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Thread: Zebralight quality has been a big disappointment

  1. #1

    Default Zebralight quality has been a big disappointment

    I really like Zebralight's selection and feature set but their stuff has given me nothing but problems.

    As of today, every single flashlight I have purchased from Zebralight over the last several years has died due to leaking AA battery. All the models I've purchased have been AA models. I have other makes of flashlight that are AA models and not a one has leaked nor died on me (e.g., my Malkoffs). I have never had a leak in Malkoff light. Yet every Zebralight has leaked. It just seems like it's got to be the light. I'm using the same AA brand between them (Duracell).

    So I swore off Zebralight AA and started buying 18650 torches. First one I received would turn on if you gently just laid your finger on the button without even a push. Second one was dead on arrival. It would never turn on.

    Are other people not experiencing these same things? I can't say I feel comfortable buying from them anymore. They have great features, weight, physical design, but no reliability in my experience. And these lights are not cheap either.


    EDIT: Ugh, I meant to post this in LED Flashlights forum. Admin, can you move this post to that forum?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Zebralight quality has been a big disappointment

    You mean the BATTERIES have leaked? I don't think a Zebralight can leak on its own. Now a ZEBRA can take a leak, but that's totally different.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Zebralight quality has been a big disappointment

    Quote Originally Posted by gurdygurds View Post
    You mean the BATTERIES have leaked? I don't think a Zebralight can leak on its own. Now a ZEBRA can take a leak, but that's totally different.
    Yeah, the batteries are leaking. But every single battery I have put in a zebralight has leaked. These are new alkalines. I am putting new alkalines in other brands and have had zero leaks from other brands. Don't you think that seems awfully strange? I'm wondering if others have experienced anything similar. Is this just extremely bad luck and "coincidence" that the Zebralights have all leaked on me?

  4. #4

    Default Re: Zebralight quality has been a big disappointment

    Please spend $3 and get a rechargeable NiMH AA for it. Alkalines should not be used in Zebralights. They pull more current than alkalines can safely provide. This is in no way a fault of the light.

    It seems like you did have a run of bad luck with the 18650 models but this is what their return period and warranty is for. "Crib deaths" are a problem with any modern electronics.

    Were you using button top cells? The latest gen of zebralights are too compact for button tops and the light won't turn on with them because it can't be screwed all the way closed.
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  5. #5

    Default Re: Zebralight quality has been a big disappointment

    Quote Originally Posted by parametrek View Post
    Please spend $3 and get a rechargeable NiMH AA for it. Alkalines should not be used in Zebralights. They pull more current than alkalines can safely provide. This is in no way a fault of the light.
    Okay, so in general then, it is not a good idea to use alkaline in Zebralights. One can expect trouble-free operation from lithium AA use? The leakage is due to the fact that Zebralight is calibrated for higher output than alkaline is geared for, so for long-term use, only use Lithium? Am I understanding the situation correctly? (this was an expensive lesson)

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Zebralight quality has been a big disappointment

    Quote Originally Posted by bkpdle View Post
    Okay, so in general then, it is not a good idea to use alkaline in Zebralights....
    Personally, I no longer use alkaline batteries in anything.

    Well, to be fair ... in 99.9 (+) % of situations, those where I have found a reasonable alternative.

    I have had new alkalines leak, old alkalines leak, full alkalines leak, empty alkalines leak, alkalines still in package leak, leaks in high drain devices, low drain devices, leaks during use, leaks while being stored, leaks in items exposed to large temperature fluctuation, leaks in items at constant temperature, every brand I tried leak, and ... what am I forgetting ?

    Maybe that covers it.
    Last edited by archimedes; 09-09-2019 at 05:23 PM.
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Zebralight quality has been a big disappointment

    Quote Originally Posted by bkpdle View Post
    Okay, so in general then, it is not a good idea to use alkaline in Zebralights.... m I understanding the situation correctly?

    No.

    This has nothing to do with the brand of the light, and everything to do with the chemistry of the cell. All of Zebralight's product that takes a "AA" sized light indicates Alkaline cells are meant to be used. However, they do advise to use NiMH Eneloops.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Zebralight quality has been a big disappointment

    I know I am likely about to curse myself but I have never had a ZL leak issue at all and I mostly use Alkalines in the AA versions that I have and this goes back to just before the SC52 was released for the record.

