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Thread: Embarrassed but gonna ask anyway

  1. #1

    Default Embarrassed but gonna ask anyway

    I want to replace some batteries with protected cells so there is no problems. How do I tell if they are protected??? Do some manufacturers put them in as OEM??? What are the best brands of 18650 protected and where to buy? Thank you in advance.
    Last edited by BrightestBulb; 01-20-2021 at 11:01 PM.

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    *Flashaholic* Burgess's Avatar
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    Default Re: Embarrassed but gonna ask anyway

    No need to be embarrassed --
    we are all friends here !


    Would be VERY helpful if you could first tell us:

    WHAT flashlight(s) you intend to use these cells in ?




    _


    BTW --

    Orbtronic is an EXCELLENT vendor for this !


    _

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    Default Re: Embarrassed but gonna ask anyway

    Consider going to the Orbtronic website. In the past, an individual could ask them questions, perhaps that continues.

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    Default Re: Embarrassed but gonna ask anyway

    Before you jump to protected cells, be aware that they are significantly longer and a bit fatter than regular cells. They add all that protection over top of a regular cell, so it makes it bigger. So, make sure they'll still fit in your devices, before you buy a bunch of them. They're also significantly more expensive than regular cells.

    IMO, common sense will get you far more protection than a protection circuit, but they can have their places in multi-cell configs.

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    Default Re: Embarrassed but gonna ask anyway

    Definitely good advice. Confirm your flashlights will fit the slightly larger diameter and significantly longer length.
    Quote Originally Posted by WalkIntoTheLight View Post
    Before you jump to protected cells, be aware that they are significantly longer and a bit fatter than regular cells. They add all that protection over top of a regular cell, so it makes it bigger. So, make sure they'll still fit in your devices, before you buy a bunch of them. They're also significantly more expensive than regular cells.

    IMO, common sense will get you far more protection than a protection circuit, but they can have their places in multi-cell configs.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Embarrassed but gonna ask anyway

    Quote Originally Posted by Burgess View Post
    No need to be embarrassed --
    we are all friends here !


    Would be VERY helpful if you could first tell us:

    WHAT flashlight(s) you intend to use these cells in ?




    _


    BTW --

    Orbtronic is an EXCELLENT vendor for this !


    _
    I have a Surefire M3 that I am putting a drop in LED module and it will use a 16650. Sunwayman D40 would like to change out AA to rechargeable protected. Found out both my Mankers are protected. Still don't know how to tell if a battery is protected or where to buy batteries along with the company mentioned. Have a LiitoKala 600 charger and would use non-protected if someone would give me some basic rules on how to keep them safe. Thanks!

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    Flashaholic* DIWdiver's Avatar
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    Default Re: Embarrassed but gonna ask anyway

    There are a number of clues that a battery is protected.

    It will have an overwrap - a second shrinkwrap layer. It will have a metal strip running up the side of the battery between the two layers of the shrink. If you can't see the strip directly, you can see and feel the slight bump where it is. It will be significantly longer than 'nominal'. One end will look funny, like there's an extra disk on the end. Like the metal strip, this will be between the layers of shrink. Often one or both ends will sound hollow if you tap on them, like it's a thin piece of metal with space behind it, because that's exactly what it is!

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    Default Re: Embarrassed but gonna ask anyway

    I use cells with safety circuits ("protected" cells) unless I have an application-specific reason not to, such as those where the typically extra length involved is a problem, etc. That is my baseline policy aside from such specific exceptions. I also ensure that all the various specifications for any cell are appropriate for my application(s) [such as max. continuous current, etc.]

    The additional length, certain appearance details, etc. can often indicate that a cell is thusly equipped, although I rely on the manufacturer's / supplier's specifications as the definitive answer, as with all specifications. In the end, it is their specs that matter, not my conclusion based on observations, and if I don't trust their specs I don't buy their products in the first place. If the specs don't say it's "protected", then as far as I'm concerned, it isn't.

    Yes, many flashlight manufacturers who include cells with a light do include "protected" cells in that case - in fact most / all of the reputable ones whose products I buy. Fenix, Streamlight, Surefire, and others are examples.

    I buy cells from established, reputable, reliable U.S. distributors who also provide complete specs for those - which I won't name here because I don't think that's appropriate.

    I've had good results with the Fenix-branded cells that they sell (also available from the various distributors referred to above), and that specifically includes 18650s, which they sell several variants of.

