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  1. #1
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    Lupine owners - your experiences of battery life please

    Hi all,

    I would like to know the experiences other Lupine owners have had with their batteries in order to compare to my own.

    I have a Tesla 5 and a Wilma 5, both using the 5Ah frame battery, I bought the Wilma in Aug '09, and the Tesla in June '10. One battery is totally gone, it wont sustain high beam on either light for more than 5 minutes on a full charge. The other battery is on the way out, only lasting about 40 minutes at high power on full charge (compared to the quoted 2hr 45min).

    Having tracked how many times Ive used each (Im a geek and track spend per use/wear on everything), Im pretty dissapointed in how little use Ive had from each before they need replacement. The bad battery has only been used 42 times, the better one 56 times. Both have been stored and charged as per the manufacturers recomendations.

    Unfortunately the warranty is out on both, so no luck there.

    I really like the lights, but am having second thoughts about buying another if I'll only get another 2 years from it.

    Are other peoples experiences similar? Or better?

  2. #2
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    Another point to add, the cold seems to hammer the lights. Running the Wilma on full power on a full battery, the battery indicator will switch from the green to amber led almost instantly (<1min).

  3. #3
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    I have been running a 5Ah/7.5Ah with my Betty/Wilma now for about two years. It's pretty mild here in the winter and i'm usually riding in tempuratures between 24F/38F. Although i have had a little loss in capacity the battery's are still charging well and performing well and can still go out on 2.5 hour rides on full blast most of the ride. My 5.0Ah has lost a bit more capacity than the 7.5, but nothing like your experience.

    What kind of ambiant tempuratures are you riding in, in the winter? Also are you letting your battery packs warm up when you get home before charging ? Last question,,,, where did you purchase them and have you spoke to them about this issue?

  4. #4
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    Pull the batteries out of the soft case and it will have the date they were made. My first battery died about the same as yours, maybe a little longer.
    '08 Turner Highline
    '00 DBR X6

  5. #5
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    Isn't the warranty on Lupine packs 2 years?

    If so, then your June 2010 pack should still be under warranty.

    On their site they say their battery packs should last 4-6 years and be able to perform in temperatures down to -25C. I'd call or email them.

    If you end up having to replace the batteries Open Light Systems sells replacement batteries for Lupine (UK Link).

    Open Light Systems U.S. Link

    One more thing...Do you have any friends that are into R/C (radio controlled) cars, helicopters, planes, boats, etc? Or, is there a R/C club near your home? Find someone with a good R/C charger that can determine the capacity of your packs. They'll need to be familiar with their brand of charger and be able to charge a 1S pack, which is how their charger will see your pack.

    Chances are that their charger is more sophisticated than what you've got from Lupine. You'll be able to get a complete report on the health of your pack. Just make sure that you get someone that understands how to Charge/Discharge a 1S 7.4 volt or 7.2 volt pack.

    It's very easy to make an adapter to be able to charge a Lupine battery from another lithium ion charger. Lupine uses standard Molex connectors. As good as Lupine is, they don't have a corner on the market for sophisticated charging algorithms. But, you have to be careful. You want to pick a charging program that can charge your battery at about 0.3C. Which means, multiply your battery capacity X 0.3. A 5.0 Ah battery should be charged at about 1.5 amps max. Yes, you can go higher, but it will shorten battery life.

    The male connector is this part number.

    The female connector (without rubber boot or cover) is this part number.

    I've made adapters so that I can use my light with other batteries (Lipo, LiFePO4, or the NEW Geomangear Magicshine lithium packs). Lipo and LiFePO4 are used by the R/C crowd. If you use Lipo and especially if you use LiFePO4 packs, any fuel gauge on the light will NOT be accurate as it's designed for the Lupine pack. The Lipo will be the closest.

    LiFePO4 is safer, not likely to vent with flame. It's very inexpensive to use. You said you keep track of price per use. LiFePO4 can be charged on average 1000 times. It can also be charged much faster, as can Lipo packs. I typically charge mine at 4A.

    Now for the cons for LiFePO4. It's heavier and is about 30-40% bigger for the same capacity.

    The nominal voltage per cell is 3.3 volts instead of 3.6 or 3.7 like lithium ion or Lipo. The advantage is that the discharge curve is relatively flat. In other words it stays at 3.3 volts for a very long percentage of time while you are using it. The lithium batteries in your Lupine pack have a discharge curve that looks like a moderate ski slope. While the Lupine pack starts at a higher voltage, about half way through the packs discharge cycle, the voltage of the Lupine pack and a typical LiFePO4 pack will be about the same.

    LiFePO4 makes a great water bottle battery. That's how I use mine. I use LiFePO4 flat packs from Hobbyking.com. LiFePO4 flat packs look just like Lipo packs.

    You wouldn't typically use LiFePO4 for a helmet light battery. Not unless you had a very efficient, low drain light that didn't need a lot of power and could use 2 18650 size LiFePO4 A123 cylindrical cells.

    LiFePO4 is great for a Water bottle battery because you're not carrying it on your head.

    Lipo batteries are certainly more powerful and lighter. They can also be dangerous if not handled properly. Ask the above mentioned R/C people about this. While you do need to be careful handling and charging Lipo packs, there are a few of the light builders on the DIY section of the lights forum that use these packs.

    One of the key reasons to use these packs is cost. Compared to Lupine, these packs seem almost free.

    A typical Lipo or LiFePO4 6.0 Ah (6000 mAh) pack will cost between $25-$35. Will have virtually no voltage sag at the highest power your light can be operated. Can be charged at least 2-10 times faster. Lipo packs (and LiFePO4) packs that meet the voltage requirements of Lupine are known as 2S, for 2 series. You'll also need an alarm or PCB to cut off the battery at the minimum low voltage. The alarm doesn't cut off, just notify.

