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Battery v/s USB Rechargable - Old Guy

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Battery v/s USB Rechargable - Old Guy

Old 08-15-21, 10:08 AM
  #1  
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Battery v/s USB Rechargable - Old Guy

Posting this here because I need and "Old Guy" opinion.

I need to order some lights for my latest build,m a P6 Frankenpeu. It appears that USB rechargeables are the latest thing. The days of the two C size battery flash light strapped to my left leg are thankfully over. Yet some how I am reluctant to give up my Cat Eye 2 AAA and go to USB rechargeable. Maybe its just that dead cell phone horror that I'm feeling. I like the low profile of the newer lights and the intensity appears to be fantastic. In my area I don't see many bikers and rarely do any of us ride at night so I have never seen them in use. So...

Can you tell how much of a charge they have left them?
Do they take long to recharge?
Can you leave them plugged into the charger?
Are they durable?
Do they look OK on an old bike?
Is there a Cheap Guy version?

I know there have been more than a few threads on this subject but the lights available and thier construction is changing almost day to day.
Any comments would be appreciated...
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Old 08-15-21, 10:19 AM
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I only do dynamo which does not answer your question but I will say I never worry about batteries.
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Old 08-15-21, 10:25 AM
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My lights have an indicator when low. My old-timey stuff that used batteries tended not to have an indicator.

Either way, I can't imagine ever replacing batteries instead of just using a plug. USB on a plug are a dime a dozen, so the cheap guy should love not buying a battery.

Mine are pushing ten-years-old. Rain, sun, rough roads, dropping them, they are just dandy.

Recharge via an outlet is maybe an hour. Charge through the computer is slower. I don't leave them plugged in more than overnight, can't comment beyond that.

As for looks, ymmv.
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Old 08-15-21, 11:18 AM
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I run AA rechargeable on the front light and USB rechargeable on the tail lights. I like them both. I carry a spare AA in my pack and keep a couple fully charged at home that I rotate with. The USB is an entity 100 and has been going strong for more than a year now through all kinds of weather. It takes about an hour to charge and lasts about 5 hours on super bright blink. It has 7 functions total. The headlights only have 3 functions. Blink, dim and bright, but they are bright. My AA is 2800 mah and lasts about 2 hours on bright blinky during the day, not much less on bright solid at night (1.5hr). Hence, the spare bats. I have several older USB rechargeable lights also, but haven't used them in a while because they were never as bright for daytime use. I do have a USB on the rear of my helmet too, but it's more for night visibility. Good luck, hth
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Old 08-15-21, 01:08 PM
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Some sort of rechargeable is the responsible way to go. I like the convenience of USB charging . You can always carry a small storage element with you for emergency recharge of your USB, although this is admittedly slower than simply swapping batteries.
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Old 08-15-21, 01:14 PM
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All my lights are rechargeable. All last way longer than any 1 single ride I do, so there is 0 concern about running out of light.
And I don't feel like charging after each ride, so all my lights last way longer than 2 rides. Especially when you consider how few hours I typically ride at night where a front light is needed.
Rear daytime light is currently a trend and rechargeable is usually brighter/more powerful than battery. <--something to consider.
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Old 08-15-21, 01:24 PM
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In tail lights, it's hard to beat Cygolite Hotshots and Hotrods for value and brightness. They're reasonably priced, lightweight, very bright (but adjustable as needed), hold a charge well enough they don't need to be recharged every day (unless I'm riding several hours a day), recharge reasonably quickly, and the batteries are good for many charging cycles.

I have some battery powered taillights but those are relegated to my hybrid and errand bikes.

In headlights there are many suitable choices. For awhile I mostly used Light & Motion but I've mostly switched to NiteRiders, and I've noticed most of my local friends have as well. For serious nighttime riding it's hard to beat the NiteRider Lumina Dual 1800. Dual LEDs side by side, plus a properly designed lens to throw a well shaped beam that lights up the road rather than indiscriminately lighting up the trees and blinding oncoming traffic. It's pricey at around $150 or so, but really good for an all-in-one unit. And Outbound Lighting offers similarly good headlights with separate headlight/battery modules.
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Old 08-15-21, 02:03 PM
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I'm somewhat old and very crotchety. I don't believe in index shifters or cassette hubs and currently I don't even have a smartphone. I use a wind-up watch and a fountain pen. I wouldn't use the newer tech if it weren't really noticeably better. In this case, it is.

First choice: cheap Sanyo dynohub + Busch & Müller lights. I've got four bikes running this setup. Seriously, it's worth the initial investment -- once you get a dynohub wheel, you'll never think about batteries again.
Second choice: USB (I like a Cygolite Metro 600, for the 10+ bikes that don't have dynohubs).
Third choice: rechargeable AAAs.
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Old 08-15-21, 02:41 PM
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I run dynohubs on all of my commuters, including the 1950 Raleigh Lenton Tourist. As Brian notes above, not having to worry if my lights/batteries are charged and taking advantage of modern optics are a win-win. That said, I do often stick rear rechargable LED lights so that I don't have to deal with running wires from the front hub to the rear. My commute is short, so they last a long time between charges.
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Old 08-15-21, 02:55 PM
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I run a Bontrager Ion Pro and it has good light and lasts a long time. The color of the LED at the button reflects charge - green for mostly full, yellow for half, red for low. Charge time is actually pretty slow/long maybe due to the high power usage. Runs for a long time though, and low power is enough for many of my rides, medium is more than enough. This one and many other modern lights also help you limp home by going to a low power mode before running completely out of juice. I also use their small cube lights (forget the exact names) front and rear on my helmet.
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Old 08-15-21, 03:12 PM
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Originally Posted by zandoval View Post
Can you tell how much of a charge they have left them?
I have one light that when powered down, blinks multiple times to indicate remaining charge. When it gets down to one blink, I recharge it. Others, you find out when they die. Eventually you get an idea of how long you can go between charges.

