EBL Rechargable Lithium Batteries Review
Feb 6, 2022
Originally I never intended to make a page review about, well, rechargeable batteries but my experience was a bit of a rollercoaster so I thought I should share. I know many of you are looking for either the next best thing or you are sick and tired of the drawbacks of NiMH rechargeable batteries or you may even just don’t want to pay for regular one-time-use batteries anymore. So are the EBL batteries the last batteries you’ll ever buy? Let’s find out!
First off I purchased these batteries on Jan 7, 2021 from amazon and it was the expected amazon experience. Once the batteries arrived I was quite impressed with them. At the time I was using them with my Nikon Coolpix L820 and they were fantastic. They lasted way longer than my old rechargeable batteries. The batteries were also not as large in diameter with EBL measuring 14.09mm, my NiMH rechargeable coming in at 14.33mm and my standard alkaline batteries measuring 14.04mm. Why is this important? Well, I’m sure I’m not the only one who has battery-operated devices that have very tight battery holders and with the much larger NiMH it can be a problem getting the batteries out of the device to recharge them. I thought they were going to be the last batteries I would buy for a long time. So what happened?
The first couple of months the batteries worked great however I did notice the batteries seemed to no longer last as long as they used to. I didn’t think much of it at the time and eventually, I stopped using my camera anyways since I moved to another video capture device. Another month went by and I needed a set of batteries for my flashlight when the power was out. I got my EBL batteries and used them for my flashlight only to find that the one set I grabbed didn’t work(they were fully charged before I put them away). The other set did give me some light though.
Once we had power again I put all the batteries on the charger and waited and I waited some more. Some of the batteries did eventually show fully charged however some of them didn’t and never did even after a couple days on the charger. After that, I shelved the batteries again until recently when I was cleaning up the office and came across the batteries again. I also decided to voice my opinion of them on Amazon. Obviously, I wasn’t too thrilled with their performance since some of them wouldn’t even charge after a couple of months of basic use.
To my surprise not long after posting my review on Amazon, where I purchased these batteries, I received an email from EBL customer support. They had indicated that my batch of batteries likely had a manufacturing defect(which honestly can happen with anything) and they were willing to send me a replacement set since I was still within their 1yr warranty period. So definitely A+ for customer service since I wasn’t even expecting any response from the seller.
The package arrived promptly and looked to come from an Amazon warehouse. The replacement package came with what you would usually get as if it were normally purchased. Eight batteries the charger and a microUSB cable along with documentation.
Right away there are some differences between the new and old batteries that I noticed. First, is that there is an indent around the positive end of the battery.
Next there is now a white cap on the positive end instead of it just being all metal and silver.
So there are obviously some manufacturing differences between the two batches even though they’re both made in China. So I’m not sure if it’s the same factory or just a different manufacturing process for my replacement batteries.
This time around I did a little testing. As you can see in the blurry picture above I numbered the batteries to keep track of which ones may have issues. Right out of the box the voltages were within spec at about 1.5v which is more in line with standard batteries unlike NiMH batteries at 1.2v fully charged.
Batt 1: 1.50v
Batt 2: 1.50v
Batt 3: 1.49v
Batt 4: 1.49v
Batt 5: 1.49v
Batt 6: 1.50v
Batt 7: 1.49v
Batt 8: 1.49v
In order to test these batteries, I use a COB style LED light bar. Running the light bar, the new batteries lasted about 3h6m until the light suddenly dimmed. The resulting voltages right after the light dimmed were:
Batt 1: 0.0v
Batt 2: 0.0v
Batt 3: 1.49v
Batt 4: 1.49v
Obviously, I was a little worried that I may have over-discharged the batteries like the manual told you not to do and damaged them. I put the batteries into the charger and hoped for the best. A thing to note is that the charger can charge individual batteries instead of in pairs like some I’ve used in the past, this is great if you have devices that require odd numbers of batteries. After a few hours the charger indicated that all the batteries were fully charged and their voltages measured:
Batt 1: 1.50v
Batt 2: 1.50v
Batt 3: 1.49v
Batt 4: 1.49v
So there are obviously some electronics at work that seem to protect the battery. I repeated this test several times with the same results. Now I know what you’re gonna say. But Josh, only 3 hours for an LED light? Those don’t use much power so the lithium batteries should last all day long. If this was a few years ago before I started looking into lithium battery technology I would’ve said yea sounds like lithium should definitely power an LED light all day long. Just note though this is not the issue I had with the previous batteries as some of the old batteries would no longer charge meaning they wouldn’t work at all. That being said lithium battery technology has quite a different voltage drop curve over its discharge time especially compared to standard alkaline batteries. Let me explain with a non-scientific graph.
