Petzl NAO+ battery life - am I being unreasonable?

patricio2626

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Hello ladies + gents,

I hike in remote wooded areas, and now that it's sundown by 5:30PM this time of year I'm quite reliant on my headlamp. I also plan to do some ultrarunning this Winter, and so will be in remote areas for quite some time in the dark. Recently I've upped my game and have started picking up the distance on my hikes.

I like my Petzl NAO as does my wife, and so I bought a NAO+ with the idea of giving it to her. Well, she was quite nice and told me to take the NAO+ and that she would use my NAO. I love the light it puts out, even in reactive max autonomy mode. The problem is the friggin' battery life. The package claims a 6h30m runtime in reactive high, and 15-25h in reactive max autonomy. I hiked 3:37 in 42 degrees Farenheit and am down to 26% battery life per the MyPetzl light app (which is very buggy, BTW.) I contacted Petzl about this and they recommended tilting the light downward, presumably because the reflection will cause the built-in photoeye to dim the light accordingly. Well, I already do this. I let them know this, and they told me, "That is the only think I can think of. Your time is going to vary compared to another user using it in different conditions."

Okay, but 15h vs. what is looking to be 5h? Really, 1/3 of the stated runtime? Maybe I'm simply expecting too much from a device powered by a single 18650? If this is so then fine, but what's up with tripling it in the marketing material? They do list the reserve mode (15lm, 2h) separate from the burn time, so it looks as if 15h is the run time given pre-reserve. As many of us know, the spare Petzl batteries for these are crazy costly ($70), and I would need two of them at this rate to get through an all-nighter ultra this time of year (6PM-7AM or so).

As a side note, I've ordered a couple of EnePower battery replacements (3500mA) that come with the Petzl-compatible thermistor + wiring. I'll write up my findings with them in a new thread when done testing, and hopefully they can help extend the life between battery changes.
 

archimedes

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There are quite a few variables to consider, and it may be that you would get better discussion of this topic in the Batteries subforum, but I'll start by pointing out a few of these here ....

Lithium ion battery chemistry is markedly affected by temperature. As a ballpark guess, operation near freezing might drop your capacity (runtime) ~ 30% alone (depending on current draw, voltage minimum, and other factors)

Also, ANSI-FL1 "runtime" is rated to 10% of (just past) initial output. If there is poor regulation, the light may seem "near empty" long before it reaches the stated runtime.

Batteries themselves, of course, degrade with time, temperature, and cycles, and there are all number of reasons why a "battery capacity remaining app" might be inaccurate, too.

And if they are quoting estimated runtimes based on some sort of "auto-dimming" function ... well, you can see how no two trial runs of that might even be repeatable or comparable :thinking:

Those are just a few of the most obvious factors which come to mind :shrug:
 
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patricio2626

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There are quite a few variables to consider, and it may be that you would get better discussion of this topic in the Batteries subforum, but I'll start by pointing out a few of these here ....

Lithium ion battery chemistry is markedly affected by temperature. As a ballpark guess, operation near freezing might drop your capacity (runtime) ~ 30% alone (depending on current draw, voltage minimum, and other factors)

Also, ANSI-FL1 "runtime" is rated to 10% of (just past) initial output. If there is poor regulation, the light may seem "near empty" long before it reaches the stated runtime.

Batteries themselves, of course, degrade with time, temperature, and cycles, and there are all number of reasons why a "battery capacity remaining app" might be inaccurate, too.

And if they are quoting estimated runtimes based on some sort of "auto-dimming" function ... well, you can see how no two trial runs of that might even be repeatable or comparable :thinking:

Those are just a few of the most obvious factors which come to mind :shrug:

Thank you for the reply. You make a good point with the ANSI-FL1 spec, but I do find this to be ethically questionable. Of course, if the competitors are using it then the vendor almost has no choice but to fall into that trap as well. I couldn't find any reviews with real-world battery life on the NAO+ and so it was kind of a 'blind faith/hope' purchase. I'll keep an eye out for any perceived dimming tomorrow when I hike again, and will update with runtime to reserve once I get there.

I've also purchased an Acebeam H30 that should arrive some time today. From what I've read, mid mode (380lm) will indeed last >= 7.5 h at room temp with that 21700.
 

archimedes

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This is some of the value provided by a forum such as CPF. There are many users here with practical real-world experience with a huge range of lighting products.

Instead of, or in addition to, relying on marketing info and ad copy, it is possible to ask questions and discuss various alternatives suited to a particular task or need.
 

Szemhazai

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As for NAO runtimes - the real world "reactive low" runtimes are 5-6 hours on Petzl/Samsung 2600 mAh cells and up to 11 hours on 3400 mAh direct connection cells.