    I do however use the AA batteries really quickly and am pretty sure that this is the reason for my luck to date.
    I can go through a few a day easily and at that rate I just do not have issues with ZL or any other AA lights that I use like this.

    I have mostly switched to 18650 though for EDC as I just prefer the longer runtimes and higher output over the AA options for my EDC and I am pretty much a satisfied user of them now.
    I do keep an SC52w by the bed with a 14500 in it too and since I mainly use it in a Moonlight mode the battery lasts in there for a good long time too,much longer than I want a "Leaker: in there for sure!

    I have also used Eneloops and they will not leak as far as I have ever known.

    Overall with more than 10 ZL on the shelf I have not really had a single problem or issue with any of them,not once.

    I do not count the times that I have tried to burn my Junk Off by not being careful enough with the switch either!
    Close luckily does not count there!
    Last edited by AVService; 09-09-2019 at 08:17 PM.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Zebralight quality has been a big disappointment

    I don't put alkaline batteries in any device that I intend to keep.
    “May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.”
    J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

  10. #10

    Default Re: Zebralight quality has been a big disappointment

    Yes in all seriousness grab some Eneloops and a charger and your problems are solved. Zebralights are awesome.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Zebralight quality has been a big disappointment

    Regarding alkalines: how about the new claimed leak free models?

  12. #12
    Flashaholic* Slumber Pass's Avatar
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    Default Re: Zebralight quality has been a big disappointment

    I believe the parasitic drain of lights with electronic switches can also cause Alkalines to leak. So if they're gonna sit for a while, the batteries should probably be removed.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Zebralight quality has been a big disappointment

    Sounds like you do not use them a whole lot for a long time if you are using alkalines. May I suggest Lithium primary batteries? I had a 2013ish SC62d wear out on me (I use them a lot) and Zebralight sent it back to me repaired and seemingly good for another round. A $60-$80 dollar flashlight does not deserve to be a victim of old battery chemistry.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Zebralight quality has been a big disappointment

    I haven't used an alkaline in ANYTHING for years... especially not a nice light... they are just a bad idea in general when you consider the potential for leaks and the waste involved. And they are simply not as good performance-wise.

    They should be for emergencies only (while the Eneloops charge).

    If you absolutely need to use non-rechargeable... lithium primaries for sure.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Zebralight quality has been a big disappointment

    Great results with Zebralight. In extreme heat, saltwater and extreme humidity. I dont use alka-leaks. If you use high settings and use alka-leaks, it's a recipe for leaked batteries and corrosion. The high amperage draw of modern flashlights and alkalines are a poor mix. Zebralight has been a VERY dependable manufacturer in my experience. I have had more failures from other heavily touted brands, SF, HDS 4-7 and Jetbeam, than I have from ZL. Got a ZL H52W and a Photon Freedom on my person right now. They have survived a salt water rich air and water environment which has made others fail. The ZL pocket clips are short lived in salty environments though.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Zebralight quality has been a big disappointment

    Even many ebay cheapie AA lights also accept 3.7v 14500 cells. It's surprising to me that any premium AA light wouldn't also accept them. But looking at some Zebra AA lights, they don't. Weird.

    The couple zebralights I looked at also claimed their operating voltage is .7 - 2v. To me that seems like a bit of a problem with NiMH cells because I feel like I may have killed off some good NiMH cells by unknowingly taking them below a volt. With alkalines, it's accepted that draining them until dead is how to get all the value out of them. Until they leak, of course. Then how much value was that? But if I were to use a premium AA light, I would want some selectable low-voltage protection depending on the cells I was using. I don't know if a light like that exists, but I also don't know why alkalines are even still purchased.

    If you're ok with 18650-sized lights, by all means they make way more sense in every way.

    If the AA size is a must, I wouldn't knowingly buy a light without 14500 support. You can either get protected 14500s or a light that has low-voltage protection. You could get lithiums, but dang what a waste.