Do they take long to recharge?
Generally, a couple hours. It seems that the quicker they charge, the quicker they deplete.

Can you leave them plugged into the charger?
I've heard mixed reports on that. Some say it's fine, some say it shortens overall life of the battery.

Are they durable?

Yes, unless they get run over by a car or something.

Do they look OK on an old bike?
I don't have a problem with how they look. No goofier than the Wonder light of yore strapped to your leg, anyway.

Is there a Cheap Guy version?
The cheapest ones I've found were free road finds. For that reason, I use a rubber band as a secondary retention device, so it's not just relying on the flimsy clip to hold it in place.
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Old 08-15-21, 03:16 PM
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I have two dyno hub wheels, one 700C and one 27". Sadly neither is in use atm. I use a cygolite in the rear and some other usb light in front. Very, very bright. I have to be careful where I point it. I agree, rechargeable is the responsible way to go. But I don't want to sound preachy.
Edit: pushing 70
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Old 08-15-21, 03:27 PM
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Contrary opinion, or at least Some food for thought. I have and use a mini-USB rechargeable headlight., Actually, I have two, I ride one while the other is charging. I still have an old battery-powered blinkey taillight. I'll probably replace it soon.

But, were I to do another self-supported tour, I almost certainly would go with battery powered lights all around. Yes, there are work-arounds for portable charging of USB devices, and I probably would carry one for my smartphone (mainly so people have a shot of tracking me if I go missing) but having to to recharge the lights is an additional layer of complexity I would prefer not to have on a fully loaded, self-supported camping tour. For a "credit-card camping" tour, yeah, rechargeable is good.

Them's my thoughts, and they are worth exactly what you are paying for them.
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Old 08-15-21, 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted by bikingshearer View Post
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Old 08-15-21, 05:17 PM
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I've got a couple rechargeable Light & Motion lights- I like them very much.

Granted, my experience with AA powered lights has been with lower powered (and less expensive) models- but these lights are SO much better.

I have a dynamo/light setup coming- hopefully within the next week or so. I'm really excited about that!


720 Lighting by Dave The Golden Boy, on Flickr
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Old 08-15-21, 05:31 PM
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Why I replaced a bunch of outlets in the house with ones with USB ports.
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Old 08-15-21, 05:46 PM
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I use a set of Lezne lights and they last about two , two hour rides. I like the recharge feature and using a USB charger is handy. My helmet has flashing lights or steady on features as well as turn signals and is also rechargeable. The charge probably lasts longer than two rides on my lights and helmet but that’s my routine , I charge every other ride and I don’t run out of charge. I might add that I don’t ride at night.
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Old 08-15-21, 06:57 PM
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Kasai USB rechargeables here. Good for about 6 hours, no batteries to toss, and a single cheap charging station does my phone and both blinkies for the next day.
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Old 08-15-21, 07:03 PM
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Originally Posted by The Golden Boy View Post
I've got a couple rechargeable Light & Motion lights- I like them very much.

Granted, my experience with AA powered lights has been with lower powered (and less expensive) models- but these lights are SO much better.

I have a dynamo/light setup coming- hopefully within the next week or so. I'm really excited about that!


720 Lighting by Dave The Golden Boy, on Flickr
That Taz1200 looks like a landing gear light for a C-130 LOL
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Old 08-15-21, 08:48 PM
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GB- doesn't that light location make the drops useless?
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Old 08-16-21, 02:35 AM
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I ride almost exclusively at night. I have three wheels built up with dyno hubs. But on those occassions when I rode a bike that didn’t, I used an ultrafire wf-502b flashlight that uses an 18650 rechargeable battery. its bright, cheap, lasted well over any 20-35 miler i did and a spare battery is easy to carry. It mounts easy and is easy to remove. Unless its a dyno light I will never purchase a specific bike light again. Best of all its only 25-35 to get one with a good 3500mAh battery and the mount… much cheaper than most battery lights sold for bikes.
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Old 08-16-21, 05:02 AM
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I use rechargeable but carry an AA battery powered unit as a backup. Rationale is, even if AA batteries are down, I can easily pick up more at any gas station.
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Old 08-16-21, 06:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Bigbus View Post
That Taz1200 looks like a landing gear light for a C-130 LOL
They throw off a lot of light. At the time it was comically larger than any USB light - now it’s pretty much in line with the larger lights available.
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Old 08-16-21, 06:10 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
GB- doesn't that light location make the drops useless?
Yes- it’s attached with the easily removable strap- it could be anywhere on the bars- I’m just on the ramps, corners, hoods and tops 99% of the time. Not so much of a drops rider.
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Old 08-16-21, 06:14 AM
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Electrical Engineer weighing in here. I've been heavily into rechargeables for going on 20 years now. I still run a ton of higher capacity conventional NiMH AA & AAA batteries with a smart charger (LaCrosse) that optimizes each cell. With $10 flashlights that output up to 600 lm for general home use and a handlebar bracket or two for the bike, I'm all set. Li battery tech takes that further albeit with higher initial investment. I'm dabbling there too.

Throwaway batteries are so last century.....
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