    EDIT: BTW - In product / systems engineering where I work, users' common sense and good engineering practices for safety and reliability are not considered mutually exclusive. It is not an 'either / or' proposition. 'Both' is the preferred choice whenever possible. The human is often the least reliable element in a system, and ALL humans are prone to error. Furthermore, where safety is a critical objective, one safety measure is rarely considered adequate where two are practical. This also applies in 'high reliability' engineering, but particularly where safety is a concern.
    Last edited by aznsx; 01-22-2021 at 07:59 PM.

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    Default Re: Embarrassed but gonna ask anyway

    Quote Originally Posted by BrightestBulb View Post
    ...would use non-protected if someone would give me some basic rules on how to keep them safe. Thanks!
    This may not be a comprehensive list, but I'll have a go at starting it.

    Never:
    1. Over charge, voltage or current.
    2. Over discharge, voltage or current.
    3. Exceed temperature ranges. There are separate ranges for charging, discharging, and storage.
    4. Leave a cell deeply discharged for long, then try to charge it.
    5. Be stupid - burning, denting, nailing, shorting, eating, etc.

    Protection circuits protect against the first three (except storage temperature). The rest are up to you.

    Using a proper, quality charger should protect you during charging.

    One of the ways cells get over discharged is by having two or more in series that are mis-matched or imbalanced. If this happens, the weakest or least charged cell will reach full discharge, and the remainder will continue to push current through the load, and the fully discharged battery. This will over discharge it, possibly even putting a negative voltage on it. This is really dangerous. That's why many people say NEVER run unprotected cells in series. A device that operates on a single cell will usually stop working before the cell is dangerously over discharged, which is why many people feel quite safe using unprotected cells in single-cell devices. However, this may depend on you knowing the cell is discharged, and removing it from the device and charging it.

    If you are really interested, go to batteryuniversity.com and be prepared to spend some time reading.

    Oh, and I've been happy with batteries bought from Batteryspace.com and Liionwholesale.com. I also bought some Keeppower cells on Amazon that I think are genuine.

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    Default Re: Embarrassed but gonna ask anyway

    Thank you all very much!!! I have a lot of great info now. Will be saving this thread for reference along with Battery U!

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    Default Re: Embarrassed but gonna ask anyway

    Quote Originally Posted by BrightestBulb View Post
    I have a Surefire M3 that I am putting a drop in LED module and it will use a 16650.
    A 16650 is a 2x123-sized cell, and would require a spacer. 3xR123 is an option, but you'd need a LED module that could take 14V.
    What's the LED module?

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    Default Re: Embarrassed but gonna ask anyway

    There is an additional safety risk that "protected" cells have, which unprotected do not. If the inner shrink wrap is damaged, then the (positive) metal strip down the outside of the cell can short-circuit against the (negative) metal wall of the cell. Not good. It's important to always keep the shrink wraps in good condition. It's super-important if you use protected cells.

    The protection circuit is add safety to the battery. It's not necessarily to add safety for the user.

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    Default Re: Embarrassed but gonna ask anyway

    Only cell Iíve ever had fail was a protected LG 18650. Donít put too much stock in protection circuits.
    Big butnotsomuch-burly

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    Default Re: Embarrassed but gonna ask anyway

    Quote Originally Posted by BrightestBulb View Post
    I have a Surefire M3 that I am putting a drop in LED module and it will use a 16650. Sunwayman D40 would like to change out AA to rechargeable protected. Found out both my Mankers are protected. Still don't know how to tell if a battery is protected or where to buy batteries along with the company mentioned. Have a LiitoKala 600 charger and would use non-protected if someone would give me some basic rules on how to keep them safe. Thanks!
    You will want two protected 17500 for your M3.
    If i had one day left to live i would want to be at my workplace.Because every day is like a frickin eternity.

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    Default Re: Embarrassed but gonna ask anyway

    Quote Originally Posted by Owen View Post
    A 16650 is a 2x123-sized cell, and would require a spacer. 3xR123 is an option
    Duh. I forgot that 2x14500 is another option. You'd want a sleeve to keep them from rattling. I used to use 2x17500, but am not sure if they make them any more. The 14500s I just saw on Orbtronic's site were the same capacity as my old 17500s(!).