Replacing the original cells with EnePower will give you nothing because It's the software that calculates the capacity in NAO battery pack. You will just have one more spare cell - but if you enter "safety mode" once, replacing the cell with a spare one also will give you nothing, because the lamp remembers that it is already in "safety mode" :oops:. Those cells are useful for replacing the old cells in NAO's, but that's all. They can use 2600 mAh cells and the runtimes will be the same.

That's why I'm ripping out everything from nao's battery pack and putting there 18650 cell holder :devil:
petzl_nao_ncr18650b.jpg


There is an alternative for standard cells that will use the full capacity of the battery - but for those, you will need an external charger.
nao_battery_4x_charger.jpg

Those are Panasonic NCR18650B 3400mAh protected, with NAO plug.
 

patricio2626

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As for NAO runtimes - the real world "reactive low" runtimes are 5-6 hours on Petzl/Samsung 2600 mAh cells and up to 11 hours on 3400 mAh direct connection cells.

Replacing the original cells with EnePower will give you nothing because It's the software that calculates the capacity in NAO battery pack. You will just have one more spare cell - but if you enter "safety mode" once, replacing the cell with a spare one also will give you nothing, because the lamp remembers that it is already in "safety mode" :oops:. Those cells are useful for replacing the old cells in NAO's, but that's all. They can use 2600 mAh cells and the runtimes will be the same.

That's why I'm ripping out everything from nao's battery pack and putting there 18650 cell holder :devil:
petzl_nao_ncr18650b.jpg


There is an alternative for standard cells that will use the full capacity of the battery - but for those, you will need an external charger.
nao_battery_4x_charger.jpg

Those are Panasonic NCR18650B 3400mAh protected, with NAO plug.

Thank you for the info! This was a fear of mine, that the battery would not charge to > 2600mA since the NAO+ pack is the 'controller'. These Enerpower cells don't have bare contacts exposed and so I wouldn't be confident about charging them myself, as I don't know the NAO plug pinout setup (will meter with my multimeter, but am not confident). I do have a Nitecore i4 charger.

Have you 'hacked' this yourself, or are there shareable resources that you are using?
 
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patricio2626

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No those are my hack's since 2012-2013... :D. You can find those in original NAO review, also with plug information
NAO will charge cells to the maximum, then reset the counter, but it will simply switch on to "safety mode" when the counter will say "you have used 2600mAh" :crazy:
http://www.light-test.info/en/headlamps/20-petzl-nao-cree-xp-g-18650

Oh, well darn; I guess it samples draw every X period and increments the counter, then stores the safety mode in some bit once triggered. "Too smart for its own good." I think this is a cool light in a few aspects but I'm really bummed out this. I would like to just return this light and keep the spare battery pack I bought and use it in my NAO (it will fit, but not the other way around), but I feel as though I'm kind of already invested with these EnerPower batteries as well. I find it silly that I would have to spend $300 ($150 light + $50*3 for batteries) to have a chance of making it through the entire night with decent light output.
 

Szemhazai

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You should read my article earlier :D. If you want to, I can take care of your NAO - a few months ago I did it for some guy from Sweden, shipping costs a lot, but battery replacement kit costs is about 20$ - then you can use any 18650 for 4$ a piece...
 

patricio2626

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You should read my article earlier :D. If you want to, I can take care of your NAO - a few months ago I did it for some guy from Sweden, shipping costs a lot, but battery replacement kit costs is about 20$ - then you can use any 18650 for 4$ a piece...

I would be interested. I'll PM you now.
 

AlexanderDelarge

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As for NAO runtimes - the real world "reactive low" runtimes are 5-6 hours on Petzl/Samsung 2600 mAh cells and up to 11 hours on 3400 mAh direct connection cells.

Replacing the original cells with EnePower will give you nothing because It's the software that calculates the capacity in NAO battery pack. You will just have one more spare cell - but if you enter "safety mode" once, replacing the cell with a spare one also will give you nothing, because the lamp remembers that it is already in "safety mode" :oops:. Those cells are useful for replacing the old cells in NAO's, but that's all. They can use 2600 mAh cells and the runtimes will be the same.

That's why I'm ripping out everything from nao's battery pack and putting there 18650 cell holder :devil:
petzl_nao_ncr18650b.jpg


There is an alternative for standard cells that will use the full capacity of the battery - but for those, you will need an external charger.
nao_battery_4x_charger.jpg

Those are Panasonic NCR18650B 3400mAh protected, with NAO plug.

