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  1. #1
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    Trinewt battery charging problems

    These batterys "don't charge when cold", per Niterider. You have to warm them up to ~70 degrees yourself before attaching them to the charger. I just got one and wondered how many others are miffed about this? The thing doesn't even warm up during discharge. So, I'm left between a typical morning ride and the shower, work and those other sort of time critical things, sitting there for 10-15 minutes with it in my pocket (their suggestion) before plugging it in for the magic red light, indicating its charging. Otherwise, it sits no matter where you put it, with a blue led that flashes red (fault code not described in the manual). Charging won't start until you plug the battery in warm. Period.

    Maybe I should just cut all of my morning rides an extra 15 minutes short?

    I'd let it sit inside my house, perhaps on its own pillow, before plugging it in at night, but who here hasn't forgotten to charge a bike light right after a ride, let alone when they get home from work?


  2. #2
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wogamax View Post
    These batterys "don't charge when cold", per Niterider. You have to warm them up to ~70 degrees yourself before attaching them to the charger. I just got one and wondered how many others are miffed about this? The thing doesn't even warm up during discharge. So, I'm left between a typical morning ride and the shower, work and those other sort of time critical things, sitting there for 10-15 minutes with it in my pocket (their suggestion) before plugging it in for the magic red light, indicating its charging. Otherwise, it sits no matter where you put it, with a blue led that flashes red (fault code not described in the manual). Charging won't start until you plug the battery in warm. Period.

    Maybe I should just cut all of my morning rides an extra 15 minutes short?

    I'd let it sit inside my house, perhaps on its own pillow, before plugging it in at night, but who here hasn't forgotten to charge a bike light right after a ride, let alone when they get home from work?


    No battery charges well when cold. The chemical reaction that makes for the storage of electrons possible needs slows down with temperature. In the case of Li-ion, there may be a safety reason for not charging cold.

    But the charge cycle on the battery isn't that long is it? Why not just let it sit on a counter top for a few minutes while you shower and do the other stuff, then plug it in? I just do see the issue.

    And, no, I've never forgotten to plug a battery in when I get home from work. My battery comes off the bike if I've run it for 2 hours or 10 minutes. It's habit.
    Stuart Black
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  3. #3
    Light Wonk
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    Limiting charging of Li-ion cells to temperatures of no less than about 70 deg F is probably excessively conservative. A more often quoted minimum temperture is 32 deg F or 0 deg C.

  4. #4
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fadedglory View Post
    Limiting charging of Li-ion cells to temperatures of no less than about 70 deg F is probably excessively conservative. A more often quoted minimum temperture is 32 deg F or 0 deg C.
    Below freezing plating of the Lithium metal can occur. This is a bad thing Lithium metal tends to react vigorously with water
    Stuart Black
    Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
    Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
    Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
    Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
    An Good Ol' Fashion Appalachian Butt Whoopin'.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    No battery charges well when cold.....

    But the charge cycle on the battery isn't that long is it? Why not just let it sit on a counter top for a few minutes while you shower and do the other stuff, then plug it in? I just do see the issue.

    And, no, I've never forgotten to plug a battery in when I get home from work. My battery comes off the bike if I've run it for 2 hours or 10 minutes. It's habit.
    This is my first lithium bike battery. Otherwise, all before it could be hooked up immediately after rides as low as 0F and they charged "well". I don't know how long it would take to warm up the battery if simply left in the house before being plugged in. NiteRider claimed one can plug in a cold battery and once it warms to whatever the spec temp is, it will automatically start charging. This was not my Trinewt experience.

    As far as habbits go, my rides end in the morning, not at night. Hence the concern for forgetting to plug it in at night. Sometimes I have 34:30 to make the train after a ride, sometimes 29:20. Either way, the seconds are dear and I haven't got time to carry (shower?), or set up a "battery warmer" so I can begin charging the freggin' thing. Maybe a counter will work after 10, 20, 40 minutes? I don't know. All I know is I'm NOT cutting my rides short to deal w/this.

    Since NiteRider told me the battery will eventually charge so long as its hooked up in a "room temperature" spot and that they tested mine to be sure this was the case, I *should* be all set. Right? We'll see.

    I bought NiteRider as a "turn key" alternative to the Trailtech 13w HID I had with self-cobbed 12AA NiMH battery. When I bought it, I knew I was getting a device with proprietary connectors, a lack of voltage / amp rate specs and a $140 replacement cost for a 1, maybe 2, year battery. The one thing I didn't want was more care and feeding.

