two CR123 cells, or is that just an issue with CR123 cells?
 

DRW

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Here is another Olight question. I just recently purchased the Seeker 3 Pro and it has 4 tiny LEDs that indicate battery level. When is the best time to recharge? When it reaches one LED, or is it best to recharge at two LEDs?

With the topic of multiple cells being used, is it also a greater danger if you're using two 18650 cells, same as using two CR123 cells, or is that just an issue with CR123 cells?
Doesn't matter with lithium (for the most part). Top it off so it's always ready for the next adventure.

What good is a partially charged light when you really need it.


IMHO batteries are consumables, wear 'em out and buy more when performance degrades.
 

KITROBASKIN

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It is up to you regarding battery use. Flagrant abuse will shorten lifespan but otherwise charge to meet your needs. Some of us do not keep batteries at 100% all the time, maybe above 80%. Typically we charge when flashlights get to about 50% but we also have backups.

Anyways, don't sweat it, but also do not drain batteries and leave them depleted for any length of time if possible.
 

bykfixer

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Doesn't matter with lithium (for the most part). Top it off so it's always ready for the next adventure.

What good is a partially charged light when you really need it.


IMHO batteries are consumables, wear 'em out and buy more when performance degrades.
I was puzzled when I first arrived here at why folks got so twisted out the frame when rechargeables could only be recharged 500 times (instead of 1000). I had come from the one use school where use it once and toss it rule applied. Thinking "alright 92 cents for a 1 time use battery or $2.85 for a 500 use number, why all the fuss?"
Use it 500 times and buy some new ones some day.

I like the convenience of the usb port and actually prefer that with a number of my batteries. But it's also good to know what's what by sticking them in a charger. Is the battery draining quicker than I thought? Is the usb charging it fully? Stuff like that there.

Maglite sells an 18650 with a battery meter. Push the button to see fuel left in 25% incriments.
 
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Orion

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Hmmm.....thanks for the comments, guys. But now I wonder....if a cell has the mini-usb port in it, is it dangerous to place it in another charging station?

Anyway, I guess with the modern lithium ion recharge-able cells, just keep them charged up is better than letting it drain completely. And yeah, if they wear out,....just buy another. Sounds good to me.

My only problem is,...I have two Jetbeam single 18350 flashlights that use an 18350 with the USB attached. They use what appears to be a proprietary 18350 [JR11] that is 5mm longer than a basic 18350....so when the cell eventually dies, if I can't find another one [there are stock now, but that may not be the case in the future], this flashlight will be useless...unless I devise some sort of modification. So I definitely want to make it to where the cell last the longest.
 

dennck

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The 18350 with USB rechargeable from Manker and Acebeam should fit. Have you tried regular protected 18350? Many lights that fit cells with built-in USB also fits protected cells. The difference in length is minimum and the spring will make it up.

Just like standalone chargers, when choosing a cell with built-in USB charging function, stay with the reputable ones.
 

Orion

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A regular 18350 bounces around in it. Spring doesn't cause it to make contact with the positive head.

My standalone charger is from Nitecore. It's pretty nice. Has what percentage the battery is at on a display. Plugs into a USB port.
 

Orion

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So,...if you're charging, and it feel cool to the touch during the process, you're probably going to be okay?
 

bigburly912

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So,...if you're charging, and it feel cool to the touch during the process, you're probably going to be okay?
You are really over thinking this. Charging technology has gotten way better. If you are that scared of it don't do it or you can get a charging bag that is fireproof.
 

bigburly912

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I was saying that off of the comments from KITROBASKIN and bykfixer.

If it isn't all that dangerous of a thing, then I'll not worry about it.
I understand and I wasn't being derogatory. World is stressful enough without doing something you are going to worry about constantly. It's great to get information and educate yourself but really just do what you are comfortable with
 

NiOOH

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No need to worry really, just follow these simple rules:
1. Use decent quality cells and chargers. Check cells manufacturer's recommendation for the charging current, and if possible, adjust accordingly.
2. Never leave the charger/cells unattended during charge.
3. If you see anything abnormal (high temperature, smell, smoke...), disconnect immediately and stop using the cells/charger.
4. Always ensure that the devices you use are designed to be used with the cells you feed them, i.e. if you are to use unprotected cells, make sure that the device is designed to use such cells. If the manufacturer recommends protected cells, use them.
 
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