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Thread: Are 14500 batteries charged with a USB cable?

  1. #1

    Default Are 14500 batteries charged with a USB cable?

    I was looking at some lights and batteries on Amazon, and in a question and answer section, someone asked about charging 14500 batteries, and the answer was that there is a USB slot in the battery itself that allows people to connect a USB cable directly to it to charge it. That sounds like a dedicated battery charger isn't needed. Is that the way ALL 14500s are charged, or are only some of them made that way?
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  2. #2
    *Flashaholic* idleprocess's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are 14500 batteries charged with a USB cable?

    Quote Originally Posted by LEDrock View Post
    Is that the way ALL 14500s are charged, or are only some of them made that way?
    Most cells are not built with integrated USB charging - it's additional components to fit into the thing that consumes cell volume, adds cost, and sits unused most of the time.

    They should be compatible with an appropriate conventional external charger however.
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Are 14500 batteries charged with a USB cable?

    Quote Originally Posted by idleprocess View Post
    Most cells are not built with integrated USB charging - it's additional components to fit into the thing that consumes cell volume, adds cost, and sits unused most of the time.

    They should be compatible with an appropriate conventional external charger however.
    Thanks!
    I don't have that type of charger yet. I was hoping not to need one, but it sounds like the better option if I go that route.
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    *Flashaholic* Lynx_Arc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are 14500 batteries charged with a USB cable?

    I advise to go for the charger and cells without USB first it is a better solution for the most part and you can get chargers that will do mutiple sizes and even types of batteries.
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    Default Re: Are 14500 batteries charged with a USB cable?

    As posted, on-board USB charging is an 'optional' feature, and they're available both with and without it.

    Just for an expanded perspective: I personally think the cells with on-board charging are a perfectly acceptable solution for those needing only charging functions and in fairly small numbers. I buy and use both types, and also own and use several standalone chargers. The on-board charging is particularly handy when only charging 1 or 2 on the occasion (not requiring me to get a charger out), and also very handy when mobile &/or traveling - again eliminating the need for a standalone charger. I've never found a functional issue with the on-board charging function of the cells I've used that have it. They are, of course, quality cells from a trusted supplier.

    The only caution I would add is that the cells with on-board charging are typically a mm or so longer than those without that particular function, so check to ensure the devices you plan to use them in can accommodate the length of the particular cells you're planning to buy.

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    *Flashaholic* idleprocess's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are 14500 batteries charged with a USB cable?

    Quote Originally Posted by LEDrock View Post
    Thanks!
    I don't have that type of charger yet. I was hoping not to need one, but it sounds like the better option if I go that route.
    Plenty of quality multi-chemistry chargers about if you've got a fleet of NiMH - the Nitecore D4 is a popular option in this space or lygte-info.dk has a fairly exhaustive list.
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    Flashaholic* Timothybil's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are 14500 batteries charged with a USB cable?

    The decision about internal/external charging really depends on your anticipated usage. Internal charging means a slightly lower total capacity. If you can live with that capacity that's fine. I haven't checked but I'm guessing those cells would be slightly higher in price as well.

    I personally would not buy them because if the charger module fails for any reason the cell, which may still be in perfect condition, is no longer usable. All of the reputable battery/charger vendors sell a simple single-cell charger that is two magnets, one for each end of the cell, and a small charger module with a USB power plug. Also, with a separate charger, you can be charging one cell while using another cell in the light.
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    *Flashaholic* Lynx_Arc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are 14500 batteries charged with a USB cable?

    Quote Originally Posted by Timothybil View Post
    The decision about internal/external charging really depends on your anticipated usage. Internal charging means a slightly lower total capacity. If you can live with that capacity that's fine. I haven't checked but I'm guessing those cells would be slightly higher in price as well.

    I personally would not buy them because if the charger module fails for any reason the cell, which may still be in perfect condition, is no longer usable. All of the reputable battery/charger vendors sell a simple single-cell charger that is two magnets, one for each end of the cell, and a small charger module with a USB power plug. Also, with a separate charger, you can be charging one cell while using another cell in the light.
    I'm not sure that is true, if the built in usb charger fails it doesn't mean you cannot use a regular charger on them. I have one that malfunctioned and I charged it on my OPus once with no issues.
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Are 14500 batteries charged with a USB cable?

    Quote Originally Posted by Timothybil View Post
    The decision about internal/external charging really depends on your anticipated usage. Internal charging means a slightly lower total capacity. If you can live with that capacity that's fine. I haven't checked but I'm guessing those cells would be slightly higher in price as well.

    I personally would not buy them because if the charger module fails for any reason the cell, which may still be in perfect condition, is no longer usable. All of the reputable battery/charger vendors sell a simple single-cell charger that is two magnets, one for each end of the cell, and a small charger module with a USB power plug. Also, with a separate charger, you can be charging one cell while using another cell in the light.
    Well I don't want to get too picky here, but maybe just a little bit:-).....

