ZL H53 on 14500?

lampeDépêche

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When ZL moved from the H52 to the H53, they stopped supporting 3.7v Li-Ion batteries. Now, you can use only 1.2v Ni-MH, 1.5v alkaline (boo!) or 1.6v lithium primaries.

That's the official line.

But as we all know, there is a difference between what is officially true, i.e. what the legal department allows you to say -- and what is really true for an experienced user.

SO: has anyone tried feeding a 3.7v Li-Ion to an H53 or S53, to see what happens? Perhaps it goes *POP* and you lose $60. That would be a bummer.
Or, perhaps it runs it on higher output, and you have to carefully manage the heat yourself. So you can get maybe 1 minute of turbo, and then you need to shut it down before it gets too hot to handle. That would be nice!

That's certainly how the H52/S52 worked. You could get almost 500 lumens out of them, but you did have to monitor the heat very carefully. And if you let them overheat, then *POP*, you just wasted $60.

Since I don't have $60 to waste, I would love to know whether anyone else has made the experiment.

Anyone?
 

holygeez03

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Willing to bet it will fry the driver... not willing to try it on mine. I still have a very early (smooth) model H52Fw that is my EDC and I use it with 14500. The H52Fw with a 3-5 minute 14500 Turbo Mode would be a perfect EDC for me.
 

Fireclaw18

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I asked the same question a couple months ago!

Unfortunately, the only answers I got were

"It will probably fry the driver"; and
"Why don't you try it out and let us know."

I don't think anyone has actually tried a 14500 in these lights yet. At least not anyone who posts on the forums.

It's a real shame Zebralight dropped support for 14500. The SC52w worked great on 14500. Meanwhile, my SC53w on Eneloop feels ludicrously underpowered. It's not a good feeling when you get a new version of a light and it feels like a major downgrade.

Still kicking myself on accidentally destroying the driver in my SC52w while attempting to swap the emitter. But on the upside, I do quite like what I did with the remains. It's now a 14500-powered triple SST-20 light with Anduril firmware. Around 1500 lumens of 95-CRI rosy-tinted light, with good throw. Big improvement in output, tint and CRI over the unmodded SC52w. Much better than the too floody Lumintop FWAA. The downsides are my modded SC52w no longer runs on 1.5v AA, and battery life is much shorter especially when run at high output.

I'm tempted to mod another Zebralight in this way. But the SC53 would not be my first choice. For a triple I would prefer a larger cell and/or more heatsking. SC62w would be ideal, but mine works perfectly and there's no way I'd want to destroy it to turn it into a host. However, I do have a non-functional SC64w HI I could use, if I can manage to get the bezel off.
 
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lampeDépêche

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Thanks, Holygeez03 and Fireclaw18!

So, sounds like one of us will simply have to risk disaster, take the plunge, and see what happens.

The good news is that if I buy a new H53 and burn it out, then at least I can buy another new H53. The H52s --whether straight-sided or wavy -- are now irreplaceable heirlooms. I have one of each; my indispensable EDC is my newer, wavy H52. I love that they can run on 14500s, and I hope that the H53's can, too.
 

Msf

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Some mixed results for your consideration.
Don't have an H53 on hand to try it with a 14500, tried a 14500 in the SC53c (should be same driver) and it performed similar to my SC52 and SC52 L2. High was definitely brighter running a 14500 than running with either an NIMH or a 1.5v lithium primary.
Did not fry the driver, but the SC53c acted a little odd at first when I removed the 14500 and went back to an Energizer ultimate lithium (1.5v). Would come on, but then cycle H-M-L and then shut off. Did that four times. At that point, I removed and reinstalled the (1.5v) battery and it started working normally. As I have more curiosity than sense, I reinstalled the 14500 and the light worked just like the first time with high significantly brighter than running on the energizer lithium primary (1.5v). This time when I removed the 14500 and went back to the energizer lithium primary (1.5v), I did not have any odd behavior (initially or otherwise). Light seems to be working fine, but if something changes, will post about it.
As I am satisfied with the output at 1.2-1.5v, don't plan to tempt fate and try it again.
 

lampeDépêche

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Holy Moly! Msf, you are the hero we needed!

Okay, that gives me a little more courage to try a 14500 of my own in an H53.

Incidentally, is your SC53 fairly new, and of fairly recent vintage?

ETA: Thank you! Really appreciate your taking the plunge, and letting us know the water is fine.
 

Fireclaw18

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Thanks for taking the plunge Msf!!!!

Based on your feedback I think I'll also try a 14500 in my SC53w. Will be interesting to see if it works and if it is brighter than my SC5w II on Eneloop.
 

Msf

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Seems more than a few of us were wondering if 14500s were viable in the SC53/H53. Picked up mine new from their website about six months a ago. So assuming they haven't updated the driver or firmware update since, it should be current.
Had been meaning to try it with a14500 for a while, but never got around to it. Your post restarted my curiosity on the subject and decided to throw caution to the wind and give it a try.
Based on my results, I would be willing to install and use a 14500 in an emergency. However, given I only tried it twice in a single sample, and had some odd behavior the first time, my results are not statistically adequate to draw conclusions.
 

Fireclaw18

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I tried my SC53w on 14500 today.

