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Lights - USB rechargeable?

Old 04-24-22, 10:24 AM
  #1  
KC8QVO
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Lights - USB rechargeable?

All,

I am looking at upgrading lights for my bikes and getting the other half a set for hers.

Several years back I started with a Cygolite Metro/hotshot combo pack that worked OK for a few years. However, I was recharging the headlight off a USB cord powered off a bigger 12v battery (LiFePO4 12Ah) with a 12v to USB adapter one time and I think the power button on the light must have got pressed so the light was on when it was trying to charge. I rode most of a day that way before I caught it and the light never worked after that. The tail light I dropped too many times to count, the red plastic broke, and the rubber button strip disappeared. It still "works" but is a pain to use.

About 2 years ago I replaced the tail light with a Nite Rider Sentinel 250. I like it a lot, but it is pricey.

After my headlight went out I was using my every day carry flashlight on a mount - Fenix PD35. Its a great light that has many brightness levels and runs on an 18650. However, it doesn't have any flash modes other than a self-defense disorientating flash. The Metro I ran before had cycling-specific daytime and night time patterns that I really miss.

All that said - I like the convenience of the USB rechargeable versions. For shorter riding/commuting I think they are superior. However, on my longer trips the battery life and recharging is a bit of a hassle - more so the battery life. If I use a light for a while I need to recharge it. So in the morning if I run lights then I need to recharge them during the day before I am confident in using them again that evening.

On longer trips I'll have a 12v battery along. Some suggestions I got a while back are to get "e-bike" lights with a cord. That might be the way to go there, but I still like the compactness of the USB rechargeable ones. For the other half's bike especially - I think thats what I should get her.

Are there any of the USB rechargeable lights that are better quality than others?

From my experience between the Cygolite and Nite Rider brands on tail lights - the Nite Rider I run now appears to be the better build. Is that what others agree with? What about the head lights? Or are there other options that are even better quality still?

Has anyone replaced the internal batteries of any of the USB rechargeable options? I am hoping if I buy nice ones that come 3-5 years down the road if they aren't holding a charge I can replace the batteries, as opposed to replace the whole thing. That is where the 18650 cells (or A123 cells for that matter) are nice - but they usually require removing from the light and charging in a separate charger - which is why the USB rechargeable option is favorable.

Thoughts?
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Old 04-24-22, 10:53 AM
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I went looking in to the flash modes. On the Nite Riders it looks like the flash modes are intended for daytime use.

On the Metro I used there was a flash mode I ran at night on the road that "twinkled" in an intermittent pulse. It was enough movement it would draw attention, but it wasn't a full on/off "flash" that I found hard to keep my eyes adjusted to at night.

So far the only Nite Rider I can find that has a potential "night flash mode" is the Lumina Pro 1300 where it has a pulse flash, but it appears a full deep on/off when it flickers - way more than a "twinkle".
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Old 04-24-22, 07:16 PM
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I have the Nitecore HC60 for my helmet and a similar flashlight on the handlebar. My older flashlight still uses Micro-USB, but I'm sure most newer models use USB-C. The Nitecore is USB-C. They work really well in combination and on their own. the helmet light also is my day-light.

I wouldn't fiddle with cables. The advantage of the above is they have the 18650 batteries and you can just bring spare batteries in addition to recharging with USB-C.
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Old 04-26-22, 10:30 AM
  #4  
John Valuk
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Originally Posted by KC8QVO View Post
Has anyone replaced the internal batteries of any of the USB rechargeable options? I am hoping if I buy nice ones that come 3-5 years down the road if they aren't holding a charge I can replace the batteries, as opposed to replace the whole thing. That is where the 18650 cells (or A123 cells for that matter) are nice - but they usually require removing from the light and charging in a separate charger - which is why the USB rechargeable option is favorable.
The Fenix BC30 V2.0 uses a pair of 18650 batteries. There is no provision for charging the batteries with them installed in the light. They have to come out for charging, and the light is designed to make battery swaps quick and easy.

The 18650 batteries that I am using in mine have USB connections right on the batteries, so I don't use a specific charger for them.

For the ways in which I use it, I have been very satisfied with the performance and build quality of this light. The 18650 batteries fit in nicely with my current collection of LED flashlights, headlamps, and lanterns that use the same cells.

No joy on a "twinkle" type of nighttime flash. The only flash is a 600/50 lumen high/low (cycle repeats at perhaps 2 Hz?) mode that I use for daytime.