So here’s the graph. It’s not scientific so there are no numbers on the scale and some of the curves might not be exact but it’s a good visual tool to explain how lithium batteries act especially if you’re coming from standard alkaline batteries.
As you can see in the graph there’s what’s called a usable voltage limit. In this case, it would be the shut-off voltage of my camera which is a high draw device and requires a minimum of about 1.1v per battery to operate indicated by the orange line. This is also sometimes where the batteries can be depleted to and recharged without damage to the chemistry. As you can see the lithium batteries have the most amount of time above the line until it hits the minimum voltage of the chemistry and cuts voltage to protect the cell. This is great because in high draw applications like a camera this is what you want a long-lasting battery before the camera reaches the minimum voltage limit. Now we look at NiMH batteries you can see that it also lasts longer than standard alkaline batteries but as you can see with their lower starting voltage it hits that minimum voltage limit faster than lithium does. And of course, alkaline tapers steadily down to the minimum voltage limit for the camera.
“That’s great!” you say, “but that doesn’t explain why the LED light lasts longer with regular batteries.” Well if we take into account the operating voltage of most LED lights they can operate in a very wide range of voltages while still producing usable light. If we were to move that usable voltage line lower on the graph we can see that the amount of time the batteries can supply the minimum voltage increases for both NiMH and alkaline but not for lithium.
As you can see by the yellow line because the minimum needed voltage of LEDs is much lower so the voltage drop off at the end of the curve is advantageous for NiMH and alkaline chemistries allowing longer perceived run times since these devices can take advantage of the long taper down to 0v. How do I know this?
Well I took the same test I did above but instead of running the light for the 3 hours I shortened it to 2.5 hours and at the end of the test I put the batteries into my camera, conveniently both the light and camera take 4 batteries. With the lithium batteries the camera started and I was able to take 10 pictures with the flash no problem. However, with the NiMH and alkaline they were not even able to turn the camera on after that same 2.5 hours but could still power the LED light for another hour(obviously this would degrade the NiMH batteries). When I checked the voltages of the batteries the lithium averaged 1.48v, the NiMH averaged 1.1v and the alkaline averaged 1.0v.
What does this mean for Lithium batteries? Well, that means these batteries are great for anything that requires high power output at a steady voltage over its discharge like a camera. Can you use rechargeable lithium batteries for things like LED lights, locks and other devices? Sure you can but the limitation of the chemistry needs to be accounted for. Things such as electronic locks I would not recommend using these batteries because they have a very sharp and sudden voltage drop to 0v. Meaning without notice you’d get locked out. For things like LED lights, I would think it depends if you wanted a very bright full power light or prefer a longer run time with very slightly reduced light.
So in conclusion, the replacement batteries seem to be working fine for now. The customer service was helpful and seemed to honestly care about making sure I was satisfied with the product. They produce what I would call an adequate runtime for my devices and can be charged individually. Also, I don’t have a problem with getting them into and out of devices because of the smaller diameter. Things that you need to be cautious about is the limitations of lithium batteries themselves. While you can use these batteries in below 0C temperatures you can permanently damage them if you attempt to charge them while below 0C. The other is the discharge curve, these batteries give you little to no warning as to when they are depleted and the low voltage circuitry kicks in meaning if you’re using them for a flashlight you can be suddenly left in the dark. All that aside if you are ok with the inherent limitations of lithium these seem to be great batteries and as of now I would recommend them to anyone looking for rechargeable batteries especially for high draw devices.
Well since some of my old batteries were dead I decided to take one of them apart.
WARNING: I do not recommend anyone doing this as it can be very dangerous and can cause injury and even death.
Well with that done let’s have a look. First I popped off the back of the charger to see what was inside. Yup, that’s more electronics than I was expecting.
After putting the charger back together I went onto the battery I was going to disassemble. As you can see the battery is comprised of a cylinder with a fancy positive cap that is, from what I can guess, laser welded on.
I simply chucked it into my vise and carefully with a hacksaw cut along the 3 welds around the cap.
From what I could see the cap on the positive end does have some sort of electronics in it.
As you can see this is actually a 13450 cell rated at 3.8v 900mAh which from my rough calculations seems to coincide with the 3000mWh on outer wrapping once the voltage is stepped down to 1.5v. Just remember this is one of my older batteries and the newer ones may be different.
I tried to gracefully take the top cap apart but it was sealed very well to protect the electronics.
As you can see the cell is just comprised of a cathode and anode rolled tightly together. In the lower picture where I have them unrolled, you can see the sudden colour change with the lighter portion in the center of the battery and the darker more towards the outside. I suspect the inner portion is where the failure of this battery is.
Well that was an interesting look into these batteries if you have any comments or suggestions please let me know via the contact page.