    And so I vent.

  6. #6
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wogamax View Post
    This is my first lithium bike battery. Otherwise, all before it could be hooked up immediately after rides as low as 0F and they charged "well". I don't know how long it would take to warm up the battery if simply left in the house before being plugged in. NiteRider claimed one can plug in a cold battery and once it warms to whatever the spec temp is, it will automatically start charging. This was not my Trinewt experience.

    As far as habbits go, my rides end in the morning, not at night. Hence the concern for forgetting to plug it in at night. Sometimes I have 34:30 to make the train after a ride, sometimes 29:20. Either way, the seconds are dear and I haven't got time to carry (shower?), or set up a "battery warmer" so I can begin charging the freggin' thing. Maybe a counter will work after 10, 20, 40 minutes? I don't know. All I know is I'm NOT cutting my rides short to deal w/this.

    Since NiteRider told me the battery will eventually charge so long as its hooked up in a "room temperature" spot and that they tested mine to be sure this was the case, I *should* be all set. Right? We'll see.

    I bought NiteRider as a "turn key" alternative to the Trailtech 13w HID I had with self-cobbed 12AA NiMH battery. When I bought it, I knew I was getting a device with proprietary connectors, a lack of voltage / amp rate specs and a $140 replacement cost for a 1, maybe 2, year battery. The one thing I didn't want was more care and feeding.

    And so I vent.
    The temperature limitation on the Li battery is for your protection. It's part of the chemistry of the battery just like being able to charge Ni chemistry batteries when cold is part of their chemistry. Basically, you do not want to be making lithium metal for any reason. When I say that the reaction is 'vigorous', I mean boomba boomba vigorous It's not stuff you want to play with in even small quantities. You might damage Ni batteries by charging them a low temps but you won't burn down your house!

    There is probably a protection circuit in the battery or charger that won't allow for charging until the temperature reaches a certain limit. Plugging it in and forgetting about it is likely safe and you'll be charged when you need it. Test it on a weekend to make sure.
    Stuart Black
    Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
    Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
    Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
    Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
    An Good Ol' Fashion Appalachian Butt Whoopin'.

  7. #7
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    I still say that by wogamax's description, the Trinewt charging parameters may be too conservative. Yes, don't charge below freezing. But having to wait until the cells are near 70 degrees, or even 50 or 60 degrees seems excessive. I haven't seen any recommendations to wait until cells attain room temperature to charge with Li-ion or Li-poly technology. 32 degrees F has been the usual lower limit for charging from all the sources I have encountered.

    If wogamax is riding in freezing conditions, it might take quite a while for the cells to warm up even a little bit once brought inside given their mass and whatever insulating material may surround them. If that is the case, the problem may not be with the charging algorithm after all.

  8. #8
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fadedglory View Post
    I still say that by wogamax's description, the Trinewt charging parameters may be too conservative. Yes, don't charge below freezing. But having to wait until the cells are near 70 degrees, or even 50 or 60 degrees seems excessive. I haven't seen any recommendations to wait until cells attain room temperature to charge with Li-ion or Li-poly technology. 32 degrees F has been the usual lower limit for charging from all the sources I have encountered.

    If wogamax is riding in freezing conditions, it might take quite a while for the cells to warm up even a little bit once brought inside given their mass and whatever insulating material may surround them. If that is the case, the problem may not be with the charging algorithm after all.
    Probably too conservative but I'll bet dollars to donuts that it weren't engineers who said don't charge until at room temp Not much you can do about it unless you buy a different charger and the limit may not be in the charger even then. There is probably protection circuitry in the battery pack.
    Stuart Black
    Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
    Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
    Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
    Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
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  9. #9
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    I'm going to have to eat my words here a little bit. A well regarded Lithium-polymer charger I just bought for use with an electric RC aircraft is designed to not charge at temperatures below 55 degrees F. So obviously there is a difference of opinion amongst vendors.
    To get around your cold charging problem, without going to a totally different light system, you might look into replacing your battery pack with a Nimh pack and charger. I don't know how easy this would be with the TriNewt, but I'll bet it could be done. Nimh, while it doesn't charge well when extremely cold, isn't as 'dangerous' as Lithium technology when normal charging parameters are exceeded.