    The cells w/on-board charging would likely have slightly less capacity than another theoretical cell with the same overall length w/o on-board charging, but in my experience they are not the same length at all. They are the same base cell, of the same length, with same capacity rating, to which the charge module is added. So in my experience, the penalty is not reduced capacity - the penalty is increased length. As I indicated, that length can be a big deal for certain lights - a good example in the 14500 format being the EacTac D25A (which doesn't have a mm to spare). I don't have calipers handy, but it just happens that I ordered two pairs of 18650s yesterday which are the same cell, one pair with and one without the charge function (both being 'protected' cells). The former are listed as 1 mm longer than the latter, and yes, the ones with the charge module are a whopping $0.98 more expensive than the standard cells.

    <<Also, with a separate charger, you can be charging one cell while using another cell in the light.>>
    This is the part I'm not getting though. One can plug in a separate charger (like the double-magnet type you mention) into a USB source and connect the magnets to a cell, or one can plug a USB cable into that USB source and connect the other end directly to a cell w/ on-board charging (Micro USB in the case of mine). In either case, I can (and do) have another charged cell in the light and am using it. I think this comment may have applied to flashlights w/ "internal" charging, rather than cells with internal charging - but that's another subject. The OP might be looking at those too.

    Yeah, I'm sure the charge module that's added to the cell can also fail, and while I wouldn't know the MTBF, I imagine enough physical abuse might cause a failure also. I haven't had any fail and don't know the failure modes, but I guess it's possible it could render the cell useless. As long as it 'fails safe', it wouldn't make my list of things to worry about:-)

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  10. #10

    Default Re: Are 14500 batteries charged with a USB cable?

    For 14500's, as well as other sizes, some flashlight manufacturers add on protection circuitry, USB charging, and even proprietary design to the outer shell when adding on the circuitry. For example, my ET 14500's seem more universal, while my Streamlight 14500 has a proprietary design for charging through the flashlight that I wouldn't trust in the charger (+/- on one side don't seem to have a physical height difference). Neither have USB charging, but it is definitely possible that some manufacturers added a USB charge port to their design.

    Generally speaking, different flashlight manufacturers will take a universal cell, like an LG 18650, then add a protection circuit (and sometimes a USB port) to the end, and wrap it again to appear as one battery. On some, you can feel the wires running down the side behind the second battery wrap.

    You might want to verify the design, as well as the type of battery the flashlight you are using requires. For example, my USB ported 18650's are too long for one of my ET clickies, but work well in the Tactical version.
    Last edited by Scotty321; 04-22-2021 at 10:39 PM.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Are 14500 batteries charged with a USB cable?

    Quote Originally Posted by aznsx View Post
    Well I don't want to get too picky here, but maybe just a little bit:-).....

    The cells w/on-board charging would likely have slightly less capacity than another theoretical cell with the same overall length w/o on-board charging, but in my experience they are not the same length at all. They are the same base cell, of the same length, with same capacity rating, to which the charge module is added. So in my experience, the penalty is not reduced capacity - the penalty is increased length. As I indicated, that length can be a big deal for certain lights - a good example in the 14500 format being the EacTac D25A (which doesn't have a mm to spare). I don't have calipers handy, but it just happens that I ordered two pairs of 18650s yesterday which are the same cell, one pair with and one without the charge function (both being 'protected' cells). The former are listed as 1 mm longer than the latter, and yes, the ones with the charge module are a whopping $0.98 more expensive than the standard cells.

    <<Also, with a separate charger, you can be charging one cell while using another cell in the light.>>
    This is the part I'm not getting though. One can plug in a separate charger (like the double-magnet type you mention) into a USB source and connect the magnets to a cell, or one can plug a USB cable into that USB source and connect the other end directly to a cell w/ on-board charging (Micro USB in the case of mine). In either case, I can (and do) have another charged cell in the light and am using it. I think this comment may have applied to flashlights w/ "internal" charging, rather than cells with internal charging - but that's another subject. The OP might be looking at those too.

    Yeah, I'm sure the charge module that's added to the cell can also fail, and while I wouldn't know the MTBF, I imagine enough physical abuse might cause a failure also. I haven't had any fail and don't know the failure modes, but I guess it's possible it could render the cell useless. As long as it 'fails safe', it wouldn't make my list of things to worry about:-)

    Dig that tabby cat, man!
    Some folks would prefer to have a brick as they know exactly what it will do no matter what. Some folks play the "what if" game when it comes to certain things and while I understand the thinking and even agree to a certain point, I have tried out several things that many would consider "too complicated" and found that mostly, they work just fine. The ones that didn't were mostly due to the particular implementation of that manufacturer rather than the concept itself.

    I know Klarus includes micro-usb rechargeable cells in both their XT1A and XT1C lights. The 16340 is actually about 35mm long and the 14500 is 50mm long. I measured from base to button top, so obviously it would matter in some lights with limited head space but I imagine most lights could accommodate the cells with built in chargers. I don't use them everywhere but I do use them.

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