handheld spotlight warning

Submitted: Saturday, Feb 12, 2005 at 02:19
ThreadID: 20368 Views:5582 Replies:7 FollowUps:3
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Some time ago a handheld spotlight was mentioned here as being on special at Supercheap. I went and got one, no doubt a few others did too.
Anyway, I charged it up on the way home, tested it later that night and it worked fine. Put it in the back of the car, ready for the time when I needed it.

Now, these things are powered by a sealed lead acid battery, which should be recharges from time to time. Yesterday I thought the time had come for recharging, I switched it on before to see how bright it was, finding it would not work at all.

Leaving it on charge overnight (10 hrs), plugged into the permanent power cig socket in my troopie, I tested it again the next morning and it still did not work.

So I took it apart and was greeted by lots of spilled acid inside the plastic case. I rinsed all that out and proceeded to investigate the cause.

It appears these lead acid batteries are not as spillproof as stated!!!
There is evidence of corrosion, actually eating through a track on the little printed board which, unfortunately, is mounted right above the battery terminals and battery vent hole.
There is also corrosion on some of the spade terminals, so no wonder it did not work.

The spilled acid looked as having escaped during the overnight charge time, the terminal corrosion is older, probably acid gas escaping over time. The spilled acid also started to get to the silvering of the reflector, it would make short work of this had it progressed unnoticed.

Technical details for those intersted:
The battery is a 6V, 4Ah size, the bulb is 6V, 25W halogen. I measured 3 Amps of current to the light bulb, indicating the spotlight would be good for only 1/2 hour of use at the best, with a good battery.
The charging circuit is crude, just some current limiting resistors. One of them is actually INSIDE the cig plug, no wonder it was getting b....y hot during charging. This resistor is a bit underrated too at 1Watt, I put in a 2W type which ran a lot cooler.

The resistors limit the charging current to 0.4A or so, this tapers off somewhat as the battery charges but it never completely shuts down. So, the warning on the spotlight about charging for no longer than 2 days is nonsense if the battery starts spitting acid before 10 hours of charging.

Perhaps I bought a lemon but then battery acid, even inside a plastic spotlight case, is not to be trifled with.

The battery is upright ( in my unit) when the torch lies on its side with the charging light up. Perhaps it would be a good idea to store it in that position - I would not trust the sealed battery claim of these spotlights.

It looks I got what I paid for :-(
I hope you did better :-)

Klaus
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Reply By: kesh - Saturday, Feb 12, 2005 at 07:57

Saturday, Feb 12, 2005 at 07:57
I bought one of these type of lights about 4yrs. ago. It was on special at the time but dont recall the cost. It is just marked "CE cordless spotlight" and has 12v. plus 240v adaptor.
Being the curious type, I pulled it apart for a look see, it uses a sealed gel-cell 6v. battery, and the voltage control board certainly has more than just resistors! It also has about a 30min. battery life between charges. However, I have no issues with the quality of this particular make, it hasn't been used for several months and when I looked a few minutes ago the light was quite "brilliant" - not much loss of charge. I have now put it on the 240 charge, hope dont forget switch it off later!
Perhaps the difference in quality of these units is sealed gel or acid battery.
the kesh
AnswerID: 97987

Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Saturday, Feb 12, 2005 at 08:22

Saturday, Feb 12, 2005 at 08:22
The battery is the main issue with these lamps - ie. it's crap. Then again given that the last one of these torches I bought from Supercheap I paid $7 for, I didn't expect too much.

I have replaced the battery in mine with a Yaesu 6V 4Ah which is fine. Because of the simple charging circuit they may be overcharged if left on for too long - probably 12 hours would be enough but it's a bit of a guessing game. One of these days I'll make a proper charging circuit to fit inside the torch and replace the resistor.

20 to 30 minutes or so would be about the maximum use one could expect from a charge - that's quite a while for such a powerful torch, I would not usually have it switched on for more than a minute or two which means I can use it 15 times per evening, that's always done me.

These batteries should not be over discharged (otherwise they will be damaged ). So _immediately_ you see the lamp start to dim stop using it - ideally try to do so before it dims.

Mike Harding
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FollowupID: 356546

Reply By: Member - Crazie (VIC) - Saturday, Feb 12, 2005 at 08:46

Saturday, Feb 12, 2005 at 08:46
Thanks for the heads up Klaus.
AnswerID: 97990

Reply By: Flash - Saturday, Feb 12, 2005 at 09:31

Saturday, Feb 12, 2005 at 09:31
We have two of their original ones, now over five years old.
One on it's second battery, one on the original. Great little light.
However, like so many things, a lot depends on how it's used......
One of the first things I did when I bought them was to pull them apart and find out how they were setup-
1. Battery sits sideways- so ours have always been charged, and stored, with torch sitting on side and BATTERY UPRIGHT.
2. Only a simple, non limiting charge circuit is fitted so charge time has to be appropriate for amount of use. (EG: If mine is used for 5mins it gets a couple of hours charge) As stated previously, being a lead-acid battery they need to be kept fully charged but NOT excessively overcharged- and certainly not flattened unless they can go straight back on charge.

