Why 18650 batteries are the best for preppers...

Discussion in 'Preparedness' started by lopie, Nov 11, 2018.

  1. lopie

    lopie Scout

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    I wanted to pass along something that I only learned a year ago...

    laptop computers have a battery pack which contain 4-8 "batteries" or what people who know call "cells". These cells are the 18650 batteries.

    If the SHTF real bad and you live near other people, there might be a million of these batteries probably half charged. You'll need to figure out how to extract them, but I've already extracted 20 18650 batteries from my dead laptops. Please note, there are warnings on the internet about dangers of extracting these batteries, so maybe search for more info before doing so?

    I have no relationship with any products I mention. I bought a couple of these Hatori 18650 flashlights for $8 and they work great...

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00RRKEQ3S/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    This fan uses 18650 batteries, so if you're hot, this would help, but also, it acts as a powerbank so you can put in the laptop batteries to charge other devices. I have not used that fan, but have one similar to it.

    I also bought some empty powerbanks from banggood that I could put these batteries in and use them to charge up phones/tablets. If you have a powerbank with batteries in them, but your solar panels died or you have none, you might be able to swap out the laptop batteries you extracted and continue to power your phone/tablet.

    Thought I'd pass along this info that might be new to some of you as a million batteries that most people don't know have value could help you.
     
  2. Paulyseggs

    Paulyseggs Supporter Supporter

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    Ya know. Thats some pretty cool outta the box thinking .

    Im not tech savy .And these things dont ever cross my mind .:dblthumb:
     
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  3. K7JLJ

    K7JLJ Tracker

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    Be sure to fuse them as they are unprotected and can explode with a short circuit.

    Be very careful when trying to disassemble a batt pack.

    Also helps to have a multimeter and know how to ID a dead or dying cell so you do not parallel it with a good one, they need to be balanced unless you are using a BMS board.

    For use as a single cell flashlight batt in an emergency it's a good plan. I run all lights with them and have solar setups to recharge them, but buy Panasonics as the batt pack I tore apart had mostly dead or defective cells and short charged.

    In SHTF there would be a lot of good ones in laptops though.
     
  4. clanmaki

    clanmaki Hobbyist Hobbyist Supporter

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    @K7JLJ what do you mean by “fuse them”? I am A total layman here.
     
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  5. K7JLJ

    K7JLJ Tracker

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    I mean, just have a fuse on the output side of your batt bank to whatever load you are using. Just for overcurrent protection, unlike a AA batt, the 18650 can develop a lot of current and heat on a short. People sometimes forget how much current these can put out and run them direct drive to their load without protection. Ask me how I know. :)
     
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  6. lopie

    lopie Scout

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    excellent advice; however, in my limited use and the applications that i recommend to everyone here, I only have devices that accept un-fused 18650 batteries... flash lights, fans, and powerbanks that are puchased empty, so they are already fused devices or don't need a fuse or something. I'm switching over to 18650 for all my devices where possible... especially devices that can double as a powerbank (like my mini fan). I also have a 21w solar panel and powerbank.

    I bought six empty powerbanks that use one battery each from banggood for $2 each. I bought six knowing how these things work and yup, half of them arrived broken. I keep the three good empty powerbanks in my Bug-Out Bag so I can harvest 18650s and keep my phones and tablets charged.

    I also downloaded about 30Gb worth of survival books (medicine, food, bushcraft, etc.) over the years and have all that info duplicated between the phones in my family.

    I also have about 20 hours worth of movies and cartoons for my kids when boredom sets in and it's too dangerous to go to play, especially if we bugged-out to someplace I don't know.
     
  7. K7JLJ

    K7JLJ Tracker

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  8. sniperbait1

    sniperbait1 Scout

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    @lopie and @K7JLJ thanks for the info I'll be on the lookout for laptop batteries to experiment with.
     
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  9. blind & lost

    blind & lost Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I have two of the flashlights which use the 18650 batteries, and also a small desk fan, which I'm pleased with. IIRC the same batteries are used in the battery packs for power drills, saws, etc.
     
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  10. Odinborn

    Odinborn Supporter Supporter

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    My work surrounds me with Milwaukee cordless tools, and every single time one of the batteries stops holding a charge we are allowed to break the battery pack apart to remove the 18650 cells. It needs to be done semi-carefully, but now I have a good (30+) 18650 rechargeable batteries in my toolbox. I don't know about other brands of batteries packs, but the ones in Milwaukee are Samsung stamped, 20R or 15R
     
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  11. gohammergo

    gohammergo I like sharp things.... Supporter

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    Yeah, I am surprised at how many people don't know about this. I have one flashlight that uses a single battery and when I took apart a laptop power supply, I think I ended up with 8 batteries? Maybe more, I don't remember now.