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    Default Re: Embarrassed but gonna ask anyway

    Quote Originally Posted by bigburly912 View Post
    Only cell Iíve ever had fail was a protected LG 18650. Donít put too much stock in protection circuits.
    Anything that can work can and will fail - which is great for me, 'cause that's how I make a living!:-)
    Gotta say it's relative though - a failed cell vs the kind of potentially catastrophic failure modes a safety circuit is intended to prevent. Even I can do that math! I'm sure your dwelling has breakers in a distribution panel somewhere, and if one of those breakers fails (which they can and do), I've got 20 bucks says you don't say 'dang breaker!' and bypass it. I'm pretty sure you'd replace the bad breaker.

    EDIT: Just to clarify that I agree 100% with the premise that one should NEVER, under any conditions, intentionally rely or depend 'absolutely' on any safety device or system (which I think was your point), and I wanted to amplify that. Whether it's a safety circuit on a cell, or a safety device or system on an industrial machine / system, or any other type of thing implemented as a safety function - it is always considered 'forbidden' to rely on them completely unless conditions require it and leave no other option.
    Last edited by aznsx; 01-23-2021 at 11:59 PM.

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    Default Re: Embarrassed but gonna ask anyway

    Quote Originally Posted by WalkIntoTheLight View Post
    There is an additional safety risk that "protected" cells have, which unprotected do not. If the inner shrink wrap is damaged, then the (positive) metal strip down the outside of the cell can short-circuit against the (negative) metal wall of the cell. Not good. It's important to always keep the shrink wraps in good condition. It's super-important if you use protected cells.

    The protection circuit is add safety to the battery. It's not necessarily to add safety for the user.
    True, almost any added component adds an additional failure point &/or mode, and that's no less true of 'protected' cells. A damaged lithium ion cell of any kind, however is never good. I use a lot of good grade heat shrink in industrial applications, and I find it to be very tough stuff - but anything can be damaged. I treat mine accordingly (with proper care), do a quick exam on them occasionally, and check them any time I think they might have been subjected to ANY harsh treatment - and have never had an issue with a damaged wrapper. I'm careful with mine for sure, however not everyone is so astute about such things, and I'm sure the kind of damage you're talking about does indeed happen. Carelessness and lithium cells don't mix well. In general though, protection devices have risks, but one must weigh those risks as they are not all equal.

    Now I'm not picking on you here, but I've often read comments similar to your last one that generally state or imply that 'protection circuits exist to protect the battery, not the user'. I'm sorry, but I laugh every time I read such comments. We're talking about something that has some potentially horrible failure modes here - and it's in my pants pocket. Such comments imply that I'm supposed to differentiate between the wellbeing of that cell and the wellbeing of my leg and which is being protected? Sorry, but I can't do that:-)

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    Flashaholic* DIWdiver's Avatar
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    Default Re: Embarrassed but gonna ask anyway

    Quote Originally Posted by WalkIntoTheLight View Post
    The protection circuit is add safety to the battery. It's not necessarily to add safety for the user.
    Sorry, WalkIntoTheLight, and this is very unusual between us, but I couldn't disagree more strongly.

    UL and other safety certification agencies require protection circuits in most devices that use LiIon cells.

    Having been through UL certification with LiIon batteries, (and pursuant to this having read the relevant UL specifications) I can say that they don't specifically require or refer to "protection circuits". However, they do require that charge and discharge currents and voltages remain within specifications for each cell given any single fault in the device, including shorts and 50% imbalance among cells. AFAIK, this can only be achieved using protection circuits, whether they are attached to and essentially part of a single loose cell or part of a larger multi-cell battery assembly.

    Whatever protection mechanisms are used in your device to pass certification become required equipment. This includes manufacturer and model number of power supply, charging circuit, LiIon cell, and protection circuit.

    Safety agencies generally don't care a whit if the cells are destroyed, or if the device continues to work, so long as the user is protected. So a lot of safety experts around the world must think that protection circuits are to protect the user, and I am in complete agreement.
    Last edited by DIWdiver; 01-23-2021 at 09:49 PM.

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    Default Re: Embarrassed but gonna ask anyway

    I'm just 'bumping' a clarification edit because it involves safety, so I want to be clear.

    Quote Originally Posted by aznsx View Post
    EDIT: Just to clarify that I agree 100% with the premise that one should NEVER, under any conditions, intentionally rely or depend 'absolutely' on any safety device or system (which I think was your point), and I wanted to amplify that. Whether it's a safety circuit on a cell, or a safety device or system on an industrial machine / system, or any other type of thing implemented as a safety function - it is always considered 'forbidden' to rely on them completely unless conditions require it and leave no other option.

