How important is USB charging on a light?

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patmurris
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How important is USB charging on a light?
I don't want it - extra cost and space, waterproofness...
33% (46 votes)
I don't need if but i don't mind if there is the capability
23% (32 votes)
I'd rather have it but don't trust the onboard charger
5% (7 votes)
I want it on lights i plan to give away or gift
16% (23 votes)
I absolutly want it on all my new lights
23% (32 votes)
Total votes: 140
Edited by: patmurris on 01/12/2021 - 08:23
zoulas
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IMHO, its the dumbest feature a light can have, There is no substitute for a quality external charger or for carrying spare batteries. The built in chargers are typically poor quality and either over or under charge. Not to mention its a direct entry point for water.

patmurris
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Hi all and happy new year!

Onboard USB charging is somewhat new to flashlights and i believe it is a game changer.

Before that you had to have a dedicated charger that can handle properly Li-ion cells, and each time you needed to recharge a light, you had to open up the light, take out the cell(s), handle them with care, insert them into the charger, keep an eye on the charging process, then put back the cell(s) into the light in the right position and reassemble the light… Imagine you had to do that with your phone…

This has prevented me to give away or gift many of the great lights we have had the past years because it is too complicated and involved for most people – and potentially dangerous.

So how important is it for you as of 2021?

tatasal
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zoulas wrote:
IMHO, its the dumbest feature a light can have, There is no substitute for a quality external charger or for carrying spare batteries. The built in chargers are typically poor quality and either over or under charge.

Well,.in a usb-charger light, you still have the option to take out the cell/s for external charging if you wish to go this way…unless you have the Olight Baton SRII whose factory cell is designed not to be charged with an outboard charger.

ferthur
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tatasal wrote:
unless you have the Olight Baton SRII whose factory cell is designed not to be charged with an outboard charger.

Not just the SRII, but several newer Olights are using proprietary cells, and it’s my biggest complaint with integrated charging. There’s no need to do it, and replacement cells are much, much more expensive.

twisted raven
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I’m not a fan. It typically adds size, complexity, cost, and lessens water resistance and/or durability.

agent80
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There’s times where I just have the light on me. USB charging is an absolute must for me.

tatasal
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ferthur wrote:
tatasal wrote:
unless you have the Olight Baton SRII whose factory cell is designed not to be charged with an outboard charger.

Not just the SRII, but several newer Olights are using proprietary cells, and it’s my biggest complaint with integrated charging. There’s no need to do it, and replacement cells are much, much more expensive.

That makes it worse, yet I am generally a fan of USB rechargeable lights but utilize regular, non-proprietary cells where l can charge outboard if l wish to.

JamesB
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zoulas wrote:
The built in chargers are typically poor quality and either over or under charge.

Interesting, could you point to any data about that ?

zoulas
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JamesB wrote:
zoulas wrote:
The built in chargers are typically poor quality and either over or under charge.

Interesting, could you point to any data about that ?

Yes:

https://budgetlightforum.com/

slmjim
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I trust built-in charging less than I trust those generic single-cell USB chargers that often come with lights.  Manufacturers of quality multi-cell chargers devote much time & resources to developing charge control algorithms and hardware for good reasons; safety, efficiency and cell longevity.

 

There's no way to 'keep an eye on' a cell as it charges sealed within a light.  If the cell charging inside a light begins to misbehave, vent or otherwise go nuclear, the light it's charging within becomes a potential bomb sitting on one's desk or kitchen counter.  Nope.  Not for me.

 

If I'm on the fence about a light I think I want that happens to have onboard charging, that feature becomes a minor strike against it in my yes/no decision to buy it.

 

slmjim

Great... Carnac the Magnificent tells me I just signed up for yet another expensive hobby.

Smile! It makes others wonder what you've been up to.

Chicken Drumstick
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patmurris wrote:
Hi all and happy new year!

Onboard USB charging is somewhat new to flashlights and i believe it is a game changer.

Before that you had to have a dedicated charger that can handle properly Li-ion cells, and each time you needed to recharge a light, you had to open up the light, take out the cell(s), handle them with care, insert them into the charger, keep an eye on the charging process, then put back the cell(s) into the light in the right position and reassemble the light… Imagine you had to do that with your phone…

This has prevented me to give away or gift many of the great lights we have had the past years because it is too complicated and involved for most people – and potentially dangerous.

So how important is it for you as of 2021?