Hey, I found this post very intriguing. I owned a Petzl Nao for several years now and the battery is finally starting to “go”. I used to get like 7 hours on reactive mode by now it seems like I only get 1-2. Anyway the price to replace them is about $70!. I called Petzl and asked if I could just get the battery,. They said No, and that the battery was the most expensive part of the unit anyway. I wanted to attempt the process you mentioned that did not involve tearing up the unit.
Do these Panasonic NCR18650B batteries exist with the proper Molex installed? If so where are they, I cant find them. If not, can you confirm that I need:
1 ( or more) Panasonic NCR18650B 3400mAh protected.
1 x Intellicharger i4.
1 ( or more) Molex 5264-3P with 5263 pins.
2 (or more lengths of terminal lead wires).

I went on digikey and looked for Molex 5264-3P with 5263 pins…I can’t seem to find them typing that description in exactly. If I do find them, will they have the lead wires attached?
I can find the batteries all over the web, so that’s not an issue.
How do I go about connecting the molex to the battery? Do I need to open the battery and solder the leads on like in the image from your other post showing the 100KOhm NTC thermistor?
 
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LCuinu

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Hey, I found this post very intriguing. I owned a Petzl Nao for several years now and the battery is finally starting to “go”. I used to get like 7 hours on reactive mode by now it seems like I only get 1-2. Anyway the price to replace them is about $70!. I called Petzl and asked if I could just get the battery,. They said No, and that the battery was the most expensive part of the unit anyway. I wanted to attempt the process you mentioned that did not involve tearing up the unit.
Do these Panasonic NCR18650B batteries exist with the proper Molex installed? If so where are they, I cant find them. If not, can you confirm that I need:
1 ( or more) Panasonic NCR18650B 3400mAh protected.
1 x Intellicharger i4.
1 ( or more) Molex 5264-3P with 5263 pins.
2 (or more lengths of terminal lead wires).

I went on digikey and looked for Molex 5264-3P with 5263 pins…I can’t seem to find them typing that description in exactly. If I do find them, will they have the lead wires attached?
I can find the batteries all over the web, so that’s not an issue.
How do I go about connecting the molex to the battery? Do I need to open the battery and solder the leads on like in the image from your other post showing the 100KOhm NTC thermistor?
I'd like to fully understand the swop as well. As far as I can tell Szemhazai used the connection the 2 x AAA uses and attached his molex connectors to that on the board and on spare 18650's. This would mean the torch can no longer use AAA batteries. I don't think he used any thermistor swops or anything?
Perhaps I missed something, but can't th old thermistor and connector be cut off older dead batteries and re-used?
 

sirpetr

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Hey, I found this post very intriguing. I owned a Petzl Nao for several years now and the battery is finally starting to “go”. I used to get like 7 hours on reactive mode by now it seems like I only get 1-2. Anyway the price to replace them is about $70!. I called Petzl and asked if I could just get the battery,. They said No, and that the battery was the most expensive part of the unit anyway. I wanted to attempt the process you mentioned that did not involve tearing up the unit.
Yes, sure, we know that Petzl sucks. Its huge company and just wants you to spend money on new products, not to keep old lamps going.

But, why make it so difficult (building your own battery) when you can buy compatible battery for fair prize and with best capacity available? Check this Enerpower battery. Two years ago we bought 30 of these batteries directly from Enerpower (German company) and all customers were very happy with it, no one complained so I think compatiblity is 100% across all Nao versions. I dont have any connection with Enerpower, I just wanted to promote our own headlamps to potential customers who owns Petzl, so thats why we offered them.
 

Szemhazai

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Check this Enerpower battery. Two years ago we bought 30 of these batteries directly from Enerpower (German company) and all customers were very happy with it, no one complained so I think compatiblity is 100% across all Nao versions.

Yep, they are compatible, but they sucks because in most cases you are using only 60% of their capacity. That's why I've posted DIY version that can be charged in the standard battery charger.
 

sirpetr

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Szemhazai: Ok, you are right, but still you buy cheap new battery which will provide you same runtime as original cell with the advantage of just partial discharging=longer life.

When you direct connect them and you enter "safety mode", then you are able to swap cell in the holder and continue, right? So it should work also same when exchanging original cells or Enerpowers. There is Molex 3-pin connector, little complicated to release but can be done if you need it just once, twice a year.
 

Szemhazai

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@sirpetr: not exactly... When I'm connecting directly I'm in "no mans land" ;).
Nao have a precise voltage sense system in it's head - probably somebody was thinking about replaceable power source. It's switching to safety mode at 3,05-3,00V - so i's safe to say that it is ok for unprotected li-ion cells.
But when you are using standard NAO battery pack electronics with molex connection it is switching to safety mode at a calculated capacity - the 2300mah and 3200mAh will give you the same runtime .:grin2:
You can cheat it by removing wire connected to the NTC -> "I'm li-ion rechargeable" - but then you cannot charge from USB - so what's the point of having it, also replacement of the molex connected battery in the dark is pain in the ***. :au:
 
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