Panasonic 18650 Batteries & Zebralight

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Panasonic 18650 Batteries & Zebralight

Postby trogman » Feb 3, 2014 1:43 pm

I was considering purchasing a Zebralight, and, based on recommendations from this forum, was planning to purchase Panasonic 18650 3400mah batteries. Some of the reviews on Amazon, however, claim that the flat positive end will not work with some flashlights. Has anyone else here had any experience with this issue that you'd like to share? Thanks!

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Re: Panasonic 18650 Batteries & Zebralight

Postby NZcaver » Feb 3, 2014 3:26 pm

Not sure about the battery issue you're describing, but I will say my old Zebralight H50 (I think) was very particular about battery diameter. It's the only AA light I can recall that wasn't able to accept some AA's because they were fractionally larger than others. Doesn't really matter now, though. The intermittent switch(?) issues I've been having for years finally progressed to where the headlamp is no longer usable. I took it caving maybe a dozen times as a backup, and it hasn't had a hard life. I serviced it, cleaned the contacts, tried everything. Nothing helped.

For the price, I'm reluctant to purchase another unreliable Zebralight. Hope you have better luck with your new one than I did.
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Re: Panasonic 18650 Batteries & Zebralight

Postby trogman » Feb 3, 2014 3:45 pm

NZcaver wrote:Not sure about the battery issue you're describing, but I will say my old Zebralight H50 (I think) was very particular about battery diameter. It's the only AA light I can recall that wasn't able to accept some AA's because they were fractionally larger than others. Doesn't really matter now, though. The intermittent switch(?) issues I've been having for years finally progressed to where the headlamp is no longer usable. I took it caving maybe a dozen times as a backup, and it hasn't had a hard life. I serviced it, cleaned the contacts, tried everything. Nothing helped.

For the price, I'm reluctant to purchase another unreliable Zebralight. Hope you have better luck with your new one than I did.



That's not good to hear. I got the impression from reviews from fellow Cave-Chatters that Zebralights were really good lights.

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Re: Panasonic 18650 Batteries & Zebralight

Postby GroundquestMSA » Feb 3, 2014 4:40 pm

I use the Panasonic 3400mah batteries in my Zebralight. No issues with fit, though I have heard that some 18650's are too fat for the Zebra (I don't know which). A couple of weeks ago, I ran the light (medium high and medium low, with many short bursts of x-high) for 27 hrs. before I lost the high settings. I like it very much and will buy another when I can afford it. I want a warmer and wider beam for pictures.
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Re: Panasonic 18650 Batteries & Zebralight

Postby rlboyce » Feb 3, 2014 5:25 pm

Trogman,

Panasonic 18650 3400mah batteries (also known as NCR18650B's) should fit in any current Zebralight that takes 18650s. The NCR18650B is pretty much the smallest diameter and shortest length 18650 on the market because it does not have built-in circuit protection.

The reason NCR18650B's don't go in some flashlights is because these batteries don't have a button top. It's not a problem with Zebralights because they have a spring at each end on the inside, which was a good design choice on Zebra's part (see pictures of my MkI H600 below).

Image Image

If there is any remaining doubt about whether or not NCR18650Bs can fit into a Zebra, you can always purchase some of their own batteries, which are actually just NCR18650Bs repackaged with a mini circuit protection board (for twice the price of an NCR18650B, might I add):
http://www.zebralight.com/ZL634-3400mAh-18650-Protected-Li-ion-Battery-ship-to-US-customers-only_p_125.html

Personally, I wouldn't let a couple of bad examples of Zebralight durability worry you. Every company will have its defects. I myself had a quality issue with my light, but I sent it in and they fixed it at no charge. However, I've monitored forums about Zebralight products for some time now, and I am confident that poor quality from them is not at all the norm, and Zebras are usually regarded as one of the best lights you can get for your money, both in quality and performance. I LOVE my Zebra, and when it comes time to upgrade my light I'll be going straight back to Zebralight.

By the way, if you don't care where you purchase a Zebra from, I recommend WVUnderground (http://wvunderground.net/H600wII). It's the same price there as it is on the Zebra website, but WVUnderground is a fellow caver's website. :big grin:
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Re: Panasonic 18650 Batteries & Zebralight

Postby NZcaver » Feb 3, 2014 5:59 pm

Well, I'd love to know where I can send my one for repair. Somewhere in China I would assume?
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Re: Panasonic 18650 Batteries & Zebralight

Postby chac » Feb 3, 2014 6:24 pm

I have two Zebra Lights, one is an H50-Q5 that takes a AA battery. This design uses the twist end-cap to turn it on, off, or cycle through the three illumination settings. I bought it years ago, and it has been a great light. I have had no problems with different rechargeable or alkaline batteries in this headlamp.

