Results 1 to 16 of 16
  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    129

    Long-term Care Part I - Li-Ion Batteries

    I'm a part time night rider, don't commute, but ride all year round between 5-6,000 miles a year. I live in quite a ways West of Chicago, you could classify my area as suburban, but just a few miles out is farmland all the way to Iowa. A typical cycling season usually ends with 2-5 hours of night riding in a week, from September - November. During the winter I'm indoors in power training classes or in the basement until the weather breaks in March/April, supplemented with outdoor trail/mtb riding as weather permits.

    Bottom line, I only use lights for 2-3 months out of the year, so I have to store them the rest of the time. I don't need a lecture on winter riding. Conditions suck here in the winter, and I am not interested in riding outside when it gets crazy cold, snowy/icy and with 20-30 mph winds.

    My problem? I have invested in good lights and want to make sure they last me several seasons. I've Googled the crap out of this topic and searched mtbr, CPF and other forums for advice. So for all you lighting/DIY/battery folks, I would like to have a discussion on preserving my lighting for future use. I don't understand electricity, am not really that interested in being an amateur electrical engineer, don't own a volt meter and don't want to.

    My bar lights each use Li-Ion rechargeables. I've read Li-Ion batteries store best at 40% of charge. Here's what I want to know:

    Say my battery lasts 2:45 on high during a runout test. should I just run it down for 90-100 minutes, unplug and set aside in the basement (consistent 70 degree temp.)?
    Do I need to periodically pull it out and recharge it?
    Do I need to periodically charge to full and do a runout back down to 40%?

    FYI my main light is a Baja Strykr, which has a 4 cell Panasonic protected battery pack, which includes an "integrated charge management controller".

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Cat-man-do's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Posts
    3,902
    If it were me and I was doing a long term storage: 40-60% charge and then store in the fridge. After three months maybe a quick 1hr recharge if needed then back in the fridge. Having a cheap digital Mult-meter ( ~ $20 ) would help you judge the charge. Depending on how many charge/discharge cycles you do during a season of use and the quality of the cells, I think you might be able to nurse 5 seasons of use out it if you store the batteries in the fridge every year.

    Just be sure when you take the batteries out of the fridge that you let them sit a day or so before recharging. If you are really serious about long term maintenance a M-meter is the only way to be sure about the charge. Still if you know how long your battery will run before shutting down, just run down to half of its run time. Just keep in mind run time will change as the battery ages. Hope this helps.

    As for me, my batteries are like red-headed step children. They're told to shut-up and do their work or I'll replace them.

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    129
    Thanks, Cat-man-do. I've done 3 runout/recharge cycles and the total runtime on the Strykr has improved from 2:30 to 3:00 on high, so I'm happy that it's working as advertised. I'll try 1/2 discharge and store it in the fridge or the garage - not much difference this time of year.

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Reputation: yetibetty's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    1,783
    Quote Originally Posted by Cat-man-do
    If it were me and I was doing a long term storage: 40-60% charge and then store in the fridge. After three months maybe a quick 1hr recharge if needed then back in the fridge. Having a cheap digital Mult-meter ( ~ $20 ) would help you judge the charge. Depending on how many charge/discharge cycles you do during a season of use and the quality of the cells, I think you might be able to nurse 5 seasons of use out it if you store the batteries in the fridge every year.

    Just be sure when you take the batteries out of the fridge that you let them sit a day or so before recharging. If you are really serious about long term maintenance a M-meter is the only way to be sure about the charge. Still if you know how long your battery will run before shutting down, just run down to half of its run time. Just keep in mind run time will change as the battery ages. Hope this helps.

    As for me, my batteries are like red-headed step children. They're told to shut-up and do their work or I'll replace them.
    Cat, I do exactly as you describe (apart from telling them to shut-up) and have managed to get five years from my battery packs made from DX cells.

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Reputation: pulser's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Posts
    1,637
    I just picked up a Night Rider Sole200. I'm really happy with the light and I wan it to last. Do you guys think putting it in the fridge (freezer or fridge?) will do any harm since the control is all in the battery?

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Reputation: yetibetty's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    1,783
    Don't know about with the driver in the battery pack but I suspect it will be no different to riding in the cold. But you should never put batteries in the freezer only the fridge, just need to keep 'em cool.

  7. #7
    puts the FU in fun
    Reputation: CuzinMike's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    103
    So what about short-term storage to keep the batteries lasting long-term (see how I stayed on topic )?

