Review: USB battery box 4x18650

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HKJ
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Review: USB battery box 4x18650

Review of USB battery box 4x18650 USB battery box 4x18650

DSC_1186

This battery box does not have a brand name, but can be found on ebay from a couple of dealers and the box exist in multiple colors. The specifications is something like:

  • Intelligent charging with indicator to show the charging status
  • Output current-limiting protection to avoid damage when over load
  • With identification resistor, can charge most cell phones as well as iPhone,ipad and other Apple products
  • Charging Input: 4.5-5.2V / 2A
  • Output: 5V / 2.5A
  • Color: black, red, white
  • Material: Plastic
  • Batteries: 1 to 4pcs of 18650 lithium batteries (not included)
  • Size (L x W xT): Approx. 10.5 x 8.2 x 2.2 cm


As usual the specifications are not entirely correct.

How does it look

DSC_1185

I got it in a envelope with bubble wrap around the box, it did only include the box, there was no cables or batteries included.

DSC_1189 DSC_1188

On one side of the box there is 3 small leds and a push button, this shows the charge state and if the box is turned on the white led on the front will increase in brightness giving enough light to connect something to the box, even if its dark.

DSC_1187

Most of the controls are placed on this side of the box.

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The topside of the box does not have any features, on the bottom side is two screws, remove them and the box can be opened. This means that a screwdriver is required to replace the batteries!

DSC_1192 DSC_1544 DSC_1545

The box uses 18650 batteries and can work with 1 to 4 batteries. The length is limited to 68.3 mm, i.e. it will work with unprotected and very short protected batteries. But as can be seen from my measurements, there is no reason to use protected batteries in this box.
When using multiple batteries, remember that they must have the same voltage when put into the box, easiest way to do this is to charge all batteries first.

DSC_1193 DSC_1194

With the electronic plainly visible, lets take a close look on it (Click the picture for large version).

Operation of the box

DSC_1193b

Here I have labeled all the controls.

  • "Activation switch" will reconnect the batteries, this is used when new batteries are put into the box, it might also be required after a overload. When the box is connected to a charger it will automatic reconnect the batteries
  • "Charge indicator" will be red during most of the charging, but will change to green when nearly finished with charging and stay green, even when fully charged.
  • "USB input" is input from a USB power supply/charger, this charger must be able to deliver a lot of current. The connector is a mini USB.
  • "USB output" 5 volt output for charging USB equipment.
  • "Input" another 5 volt charge input.
  • "Output indicator", is on when box is turned on, will increase brightness when "Show power state switch" is pressed.
  • "Output on", turn on the box, i.e. the 5 volt output. This switch will not work if the batteries are in a disconnected state.
  • "Show power state switch" will use the 3 colored leds to show the voltage of the batteries and also increase brightness in the "Output indicator".
  • "Power State", show the battery voltage: Red led: 3.3 volt, Green led:3.8 volt, Blue led: 4.0 volt.
  • "Current limit", set the current limit for the USB output, see the pictures:
    DSC_1654
    2A (See measurements below).
    DSC_1655
    1A
    DSC_1656
    0.5A




Generally the box is very easy to use: Put batteries in it, press the activation switch, close the box. Turn it on and connect some USB equipment to be charged.
When the batteries is empty, they can either be replaced or the box can be charged from a mains powered USB charger.



Measurements

  • In battery disconnected state the box uses about 50uA from the battery.
  • With battery connected and switch off the box uses about 2mA (This is about eight months with a full load of 3100mAh batteries).
  • With box turned on, but nothing connected to USB out the box uses up to 7mA (This is about two months with a full load of 3100mAh batteries).
  • The box will disconnect the batteries when the voltage is 2.9 volt (Measured with no load).



USB%20Battery%20box%20A%20load%20sweep

A load sweep with the jumper in the 2A position, the box will reduce current, but not turn off at 2A load.

USB%20Battery%20box%20B%20load%20sweep

Jumper in 1A position

USB%20Battery%20box%20C%20load%20sweep

Jumper in 0.5A position

In all cases the USB output connector is coded as an Apple 1A charger.

All the following curves are done with the jumper in the 2A position.

USB%20Battery%20box%20%231%20USB%20out%202.5%20ohm%20(PA18650-31)

With the above load sweep it looks like the box will handle 2A, this is equal to a 2.5 ohm load.
This is not very impressive, the output did only work for 13 minutes. Maybe more batteries will work better.

USB%20Battery%20box%20%231%20USB%20out%202.5%20ohm%20(4xPA18650-31)

Oops, only 2 minutes with 4 batteries and 2A load

USB%20Battery%20box%20%231%20USB%20out%204%20ohm%20(4xPA18650-31)

A few tests later I found out that 4 ohms (1.25 ampere) works much better.