  17. #17
    Flashaholic* KITROBASKIN's Avatar
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    Default Re: Zebralight quality has been a big disappointment

    Primary lithium batteries are not a waste for certain applications by any means: infrequent use, extreme cold, etc.
    Some people do not want to have to recharge batteries.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Zebralight quality has been a big disappointment

    if every single cell leaked in ZL but not in other lights, then it may be the light, maybe it transfers heat to the battery itself somehow. also what is the current pulled from AA cell? maybe it is too much for alkalines to take, i have no ZL that uses AA cells but plenty of other lights that use AA, i don't remember last time any had a leak.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Zebralight quality has been a big disappointment

    Quote Originally Posted by KITROBASKIN View Post
    Primary lithium batteries are not a waste for certain applications by any means: infrequent use, extreme cold, etc.
    Some people do not want to have to recharge batteries.
    For certain applications, iguess.jpg. For general flashlight usage, I can't imagine how they're not a waste. Waste of time, waste of materials, and not even as high-drain as a good 18650. But at least there's some advantage over alkaline. If OP had either rechargeables or lithiums, messes would not have been made in the lights.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Zebralight quality has been a big disappointment

    Quote Originally Posted by Robin Dobbie View Post
    For certain applications, iguess.jpg. For general flashlight usage, I can't imagine how they're not a waste. Waste of time, waste of materials, and not even as high-drain as a good 18650. But at least there's some advantage over alkaline. If OP had either rechargeables or lithiums, messes would not have been made in the lights.
    Again,I use leakers every day all day long and have yet to have a leak at all.

    I use them a lot and use them up quickly and it is not always practical for someone to use other batteries whether you understand this or not.

    Maybe not ideal but hardly a waste,they pay their own way for sure and then some.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Zebralight quality has been a big disappointment

    Quote Originally Posted by AVService View Post
    Again,I use leakers every day all day long and have yet to have a leak at all.

    I use them a lot and use them up quickly and it is not always practical for someone to use other batteries whether you understand this or not.

    Maybe not ideal but hardly a waste,they pay their own way for sure and then some.
    Yes, you've had no leaks because you use up the cells quickly, then put in a new one. The problems generally come when you let alkaline batteries sit in (anything) for an extended period, especially without using it.

    I've got a ZL SC52 that I've had for years, and one reason I bought it was expressly for the fact that it COULD use alkaline AA batteries "in a pinch", meaning that if I had no other lithium or NiMh cells available, at least I'd be able to stick in pretty much any alkaline cell and get some light, but I would NEVER leave an alkaline AA cell in the light for an extended period.

    Lithium batteries, however, are perfectly acceptable, and I use them in many different lights that I have stashed places, like in my car, or at work, and yes, in my SC52 which is my Go Bag. I know they won't leak, and they won't lose their charge for many years, so the light will work when I need it to.

    As to the original poster's problem, I'm curious, and not that it makes a huge difference, just curious, as to what brand of cells you were using? Secondly, I've got a feeling that the reason you were experiencing an issue with ZL, and not other AA lights, might have to do with the tiny amount of current that is being used by the ZL to keep the electronic switch active. It's my understanding that this can be a catalyst for alkaline cells leaking.

    bkpdle,I'm sorry you've had such bad luck with your Zebralight lights. I can only tell you that I've been using Zebralights at my night job for many years, and have never had an issue, and I certainly don't baby them. They are robust, reliable, and elegant to use, and to be honest, have ruined me for any other brand of lights. Anyway, best of luck with whatever new lights you end up purchasing.

  22. #22

    Default Zebralight quality has been a big disappointment

    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Dean View Post
    Yes, you've had no leaks because you use up the cells quickly, then put in a new one. The problems generally come when you let alkaline batteries sit in (anything) for an extended period, especially without using it.

    I've got a ZL SC52 that I've had for years, and one reason I bought it was expressly for the fact that it COULD use alkaline AA batteries "in a pinch", meaning that if I had no other lithium or NiMh cells available, at least I'd be able to stick in pretty much any alkaline cell and get some light, but I would NEVER leave an alkaline AA cell in the light for an extended period.

    Lithium batteries, however, are perfectly acceptable, and I use them in many different lights that I have stashed places, like in my car, or at work, and yes, in my SC52 which is my Go Bag. I know they won't leak, and they won't lose their charge for many years, so the light will work when I need it to.

    As to the original poster's problem, I'm curious, and not that it makes a huge difference, just curious, as to what brand of cells you were using? Secondly, I've got a feeling that the reason you were experiencing an issue with ZL, and not other AA lights, might have to do with the tiny amount of current that is being used by the ZL to keep the electronic switch active. It's my understanding that this can be a catalyst for alkaline cells leaking.

    bkpdle,I'm sorry you've had such bad luck with your Zebralight lights. I can only tell you that I've been using Zebralights at my night job for many years, and have never had an issue, and I certainly don't baby them. They are robust, reliable, and elegant to use, and to be honest, have ruined me for any other brand of lights. Anyway, best of luck with whatever new lights you end up purchasing.
    Pretty much exactly what I am saying except that I consider the use of Alkalines a feature and not something to fear.