    I use my light 2-3 nights a week this time of year (Stryker), and the manual only recommends keeping the battery fully charged for short-term storage. Most of my night rides are sub-2hrs, so would I be best to fully run the battery down before recharging to store for a day or two. Or does it really matter if I'm using it frequently?

  8. #8
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Cat-man-do's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Posts
    3,902
    Quote Originally Posted by CuzinMike
    So what about short-term storage to keep the batteries lasting long-term (see how I stayed on topic )?

    I use my light 2-3 nights a week this time of year (Stryker), and the manual only recommends keeping the battery fully charged for short-term storage. Most of my night rides are sub-2hrs, so would I be best to fully run the battery down before recharging to store for a day or two. Or does it really matter if I'm using it frequently?
    For short term: Best to charge the battery just before using. After riding, no don't run the battery fully down and don't charge again until just before you ride. This isn't easy of course. If you can charge 12hrs before a ride I think you're doing good.

  9. #9
    puts the FU in fun
    Reputation: CuzinMike's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    103
    Quote Originally Posted by Cat-man-do
    For short term: Best to charge the battery just before using. After riding, no don't run the battery fully down and don't charge again until just before you ride. This isn't easy of course. If you can charge 12hrs before a ride I think you're doing good.
    Thanks. That's what I've been doing thus far. And like anybody, I'd like to make the battery last as long as possible!

  10. #10
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    2
    If it were me and I was doing a long term storage: 40-60% charge and then store in the fridge. After three months maybe a quick 1hr recharge if needed then back in the fridge. Having a cheap digital Mult-meter ( ~ $20 ) would help you judge the charge. Depending on how many charge/discharge cycles you do during a season of use and the quality of the cells, I think you might be able to nurse 5 seasons of use out it if you store the dell vostro batteries in the fridge every year. Just be sure when you take the batteries out of the fridge that you let them sit a day or so before recharging. If you are really serious about long term maintenance a M-meter is the only way to be sure about the charge. Still if you know how long your battery will run before shutting down, just run down to half of its run time. Just keep in mind run time will change as the battery ages.
    Last edited by Justiet; 01-10-2011 at 06:43 PM.

  11. #11
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Cat-man-do's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Posts
    3,902
    Quote Originally Posted by Justiet
    I had the same type of experience. I purchased the same model and had it working immediately. I can not ever imagine going back to a laptop. I particularly liked your observation that we need to conform to the laptop while the iPad follows our posture - it is so intuitive. Great comments! Thanks
    Huh? I noticed that this is your first post. For some reason it makes me think of the saying, "You only get one chance to make a first impression". Now let me see... ..what was the subject of this thread again?

  12. #12
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    29
    Strange place to find spam, but I'm glad it bumped this thread up as I'm looking to get into the lighting game soon and the (non-Ipad related) info here has been useful. Do the methods you all recommend apply to protected batteries as well? I want to go the dealextreme torch route. Also, is there another good thread or source of information about general battery care? I'd rather not have my bike or helmet explode due to my own ignorance (The pictures of flames on the "Trustfire" batteries I'm planning on buying are pretty ominous, as is the brand name itself). My experience with batteries is as follows: Put AA into device; when AA dies, toss AA; repeat.

  13. #13
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Cat-man-do's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Posts
    3,902
    Quote Originally Posted by DubDubMF
    Strange place to find spam, but I'm glad it bumped this thread up as I'm looking to get into the lighting game soon and the (non-Ipad related) info here has been useful. Do the methods you all recommend apply to protected batteries as well? I want to go the dealextreme torch route. Also, is there another good thread or source of information about general battery care? I'd rather not have my bike or helmet explode due to my own ignorance (The pictures of flames on the "Trustfire" batteries I'm planning on buying are pretty ominous, as is the brand name itself). My experience with batteries is as follows: Put AA into device; when AA dies, toss AA; repeat.
    I'm sure there are multiple threads discussing batteries and battery care. In this recent thread ( see link ) starting about the 10th page in, me and mhahn start to discuss the advantages ( or disadvantages ) of Li-ion vs. NiMh batteries.

