USB charging ports, and the covers that protect them

G

Guitar Guy

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I’m going to state my thoughts and opinions on this subject, and I’m wondering what others think.

I recently got my first light with a USB C charging port, an Acebeam T28, because I liked the light, not because I like the charge port. It looks to me like just a weak point in the light body to let in dirt or water when the cover is not properly sealed. The silicone / rubber cover has a pull tab which seems like it can easily catch on something, and like it will tear off eventually. Similarly, the thin part of the cover that holds it onto the light body is as thin as a piece of string and looks like it will eventually break either with repeated use, or when the pull tab gets caught on a sheath or pants pocket. I’m wondering if the manufacturers have any way of replacing the cover when it breaks. I’d probably just fill the port with silicone or epoxy.

So far, I tend to just take the battery out and charge it in one of my chargers, which seem to get the job done faster anyway. I really don’t see the appeal of the USB charging port. I have a Nitecore 2 bay charger that I got for $20, and a Fenix 4 port charger that I got for $40. Seems like a small investment for a person with many Lithium Ion batteries. Is it any more safe to charge the batteries while inside the light? I wouldn’t think so.

I DO like the magnetic system on my Imalent MS06. It seems pretty foolproof, efficient, and dependable, but I still tend to pop the 3 cells out and charge them faster in my charger.

Evidently, there is a demand for the USB port, since more and more manufacturers seem to be going with it, but I find myself more attracted to lights without the port, or at least with the magnetic system. Maybe I’m missing something.

Please share your thoughts on the charging ports, and also if you’ve dealt with any manufacturers regarding a cover after it got torn off or damaged.

JT
 
bykfixer

bykfixer

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I like it when the port is covered inside of the light somehow and is revealed by opening the body somehow.
Generally that means the light is not available while charging though.

In my view the coast HP7R was way ahead of the curve with ability to charge through the light itself, charge from the 18650 battery cage or use primary batteries way back in 015. The port is covered up inside the rear of the light and is revealed by sliding the end of the open while the light is still useable.

8-A60808-F-0-B84-46-B8-916-E-7-CAFD8-AE2421.jpg

Slide it closed after the light is charged.
 
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S

Sos24

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I’m not a big fan of charging ports either, for the same reasons you specify.

At least some have the rubber cap that fits in tight enough that it should prevent most intrusion but some fit loosely which bother me even more.
 
adamlau

adamlau

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You can always fill the port with dielectric epoxy to improve water resistance/proofness.
 
peter yetman

peter yetman

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I thought i was the only one that despises these things, they such a weak spot.
I read so many post asking for light recommendations with USB ports, which I guess are just driven by marketing.
I wouldn't accept one of those lights, even if Lady Gaga delivered it personally.
I know someone who would, Raggie.
P
 
D

Dark Attic Works

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I'm with you on the charging ports. I have purchased lights in spite of the USB port but never because of it.
 
Tasky

Tasky

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I really don’t see the appeal of the USB charging port.
They're for the 'Normals' who don't have external chargers and wouldn't want to mess around with things like 18650s or any other cell they can't buy in IKEA.
They're for people like me who might need to recharge a torch from the in-car USB port, while travelling between site jobs (even though I also carry 2 pre-charged spare cells).
They're for people who go hiking for days/weeks and carry solar chargers or portable power packs.

Of course, USB-C is making headway in the consumer tech world, so torches are now starting to feature that.

It's basically just another option, there if ever you need it, and a micro-USB is something that even many Normals have available if you (for some crazy reason) just happen to be without. I could charge my LD15R off my phone lead, my mouse lead, my vape lead or even my PC headphones lead. I can also charge one cell directly off a USB while using another in the torch.
I'm a big fan of having options available on things, even if I don't use them myself. I prefer magnetic charging, but you're into the realm of propretary cables until a common standard rises to the fore, and I think torches will align with mobile phones and any wireless charging standards before a magnetic standard ever happens.

As for replacements, I can't say any of mine have broken yet.
I have several with such ports, some of which are custom built-in batteries, but they've all survived both my abuse and that of my young daughters.
The LD15R even comes with a spare USB cover, so if it ever does kark it I can sort that immediately while sourcing a spare.
 
W

WalkIntoTheLight

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For flashaholics, a USB port is probably not needed, and just adds to the size and weight of the light, as well as not being designed for frequent use (I've had them break). For non-flashaholics, I can absolutely see their benefit. They want something as easy to charge as a smart phone. And, no hidden port! It give up some waterproofness, which is not needed for non-flashaholics anyway, and the port has to be easily accessible.
 
Tasky

Tasky

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For flashaholics, a USB port is probably not needed
Meaning no disrespect, but taking a lighthearted prod - Isn't that a bit elitist... or does 'flashaholic' have a very tightly regulated set of criteria by which one can identify as one?
Are you considered out of 'the club' if you do find a USB port of use to you?
:p
 
Katherine Alicia

Katherine Alicia

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I find them useful in 10180 based lights because I have no way of charging those, beyond that I`m not a fan and could happily live without them.
 
bykfixer

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We may see more and more as light makers create lights with proprietary batteries instead of coin cells or standard round ones.
If they sell there'll be more as smaller and smaller lights get brighter and better.
 