    I have several more packs to take apart yet too. :)
     
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  12. Gumbi

    Gumbi Guide Bushclass I

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    It might not be a bad idea to print out some of those books so that you have a hard copy!
     
  13. MountainWanderer

    MountainWanderer Supporter Supporter

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    18650 batteries are my favorites for use in my flashlights and headlamps. I own quite a few of them. I was aware that they are used in laptop computers.

    I would caution anyone who might want to experiment with these laptop batteries to do their homework. Toxic chemicals off gassed from such batteries have been known to cause serious long term damage to health. They are not something to fool with unless you choose to thoroughly inform yourself first.
     
  14. WY_Not

    WY_Not Supporter Supporter

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    Curious, if the battery pack is no longer holding a charge why would it be worth keeping once broken apart?

     
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  15. Odinborn

    Odinborn Supporter Supporter

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    Usually when one of the battery packs starts losing its charge quick, it is only one of the cells that is bad. I just throw all 3 into a battery charger and then take a multimeter to each one afterwards.
     
  16. kronin323

    kronin323 Supporter Supporter

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    I also use a lot of 18650, one of my favorite cells.

    Lithium Ion (LiOn) batteries require specific handling compared to the old alkaline ones we're used to. There is typically electronic protection in laptops, power tools to avoid misuse. When you extract those cells they are unprotected and you must have the knowledge to handle them properly manually.

    It is possible to buy protected cell 18650. They have a little integrated circuit that protects against overcharging, over-discharging, short circuit, over current draw, and overheating. There are also some electronic devices like some flashlights that include this protection but not all. If you don't know how to manually prevent those situations from occurring, you're better off staying away from unprotected cells.

    A middle ground is to add a protection circuit to your harvested unprotected 18650s. There's some how-to youtube out there.
     
  17. lopie

    lopie Scout

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    It's cheaper to wait for survival \ homesteading books to go on sale at thriftbooks.Com

    I have a dozen such hardcopies... But the digital files are for when bugging out means limited resources
     
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  18. The Woodsrunner

    The Woodsrunner Possum Hobbyist

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    Somehow I have a hunch that in a real "bugout" situation, all that weight of electronics gizmos will end up laying beside the road.
     
  19. lopie

    lopie Scout

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    edit: nevermind, i don't want to derail the point of this thread. thanks for your feedback.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2018
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  20. squishware

    squishware Troubleshooter Supporter

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    Be careful with Lithium Ion cells during charging as they are designed to VENT FLAME if overheated or overcharged.
     
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  21. reppans

    reppans Scout

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    Reminds me of one the CPF battery guru's Li-ion charging station... he places it inside a large/thick clay plant pot with a sand bag (plastic garbage bag) suspended over it - especially when testing low budget and harvested batteries. + 3 to the warnings the folks made above, there's a good 'smoke and fire' sub-forum at CPF to get sense of what happens. These things are quite safe as a fully integrated manufacturer systems (device, battery, charger) but separate those pieces and introduce the human element (especially budget constrained), and all bets are off.

    That said, harvesting dead laptops to vampire any remaining 18650 juice in an emergency is fine, but unless you have a volt meter, I would stick to only discharging and a single cell at a time while keeping tabs on temp.

    The best scenario is that you already use an 18650 in your flashlight that you know is a good a cell. Add a 1-ish oz hide-in-your-fist Li-ion USB charger/bank (eg, Nitecore F1 or Klarus CH1) and you will be able to USB charge your 18650 day-to-day, and/or battery bank it to your phone. Add a couple grams of magnets (I use Bucky Balls) and you can also use it to battery bank alkaline cells (AA or larger, 3 in series) to 5V USB or charge NiMHs. I can harvest more AAs than 18650s in my home, just from remotes and thermostats. Add another 1 oz hide-in-your-fist 12V USB car charger, and you'll be be able to tap into all those stranded out-of-gas cars littering the streets (jury rig direct to the batt. if lighter sockets are switched) to charge 18650s or gadgets. My flashlight has buck and boost drivers so I can power it efficiently from any battery (eg, 9V, D, 18650).... but again, it is advisable to know what you are doing and learn where the problems occur when jury rigging batteries.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2018
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  22. gohammergo

    gohammergo I like sharp things.... Supporter

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    There is a lot to these batteries for sure. I have a charger that charges them one at a time, and my flashight only uses one battery. I haven't had any troubles with the scavenged batteries at all, but I don't use them much either.
     