    In in effort to save some time I would just suggest that if you go the torch route that you buy some good quality 18650 Li-ion cells. And yes, you can still get good batteries for about $5 a cell if you go the D/X route. Then you will need a good charger, D/X has those as well. Make sure it has a separate charge circuit for both cell bays. If it does it will have two LED indicators ( one on each bay ). Finally, find a place to store and charge the cells that does not get too hot. Extreme heat is not good for almost any battery. To be on the safe side I would suggest putting the charger in something like an old aluminum bake pan ( with nothing flammable near or over-hanging or under. ) Having a smoke detector near by can't hurt as well. To be clear though, flame out on Li-ion cells is extremely rare due to the precautions built into the cells themselves. Still, taking simple safety precautions can't hurt ( Hey, you wear a helmet don't you.. ).

    To prolong the cell life:
    1) don't store in a hot area or hot car.
    2) don't use a charger other than one designed for Li-ion.
    3) don't store batteries with a full charge. Not a safety issue but storing with a full charge will age the battery faster.
    4) charge the batteries just before the ride or the night before.

    Follow those guidelines and your Li-ion cells should last a good number of years. For the record, I've never had a flame out or venting issue on a battery "that I didn't abuse".

    For more information on batteries in general I suggest reading the stuff over on Battery University.

  14. #14
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    29
    That's what I was looking for, thanks for the help! Though I'd say wearing a helmet is less of a precaution than a necessity for me, especially when I get into night riding. I'm clumsy enough on foot in broad daylight.

    I've read somewhere that it's a good idea to remove the cells from the charger as soon as the charging cycle is complete. Is this for safety's sake or to help slow the aging process? I'm going to check out that BU link now, so I'll probably end up answering my own question (and probably a thousand other questions I'd never think to ask). Again, thanks for the info.

  15. #15
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    353
    think cat-man-do , already covered it.

    let me just rattle...
    - fridge and li-ion,...
    no need to do that, it's not NimH, and definitly not the freezer
    - storage,... more than 1/2 full should be good for a year
    - charge before you go
    that was the common thing with nimh,... since they loose charge
    charging right before you go, is actually not the best for the battery,
    but you do get a couple of drops more.
    rest period after charge, 1/2hr-2hrs for li-ion, are beneficial
    - for a 3month / year use, say 100 days, with a quality battery, retain about 75-85 capacity, you should be good, for 4-5 years. and I'am sure baja is using halfway decent cells.
    - charging just don't have the battery on the charger for days/weeks
    these circuits are relative simple, but some to contain also some chips,
    and with weather, static, radio waves, etc, sometimes they do hickup,
    or get into , the charge a bit, cable wet , from humidity,... leak a bit, charge a bit,..
    ... again, charge it, use it, or put it away.
    and stay around, keep an eye on it, in case, you forgot, or want to ignore,
    that you have dropped the battery , on a concrete floor, more times than you remember, but don't want to admit it,... and going ahead, to see if it still charges,
    so you can squeak by not having to by a new battery,..
    your battery might be damaged inside, and fail , or worse, turn into smoke.
    - dropping a battery is a big no-no, like with a helmet, don't use it afterwards.
    now if you do, buy a new one, sleep easier, or have a bucket of sand ready, water does not do much, with lithium when it oxidizes at 1000 deg f.

    for the ones, who want a battery, that potential last you for 10 years plus,
    and can drop it , beat it, till the cows come home , or lights go out.
    working on it, but the charger be more likely more expensive, then your whole light,
    never mind the battery, it's not for the weight weenies.
    http://www.mtbl.robs-x.com

  16. #16
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Cat-man-do's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Posts
    3,902
    Quote Originally Posted by DubDubMF
    I've read somewhere that it's a good idea to remove the cells from the charger as soon as the charging cycle is complete. Is this for safety's sake or to help slow the aging process? I'm going to check out that BU link now, so I'll probably end up answering my own question (and probably a thousand other questions I'd never think to ask). Again, thanks for the info.
    Actually that's a pretty good question. Most Li-ion chargers just charge the battery to it's peak voltage and then stop. Since there is no trickle maintenance with Li-ion I really see no reason to worry as long as the charger is functioning as designed. Still, I usual take mine out of the charger once they are charged. The only thing I have thought about that might cause a problem would be a household high voltage surge. If you use surge protectors you should be fine. I have no idea what a high voltage surge might do to a charger. I only know that when I first moved into my home I ended up losing several appliances because of local AC voltage surges. I lost the microwave, TV, phone, CD player...big money. Digital circuits are real sensitive to voltage surges. I've never dissected a charger to see if they contain IC's but likely they do. The way I figure it a good voltage surge could take out an IC ( Integrated circuit ) without too much problem. In retrospect, that would not be a good thing, more so if some of that current travels through the battery.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •