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  1. #1
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    Lupine Battery got too cold?

    I'm wondering if anyone in the colder regions has had battery issues when the. Temp drops. I'm in the Phoenix, AZ area and we don't get down under 30 degrees too often. I have 2 Betty lights and my bar light didn't want to stay on Sat am. I have two and the one that was in my truck and in my camelback no issues. The battery that was outside in the bed of my truck until I got to the mountain is the one that had issues. I'm only asking because today I rode a bit later in the morning in slightly warmer temps and neither battery had issues. It was 28 degrees Sat am when we took off. Next week I'm going to keep both battery's in my truck until we take off to ride. Thanks for any input anyone has.

  2. #2
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    I run mine down to 25 degrees on a regular basis. Slightly lower run times, but that is it. It might be the cold soak that caused your issue.
    BTW, I am in Scottsdale for the next month and it was a little nippy these last few days.....!

    Mikey

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    Issues?

    Batteries don't like the cold, and when they get cold they aren't happy.

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    I regularly use mine at 20-25F and sometimes down to 15F and the only problem I have is a slightly shorter run time. Could be that a) your batteries are getting old and more sensitive to cold related drops in capacity or b) the current draw from your battery is too high to be sustained at low temperatures. Does the problem only happen on high or is it a overall decrease in run time. More details would be useful.

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    I agree with the Muppet I just had a recent case of that with my Nimh battery pack on my headlight. It worked great for a year of solid commuting and then we got a deeper freeze(20degF) and almost immediately it went from 2hrs runtime to 20 minutes. When I opened it up and inspected it, there were signs of stress and leakage indicative of overstress even though I recently changed the low beam bulb to LED. Static testing indoors produced acceptable results until the end but the decline was a matter of a little over a week.
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    Ditto here as no issues other than slightly lower run times down to 22F. That been said, i havent exposed my battery's to that cold prior to rides.

  7. #7
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    No issues here in low 20's. li-ion are not as sensitive to cold as Nimh, NiCad, etc. but is alway a good idea to isolate them if you need full run time ( or you could dim them a little bit and not care
    Are you sure you charged it fully before the ride
    BBW. MS, RD

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    Yea. I charge both my batteries night before we ride. Both were full. Only difference was one was on bike in back of truck for 2 hours before we took off. Other battery was in truck with heater blasting. problem battery has since recharged without anymore problems but our temps are back up.

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    Li-ion batteries do fine in the cold. But, and this is true for most batteries, they don't like to be frozen. If they are being used, they generate internal heat and that keeps them from freezing (in general). But, your two hour cold soak when not running is not advised.

    For example, I'm also a ski patroller and I wear a radio with a Li-ion battery on the outside of my patrol vest and I do that regardless of the temp - down as low as -20F or so. Haven't had issues with the radios at that cold, they seem to operate just as well and the batteries last just as long (10 hours) as at warmer temps. But the radios are on for that entire time.

    J.

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    Try and keep your batteries in your house so that the core temp is reasonable. Li Ion do not do well as far as runtime and voltage when the core is cold.

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    Here's a good discussion on cold performance of Li ion batteries. They do fine as long as you don't put uber heavy draws on them.

    Effect of freezing on Lithium Ion Batteries

    J.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikeyonthemadone View Post
    Slightly lower run times, but that is it.
    Are run times affected to such a degree, that wrapping them up in old socks or similar would be beneficial?

    On my bike, I keep the batteries in an old water bottle but they rattle about. If I stuff a scarf in there to take up space and stop the rattling, would it also extend my battery life?

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    Quote Originally Posted by James Bass View Post
    Are run times affected to such a degree, that wrapping them up in old socks or similar would be beneficial?

    On my bike, I keep the batteries in an old water bottle but they rattle about. If I stuff a scarf in there to take up space and stop the rattling, would it also extend my battery life?
    It's hard to say. Once I tried wrapping the battery in light foam packing used for mailing. Then I put the battery/foam into a cloth bag that mounts on my top tube. I didn't mount the battery till I was ready to ride and kept it warm for as long as possible. Eventually the battery still gets cold but at least it doesn't happen right away....maybe an hour or so.