  10. #10
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    NiMH is where I am headed. The Trinewt is in transit back to me. I'll see if it charges. FWIW, I will be OK with a minimum charge temp. Its the charge circuitry that won't begin charging the battery at all unless connected AFTER the battery has warmed that I had a beef with. If a vendor puts a circuit in to decline charging below some temp, one would hope nothing would happen but that the battery would then take a charge when temps rose WHILE CONNECTED.

    I have a Battery Space order coming with 12 more AA (fresh) NiMH cells for my HID. I am not going to begin trying to ask NiteRider the volts / amp rates of their product because I don't think they would give them out.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Intheloonybin's Avatar
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    I cut a water bottle in half (actually two bottles so they overlap) so I can easily remove the light from the water bottle holder to bring the battery inside to charge it and keep it warm.

    This seems to help it stay warmer on my rides too. I have not had a problem charging it yet- even after a 5F ride for an hour.

    I can even turn it on and off with a lobster gloved finger through the top.

    If you would like a pic of it, let me know and I will post it or pm it.

    Good luck!!
    Last edited by Intheloonybin; 03-12-08 at 11:29 AM.

  12. #12
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    I got the battery back and the good news is it charges if left inside on the charger. The bad news is its started to go from solid red to solid red and solid blue, which I think is the error code. Anyone know? Niterider's instructions say nothing about at least two error codes I've learned they can display, now. The first I had to strand myself to figure out because their instructions gave no warning.

    I'm not taking this thing out tomorrow morning in the dark, freezing cold. Once bitten, twice shy.

  13. #13
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    I am now on my second Trinewt battery that gives a combined red and blue light, which I understand to be an error code. I sent one back to Niterider and borrowed a battery from the LBS. Is the problem the charger or the battery? I am getting pretty sick of trying to figure out how to charge a battery. My L&M LI-Ion battery has never been a problem. Any thoughts on the problem/solution would be greatly appreciated before race season.

  14. #14
    young guy in a old body mikey71469's Avatar
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    howdy! i seem to be in the same unlit boat. tried charging my trinewt battery for the 1st time, & got the dreaded blue/red indicator light. i just got off the phone with n.s support; apparently this seem to be a problem when light kits that sit on the shelf for a while before being initially charged. (what lbs charges the batteries on all their light sets @ the shop?!) got my rma#, mailing it out today. we'll see how long this takes, but i'm REALLY not happy. bad 1st impression.

  15. #15
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikey71469 View Post
    howdy! i seem to be in the same unlit boat. tried charging my trinewt battery for the 1st time, & got the dreaded blue/red indicator light. i just got off the phone with n.s support; apparently this seem to be a problem when light kits that sit on the shelf for a while before being initially charged. (what lbs charges the batteries on all their light sets @ the shop?!) got my rma#, mailing it out today. we'll see how long this takes, but i'm REALLY not happy. bad 1st impression.
    The wonders and joys of complicated systems Li-ion batteries require much more care and feeding than nickel chemistries. I'd suspect that the battery self discharged below the voltage limit and the protection circuit shut the battery down.

    Li-ion may be light and powerful but, boy, what a pain!
    Stuart Black
    Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
    Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
    Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
    Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
    An Good Ol' Fashion Appalachian Butt Whoopin'.

  16. #16
    young guy in a old body mikey71469's Avatar
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    egads! FINALLY heard back from niterider; they tested the battery & found it to be defective. (wow, no kidding?) they will be sending out a new battery. we'll see what happens. thank goodness it gets light pretty early!
    I'm slow, but i'll get there eventually.

  17. #17
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    Trinewt battery problem

    I got a Trinewt and the battery would not charge. Got a second battery from LBS, it wouldn't charge either. Sent the whole kit to Niterider, got it back within 2 weeks. Everything working ok. My guess is they had faulty batteries for a whole bunch of lights out there. They should be making people aware rather than leaving them in the dark (no pun intended). Light is great, but I think Niterider should be more vocal to protect their customer base. I hope the problem doesn't re-occur.

  18. #18
    young guy in a old body mikey71469's Avatar
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    just an update: finally got my new trinewt battery from nightrider, threw it on the charger, & it actually charged!! (woo hoo!)
    rode in this morning with it for the 1st time; wow! awesome! we'll see if i feel the same way when i have to buy a new battery in 2 yrs. (or less)
    I'm slow, but i'll get there eventually.

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