Preliminary results: It works perfectly on 14500! All modes function properly. Max output looks comparable to my SC5wII. My guess is 500 lumens like the SC52w.

I also experienced an issue similar to what Msf experienced. After running the light on 14500, the light initially malfunctions when a 1.5v AA is inserted. It starts at the 500 lumen turbo, but then within a couple seconds ramps down to med, then to low, then turns off.

But this problem is not serious. After removing the cell and reinserting, the light stabilizes and starts operating at the normal 200 lumen expected output on AA. It appears to take maybe 15 seconds or so before the light configures itself for AA and starts functioning properly again.

My guess is Zebralight used almost the same driver from the SC52. They probably designed it to support 14500, but experienced the same issue we experienced. The problem might have been caused by different parts used on the driver board compared to the SC52, or maybe it is a programming issue on the MCU. Either way, I suspect rather than fixing it they just decided to drop support for 14500.

I haven't tried running my SC53w for an extensive period on 14500 yet, but so far it's looking good. I'm running on a Vapcell button-top 1050 mAh L10 cell. Unlike the SC52w, the SC53w did not work with flat tops.
 

lampeDépêche

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Thanks, Fireclaw! That's even more confirmation.

About the strange behavior when putting in an AA after the 14500 -- try pressing the switch a time or two between batteries, when the end-cap is not fully screwed down.
It seems like this shouldn't matter, but here's my reason for thinking that it does:
with my H52, I have noticed that if I screw the end-cap down with a battery in, I will get a brief blink of light, and then it turns off. If I then unscrew the end-cap and screw it tight again, there is no blink. Now, I can untwist and twist as many times as I like, and not get a blink.
BUT if I click the switch when the end-cap is loose, then it will blink when I next tighten it up.
Tighten-blink!-loosen-tighten-[no blink]-loosen-tighten-[no blink] etc.
Tighten-blink!-loosen-click switch-tighten-blink!-loosen-click switch-tighten-blink! etc.

This makes me think that there are capacitors in the driver that are holding some charge, and when I press the switch in between they dump the charge. I wonder whether something like that is causing the strange behavior when switching between 14500 and AA, and whether clicking the switch while it's empty might clear the problem. (Not that it's a huge problem in any case.)
 

Fireclaw18

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Nice catch lampeDepeche.

I confirm that the problem of malfunction when swapping back to AA from 14500 can be completely avoided.

All you have to do is press the button a few times after removing the 14500 and before inserting the AA.

The button presses must be enough to drain any residual charge leftover and restore AA operation. This workaround is so simple and quick I consider this light to fully support 14500.
 

lampeDépêche

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Very cool, Fireclaw18!

"...so simple and quick I consider this light to fully support 14500."

Totally agreed -- for a flashoholic who knows the trick, that is full functioning.

At the same time, I can understand why ZL would not want to advertise that it supports 14500s if it has this small glitch, because then they would get flooded with requests for repair or return from non-flashoholic users, and who needs that.
 

Fireclaw18

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Agreed.

This is full-functioning for us flashaholics.

But for Zebralight to actually advertise it as supporting 14500, this glitch would need to be fixed so no workaround is needed.
 
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Msf

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Thanks for the additional testing Fireclaw. While I will probably use standard AAs more than 14500s in my SC53, it’s good to have additional indications that 14500s are safe to use. I much prefer my lights to multiple chemistry capable and this bumps the SC53 up a few notches in ranking among my lights.
 

jon_slider

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SC52 has:
  • "Built in over-discharging protection for 14500 batteries at 2.8V cutoff"
Does the SC53 also have LiIon LVP?
 

lampeDépêche

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SC52 has:
  • "Built in over-discharging protection for 14500 batteries at 2.8V cutoff"
Does the SC53 also have LiIon LVP?

Great question, but only ZL can say, and they are not talking.
I'm certainly not willing to try it by running an LI-ion down below 2.8 -- I always try to swap them out around 3.5v or so, just to be careful.

I also don't know about the timed step-down, but once I get some 14500s I will give that a try -- it only takes 61 seconds to find out, and is not likely to damage anything.
 

Fireclaw18

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The SC52 has a 60 second timed stepdown on H1 with 14500. Does the SC53 have the same behaviour?
Yes. I just tested it. The SC53w on 14500 stepped down from turbo at exactly 60 seconds.

I wish they made the stepdown take longer before it triggered or used a thermal sensor. The body of the light was barely warm.
 

lampeDépêche

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I wish they made the stepdown take longer before it triggered or used a thermal sensor. The body of the light was barely warm.

Thanks for testing that, Fireclaw18!

Yeah, a thermal sensor (like in the 18650 line) would have been nice, but it would probably increase the size of the whole driver quite a bit. A 60-sec time-out is just code.
I assume you can restart the minute with an off-and-on? Honestly, most times when I want turbo, I want it for less than a minute anyhow. And a body as small as the SC63/H63 really cannot be expected to manage a lot of heat for a lot of time.
So, this seems like an okay compromise.
 

Bob_McBob

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Yes. I just tested it. The SC53w on 14500 stepped down from turbo at exactly 60 seconds.
Interesting. Do you have any good photos of the top and bottom of the driver from your failed mod? I saw the one photo on BLF but it's just the top with potting.
 
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