Being a fan of backup lights that should be of near-utility and illumination as the primary lamp, I bought a ZL H600 series lamp a few years ago. The low setting on this lamp is nice for reading survey instruments and drawing the cave. It is also a setting I like when cruising through known cave. The 600 series lamp is challenged though by 18650's that are not the correct length. I purchased a few protected Panasonic 2900 mAh 18650's that are capless/positive flat ended, those batteries work just fine. I believe ZL posts its battery compartment dimensions.

That said, I started to have problems last year with the H600. It would not cycle properly, turn on or off, etc. I did not abuse the lamp other than caving with it. Being way out of warranty, I wrote ZL inquiring how we could fix this problem. I plead guilty to an expired warranty and left all the the options open. Two days later I get a reply and a return merchandise number from ZL. I was told to mail the lamp to them, enclose $15 USD, and I would get the lamp back in 6 weeks.

Sure enough I received the original lamp as promised in 6 weeks and it works just fine. I am impressed with this out-of-warranty repair.

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Re: Panasonic 18650 Batteries & Zebralight

Postby NZcaver » Feb 3, 2014 6:31 pm

chac wrote:That said, I started to have problems last year with the H600. It would not cycle properly, turn on or off, etc. I did not abuse the lamp other than caving with it. Being way out of warranty, I wrote ZL inquiring how we could fix this problem. I plead guilty to an expired warranty and left all the the options open. Two days later I get a reply and a return merchandise number from ZL. I was told to mail the lamp to them, enclose $15 USD, and I would get the lamp back in 6 weeks.

Sure enough I received the original lamp as promised in 6 weeks and it works just fine. I am impressed with this out-of-warranty repair.

Thanks! I will have to try that.
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Re: Panasonic 18650 Batteries & Zebralight

Postby caver.adam » Feb 3, 2014 10:01 pm

I have a H600w (original) that works great with any 18650 I've put in it. I read the Mk II was more temperamental and mine just came in the mail. Seems that my rather long Orbtronic 3400 mah aren't working with the new light. Will post more when I get a new set of batteries. Thinking about trying the Panasonic you mentioned.
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Re: Panasonic 18650 Batteries & Zebralight

Postby caver.adam » Feb 3, 2014 10:10 pm

Ordered the NCR18650B. Looking foward to seeing if they work.
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Re: Panasonic 18650 Batteries & Zebralight

Postby Chads93GT » Feb 4, 2014 12:30 am

never a problem in mine. and if your zebra is on the fritz, then goto the zebra website, find the warranty page and follow the instructions.
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Re: Panasonic 18650 Batteries & Zebralight

Postby trogman » Feb 4, 2014 7:21 am

Thanks for all the replies and suggestions. I went ahead and ordered an H602 W XM-L2 with the neutral white, and also 2 of the Panasonic 3400 batteries to go with it. Looking forward to getting it in the mail soon!
I plan to use it for several purposes-1) My wife does not have a reliable headlight. She doesn't go caving with me often, but when she does, its nice to have a good light for her. 2) I needed a small, lightweight light to use with my GoPro. I bought a cheap Chinese bike light a while back on Ebay, and it does have an awesome bright light. However, it is rather heavy, and, along with my Stenlight and my GoPro on my head, it ends up giving me headaches. 3) It will also serve as an additional backup light.

Thanks again, guys!

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Re: Panasonic 18650 Batteries & Zebralight

Postby NZcaver » Feb 4, 2014 9:01 am

Chads93GT wrote:never a problem in mine. and if your zebra is on the fritz, then goto the zebra website, find the warranty page and follow the instructions.

The warranty on their website is for 12 months, and I got mine in 2008. There are no instructions for returns. Now trying to decide if it's worth contacting them and paying for repair, or if I should just write it off.
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Re: Panasonic 18650 Batteries & Zebralight

Postby Chads93GT » Feb 4, 2014 12:07 pm

OH hell, i think I would just buy a new one. Im not sure how it would cost less to fix whatever is wrong. im sure they will charge you a ton, lol
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Re: Panasonic 18650 Batteries & Zebralight

Postby NZcaver » Feb 4, 2014 1:41 pm

Chads93GT wrote:OH hell, i think I would just buy a new one. Im not sure how it would cost less to fix whatever is wrong. im sure they will charge you a ton, lol

$15, according to chac. See his previous reply.
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