    The problem is that the wire that connects to the battery is still exposed to the cold and this acts like a heat sink, slowly drawing heat from the battery. Not really much you can do to prevent that although I never tried wrapping the wire in foam. You can buy straw-like foam but than again that might be more trouble than it's worth.

    I even tried chemical hand warmers but that idea didn't work because those hand warmers need oxygen to work and really only produce so much heat anyway.

    A couple weeks ago I picked up a hand warmer that uses lighter fluid as a heat source,
    ( a tip I got from someone else ). I haven't tested it yet because using something like this means taking a lot of precautions. I'm told these things get really hot so I'm worried it might damage the shrink wrap or the battery itself. I'll be doing some testing by next week after I get a bag big enough to house both the battery and the heater "safely". I'll be using cheap clone batteries and thermometers to monitor the temperature while I do the experiment. I'll try one with the heater and one without to see if it really is worth the trouble. Next week I should be seeing some really cold weather. I need really cold weather to do the experiment.

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    seriously Cat, I appreciate your no-holds-barred experimental endeavours, but using a flammable heat source packed next to a battery chemistry that is known to enter thermal runaway when heated too high is crossing over into Dumbass and Darwin Awards territory.

    If you're riding in such nastily cold conditions (below 0F) and are having problems with runtime, get a bigger battery. More cells in parallel = less current per cell, which should hopefully lower it below the level that it has problems sustaining in cold weather. Seriously, I've ridden for a couple of hours at -20C (whatever that is in F) and my batteries have been fine. Any longer than that and it wouldn't be my batteries I'm worrying about.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mattthemuppet View Post
    seriously Cat, I appreciate your no-holds-barred experimental endeavours, but using a flammable heat source packed next to a battery chemistry that is known to enter thermal runaway when heated too high is crossing over into Dumbass and Darwin Awards territory.

    .
    Gee Matt, thanks for the vote of confidence. Pretty rough language considering I have yet to even try using the thing yet. The idea was given to me from another poster. Rather than take his word that it works I decided to buy one first and do some tests. Keep in mind these things are suppose to be safe enough to carry in a coat pocket so they can warm your hands so how hot can they be? Personally I don't know but I will find out.

    First thing I will do is fire it up and just measure the heat output. Then I will enclose it ( by it's self ) in a small battery type bag and measure the change in temperature using a thermometer with remote sensor. If the temperatures look too high to control I will give up the idea. If the results are promising I will move on to try testing with an actual battery using varying levels of insulation while monitoring the temperature at the battery. If or when I do that I will no doubt need a larger bag. The heat unit is bigger than I expected and will require a bigger bag than what I currently own. The purpose of pre-testing is to remove the "Dumbass" factor. Don't be surprised if the unit really doesn't work that well, I won't. On the other hand if it works and keeps the battery near room temperature when in frigid conditions it could be an interesting option for someone who understands the inherent dangers of working with a potentially flammable heat source.

    As it stands I was going to do the first phase of testing tonight ( when the outside temperature drops below 20F.). Unfortunately, not going to happen tonight as I got called in to work the graveyard shift. Maybe tomorrow if things go as planned.

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    with all due respect Cat, I'd rather run the risk of offending you (which wasn't the intention) than say nothing when I thought I could have prevented an accident or injury. I appreciate the efforts you're intending to go to in order to test this out, but the basic principle is dangerous to begin with and no matter how much lab testing you do, you cannot control all the variables that you may encounter using it on a bike. There were plenty of accounts of people burning themselves using the charcoal based pocket warmers (not sure if enough to get them banned in the UK), through accidents or idiocy I can't remember, and that was with a solid fuel. Read up on the measures fire fighters use to put out lithium battery fires (there's an interesting thread on it on the BLF battery forum) - lithium batteries that reach thermal runaway can sustain it and produce very high temperatures even doused with water and cooled down. They have to repeatedly douse the batteries until they no longer see any repeat temperature rises. And you want to put an ignition source next to one of these batteries?

