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Old 06-17-17, 06:07 PM   #1
etw
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Battery power vs USB rechargeable tail light

I regularly use some type of flasher tail light. I previously used a Planet bike super flash turbo. Periodically I would have to put in new batteries. I figured it might be good to be a little more ecological and try a USB rechargeable light. I found one last year that was nice and compact, good design nice and bright. The problem is that it no longer holds a charge particularly well and actually has gone dead while I am on longer rides.

I am wondering what experiences and opinions others have about USB vs batteries.
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Old 06-17-17, 06:17 PM   #2
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I regularly use some type of flasher tail light. I previously used a Planet bike super flash turbo. Periodically I would have to put in new batteries. I figured it might be good to be a little more ecological and try a USB rechargeable light. I found one last year that was nice and compact, good design nice and bright. The problem is that it no longer holds a charge particularly well and actually has gone dead while I am on longer rides.

I am wondering what experiences and opinions others have about USB vs batteries.
I have lights that are 10+ years old(including a couple of PB superflashes) that still work as good as new on NiMH rechargables. Eneloops are great.

I do like the new nice compact USB lights, but expect to toss them after 2-4 years.
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Old 06-17-17, 07:05 PM   #3
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I've had good luck with the Cygolite Hotshot.
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Old 06-17-17, 07:15 PM   #4
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I have lights that are 10+ years old(including a couple of PB superflashes) that still work as good as new on NiMH rechargables. Eneloops are great.
Yeah, maybe rechargeable batteries would solve the problem.
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Old 06-17-17, 08:42 PM   #5
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battery power for me.
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Old 06-17-17, 08:47 PM   #6
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I've had good service from several Cygolite Hotshot tail lights. One of them stopped holding a charge after less than two years, and that didn't seem right. I wrote to the company, and they said it would be $15 to replace the internal battery, so I said it's a deal. I sent in the light. They sent me a brand new light instead of fixing it. I'm satisfied!

LiIon batteries have a finite life, but overall, they're worth it.
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Old 06-17-17, 09:02 PM   #7
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Ditto the Cygolite Hotshot for bang for the buck. Depending on the mode it'll last several hours per charge to a claimed hundreds of hours per charge. I tend to use the most economical triple strobe mode in daylight on every ride, slower pulse modes at night, and only need to recharge once a week or so.

Only problem with the Hotshots is they're almost too bright for my casual nighttime group rides -- it's very distracting to fellow cyclists. So two of my three bikes have lower output Planet Bike or similar combo light/reflectors (using AA or AAA batteries), or I'll set the Hotshot to steady dim. Unfortunately Cygolite Hotshot's all peak at maximum output on every strobe mode, so the only way to dim them is to use the steady mode.

Also, the Hotshots and similar lights have mediocre side visibility. So if that's important plan on using more reflectors or additional lights for side visibility. I'm leaning toward adding colorful LED wheel lights to my hybrids for errands and casual group rides. I've seen several folks around town using these and they really enhance visibility without being excessively bright.
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Old 06-17-17, 10:21 PM   #8
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I also have a Cygolite. Battery life isn't great, but recharging is easy. It is sturdier and more waterproof than any battery-powered light that I've owned in the past. The bright flashing modes are really obnoxious to other bicyclists, so I only use the steady or pulse modes. I also have it mounted to my seat stay, which is less obnoxious to other bicyclists than mounting to your seatpost or (especially) your helmet. Unfortunately, some Cygolite models do not come with the seat stay mount, so verify with your shop before buying.

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Old 06-18-17, 04:45 AM   #9
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I've got two Cygolite Hotshots, one of which is about three years old. They're bright and reliable. The longest ride I've done is nine hours and the one I was using was going strong at the end of the ride. I usually ride six days a week, so they get a lot of use. They're much better than replaceable battery-powered lights for daytime use.
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Old 06-18-17, 07:05 AM   #10
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If you have someone riding behind you, you can put the Cygolite tail light on steady, AND you can turn down the brightness.
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Old 06-18-17, 09:58 AM   #11
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I also have a Cygolite. Battery life isn't great, but recharging is easy. It is sturdier and more waterproof than any battery-powered light that I've owned in the past. The bright flashing modes are really obnoxious to other bicyclists, so I only use the steady or pulse modes. I also have it mounted to my seat stay, which is less obnoxious to other bicyclists than mounting to your seatpost or (especially) your helmet. Unfortunately, so Cygolite models do not come with the seat stay mount, so verify with your shop before buying.
Been using the Hotshot for about three years. Bought the 150 version last year. I have no complaints.

As for the bright flashing modes being too bright ( for group rides ), yep I used to think the same thing. About a week ago while at work ( driving on the road ) I came up on a group of cyclists ( at night ) and they were all using very good rear lighting. Having never come upon a group at night before I have to say I was very impressed at how visible they were. All were using full lighting. What I found surprising was that all of them were using flash modes. To me I would of thought this annoying if riding directly behind someone else while cycling. So much for what I think apparently it wasn't bothering any of them. Then again most of the riders weren't using lamps that appeared super bright.

I wouldn't think having the rear lamp mounted on a seat stay to be a necessary option. Perhaps less obnoxious for a group ride but really if you have a bright rear lamp on the seatpost you can always aim it down if you think it's too bright for the group. Like noglider said if you own one of the Hotshots you have the option to use the steady mode and then lower the output to an acceptable level.

After I passed the guys on the group ride they came up behind me at a light. I opened the sun roof, poked my head out and told the guys I really liked their lights...gave um' the thumbs up.

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Old 06-18-17, 11:18 AM   #12
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Red LED don't draw as much power as the new white hot headlight ones..

It seems a plug in mains to USB converter is cheap enough, to buy one to have at both ends of your commute.

there are also replacement wall receptacles that have the USB plugs between the 2 mains power ones .



After wednesday the days start getting shorter again.


Winter I use the bike with hub dynamo powered lights. no batteries , just internally powered capacitors for stand lights at traffic stops.


Added, data point. my battery lights:

Have a triple A pair of batteries, in a tail light that came with 2, a rack & seat post mount.

headlight takes 4 double As..





....

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Old 06-18-17, 11:31 AM   #13
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I am wondering what experiences and opinions others have about USB vs batteries.
I have several traditionally powered taillights and one USB rechargable one. I prefer USB rechargables, but mine uses replaceable AA-sized cells, so I could conceivably throw a couple alkalines in it in a pinch. I'd tell you the brand and model, but I'm indisposed at the moment.
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Old 06-18-17, 11:36 AM   #14
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I'd tell you the brand and model, but I'm indisposed at the moment.
This is my light! A Sigma Stereo:
http://sigmasport.com/en/produkte/licht-systeme/rueckleuchten/stvzo/stereo
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Old 06-18-17, 03:41 PM   #15
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...As for the bright flashing modes being too bright ( for group rides ), yep I used to think the same thing. About a week ago while at work ( driving on the road ) I came up on a group of cyclists ( at night ) and they were all using very good rear lighting. Having never come upon a group at night before I have to say I was very impressed at how visible they were. All were using full lighting. What I found surprising was that all of them were using flash modes. To me I would of thought this annoying if riding directly behind someone else while cycling. So much for what I think apparently it wasn't bothering any of them. Then again most of the riders weren't using lamps that appeared super bright...
I've noticed many cyclists are too polite to say anything about uncomfortably bright lights used by fellow cyclists.

Fortunately the experienced safety monitor at the back of the pack on many of our group rides will mention it if someone's lights are too bright and distracting -- including mine when I first began using the Hotshot. I was actually grateful for the feedback because I wasn't sure how it appeared to someone behind me at night. I'd only tested it in the store, where it's difficult to be sure about the relative brightness on dark adapted eyes.

Two of my three bikes have dimmer blinkies, bright enough to be effective but not overpowering for group rides. And I have a Blackburn 2'Fer on the back of my helmet, which is right at the limit of being almost too bright on flashing mode, but so far nobody has complained.
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Old 06-18-17, 05:50 PM   #16
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I've noticed many cyclists are too polite to say anything about uncomfortably bright lights used by fellow cyclists.

Fortunately the experienced safety monitor at the back of the pack on many of our group rides will mention it if someone's lights are too bright and distracting -- including mine when I first began using the Hotshot. I was actually grateful for the feedback because I wasn't sure how it appeared to someone behind me at night. I'd only tested it in the store, where it's difficult to be sure about the relative brightness on dark adapted eyes.

Two of my three bikes have dimmer blinkies, bright enough to be effective but not overpowering for group rides. And I have a Blackburn 2'Fer on the back of my helmet, which is right at the limit of being almost too bright on flashing mode, but so far nobody has complained.
Yeah you're probably right. Most people won't say anything. I would though ...that is if it was just too over-powering. I'd be nice about it though.

I also have one of those cheap Amazon COB type rear lamps that shouldn't be too bright for a group and the light is more dispersed. Still, the low steady mode is suppose to be 50 lumen and that's still pretty bright when up close. I do have a pair of lights that are much dimmer. Those likely would be very suitable for a group ride. Funny but even the cheap $10 lights I own are brighter than some that I've seen some people using. I've been tempted a couple times to wind my window down and ask the person using one of those ( too dim lamps ) just where he bought such a lousy rear light.
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Old 06-19-17, 07:15 AM   #17
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I really do not like blinkies that take alkaline batteries, because I am always tempted to leave the batteries in and get the last little bit out of them before replacing, and that sometimes leads to getting to my destination and finding out that I was down a taillight (one of the reasons I always run at least two).

