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  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

    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
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  8. #8
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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.

  9. #9

    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.

  10. #10
    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.

  11. #11
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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.

  12. #12

    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.

  13. #13

    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.

  14. #14

    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.

  15. #15
    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.

  16. #16
    Flashaholic* Lou Minescence's Avatar
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    Default Re: Zebralight quality has been a big disappointment

    So in the original post bkpdle states that only his Zebralight lights experience leaking AA Duracell batteries and his Malkoff lights do not with the same batteries presumably from the same bundle. What type of on off switch does the Malkoff have ? Is a mechanical disconnect from the batteries or is it an electronic disconnect with a parasitic drain like the Zebralight would have ?

    Even though the Zebralight has a small parasitic drain it might make a difference
    Either way alkaline batteries are a gamble to use and not a preferred choice.
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  17. #17
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    Default Re: Zebralight quality has been a big disappointment

    Most (modern) Malkoff use McClicky (mech) switches
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  18. #18
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    Default Re: Zebralight quality has been a big disappointment

    For the past many years there have been complains on this forum about ZL. I had almost ten of their lights never had any issues. They are top notch.
    I do not believe at all what is being typed. Not only that but the stories and twist and turns. The most fantasy broken flashlight and most bizarre happening. No way is true.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Zebralight quality has been a big disappointment

    Quote Originally Posted by marinemaster View Post
    For the past many years there have been complains on this forum about ZL. I had almost ten of their lights never had any issues. They are top notch.
    I do not believe at all what is being typed. Not only that but the stories and twist and turns. The most fantasy broken flashlight and most bizarre happening. No way is true.
    The same here. I have totally 11 Zebralights: 6 flashlights and 5 headlamps. No issue with any of them so far.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Zebralight quality has been a big disappointment

    All three of my ZL's going back to the first gen SC600 have been performing perfectly, including the AA SC52cw. In the latter, I run 14500's and Eneloops and keep the Duracells to be used on the road if necessary. The SC52 is a great light as is also the SC62 where I run unprotected 18650's. I rotate between the 52 and 62 for EDC. The 600 is reserved for the house where I run protected 18650's. Though I have other lights, the ZL's are by a very wide margin, my favorites based on their reliability and performance.

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