30 mins continuous use with a new battery is about the maximum you can expect- but I have no problem with that- It's not after all a truck battery you are carrying around.

So summing up- with judicious use they are quite capable of lasting many years- but one needs to treat them appropriately.
AnswerID: 97992

Reply By: Member - Smocky (NSW) - Saturday, Feb 12, 2005 at 09:49

Saturday, Feb 12, 2005 at 09:49
Just a suggestion, when I charge mine on 240v, I use a timer to turn the power off automatically. Like the old Kambrook timers. I'd love to find one of these types of things for 12v !!

Nowadays, got more batteries than I can poke a stick at, so ended up righting a sheet with device and charge time and put it on a clipboard in the garage. I've also used a label maker and put the device on the charger as they all seem to say nothing about what they are supposed to charge.

Hope this helps someone.

Cheers,

Smocky.
AnswerID: 97994

Reply By: Scubaroo - Saturday, Feb 12, 2005 at 12:20

Saturday, Feb 12, 2005 at 12:20
12V digital timer

Did a quick Google - found these ones in Australia. No idea on pricing.
AnswerID: 98005

Reply By: Member - Jeff M (WA) - Saturday, Feb 12, 2005 at 13:50

Saturday, Feb 12, 2005 at 13:50
I bought two (two different ones) fluro recharchable latterns from supercheap and have had nothing but joy from them, absolutally fantastic and at least as good as my $100 coleman unit.

However...

I did purchase a recharchable spotlight from a reputable camping store chain here in Perth. It cost around $30 and I thought it was good value. Just like yourself it worked great the first time, then not at all. So I took it back and got it replaced. The second one did the same. Me thinking that I've done somthing wrong plugged it into one of my permantally powered sockets and left it on the front seat of the surf while away camping. Came back an hour later to get somthing else out of the car to find the car full of smoke!! Lucky no damage to the car, but it was close I suspect.
I know a couple of the guys pretty well at this chain of stores and lucky for me they upgraded me to the primus equivilent free of charge (worth $99) so I can't complain, but it was certainally an eye opener.

Oh BTW the primius one works a treat! :-)
AnswerID: 98009

Reply By: Shane (QLD) - Saturday, Feb 12, 2005 at 15:21

Saturday, Feb 12, 2005 at 15:21
I bought one myself & ended up taking it back because the plug was getting extremely hot, but the second one was the same. It got so hot that the resistor in the plug went open circuit. I removed the resistor,( nothing in circuit) put a better plug on & charged the light overnight, but the smells coming from it made me take it off charge immediately. It charged ok, but am not sure of the consequenses of removing the resistor, the lead now runs cool but the light case gets pretty hot.
AnswerID: 98012

Follow Up By: V8troopie - Sunday, Feb 13, 2005 at 00:20

Sunday, Feb 13, 2005 at 00:20
Shane, it definitely needs the resistor in the plug. But you could fit it inside the spotlight housing if you are handy with a soldering iron. Get a 10 Ohm/ 2 watt resistor, to replace the 10 ohm/1 watt resistor inside the plug.
There are 4 current limiting resistors (in parallel) inside the light housing, these add up to 7 Ohm total. So, if you remove the resistor in the plug there is too much charging current available if your battery was a bit low. Even with the 10 ohm res . in the plug, making a total of 17 Ohm, there is plenty of current available to cook the crappy battery, if its left on charge too long.
Voltage regulators are cheap and simple to install, a fixed 5v type could be 'tweaked' to get the required regulated 6.8V for long time charging without worries. Otherwise a variable regulator (LM317 perhaps) would also do the job.
Its a pity this charge regulation method was not used in the first place.

Using a timer would work too but I would not go out and buy one for this cheap spotlight. Better to get a good spotlight, with a good quality battery and a decent charging circuit.
Klaus
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FollowupID: 356610

Follow Up By: Shane (QLD) - Sunday, Feb 13, 2005 at 14:45

Sunday, Feb 13, 2005 at 14:45
V8troopie,
Thanks for the info, but can't be bothered mucking around with it. I'll just charge the guts out of it & throw it in the rubbish bin. I honestly don't know how Super Cheap get away with flogging this crap. I see again the other day that they are on special again. The heat thats generated from these plugs is bloody dangerous, if a kid was to grab hold they would get burned. I am now chargeing the thing outside on 12v transformer as I wouldn't trust the thing in my car. I checked the voltage of the transformer & it read 17.68v, (no load) so it will be very interesting to see what happens.
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FollowupID: 356645

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