Last edited by John Valuk; 04-26-22 at 10:40 AM.
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Old 04-26-22, 12:14 PM
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I have a NiteRider Lumina 650 that I've taken apart far enough to have replaced the battery. It was easy to open up - three hex screws. The wires running to the battery are very thin, and one had broken off the battery. After unwrapping some of the plastic around the battery I was able to re-solder the wire (with my crappy RadioShack soldering iron) and re-wrap with some electrical tape. Maybe not the safest thing I've done and definitely not the neatest, but it does work, so it wouldn't be terrible to replace one of those batteries if you needed to.
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Old 04-26-22, 12:39 PM
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Battery Replacement



Last year I replaced the 18650 cell in my Cygolite.
I upped it from 2.2 Ah to 3.5Ah. The green one came out. The other blue one is a new 2.2Ah. I had kind of abused the cell by running the light in really cold weather, then plugging in a little external 10Ah pack with a USB to charge while it was running., Not nice to do in freezing weather, but hey - nobody got hurt.
….
I ordered from Digikey
https://www.digikey.com/en/products/...rnTYArj1xjRooA

You need to match the voltage to the battery in your light. A higher amp-hour number means longer run time (and longer re-charge time...). The charger in the light takes a 5V input (USB is 5V). And a PC or wall-wart is going to limit the current to 1A or maybe 500mA. It'll say on the wall wart.
My new battery cell now let's my little Cygolite go much longer - as expected: MORE Amp-Hours!!
The new cell did require I cut the connector off and solder the leads to the leads in the light. The connectors just didnt match up.
--- Make sure you get the positive lead and the negative lead right! -- If you have a DC volt meter (or a friend who knows the difference between AC and DC....) you'll be good.
So if you know your voltage and cell size, you can search Digikey. Some of the cells you can buy have some kind fuse circuit on top of the battery - get that! A little extra protection so you don't burn down the campground.

If you're local to Detroit, we can probably arrange to meet so you can "buy" the unused 2.2Ah one I have. I don't think I want to deal with lying when I ship it.... (and by "buy", I mean swap for a cup of coffee.....)
As for me, I cannot get the idea of a Son Hub generator out of my head...... just got to get my wife to let the cash out of my wallet!! ha!

ciao

Last edited by mrv; 04-26-22 at 12:52 PM. Reason: .... more
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Old 04-26-22, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by mrv View Post


Last year I replaced the 18650 cell in my Cygolite.
I upped it from 2.2 Ah to 3.5Ah. The green one came out. The other blue one is a new 2.2Ah. I had kind of abused the cell by running the light in really cold weather, then plugging in a little external 10Ah pack with a USB to charge while it was running., Not nice to do in freezing weather, but hey - nobody got hurt.
.
I ordered from Digikey
https://www.digikey.com/en/products/...rnTYArj1xjRooA

You need to match the voltage to the battery in your light. A higher amp-hour number means longer run time (and longer re-charge time...). The charger in the light takes a 5V input (USB is 5V). And a PC or wall-wart is going to limit the current to 1A or maybe 500mA. It'll say on the wall wart.
My new battery cell now let's my little Cygolite go much longer - as expected: MORE Amp-Hours!!
The new cell did require I cut the connector off and solder the leads to the leads in the light. The connectors just didnt match up.
--- Make sure you get the positive lead and the negative lead right! -- If you have a DC volt meter (or a friend who knows the difference between AC and DC....) you'll be good.
So if you know your voltage and cell size, you can search Digikey. Some of the cells you can buy have some kind fuse circuit on top of the battery - get that! A little extra protection so you don't burn down the campground.

If you're local to Detroit, we can probably arrange to meet so you can "buy" the unused 2.2Ah one I have. I don't think I want to deal with lying when I ship it.... (and by "buy", I mean swap for a cup of coffee.....)
As for me, I cannot get the idea of a Son Hub generator out of my head...... just got to get my wife to let the cash out of my wallet!! ha!

ciao
As far as the battery replacement goes in the old Metro I have - I can try that. However, I figured I burned up the control circuitry/computer in the light as opposed to frigging the battery.

I suppose a battery replacement would be the determining factor - or maybe just dial up the battery voltage on a power supply and see if feeding that directly to the light will get it to work first before trying to solder in a new battery. If it doesn't work and I solder in a new battery I screw up a new battery. Best to test it first in a way that doesn't potentially sacrifice a battery.
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Old 04-26-22, 10:33 PM
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Dinotte Lights, they are pricey, but you did say you wanted to upgrade.
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Old 04-27-22, 03:32 PM
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Lumintop B01 uses 21700's:
https://zeroair.org/2019/09/19/lumin...hlight-review/
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Old 04-28-22, 07:47 AM
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Originally Posted by KC8QVO View Post
As far as the battery replacement goes in the old Metro I have - I can try that. However, I figured I burned up the control circuitry/computer in the light as opposed to frigging the battery.