With rechargables, I just top them off as part of the normal charging regime (two cameras, headlight, taillight or two, bluetooth headset) and they're always pretty well topped off.

Depending on the light, if it stopped taking/holding a charge I'd probably pop it open and see if it's a size I can get. It's usually not too hard to at least come close on size and solder in a new LiIon.
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Old 06-22-17, 03:00 PM   #18
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I really do not like blinkies that take alkaline batteries, because I am always tempted to leave the batteries in and get the last little bit out of them before replacing, and that sometimes leads to getting to my destination and finding out that I was down a taillight (one of the reasons I always run at least two).
This can be a problem with rechargeables too, if you're the kind of person (like me) who doesn't like to keep the built-in Li-Ion cells topped off to 100% all the time. So I'll often let my Dinotte Quad Red go for 8-12 hours before I plug it in for recharging, but at some point I assume the battery is going to have aged enough to start shutting down on me in that time.

More seriously, I've had some AA and AAA lights that would shut themselves off after an hour or two of bad roads, presumably because the battery would momentarily lose contact and the light would reset. Since most of these lights have a soft power switches, once the circuit de-energizes and loses state, the light has no way of knowing it was supposed to be on once the battery makes contact again. I've had problems with older Cateye, Planet Bike, and PDW lights, though I have a few newer Planet Bike blinkies and haven't noticed any issues, so maybe they figured it out finally.
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Old 06-22-17, 09:07 PM   #19
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@Metaluna the new lithium-whatever batteries can be topped up as often as you like, and in fact, it's better than letting them run down.
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Old 06-23-17, 12:58 AM   #20
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+1 on the Cygolight Hotshot.
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Old 06-24-17, 07:52 PM   #21
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Cygolight Hotshot USB for me as well.
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Old 06-25-17, 11:42 AM   #22
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ETW
I have the same planet light, just use it in the dark on blink, my commute is 3 miles, regular old alkaline last me over a year!
R
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Old 06-25-17, 12:50 PM   #23
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@Metaluna the new lithium-whatever batteries can be topped up as often as you like, and in fact, it's better than letting them run down.
I agree. Deep discharges only make the battery age faster. I charge mine after every other ride since I generally only ride about an hour in the dark.

@GraceHowler; Put some new batteries in your lamp NOW. If you're using Alkaline AAA's and they've been in a Superflash about a year it's time. Doesn't matter that the lamp still comes on when you turn it on. Batteries generally recover a little if they've not been used a while but once you start riding with the lamp on the output will fade real fast. If you want to assure the highest output then you want to replace the batteries on a regular basis. If you don't ride too much maybe every couple months will do but it all depends on how long you use the lamp and how often. If I were using a Superflash I'd either use rechargeable AAA's or I'd replace the alkalines after I rode about 10 hrs. ~ ~ ~

My next to oldest rechargable ( Li-ion ) light is about 3yrs old. It is a Serfas Shield TL-60. I broke the clip on it but still used it for at least 1.5 seasons. Before the Shield I was using the first version of the Hotshot. Then I bought the Performance version of the Shield ( which cost less ) and used that since it had the clip and the Shield didn't . Since the Shield ( or Performance Axiom ) light had a slightly wider optic I preferred those over the original Hotshot. Eventually I switched back to Cygolite because the Hotshot had been upgraded to 150 lumen and was now using a wider optic. Anyway, my original Shield now seems to have a problem holding a charge. It still works but I rarely ever try to use it.

USB Rechargeable Li-ion powered rear lamps can be bought cheap if you aren't looking for the better brand names. That means if the battery goes up it's real easy to just eat it and buy another. As long as I can get three or more years out of a rechargeable I can live with it if the battery goes up. Nice to know though that Cygolite is willing to replace the whole lamp ( for a small price ) if the battery starts to go up. Anyway, the convenience of having something that is USB rechargeable ( and quick release ) makes it all worth it in the end, even if it only lasts 2-3 years.
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Old 06-27-17, 06:57 AM   #24
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I've been really impressed with the Bontrager Flare. I used to use the Hotshots. The Flare has better optics (IMHO) that make it more visible than other lights with more lumens.

The Flare also has a version with a remote wireless switch so you can switch down and change modes while riding. This is really nice for group rides, I'm told.

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Old 06-27-17, 07:07 AM   #25
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when I commuted with my PBSF(s) I used rechargeable eneloop AAAs. worked great. had 2 chargers (home & work), in case I forgot to charge at home I could always do it at work, if nec.
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