    I am aware of the way they work and they work better for me than most others and I get tired of most here suggesting otherwise.

    I do not let them sit in a light unused either.

    As with most things tech.
    YMMV

    And the O. P. told us that he uses Duracell.


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    Last edited by AVService; 09-11-2019 at 05:06 AM.

  23. #23

    Default Re: Zebralight quality has been a big disappointment

    I used to think Maglite put something in the minimag to cause cells to leak because my alkalines only leaked in Maglites. Sounds like ZL uses the same magic ingredient? Eh, just kidding.

    Seriously though, the ultimate lithiums have come down in price and come in quantity of as many as 12 these days.
    John 3:16

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Zebralight quality has been a big disappointment

    Quote Originally Posted by AVService View Post
    Pretty much exactly what I am saying except that I consider the use of Alkalines a feature and not something to fear.

    I am aware of the way they work and they work better for me than most others and I get tired of most here suggesting otherwise.

    I do not let them sit in a light unused either.

    ....
    I hear what you are saying, but I like to think of it as more experienced members trying to look out for the less experienced members

    Something similar often happens when topics related to Li-Ion safety comes up.

    Highly knowledgeable and experienced hobbyists (such as yourself) may have different practices than might be appropriate for more casual battery users.

    The rate of leaking seems to vary so much among individuals also (some seem to get this constantly, others almost never) that I have wondered if even environmental-type factors may play some role ? Ambient temperature and fluctuations, humidity, or some such ?

    Anyway, glad to hear that alkaline AA cells work well for your particular usage pattern.

    But I am glad to have a range of alternative options too (with increasing availability, improving capacity, and even decreasing cost) these days
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  25. #25

    Default Re: Zebralight quality has been a big disappointment

    Quote Originally Posted by Swedpat View Post
    Regarding alkalines: how about the new claimed leak free models?
    There is no leak free alkaline battery. If you read the package fine print it says that "if it leaks" they will repair or replace etc just like the packages that don't claim leak free. If they were to make a claim that if it leaks we will pay you DOUBLE your expenses I would consider them serious about them being better than normal alkaleaks.
    Essentially if you want to use alkalines figure they may leak and damage items and either get them with good warranty against damage or pay less for cells without a warranty and take your chances.
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  26. #26

    Default Re: Zebralight quality has been a big disappointment

    Quote Originally Posted by archimedes View Post
    Personally, I no longer use alkaline batteries in anything.

    Well, to be fair ... in 99.9 (+) % of situations, those where I have found a reasonable alternative.

    I have had new alkalines leak, old alkalines leak, full alkalines leak, empty alkalines leak, alkalines still in package leak, leaks in high drain devices, low drain devices, leaks during use, leaks while being stored, leaks in items exposed to large temperature fluctuation, leaks in items at constant temperature, every brand I tried leak, and ... what am I forgetting ?

    Maybe that covers it.
    You forgot them leaking when you turn your back while you are not looking
    The only logic I can think of regard to leaks is certain things increase the likelihood of leaks such as:
    Environment/temperature
    Treatment in shipping (hard knocks etc)
    Age, my experience is higher leakage chance when cells are from 2 years from expiration date and older
    hard use in high drain devices that can also heat the cells up from nearness to a heat source
    seasons of extremes from freezing to very hot can affect the seals of batteries
    devices drain batteries dead (vampiric drain), dead batteries seem to leak more often
    batteries in series having one or more cells drained and reverse charged by remaining cells
    looking crosseyed and swearing at them in Swahili on Friday the 13th
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  27. #27

    Default Re: Zebralight quality has been a big disappointment

    Quote Originally Posted by KITROBASKIN View Post
    Primary lithium batteries are not a waste for certain applications by any means: infrequent use, extreme cold, etc.
    Some people do not want to have to recharge batteries.
    In high drain devices lithium primaries can actually save you money over alkaline as runtime is a lot longer for them so the cost per minute use could be a lot cheaper plus the bonus that lithiums almost never leak.
    Last edited by Lynx_Arc; 09-11-2019 at 12:10 PM.
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  28. #28

    Default Re: Zebralight quality has been a big disappointment

    I do not really disagree with any of the logic about the use of Alkalines here except when it is suggested that we should never use them.