W

WalkIntoTheLight

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Meaning no disrespect, but taking a lighthearted prod - Isn't that a bit elitist... or does 'flashaholic' have a very tightly regulated set of criteria by which one can identify as one?
Are you considered out of 'the club' if you do find a USB port of use to you?
:p

Do you not have a separate charger? Do you not like to check your cells with a DMM to make sure they're safe and charging properly?

Yeah, there may be some uses for built-in charging, such as when you're on vacation and that tiny Xtar MC1 charger is still too big to carry. But, in general, if you're a flashaholic and you prefer to use built-in USB charging, you're probably doing it wrong. So, turn in your flashaholic card; it's now been officially voided by the club execs. You can reapply next year, after you take the mandatory training.
 
Lynx_Arc

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As others have said the push for integrated USB ports in lights is simple: profit.
If they can add about $2 worth of parts and gain 10% or more in sales they will do it. Lights in stores are going to go to USB charging for the simple reason that stores don't want the liability of dealing with bare lithium ion cells even with protection and built in charging they feel "safer" with lights that the cell stays in the light and they don't have to sell chargers for bare lithium cells. If you go to many box stores it is becoming harder and harder to even find decent battery chargers and the cost of most of these chargers is a bit high often they want to sell the fancy ones to entice people into thinking they will do a better job and make the battery last longer. Since regular battery companies have gone to the *stupid" practice of selling only chargers that need 2 NIMH cells in series to work they have IMO intentionally made it so the batteries fail faster and this either makes for more nimh battery sales or people abandoning the technology for good when their batteries that are touted to last X number of cycles die prematurely.
The main issue that is a drawback for most store based sales is when integrated rechargeable power supplies fail that the device becomes worthless to most who do not either want or have the resources to replace them.
Us flashaholics tend to not want devices that don't offer cell replacement at all because we tend to buy in 2 categories, the first to last very short (disposable) the second to last from now on till obsolete.
 
nbp

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It’s not my preference but if I really liked the light I could be okay with it. What I don’t like is batteries that cannot be removed and replaced. When capacity drops below what I consider useful, the light is now just something to be recycled. Grrrrrrr.
 
J

jabe1

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I don’t own a light with an external usb charging port and probably never will. Like most of the posters here, it seems to me just a weak point. USB charging is just another convenience addition. I think as a society we’re conveniencing ourselves to an uncertain end.
The need to remove the cell also gives me the opportunity to check the o-rings and the cell itself; especially needed on today’s high draw lithiums.
 
Tasky

Tasky

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Do you not have a separate charger? Do you not like to check your cells with a DMM to make sure they're safe and charging properly?
Yes and yes, but everyone makes mistakes and anyone can get caught out, though and my charger only takes four cells at a time.
Surely it's better to have and not need, than need but not have?

But, in general, if you're a flashaholic and you prefer to use built-in USB charging, you're probably doing it wrong. So, turn in your flashaholic card; it's now been officially voided by the club execs. You can reapply next year, after you take the mandatory training.
Well, I don't prefer it... but neither would I disregard something if it's of potential use - It's like a First Aid Kit... or an 18650 sleeve for a 21700 torch, I suppose!

Oh, and for the record - a LOT of non-flashaholics still require waterproofness!! :wave:
 
Lynx_Arc

Lynx_Arc

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It’s not my preference but if I really liked the light I could be okay with it. What I don’t like is batteries that cannot be removed and replaced. When capacity drops below what I consider useful, the light is now just something to be recycled. Grrrrrrr.
What is the worst thing is when the non removeable battery is being recharged you can't do much with the light either. You may need a second light to see to swap removeable batteries but it can be smaller as it only needs enough light for that task alone. A keychain light in this case would be useful.
 
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Timothybil

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i don't like them for the same reason i don't like silly tools that combine two or more functions that are unrelated but the maker thought they could suck in some unsophisticated users because the idea seemed so novel.
First off, I'm going to exclude lights like the Nitecore Tube/Tip, or their MT2n lights, etc. They are lights that could not exist if they had to use CR wafer cells and/or could not perform as well if they had to use replaceable wafer/button cells, or they couldn't obtain acceptable performance with removable cells as opposed to a power pack, either built-in or removable.
The way i look at it is that if the port/charge circuitry fails, more than likely the light becomes unusable, and/or it just becomes a part of the light that is in the way and no longer performs a useful feature. It is one more point of failure that isn't necessary to make the light function.
I know this won't be a popular position, so don't slam me for it: If the light has removable cells, why did you buy it if you can't or don't know how to recharge them by themselves. NiCad/NiMH chargers are almost idiot proof these days, and if you are unable to handle recharging LiIon cells, you shouldn't have bought the light.
 
S

Scotty321

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I could go on about pros and cons to USB charging. I have flashlights with and without. However, I think it basically comes down to what the general public is buying (or whichever demographics generates the most sales for that company). I think this is why everything I like seems to get discontinued, and many of the items I purchase are hard to find locally.
 
bykfixer

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REO Speedwagon did a song a while ago called "roll with the changes". Ironically you won't find their albums in stores anymore. lol

The SureFire Stiletto comes to mind when thinking of a USB port on a flashlight, but as a rule I see more and more of that sort of lighting tool entering the market place.

Purists will insist on replaceable battery's as this takes place but when the vape device market began becoming more pod device oriented the pursists screamed "replaceable or bust" as they slowly began to try out and even like some of the pod devices. So it's a thing that's probably here to stay. Good or bad? Eh, that's up to the buyer.
 

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