    Seriously, if the cold is preventing your battery from supplying the current your light is trying to draw, just get a bigger battery.

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    There are at least a dozen mushers here in AK and in Canada that use li ion ( lupine) batteries while dog mushing. Granted, most of the time the batts are located inside jackets, but more and more lights are being mounted on the bars and head due to the lower mass of batts these days. Runtime is reduced if the batts are exposed to severe cold. I'm talking multiple days at temps down to -40F. If they do anything at all, we put our batteries, dog meds, creams/gels in a soft sided insulated lunch bag with a thermos of hot liquid or heat packs. That system seems to work for those who like to 1000's of miles by dogteam is subzero weather.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by smthgfshy View Post
    There are at least a dozen mushers here in AK and in Canada that use li ion ( lupine) batteries while dog mushing. Granted, most of the time the batts are located inside jackets, but more and more lights are being mounted on the bars and head due to the lower mass of batts these days. Runtime is reduced if the batts are exposed to severe cold. I'm talking multiple days at temps down to -40F. If they do anything at all, we put our batteries, dog meds, creams/gels in a soft sided insulated lunch bag with a thermos of hot liquid or heat packs. That system seems to work for those who like to 1000's of miles by dogteam is subzero weather.
    I played with the idea of using mircowave gel-heat packs but on on a bike your options are limited when it comes to space. Not to mention you don't have a microwave available while on the road. Still, sooner or later I'll give them a try as well if I happen to run across some that aren't too big.

    One thing that really needs to be considered in this discussion is just how well something like a battery pack can dissipate heat ( especially when exposed to cold air ). First consider your body which has a core temperature of about 98.6F. Even when set next to your body the heat produced by your body only slows the rate of heat loss on the battery. I really doubt there is an actual " positive warming process" per say. I have a feeling the same will be true with this hand warmer but that remains to be seen.

    I rarely ( if ever ) ride in extreme temperature anymore but I am a curious fellow. The subject of riding in cold weather with battery light systems comes up every year. Even if I was to venture out on a cold ride it would likely be no more than two hours. No, I don't need to buy a bigger battery. I have enough batteries to carry an extra back-up in my back pack. At some point I could switch out and likely be fine. Still, If I put the heater-thing in my backpack that might work even better...who's to say. At least I'm willing to do some testing to see if my theories will hold water. I will take precautions. I have equipment for monitoring temperature. Gonna be real cold tonight in my area with lows in the teens ( F. ). Hey, if it catches fire I'll roast hot dogs.

  19. #19
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    Cat - the idea of using a heat production source near a Li-ion battery is just not a good one. If you were able to insulate it then it's possible for the temp to keep rising. If you take something you heated up - i.e. your heat packs - that continue to lose heat, that's a better idea since you are not continually adding energy to the equation. Li-ion batteries also outgas something - isn't it hydrogen or something too?

    A Li-ion battery running away is sort of like really dangerous and super hot.

    J.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by RBrady View Post
    I'm wondering if anyone in the colder regions has had battery issues when the. Temp drops.
    Yes, I do. In cold weather, mine will signal low battery very, very early, particularly when running on HIGH. In my case it's DiNotte, and "cold weather" refers to temperatures below 40F. The problem progressively worsens as the temperature drops further... below 20F, it's good for maybe 20 minutes starting from a warm building. I think the light's low-battery detection is keyed to battery voltage, and is being partly faked out by the double whammy of the inherently lower battery voltage at cold temperatures, plus better cooling = higher LED output = higher current draw = additional voltage sag and faster power consumption.