    If you do decide on this route, not only will your warranty be void, but Lupine will probably turn your photo into a dart board.

    Good luck with your packs. I hope something works out for you.
    Last edited by ThinkBike; 01-20-2012 at 02:38 PM.

  6. #6
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    Thinkbike, excellent post, thanks for your time!

    Have just looked at the manufacturer date, the bad one is 03/09, the better one 03/08, which seems odd?! The 03/09 one might be from a bad batch, and the other might be legitimately coming to the end of its useful life.

    With regards to warranty, both my lights were purchased through friends in the trade, and whilst both were new, they were cash deals and I have no invoices as such. Said friends are unable to help either (not without trying mind you, Lupine are insistant on seeing a proof of purchase it seems).

    Thanks for the link to Openlight.de, could well be the best option.

    And with regards to chargers, I am not into RC toys, however I am now kicking myself as I used to have all the equipment to charge RC kit but sold it all a couple of years ago (before I dscovered night riding). I used to have a number of Triton2 and Overloader chargers as I used to recondition hybrid car batteries (honda insights and toyota gen 2 prius units) for a while for drinking money. A career change meant less spare time, hence letting them go. More the fool me!
    But I am familiar with their operation, and yes one would be far preferable to the Lupine unit which is best described as barely adequate. I might reinvest.

    I have not experimented with LiPo cells before, but thankyou for the detailed info. Very much food for thought.

    Thanks again

    Is there anyone one here with experiences of Openlight.de products that can offer a positive review?

  7. #7
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    I think It's 2 years on the lights and 180 days on the battery.
    '08 Turner Highline
    '00 DBR X6

  8. #8
    BBW
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    My oldest one was good in the 3 year mark until a drunken ride. I don't know if I pulled the cable or something like that because I was having excellent runtimes and then it just died. I haven't tested either to see if its the connector (most likely)
    I don't ever discharge them fully and never use the reserve; don't know if this matters though
    I recall seeing something in the lupine webpage that if you send your old battery you get a credit towards the new one FYI. You don't need a receipt for that
    Last edited by BBW; 01-18-2012 at 06:25 PM. Reason: ad info
    BBW. MS, RD

  9. #9
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    That's the only negative for Lupine to me is the battery cost.
    '08 Turner Highline
    '00 DBR X6

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by BBW View Post
    My oldest one was good in the 3 year mark until a drunken ride. I don't know if I pulled the cable or something like that because I was having excellent runtimes and then it just died. I haven't tested either to see if its the connector (most likely)
    I don't ever discharge them fully and never use the reserve; don't know if this matters though
    I recall seeing something in the lupine webpage that if you send your old battery you get a credit towards the new one FYI. You don't need a receipt for that
    This is true BBW, on the Lupine website it states 20% off towards the Smart Core, and 30% off towards the soft case. They provide a form to print off and send with the old battery. The Open light Systems Billysan, would also be another option as their supposed to use quality cells. Good luck.

  11. #11
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    Li ion batteries really are only good for about 3 years even if you never charge them - it's characteristic of the chemistry. Some go longer, but anything past that is bonus. When they die, the tend to die quickly. As they start to decrease in capacity, they will then start then do it quite quickly; the end is near. They start to die the day they are made so the date code you'd want to see is not the date code of the pack but the date code of the battery.

    J.

  12. #12
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    I have 2 750 batteries each running a betty. I probably have cycled mine 100 plus times in the past 14 months. No issues. Lupine lights rock!

  13. #13
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    I did a torture test for Gretna bikes a while back on the Lupine batteries and one from a open light systems (Open Light Systems Corporation | Batteries for Lupine). Both packs tested very well and did not see any degradation in performance or capacity. That being said I know the LiPoly cells have taken a hit with the Tsunami in Japan this past summer. Mfg for all goods have had to increase production in other fab houses keeping up with demand. If that is the case then I could see degraded performance if the pack came out of China. The Korean or Japanese batteries always tested high for reliability where the Chinese cells would degrade at a quicker rate.

    With out knowing exactly what you have it is only speculation. Just sharing industry experience working with Lithium cells.

  14. #14
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    My Lupine Piko 6 gets decent runtime. The published time is 4 hours at 750 lumens, and I've been seeing about 3 hours...but that is riding at temperatures around -10 to -15 degrees Celsius. I've actually never run them in temps much above 2 degrees, but I'm sure they would be very close to the advertised 4 hours when it was warmer out.

  15. #15
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    Well. My Lupine 4.5Ah battery is from April 2008, so almost 4 years old, and has been charged maybe 100-150 times. On my Betty 22W I get a runtime of 1hr 30min on 100%, what means that the battery more or less still has the full capacity like new. Take note!

    Also take note that Lupine Germany has a great support service. If you send it directly to the factory with the issue description, and they come to the conclusion that it might be a defective piece, I am almost sure it would be replaced. I had 2 cases with Lupine products with minor defects (2 lamp heads) which were far beyond the warranty cover, and they replaced/repaired them without discussion at their expense.

    regards

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by CHnuschti View Post
    I had 2 cases with Lupine products with minor defects (2 lamp heads) which were far beyond the warranty cover, and they replaced/repaired them without discussion at their expense.
    Man, this sort of customer service is just ace. It's things like this which really build brand loyalty with customers.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by jase.paluzzi View Post
    Man, this sort of customer service is just ace. It's things like this which really build brand loyalty with customers.
    i agree. i've thrown away enough junk in my life after no amount of arguing with the companies could resolve. i like brands like Lupine because they make excellent products that just work...but when things go wrong they step up and make it a painless experience.

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