USB%20Battery%20box%20%231%20USB%20out%205%20ohm%20(PA18650-31)

1A with a single 18650 battery does also works fine.

USB%20Battery%20box%20%231%20USB%20out%2010%20ohm%20(4xPA18650-31)

0.5A with 4 batteries, does really show what the box can do: 13 hours!

USB%20Battery%20box%20%231%20USB%20out%2010%20ohm%20(PA18650-31)

With a single 18650 3100mAh it runs nearly 3 hours.

USB%20Battery%20box%20%231%20USB%20out%2010%20ohm%20(BE18650-26)

But a single 2600mAh does also run nearly 3 hours. The higher voltage of this battery is the reason for this.

usb%20box%20noise

When running with 1.25 ampere there is a lot of noise in the output (About 163 mV rms).

usb%20box%20noise%200.5A

Reducing the current to 0.5A does also reduce the noise (it is 77mV RMS).

USB%20Battery%20box%20%231%20USB%20charge%20(PA18650-31)

The build in battery charger starts at around 1.7A and will slowly drop during charge and terminate the charge when the current is down to about 50mA. This is not a CC/CV charge, but except for charge time (That is much longer) it is just as good.
With the high current it needs a USB power supply/charger with a rated 2A output to charge, but because the current is reduced very early in the charge cycle, the charge time will be long.
The yellow line indicates where the led changes from red to green.

USB%20Battery%20box%20%231%20USB%20charge%20(4xPA18650-31)

With 4 batteries the led will change to green after about 9 hours and the charge will be finished after about 12 hours.



Conclusion

I like the idea behind this box, using standard 18650 LiIon batteries to make a USB power supply/charger. The box has many good details, but also a couple of things that could be improved.
What I would like to see improved is less noise in the output voltage, an indicator showing when the battery is fully charged and faster charging (i.e. close to a CC/CV curve). More current would also be nice, but to really use that I would need one more USB output connector.
I like that it will never over discharge batteries, battery indicator and that is can be used as a flashlight.



Notes

Read more about how I test USB power supplies and chargers

My website with reviews of many chargers and batteries (More than 1000): https://lygte-info.dk/

Edited by: sb56637 on 06/25/2015 - 11:41
djozz
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Nice review, thanks. It is a really useful item for something that cheap (that is: without the batteries, those are most expensive).

And a review request Smile: could you do some of these measurements on the Jinheng 12A (3x18650 flashlight/USB-charger) sometime? It is sold under various names and reviewed already e few months ago (here), but none of these type of measurements were done. (I am happy to send you mine -bought from Fasttech- to be reviewed, but it is a bit modified, the battery springs were shortened to fit protected batteries, and the XM-L  is replaced by a warmwhite one).

ruffles
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As always, very useful. Thanks for taking the time and trouble to bring us this information — it’s very much appreciated.


 

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Was waiting for this one. Thank you for the review!

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That Ninja Guy wrote:
Was waiting for this one. Thank you for the review!

Same here; much appreciated !

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Werner
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Thanks for the nice review.
I have a similiar but way different box, you can cut the springs to use protected batteries.

HKJ
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djozz wrote:
And a review request Smile: could you do some of these measurements on the Jinheng 12A (3x18650 flashlight/USB-charger) sometime? It is sold under various names and reviewed already e few months ago (here), but none of these type of measurements were done. (I am happy to send you mine -bought from Fasttech- to be reviewed, but it is a bit modified, the battery springs were shortened to fit protected batteries, and the XM-L  is replaced by a warmwhite one).

I have ordered one, know I must see if I get time to do a review Smile

My website with reviews of many chargers and batteries (More than 1000): https://lygte-info.dk/

dchomak
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Thanks for the review. Werner, I read on one of the specs of this box NOT to use protected cells, that it would damage the box.

HKJ
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Werner wrote:
I have a similiar but way different box, you can cut the springs to use protected batteries.

There is no reason to use protected batteries with the box, the automatic disconnect works fine for that.

My website with reviews of many chargers and batteries (More than 1000): https://lygte-info.dk/

Werner
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I have reason, becasue I have a lot protected cells way more than unprotected…
I can’t imagine how protected cells can damage the box…?
The only thing which “could” happen is that the cellcircuit has a higher low voltage protection than the box, but the box switch off at 2.9V.
And even that would do any real harm on the box or cells.

HKJ
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Werner wrote:
I have reason, becasue I have a lot protected cells way more than unprotected... I can't imagine how protected cells can damage the box...?

I agree, as long as you have the batteries and they fit, I cannot see any reason to not use them.

The voltage drop in the protection might make the box disconnect earlier, but that is not a big problem.

My website with reviews of many chargers and batteries (More than 1000): https://lygte-info.dk/

Flomotion
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Would you supply us a link to the most promising one? Thanks.

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Flomotion wrote:
Would you supply us a link to the most promising one? Thanks.