In built charging has been around for years, so not really new. I have an Olight, Poplight and a few others. although I’ve never used the in built charging on these. And don’t think I would on any multi cell light.

I also suspect it is a false fallacy to believe they are safer and fit for gifting to people who are unable to use a regular external charger.

kramer5150
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As long as there are light designs without it… I will always chose that. I have several ways to charge cells outside the light body so integral charging is useless for me.

If something fails either in the cell or the charge circuit, I do not want the cell contained within the light. It needs ample space to vent and flame properly. Furthermore, if its charged outside the light I can manually/accurately monitor cell temperature.

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patmurris wrote:
Hi all and happy new year!

Onboard USB charging is somewhat new to flashlights and i believe it is a game changer.

Before that you had to have a dedicated charger that can handle properly Li-ion cells, and each time you needed to recharge a light, you had to open up the light, take out the cell(s), handle them with care, insert them into the charger, keep an eye on the charging process, then put back the cell(s) into the light in the right position and reassemble the light… Imagine you had to do that with your phone…

This has prevented me to give away or gift many of the great lights we have had the past years because it is too complicated and involved for most people – and potentially dangerous.

So how important is it for you as of 2021?

Wait…… So what powers your remote for TV or keyfob for cars ? And Sealed phones are somewhat “new” to the scene too Apple changed the game with their sealed phones Samgsung used to boldly market they could remove battery and replace it and I enjoyed that having a spare I could swap in easily… Hell IF phones today had a replaceable battery people would generally continue using the device longer cause that’s normally the first part that degrades and fails.

Perception
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If I’m deciding between a light with onboard charging and a light without, I’ll take the light without it every time. Micro USB and proprietary batteries are an absolute no go. I’ll begrudgingly accept USB-C or magnetic charging, but I’d generally prefer just not having them.

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Chicken Drumstick wrote:
I also suspect it is a false fallacy to believe they are safer and fit for gifting to people who are unable to use a regular external charger.

It’s a false fallacy, so it’s true?

jon_slider
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I do not like on board charging, I prefer to have a spare battery available.

on board charging means I cannot use the light, while it is being used as a charger. That was the first realization that led me to not rely on onboard charging.

on board charging creates the likelyhood that a light will be left on charge, unattended. Bad idea.

on board charging makes it more likely the light will be given as a gift, to someone with no prior, nor subsequent, training and education in LiIon safety.

on board charging is a bit like tailstanding.. people want the light to have those features, “just in case”. But like onboard charging, tailstanding creates the possibility that an untrained user will leave a light unattended, while it overheats.

the convenience of on board charging, leads to the potential for several unsafe practices, by uneducated operators.

G0OSE
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Lets not forget the quality of seperate chargers here. I recently bought one of those $7.99 Astrolux powerbank/charger combo’s, it consistently undercharges and I have to finish them in my Nitecore. Waste of time tbh – it has it’s uses, charging fully is not at the top of it’s list though.
That said, it doesn’t overcharge which is at least a good thing, I think.

Helo
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patmurris wrote:
Hi all and happy new year!

*Onboard USB charging is somewhat new to flashlights and i believe it is a game changer. *

Before that you had to have a dedicated charger that can handle properly Li-ion cells, and each time you needed to recharge a light, you had to open up the light, take out the cell(s), handle them with care, insert them into the charger, keep an eye on the charging process, then put back the cell(s) into the light in the right position and reassemble the light… Imagine you had to do that with your phone…

This has prevented me to give away or gift many of the great lights we have had the past years because it is too complicated and involved for most people – and potentially dangerous.

So how important is it for you as of 2021?

Absolutely agree! My wife and I walk the dog every night for at least an hour. We live in a rural area where the only light is what we carry, so both of us wear headlamps and I bring along the Cat V6 as well. That’s 3 lights that get a good workout and have cells that definitely need topping up before the next night’s outing. I have an MC3000, and while it’s a decent enough charger (most of the time Facepalm ), it’s so much more convenient to just plug the lights in and charge directly. Removing tail-caps and setting charge parameters is fine occasionally but not something I want to mess with every night on multiple lights. Then there’s the wear-n-tear saved on tail-cap threads, springs and charger slots. So yea, I’m a fan for sure.

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I would imagine that if cell phone batteries had to be removed, charged and replaced daily, people would be screwing it up in great proportions compared to just plugging them in.

