"Rechargeable lights have no place in caving"

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Rechargeable lights have no place in caving

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"Rechargeable lights have no place in caving"

Postby NZcaver » Sep 10, 2008 2:20 pm

Recent discussion about batteries reminded me of a letter published in the August 2008 NSS News.

The author is one Walter Lipton, NSS 4463. His first comment is that he thinks "rechargeable lights have no place in caving." This is because "it is impossible to ascertain the status of a rechargeable battery without actually discharging it fully." He does say a lot of his mistrust comes from Ni-Cad battery experiences, but "newer types might be better." Still he says "there is no good reason to use a rechargeable, so why take a chance with your light."

Interestingly, after expressing a somewhat naive view of modern rechargeable battery technology, he goes on to advocate using some of the latest LED flashlight models clipped to the helmet (which are usually more efficient when using rechargeable batteries!) However he feels LED headlamps themselves are generally impractical, because you would need to carry two of these "large expensive units" to be redundant.

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Re: "Rechargeable lights have no place in caving"

Postby Squirrel Girl » Sep 10, 2008 2:28 pm

Well, aside from all the EE mumbo jumbo that I don't understand about why they're as good/better/whatever, the empirical fact is that lots of people use them. I don't recall (maybe we need a new poll :tonguecheek: ) anyone every needing a rescue because they used rechargable batteries.

And, if you were particularly worried, you could always carry a spare set of batteries, rechargable or not, "just in case." I mean, theoretically we know what we're doing and we have some extras anyway. Who ever goes caving with just enough reserve to get them out and no more?
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Re: "Rechargeable lights have no place in caving"

Postby Squirrel Girl » Sep 10, 2008 2:30 pm

And another thing! Why worry about NiCads? I wouldn't use those for other reasons than what that guy finds unreliable about them. Can you even buy NiCads anymore? Well, probably, but again, I wouldn't.
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Re: "Rechargeable lights have no place in caving"

Postby shibumi » Sep 11, 2008 7:21 am

I hear a lot of stupid generalizations regarding caving and that was
one of the more amusing ones.

Hey, my 100th post!

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Re: "Rechargeable lights have no place in caving"

Postby YuccaPatrol » Sep 11, 2008 8:09 am

I HIGHLY disagree. My headlamps and other equipment work better and longer using today's rechargeable NiMH batteries charged on a very high quality programmable charger.

It is not " impossible to ascertain the status of a rechargeable battery without actually discharging it fully." Chargers such as the MAHA MH-C9000 charger have many special functions to allow one to analyze the important performance characteristics of each battery. It doesn't just charge batteries, but it allows me to measure the discharge capacity of a battery, and also has a couple of cycles which allow a battery to be refreshed with multiple charge/discharge cycles.

But if the author has only used low quality batteries with one of those terrible "quick" chargers which overheat and destroy batteries, then I can understand his frustration when he didn't know in advance that his batteries no longer held a proper charge.
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Re: "Rechargeable lights have no place in caving"

Postby Evan G » Sep 11, 2008 8:40 am

All I have to say is "Wheat Lamp".

The current technology in rechargeable batteries (sorry about the pun) far exceeds alkaline batteries that you buy off the shelf 20 years ago.

"However he feels LED headlamps themselves are generally impractical, because you would need to carry two of these "large expensive units" to be redundant."


This is just absurd, again "Wheat Lamp". I rather carry a LED "large expensive units" than a Wheat lamp again. Image carrying a backup Wheat Lamp battery and some did in Lechy! Ouch, my back!
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Re: "Rechargeable lights have no place in caving"

Postby Mike Hood » Sep 11, 2008 10:12 am

I loved my Wheat lamp, though it was cumbersome at times. Still, the illumination it gave in big passages and rooms was a fair trade (in my opinion).

However, I'm older now and am not sure I would still be as happy with it as I was 20 years ago! :big grin:
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Re: "Rechargeable lights have no place in caving"

Postby incavenow » Sep 11, 2008 11:10 am

I agree with Evan, although I still have my old wheat lamp packed up somewhere. There is also 4 or 5 'Nite-Lite' heads scattered around the house. I may have $400+ invested in lights on my helmet, but I would never go back to the days of having to drag 1 or 2 brick size batteries around in my cave pack along with the brick on my side with a cable hanging down, catching on everything. Not to mention a package of spare blubs toted along. Add in a carbide system and it's a wonder we ever got thru some of those tight crawls! I think I'll keep my "bulky' sten light and fenix backup. A couple of 9V and 123 batteries for backup aren't even noticeable weight additions on a trip and I've not had to break out spares yet. The rechargeable battery on my sten has held up great. I've picked up plenty of AA, AAA, C and D batteries discarded by splunks on cave trips. Maybe if some of them invested in rechargeables it would cut down on battery pollution in caves! :kewl: Us cavers ain't never had it so good!! :banana:
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Re: "Rechargeable lights have no place in caving"

Postby Mark620 » Sep 11, 2008 5:43 pm

We should not use any new technology in caves,
we need to go back to burning reeds for light because
even a candle would be too new on the tech level... :rofl:
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Re: "Rechargeable lights have no place in caving"

Postby Evan G » Sep 11, 2008 6:26 pm

Mark620 wrote:We should not use any new technology in caves,
we need to go back to burning reeds for light because
even a candle would be too new on the tech level... :rofl:


That might be to "Bright" for the caves
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Re: "Rechargeable lights have no place in caving"

Postby incavenow » Sep 11, 2008 7:01 pm

Mark620 wrote:We should not use any new technology in caves,
we need to go back to burning reeds for light because
even a candle would be too new on the tech level... :rofl:

:lmao:

You get a longer burn time and brighter light by using splinters of heart pine aka sap wood.
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Re: "Rechargeable lights have no place in caving"

Postby KD5NRH » Sep 11, 2008 9:18 pm

Squirrel Girl wrote:And another thing! Why worry about NiCads? I wouldn't use those for other reasons than what that guy finds unreliable about them. Can you even buy NiCads anymore? Well, probably, but again, I wouldn't.


You're not likely to get any by accident, but they do still have their uses in situations where a lot of current is needed. A good example would be the Black Bear Flashlights; not something you'd want as a primary or backup light source, due to the short runtime, but would be nice to have if you want to see what's down a borehole or deep pit.
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Re: "Rechargeable lights have no place in caving"

Postby Evan G » Sep 11, 2008 9:55 pm

Just Wheat Lamp, snicker
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Re: "Rechargeable lights have no place in caving"

Postby NZcaver » Sep 14, 2008 1:40 am

OK then, which one of you wants to write an appropriate rebuttal letter for publication in the next NSS News?

I'm sure Dave would be happy to publish an intelligent response.
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Re: "Rechargeable lights have no place in caving"

Postby Jeff Bartlett » Sep 15, 2008 1:42 pm

OK then, which one of you wants to write an appropriate rebuttal letter for publication in the next NSS News?


This is a very good idea. I too thought this editorial was WAY off base and was surprised to see it published.

I will admit, with some embarrassment, that my first response was to snort "how old must this guy be to be this far out of touch?" and check to see if he had a 4-digit NSS number. That's an unfair generalization, hence the embarrassment, but nonetheless the letter seemed a case of a strong opinion based upon (or, in spite of) some woefully lacking technical knowledge.
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