I suppose a battery replacement would be the determining factor - or maybe just dial up the battery voltage on a power supply and see if feeding that directly to the light will get it to work first before trying to solder in a new battery. If it doesn't work and I solder in a new battery I screw up a new battery. Best to test it first in a way that doesn't potentially sacrifice a battery.
Right - if you've smoked the internals circuits, a new cell won't do you no-good.
You had mentioned changing cells in the last paragraph of the OP - so I thought you might be looking to put a higher amp-hour cell in an existing light. All my old lights look to be serviceable for the cells. Last year I got a 1000 lumen Lights and Motion (lights in motion...?) and it looks to be sealed tight. Kind of a bummer.....
But it's got a "low bright" mode that allows to charge and run the light without ruining anything, so that's what I wanted to try.
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Old 05-01-22, 12:10 PM
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That light is great, its nice having a easy to remove flash light as your headlight. There is a green LED that stays on though, not sure if it really drains the battery. Mine has been on for months now without recharging.
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Old 05-09-22, 08:10 AM
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rechargeables are OK if you charge them & if you know their charge status
when a battery operated light is dead, you know it immediately & you can fix it immediately. you can even carry a cpl spare batteries
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Old 05-09-22, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
rechargeables are OK if you charge them & if you know their charge status
when a battery operated light is dead, you know it immediately & you can fix it immediately. you can even carry a cpl spare batteries
One of the things I like about the Fenix BC30 V2.0 is that the rechargeable batteries can be easily swapped.
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Old 05-09-22, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Elvo View Post
I have all the Fenix lights and recently bought two Lumitop B01 lights. I am probably going to retire the Fenix lights if the B01 proves itself over the coming months doing 400k, 600k, and 1200K Rando events.

The B01 can be charged directly with USB cable. It can also serve as a power bank to charge another device. It can also take removable 18650 or 21700 batteries. It is one of the very few battery powered lights that cuts the beam to protect the eyes of oncoming traffic. The light is projected onto the reflector and shaped fairly well.

It is only $40. BUT, it also only comes with an 18650. Prices, quality, and availability of 21700 batteries varies widely. I paid $8 each for four 5000 ma batteries. I have a ton of 18650 batteries but the energy is so much higher in a 21700 that purchasing new batteries made sense.
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Old 05-09-22, 10:27 AM
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I will not buy anything with Micro-B USB if I can help it. I have a $100 bike light that is a worthless paperweight because I can't charge it. So far no issues with USB-C.

One option is to search for 8.4V CREE lights with an external battery pack on E-Bay. They're dirt cheap. You generally don't need a super-bright light. Look for something simple. Buy a spare as I've had internal connections go bad.

Then use your USB light for short trips and use the CREE light + battery pack for longer trips and times you can't recharge.
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Old 05-09-22, 10:29 AM
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Another option, of course, is to go with a Dynamo/Generator. (hub?)

It will take some work to set up, and will likely be tied to a single bike. But, then no more charging.
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Old 05-23-22, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by nathand View Post
I have a NiteRider Lumina 650 that I've taken apart far enough to have replaced the battery. It was easy to open up - three hex screws. The wires running to the battery are very thin, and one had broken off the battery. After unwrapping some of the plastic around the battery I was able to re-solder the wire (with my crappy RadioShack soldering iron) and re-wrap with some electrical tape. Maybe not the safest thing I've done and definitely not the neatest, but it does work, so it wouldn't be terrible to replace one of those batteries if you needed to.
The NiteRider MiNewt series also uses a 18650 battery and is very easy to change. Need a long 2 mm hex wrench which just so happens to work with my mechanical disk brakes.

I did a test after replacing the battery in an old MiNewt 250 cordless and it lasted over an hour longer than the factory specs.
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Old 06-08-22, 02:31 PM
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Ive got Busch and Muller icon eyro lights on a few bikes, they can mount on the fork and put the light on the road and don't blind car drivers. https://www.bumm.de/en/products/akku...dukt/163.html?

I will be putting dynamos on the next couple of builds with, most likely, either b&m or Schmidt lights https://www.peterwhitecycles.com/headlights.php
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