Who supplying a link to what?

My website with reviews of many chargers and batteries (More than 1000): https://lygte-info.dk/

dchomak
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I tried to imagine why also, could they mean physical damage if they are too long?

Here is the link to the site that claims electrical damage will result. This type of box was asked about here on BLF before

Ebay link

djozz
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HKJ wrote:

djozz wrote:
And a review request Smile: could you do some of these measurements on the Jinheng 12A (3x18650 flashlight/USB-charger) sometime? It is sold under various names and reviewed already e few months ago (here), but none of these type of measurements were done. (I am happy to send you mine -bought from Fasttech- to be reviewed, but it is a bit modified, the battery springs were shortened to fit protected batteries, and the XM-L  is replaced by a warmwhite one).

I have ordered one, know I must see if I get time to do a review Smile

Looking forward to that! Smile
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2xTP4056 chip for charging?

HKJ
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nekdo12 wrote:
2xTP4056 chip for charging?

No, look at the charge curve. You can also look that the large version of the PCB photos (Click on the small photo) and see if you can find a TP4056.

My website with reviews of many chargers and batteries (More than 1000): https://lygte-info.dk/

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Thanks HKJ.

"In the land of the blond the one eyed man is king."

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Looks like there are a couple of variants:

Round 5V input

MiniUSB input

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Shadowww
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And not a single one with micro-USB input.. quite a shame, considering that most electronics are moving to microUSB nowadays (phones, tablets, mp3 players, etc)

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Shadowww wrote:
And not a single one with micro-USB input.. quite a shame, considering that most electronics are moving to microUSB nowadays (phones, tablets, mp3 players, etc)

These ones have a micro USB charging input:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/170922299583

I just got mine, and seems to work as expected.

Will do a review upon request.

Cheers!

BLF ≠ B-grade Flashlight Forum

 

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ryansoh3 wrote:

Will do a review upon request. Cheers!

 

Please

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ryansoh3 wrote:
Shadowww wrote:
And not a single one with micro-USB input.. quite a shame, considering that most electronics are moving to microUSB nowadays (phones, tablets, mp3 players, etc)

These ones have a micro USB charging input:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/170922299583

I just got mine, and seems to work as expected.

Will do a review upon request.

Cheers!

Review requested Smile

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Added to my to-do list, cheers!

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HKJ
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Suncoaster wrote:
Looks like there are a couple of variants: "Round 5V input":http://www.ebay.com/itm/280996213277 "MiniUSB input":http://www.ebay.com/itm/181059058196[/quote]

The one I tested has both round and mini usb input, but you are right, there is many different version of it.

My website with reviews of many chargers and batteries (More than 1000): https://lygte-info.dk/

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HKJ wrote:

Suncoaster wrote:
Looks like there are a couple of variants: Round 5V input MiniUSB input one I tested has both round and mini usb input, but you are right, there is many different version of it.

All above box chargers are for 4 cells. May I suggest you HKJ to test something for 2 cells? For example this one:
http://www.fasttech.com/products/1421/10002784/1207400-enb-218650-li-ion...

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wikiman wrote:
HKJ wrote:

Suncoaster wrote:
Looks like there are a couple of variants: Round 5V input MiniUSB input one I tested has both round and mini usb input, but you are right, there is many different version of it.

All above box chargers are for 4 cells. May I suggest you *HKJ * to test something for 2 cells? For example this one:
http://www.fasttech.com/products/1421/10002784/1207400-enb-218650-li-ion...


+1
That looks pretty cool and a bit more pocketable.
HKJ
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wikiman wrote:
All above box chargers are for 4 cells. May I suggest you *HKJ * to test something for 2 cells? For example this one: http://www.fasttech.com/products/1421/10002784/1207400-enb-218650-li-ion...

 

I do already have one for two cells, but the one you linked to looks good, I have ordered it.

Now the question is if get time to do the reviews Smile (Next item is a Soshine charge).

My website with reviews of many chargers and batteries (More than 1000): https://lygte-info.dk/

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wikiman wrote:
All above box chargers are for 4 cells. May I suggest you HKJ to test something for 2 cells? For example this one:
http://www.fasttech.com/products/1421/10002784/1207400-enb-218650-li-ion...
Oh wow, this could be best looking one of all 2-battery boxes I’ve seen to date. Going to order one for myself.. because the 6×18650 box is just too big in some situations Silly
wikiman
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Quote:
the one you linked to looks good,

That’s only why I mentioned about it.
Thanks HKJ Smile
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ryansoh3 wrote:
These ones have a micro USB charging input: http://www.ebay.com/itm/170922299583 I just got mine, and seems to work as expected.

I’ve already got 3 of these too, all three works fine, but cannot say anything about “2A”. etc… charging two devices at one time as expected – and this is main point Smile

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