    If I am in an Attic with my ZL AA Headlamp and it starts going dead I am sure going to slide a fresh Leaker right in there as needed!
    I do ALWAYS carry at least one backup and usually more than that and if I need to cycle through 4 or more in a day I am also going to do just that.
    These lights were designed to use an AA battery and I am pretty well versed in the possible pitfalls and chances that I am taking and am OK with this when I do.

    If a light is not used in this way then I will not use it in this way as well and that goes for battery type too.

    I can see where this banter about Alkaline Batteries could be confusing to newer members here or to those so environmentally concerned that they can not see another point of view about this but this is my reality,I am fine with it.

    Using recharging batteries or Lithium Primaries is simply not always a viable option for me in a work light and I am done being "Green Shamed" about it too.

    Luckily I gave up swearing in Swahili long ago too but I can see now where I might have stopped this too soon.
    Last edited by AVService; 09-11-2019 at 12:32 PM.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Zebralight quality has been a big disappointment

    Quote Originally Posted by AVService View Post
    ....Using recharging batteries or Lithium Primaries is simply not always a viable option for me in a work light and I am done being "Green Shamed" about it too....
    Although I know that others have raised environmental issues in regard to alkaline batteries elsewhere, I don't see any "green shaming" being done in this thread.

    My take on the few posts mentioning "waste" was that damage to expensive electronic equipment can be costly, and yes, wasteful (not specific to the environment but generally) ... and potentially avoidable by using batteries of alternative chemistry (statistically less likely to leak)

    Without this thread getting too political, lithium, cobalt, and nickel (among others) aren't especially environmentally friendly, so tradeoffs aren't always as obvious as they may seem.

    I am glad your system works well for you, but I have had a lot of battery leaks, and it is inconvenient and expensive for me to have to clean / repair / replace items I've had damaged by leaking alkalines
    Last edited by archimedes; 09-11-2019 at 12:46 PM.
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  30. #30

    Default Re: Zebralight quality has been a big disappointment

    Quote Originally Posted by AVService View Post
    I do not really disagree with any of the logic about the use of Alkalines here except when it is suggested that we should never use them.
    I don't say never use them, I just strongly warn people of the hazards of using alkaleaks
    If I am in an Attic with my ZL AA Headlamp and it starts going dead I am sure going to slide a fresh Leaker right in there as needed!
    I do ALWAYS carry at least one backup and usually more than that and if I need to cycle through 4 or more in a day I am also going to do just that.
    These lights were designed to use an AA battery and I am pretty well versed in the possible pitfalls and chances that I am taking and am OK with this when I do.

    If a light is not used in this way then I will not use it in this way as well and that goes for battery type too.
    When I can't afford or can't use lithium primaries as backup to rechargeables I have a limited supply of alkalines also.
    I just don't recommend them at "first choice" to use in anything now.
    I can see where this banter about Alkaline Batteries could be confusing to newer members here or to those so environmentally concerned that they can not see another point of view about this but this is my reality,I am fine with it.

    Using recharging batteries or Lithium Primaries is simply not always a viable option for me in a work light and I am done being "Green Shamed" about it too.
    I've upgraded/replaced most of my lights/devices with ones that I can use rechargeables in to avoid the damage
    alkalines can do to them. I've never "green shamed" anyone about battery use, I'd rather appeal to your pocketbook and try to convince you that when a device supports recharging you may find yourself using it more often and find yourself going years without buying batteries once you have enough chargers and rechargeables. A light that takes 2 batteries you end up bying 8 to 10 of them or more to use it on alkalines while 4 nimh will suffice if you don't drain the batteries constantly and the advantage of rechargeables is that you can top them off anytime and be assured of 100% runtime while alkalines you have to either use one with unknown runtime or put a new battery in it.
    Luckily I gave up swearing in Swahili long ago too but I can see now where I might have stopped this too soon.
    I never mastered it myself.... best I could do is a Mutley imitation of swearing. I think the most frustrating about alkaline leaks is when you have brand new batteries still in the package found spewing their guts when you do need them that are still within expiration range.
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