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    Default Re: Embarrassed but gonna ask anyway

    Quote Originally Posted by DIWdiver View Post
    Safety agencies generally don't care a whit if the cells are destroyed, or if the device continues to work, so long as the user is protected. So a lot of safety experts around the world must think that protection circuits are to protect the user, and I am in complete agreement.
    I'm not sure a safety authority would approve of running a positive metal strip down the negatively charged can with a separation of less than 0.1mm. Those protection circuits are great for preventing over-discharge in super-cheap crappy lights, but I'm not convinced that really improve the safety of lithium-ion cells. Besides, I don't think individual cells are approved for consumer use; they're meant to be used in sealed battery packs.

    That said, they may have some benefit for careless users that carry around cells in their pocket with loose change, or run the cell down way too far in a device that has no LVP. Fair enough. But for anyone that goes to the trouble of subscribing to a flashlight group and reads the battery forums, I don't think they add any safety at all. We'll all familiar enough with proper battery use and care.

    The only exception I'd make is for multi-cell (in series) configs. Again, it's for the protection of the battery, so you don't ruin it by over-discharging it. Any competent user in this forum knows to check voltages before charging, so we don't need protection circuits for safety.

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    Default Re: Embarrassed but gonna ask anyway

    Quote Originally Posted by WalkIntoTheLight View Post
    ...competent...
    Well that rules out an awful lot of people who can buy these things. Maybe not so many of the CPF community, but some.

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    Default Re: Embarrassed but gonna ask anyway

    Quote Originally Posted by DIWdiver View Post
    Well that rules out an awful lot of people who can buy these things. Maybe not so many of the CPF community, but some.
    Yes, but clueless people will have safety risks from more than just over-discharging a battery (of which the danger is generally overstated, anyway). Torn wraps, drops, etc. They're all more dangerous, and no protection circuit will help that.

    Again, for all of us here, the only thing a protection circuit is adding is safety for the battery when used in poorly designed flashlights. All of us are smart enough to check voltages before charging (or have a charger that does it), not to keep loose cells in our pockets or drawers with loose change. For the most part, any decent flashlight has voltage protection and thermal controls. Even multi-cell lights are pretty good at shutting off before the cells get low, unless you are using cells way out of balance (which again, nobody smart does that).

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    Default Re: Embarrassed but gonna ask anyway

    Just riffing off of some of the stuff mentioned in this thread -


    To quote a former employer (after I really sh*t the bed) - "Dumb Mistakes. We all do 'em sometimes."
    What I had just done was fairly stupid, but it came at the end of a long and pretty hectic day. Despite having a little bit of a short fuse he wasn't too upset with me because it was out of the ordinary - a lapse in judgement made in a rush.

    Thankfully that occasion was expensive but not threatening to anyone's safety. I'm sure I'm not alone in saying I've seen otherwise intelligent, competent people do dumb things here and there.

    You shouldn't rely on cell protection alone. It's a important to follow best practices, and super important to build good habits. If you're always watching out for overdischarge, taking care to charge and store your cells properly, etc, you're more likely to do that when you're tired, stressed, or under pressure. That said, when you are tired, in a rush, stressed, multitasking, whatever, the extra layer of protection isn't going to do you any harm.

    So, although I agree with some of the previous comments that a protected cell can't be relied on to keep you out of trouble, I will say that in a work light, or an emergency light, protected cells? Hell yeah.

    It's also much easier, if you should have an accident, to convince the safety authorities, your boss, the flashlight company, whoever it may be, that you were doing everything right and it's not your fault/they should warranty your light if you were following best practice and using safe equipment that's in good shape. If I have the misfortune of blowing up a flashlight at work I want to be able to tell them I was using cells that were appropriate for the light, with protection, that came out of some kind of case. Not that I pulled some unknown-quantity vape store cells out of the bottom of my friend's bag and threw them in.

    So, for a hobby light or one that's used in carefully controlled and predictable circumstances unprotected cells are probably just fine. (No knock on hobby lights btw, just pointing out that it's a different use case.)
    Would I want to worry about that in an emergency? No. On the clock? Probably not.

    If you feel that the extra layer of protection is going to be a good idea for your usage, absolutely do it. Just don't forget that good habits and some knowledge are even more important.

  24. #24

    Default Re: Embarrassed but gonna ask anyway

    Your post helps...thank you!

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