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I really like USB charge and often include a charging circuit in my build. it makes life so much easier.
At home, when preparing for a trip i use a multi-port quality charger to charge all my cells. 
But on the field I use the USB charge option for charging from a power bank or a car plug.
Having a USB charging is a big advantage in my opinion 

I also have 1 cell with an internal USB charger to use in lights without charging board, unfortunately these cells are low capacity  

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Don’t need it and I don’t want to pay for it.

With ~25 chargers here, I’ve got things covered.

Chris

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When gifting a light… I want the USB charging since muggles like simple.

When using the light myself… I LIKE USB charging for my typical EDC and occasional use lights around the house.

But for larger lights (mostly throwers) or multi-battery lights I’ll use the charger to keep things in check.

My two most used lights the last six months have been the SC31 Pro (wife’s go-to), and my IF25a. Both are parked at the USB charging station for our phones and ipads. Both are grabbed almost nightly for whatever: walking dog, going out back to check on X-mas light (lately), etc.

Take them on the road, charge them on the drive. Gather a few up once every few month, put them on the USB charging station.

All of my USB lights charge between 4.15-4.2V and that is enough for what I use them for. I’d take my Sofirns or Convoys out in rain without hesitation. But I always make sure to completely press the rubber seal into them every time I take them out of the charger.

My D25s headlamps ARE the best USB charging lights I’ve owned for almost three tears now. Without USB charging they’d not get used by the 10 or so people I’ve gifted them to. And I love the USB port’s position under the cap- I to this day don’t see why everyone doesn’t feel it to be the super light it is— but hey… keep the price down I guess.

To each their own, but for me… I’ll take USB charging on about any single cell light (AND Anduril!!!!!)

ZappaMan

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totally subjective – i do not need it for what i want to do

it can be a problem – the current limit is probably set to one value
usually that limits charge speed – when/if you need that

wle

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Built-in charger is very handy for first time flashlight owners, so important that it could be a deal breaker.

Even for enthusiasts , an EDC light with built-in charger is useful, because that means I can travel everywhere with it without having to carry a charger around.

Charging Li-ion battery really is a very mature technology, I have no reason to think that the built-in USB chargers are of inferior quality when compared to say power banks.

As for waterproofing, I just remind myself that all the waterproof smart phones out there also has a usb/lightning port, all that is needed is a rubber gasket around the port to keep it sealed. Armytek’s USB chargable flashlights are rated at IPx8 10 meters underwater.

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I would always choose a non chargeable light over a USB chargeable one. For me it’s no trouble taking the battery out, gives you a change to check the battery and inside of the light right away.

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I like to travel light, so when I do, the light I can plug into the same cable/adapter that I’m already bringing to recharge my electronic devices will be the light I take, not the one that needs its own charger to accompany it.

Not a question of right/wrong or either/or, but selecting the appropriate option for the duty at hand.

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I’m still evaluating it but I think it’s good for topping up a battery after every use. Without USB charging I tend to recharge the battery less and I deal with flat batteries more often. For soda can lights it’s definitely less work to plug in a USB cable than charge the batteries in an external charger. For camping it can be a handy feature, although not actually necessary if you have spare batteries or a USB powered charger.

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I like my D4 best for EDC but it is not USB rechargeable. Last trip I took it along with a rechargeable OTR U18 which is. this way I killed 3 birds with one stone, spare light, spare cell and charger.

richbuff
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There are advantages and disadvantages of usb charging flashlight, and not usb charging the cells. It's nice to have the option, and it's nice to have the simplicity of the host that comes with not having the option. I can't make up my mind, so like other variables, usb charging or lack thereof is not important to me when selecting a new light. Some of my new lights have it, some don't.

Because I like big lights, my flashlightical views lean heavily toward both the extreme bright and the extreme heft.

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patmurris wrote:

This has prevented me to give away or gift many of the great lights we have had the past years because it is too complicated and involved for most people – and potentially dangerous.

That’s it. Many years ago the Eagle Eye X2R was my only option for an inexpensive gift to someone in need of a hassle-free allrounder. It’s still in use, indoor and outdoor. I gave it away with a protected Keeppower battery.

There are also arguments for non-standard connectors like Olight/Armytek magnetic charging systems. Mostly arguments for those having just one flashlight or a range of flashlights from one manufacturer that ain’t shelf queens but see constant usage and recharging (headlamps for runners see lots of usage in the dark season).

Smile, you cannot kill them all.

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