    The logical solution would be for the light to detect battery depletion by some means OTHER than the apparent battery voltage. NiteRider has some lights that do that. They first introduced the calculus-wielding gas gauge with the venerable NiteRider NiteHawk, later rebadged the Digital Pro 12.

    As a practical measure, a guy could put the battery up his sleeve and plug it into the light head with an extension cable. It would be a doggone nuisance if you wanted to get off the bike, but it beats having no lights. I haven't resorted to that tactic yet myself, since my winter training bike has a dynamo light as its baseline headlight.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by mechBgon View Post
    Yes, I do. In cold weather, mine will signal low battery very, very early, particularly when running on HIGH. In my case it's DiNotte, and "cold weather" refers to temperatures below 40F. The problem progressively worsens as the temperature drops further... below 20F, it's good for maybe 20 minutes starting from a warm building. I think the light's low-battery detection is keyed to battery voltage, and is being partly faked out by the double whammy of the inherently lower battery voltage at cold temperatures, plus better cooling = higher LED output = higher current draw = additional voltage sag and faster power consumption....
    Yes, like Mech my DiNotte light had the same problem. Lamps with low-voltage auto-power down functions have the real problem in cold weather. To bad there is not a "disable" switch for these functions for when using in cold weather.

    Well tonight I did a first run through with the Zippo set-up. Turns out the guy that told me about the Zippo's was right....Damn things get really hot! Measured with my infrared thermometer the top part of the metal shield gets close to 200F. !! Without proper insulation definite danger zone territory.

    With the battery starting temperature at 72F I did a quickie test using very little insulation first inside the house to get a gauge on how fast the temperature would rise. As expected, inside where it is warm the temperature inside the bag took off real quick

    ( During the test temperature sensors are placed at the front of the battery ( where the heater is ) and to the rear to help get an over-all idea of total core temperature. )

    After that quick test it was apparent that proper insulation is needed at warmer temperatures.

    Then I placed the bag outside where it is 15F. After about 15 minutes the temp near the battery was around 87F. I then added another layer of insulation and it stabilized around 74F with the back-side of the battery measuring around 60F. I figure that puts the core at about 67F. Not bad for a first test. The other battery I sat out with it ( with no insulation or heat ) measured around 38F. after a half hour.

    After an hour the heated battery remained about the same. No doubt with some moving air going over the bag ( as what would happen during a ride ) the temperature would likely drop another 10 degrees. Yes, this is all dangerous. I wouldn't even attempt this without thermal monitoring. Will I actually do a ride using the Zippo heater......ask me no questions and I'll tell you no lies.

    At the conclusion of the test the battery was nice and warm and measured in at about 66F with the infrared thermometer. The other battery felt like a cold rock ( 26F ). I'll also mention that the heater was not as hot when I brought it in. According to the instructions if you use more insulation it cuts down on available oxygen which makes it run cooler. After I took it out of the insulation it heated right up again to near 160F.

    Anyway, interesting test. Yep it's dangerous but it works. Far be it for me to tell someone it's too dangerous to do during a cold ride. Heck when I see the dangerous stuff some people do while riding a mountain bike this pales in comparison. Ride with sense my friends and enjoy life.

  22. #22
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    Having a hot (maybe dangerously hot) Li-ion battery is just scary. Lithium burns like crazy, and really hot. No thanks.

    J.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnJ80 View Post
    Having a hot (maybe dangerously hot) Li-ion battery is just scary. Lithium burns like crazy, and really hot. No thanks.

    J.
    Yeah, not good to over do it. Years ago when I first got into Li-ion batteries I didn't know about the heat issue. Left the battery out in the car once during the middle of summer..
    Basically what happened was the protection on the battery took over and vented the battery. When it happened I was in the car but had no idea at the time what the smell was although I knew it was electrically based. When I got home I discovered my battery would no longer work. After doing some reading on the subject I figured out what must have happened.

    Anyway, my batteries will never get that hot if I have anything to do with it. People who live in warmer climates will have more problems than I will ever have.

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