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  23. JasonJ

    JasonJ Guide

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    I probably have 100+ salvaged 18650 cells from laptops. Just don't use them in parallel without a protection circuit and don't over charge or over discharge them and you'll probably be OK.

    Also, if one happens to catch fire or vent with flame, sand is about the only thing you're going to have on hand to extinguish it. Water will make it worse and many household extinguishers won't work well on lithium fires.

    A lot of power contained within a single 18650 cell.
     
  24. P40

    P40 Scout

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    I thought I would mention a possible solution for concerns about non-protected cell use.
    So far I have only used consumer sold protected cells. I am curious as to what others more informed about non-protected cell use think of the product below. Please let me know!

    I am currently looking at adding a product to my kit from Fenix that is basically a charger / discharger & holder for 18650 cells that is just a little larger than a single cell, and has several built-in protection features.

    This is only usable to single cells of course. I just remember seeing this discussion and the concern about non-protected cells, when I came across this new product and wanted to share.

    I have seen and owned some similar products before now, but were open faced and were only suitable for stationary use on a surface (open on at least one side) while in use. They also didn't have some of the protection feature this product has. This is the first I have seen that has some form of built in enclosure as well as built in usb cable for portable use.

    Currently I only see it available as a kit with a 18650 battery, but still a good value in my opinion.
    Fenix ARE-X11 18650 Battery Charging Kit
    https://www.fenix-store.com/fenix-are-x11-18650-battery-charging-kit/


    Specifications
    Mini USB cable included
    4 LED battery status indicators
    Each one stands for roughly 25% power
    Micro-computer chip controlled
    Digitally regulated charging to extend battery life
    Short-circuit protection
    Over-current protection
    Over-voltage protection
    Reverse-polarity protection
    Includes battery protection cover
     
  25. 45jack

    45jack Supporter Supporter

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    Good information
     
  26. kronin323

    kronin323 Supporter Supporter

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    Though that is a sufficient feature set (as most name brand chargers have) for unprotected cells, the reverse polarity protection might make it unsuitable. Sometimes "reverse polarity protection" isn't fancy circuitry, it's a physical design of the enclosure that will only allow a button top to make contact (and close the circuit) if oriented correctly. This means it won't work with 18650 lacking a button top which is the case with most unprotected cells, especially ones harvested from larger battery packs. Note the 18650 paired with it in the ad has a button top.

    I would reach out to Fenix customer support to verify it works on 18650 without a button top. My money is on it will not. But I could be wrong.

    Alternatively, for less than half the price you could get a Xtar VC2 plus which is so much more flexible, supporting like a dozen different LiOn sizes as well as 1.5V Ni-MH/Ni-CD rechargeables, with a lot more options. It supports non-button top though it still has reverse polarity protection (circuitry). But it doesn't have a cover.

    https://www.amazon.com/Display-Univ...qid=1543297891&sr=8-3&keywords=xstar+vc2+plus
     
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  27. reppans

    reppans Scout

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    IMHO, that feature set applies to the whole kit - some items built into the charger, some built into the battery's protection circuit.... separate the two and introduce an unprotected cell, and you lose some of those protections - pretty much what I mentioned in the second sentence of my post above.

    It's fine playing with unprotected/harvested Li-ion cells.... just understand the general rules and you'll be fine. THIS post, from one of the CPF battery gurus, is one of the best summaries I've seen. Definitely use a voltmeter when using harvested/unprotected cells.

    You can get around button-top physical polarity protection with magnets (provided the charger has space and is spring loaded), but you'll still need a voltmeter to determine +/- or you'll fry the charger circuits.

    Excited to see more options in these pocket-sized combo Li-ion charger/banks - I love them for EDC and emergency use (even to harvest alkalines > USB in a pinch). Don't know this Fenix charger, but I personally always wait until HKJ (battery/charger guru of the Internet) reviews them first HERE. Love the built-in cable holder, and the container functionality looks nice, but these things usually consume some power while sitting idle, although I suspect it's small. I dislike 25% power gauge increments - all my powerbanks with them cannot be trusted. Wonder if the Fenix can charge smaller 16340/14500 cells, and at an appropriate lower current? I use those cell more often - 18650s flashlights being too big for pocket EDC. I'm personally using the F1 (mentioned above) which covers some voltmeter and small cell functionality.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2018
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