January 17, 2011

Lighthound: AW 18650 batteries + UltraFire Charger Review!

Though batteries aren't directly LASER related, I did want to do a review because they're often very much used by laser enthusiasts. Especially CR123 and 18650 style batteries.

I don't really know exactly what kinds of tests to do with batteries, but I'll try and be as descriptive as I usually am when it comes to doing a review.

Let me start with the invoice of what I purchased:

Ordered: 3x AW18650P26 AW 18650 Protected 2600 mAh Rechargeable Lithium Battery @ $15.99/pc

Ordered: 1x Accumulate Ultrafire WF-139 Charger for 14500 / 17500 / 18500 / 18650 / RCR123 3.7 volt Lithium Battery Charger @ $17.99/pc

Product Total: $65.96
Shipping: $13.45

Grand Total: $79.41

These were ordered on December 23rd, shipped on December 24th from Texas, and arrived Monday Jan 17th, 2011 in Nova Scotia, Canada.

There was a messup where I had accidentally ordered a charger, and meant to order 3 batteries with it but they couldn't combine shipping on everything through the invoice. What I did was placed another order with everything I wanted, and in the comments section I requested that the other order be canceled.

They did that, and refunded my money no questions asked on the misplaced order.

So a little about the batteries:

I ordered 3 batteries and the charger. (Obviously based on the invoice)

So here's the battery itself. It's nothing out of the ordinary, 2600mAh. Pretty decent out of the box, though I heard that you potentially need to charge them a few times before they hold a charge fully (seeing as how they're new)

This is the bottom of the box. I know, nothing special again lol

And here's the charger itself. It was bubble wrapped just fine, and in the box it looks like it survived shipping more than adequately.

Proof in the pudding:

Yuppers. Looks like a charger to me :)

So one of the first things I noticed is that I'll need to get power INTO the charger somehow, and I noticed that it accepts a few different inputs.

12V DC - Makes sense.

120V DC - Awesome. Looks easy/compatible enough.

Let me look in the box to see if there's one of those cords in there so I can start charging some batteries...

Got myself a little promotional LED - kind of cool. No power cable yet.

Umm, not on the back here.

Where is that cable?

I guess it doesn't come with one. I didn't know that it didn't... I don't remember reading anywhere important that it doesn't come with a power cable. I guess I assumed... But we all know how assumptions turn out.

Well, since I was feeling like going for a drive anyway.... /sarcasm

I picked up the DC cable I needed from "The Source", formerly known as "Radio shack" here in the great white north.

What? It says AC on it? Better make sure I got the right one:

Okay. Good.

Now back to these batteries:

These batteries are rated 2600 mAh. I remember reading somewhere that not everyone was happy with the 3000mAh, so I saved a few bucks and got these ones instead. They ARE protected, and say so on the battery itself.

The top looks normal:

And the bottom has these little "nipples" on them to help keep contact I suppose. I've seen other batteries have them too so I think it's pretty standard.

Now everyone mentioned to me that these ones are going to be a little longer by about 1.5-2mm, as seen here:

I didn't even notice that it might be a problem until I put them into my laser after giving it a quick little charge.

I measured them right off and they all measured 4.09V, but when I tossed them into the charger, the charger felt as though they could handle more and started charging them right off.

This is how I found out that it wouldn't fit - End cap wouldn't screw all the way down.

Now admittedly, I have a small mod to the end cap itself to bypass the dead switch, which adds another 1.4mm on top of the already added space... When I take the mod out though, it fits perfectly fine.

I've since done another mod that allows the protected cells to fit perfectly.

About the charger itself: The reason I purchased it was because many people have suggested it, and on top of that, I guess it's capable of charging cells independently. I didn't realize that some cheaper chargers don't do this, but it's good to know that it has two separate circuits for charging so you can charge different levels of uncharged cells and let them go.

Additionally, this charger doesn't JUST support 18650's, but also 14500's, 17500's, 18500's and 17670's as well. Oh, and Rechargable CR123's :)

I don't have any of those, but if I ever DID get any, I know the charger can take 'em.

This is a rapid charger, and it's very noticeable, yet the new batteries don't get warm AT ALL which is nice. (Suggests low internal resistance, which also suggests that I can get a higher draw off of these batteries when needed.)

The sliders that contact the negative terminal slide smoothly, and are pretty solid in their rails. It feels solid and worth the 18$ I paid for it.

I would discuss current draw, but I think that's all Dependant on the laser/item you're drawing the current WITH. Overall though, I feel as though these are going to be MORE than sufficient for my needs.

The charger did come with a "guidelines" list of things to be aware of and reads as follows:

Blah blah blah, put batteries in negative battery end to negative terminals. Plug into wall, do not overcharge the batteries beyond the recommended charging time (2-4hrs) otherwise it will shorten the lifespan of the batteries.

The interesting stuff:

"Never put other type battery together with Lithium Battery Charger"
"For initial use, the batteries may require 2-3 cycles to obtain their maximum capacity"

There's more general cautionary notes, though the one I found amusing was:

"Store the charter and batteries in a cool dry place when not in use, This charger is not intended for young children or infant."

Overall, here's my impression:

Shipping took a bit longer than I anticipated from Texas. It was 1 week short of a month, but that being said, that month was mostly during the holidays so I understand. I WAS given a tracking number but updates are... SLOW to update. I'm sure it still shows that the batteries are in Texas.

Also, Customs, blah blah. I will say though I haven't been charged for anything I've gotten laser related from Customs (knock on wood) so I've been lucky. I don't mind waiting if Customs decides not to charge me duties on items.

Lighthound DID mark it as a gift in their defense, and lowered the declared value but only by a few dollars.

The overall quality is great, and I didn't know exactly what to expect but these batteries seem just fine to me. The charger is better quality than other chargers I've had before, and while I didn't like having to go out and buy a DC power cable, it had to be done if I wanted to use this charger. *Shrugs*

Maybe it's an error and was supposed to have one shipped with it but not a biggie. The cable was 10$, and I couldn't be bothered to care enough. Others might be bothered, but I'm chill lol

It does seem to charge FAST, and while it's charging you can see that the red light will hold red and flicker green once every second or two to let you know it's charging. When it's done, the LED will change to a solid green. I haven't charged any batteries to that point, but when I do, I suspect it'll be very close to 4.2 volts if not just a little above.

Worth the money? Yes.
Would I recommend the extra 5$ for faster shipping? Yes, absolutely.

If someone stole my batteries and charger, I would definitely pay the money to get another one.

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