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Throwing a little light on the subject
I've had one the solarstorm lights on my bars for a while now, fine as a second light. The battery that came with it was rubbish, I think water got in it and it died. I bought a decent battery and that is working fine though.
Be careful of the cheap batteries/ chargers, they can explode on you!
Those lights do look fantastic for the money and your right in spending the extra dollar on some of the top brands crazy, but I must admit i do and although not worth it I still would, I run exposer lights. To explain why I go back to when I first started night riding using radio controlled car batteries plugged in to kitchen halogen down lights, cheap as chips but never knew how long they would last or if as people said you would burn the house down charging them. Had many types of lights since and now like the ease and safety of charging, and having exposer batteries in the unit with the light there's no cables.
So as you've said id agree they seem so over priced and not really much or any brighter , but after years of crashing into trees from lights going out and batteries melting when charging or getting to the ride to find it didn't charge, I admit to being a sucker for putting my hand in my pocket for an easy life. :oops:
Thanks for posting them, be good to see how you find them though the winter.
A chap I work with just bought one of those Solar Storm lights for much the same price. Last year I bought a Fandyfire for around £20 which is pretty much the same. Both are plenty bright and pretty small. A real bargain

Mine looks like this.


The problem with these Chinese lights is not the light head. It is the battery. From what I hear the batteries are mostly reclaimed from old laptops. So the best solution is to buy the Chinese light but also buy a decent battery.

That said, my first Chinese battery lasted 3 years of lots of night riding. The two I have now have not had much use but they have a decent run time.

Treehugger - I really miss the night rides. I struggle to find time to ride in the daytime at the moment though. Once I get back into it i'll be in touch.
+1 on an oldbury night ride sometime (or daytime one too)!
Interesting stuff about the batteries, I have been concocting a plan to use my ones to destruction then get busy with a soldering iron and make one of my own. As I'm not too happy with the Li-ion battery idea.

Someone mentioned RC car battery, which is what I'm planning now that they're NiMh and not crappy NiCd... I reckon that'll do the trick, but if it doesn't work I'll have a spare for my sons Holiday Buggy lol
Lithium Ion and Lithium Polymer batteries are perfectly safe IF you have a balance charger and you get the ones in a hard case.

The big issues with the cheap lights are that they are not provided with balance chargers so the battery charging is a lottery at best, the LED drive circuits (it they even contain one, some just use a limiting resistor) do not have a low voltage cut-off so the batteries can be discharged below their safe level and finally most have insufficient surface area for cooling so the LEDs overheat and fail.

Best bet is to get a light from a reliable manufacturer such as Hope, Ayup, Exposure, Nightrider etc. Even making your own light using decent components and batteries will cost in the region of £200.

Buy cheap and play the lottery or pay more and get reliability
All this talk of dodgy batteries got me worried that I'd balls'd up going cheap, so charged em up today to check for piece of mind...

Plugged them in and within 1½ hrs the lights on the plugs went from red to amber to green, which I thought was a bit suspect, so unplugged them and plugged them back in again...

The LED's went red again, and stayed that way for about 3hrs before going green.

At 17:30 today I wired em back up to the lights and turned them onto the middle brightness...

It's now 20:45 ... 3¼hrs later and they're still going.

Piece of mind restored that -for now at least- they'll still outlast my fitness and the 11000MaH ones on their way to me should keep me night riding for a good while yet when these current batteries are relegated to backups.

1st one just blinked out at 21:15 ... Happy with 3¾hrs

*Edit on the Edit*
2nd one just blinked out @ 21:30 ... I'm astounded at 4hrs!!!
I am afraid that is not a reliable test.

Most of these lights are now supplied with Lithium ion batteries. These are often recovered from used laptops and as such are fairly near the end of their life anyway.

The issues with Lithium ion and LiPo batteries are around the charging and discharging. These batteries MUST be charged with a balance charger to be safe. A balance charger monitors the voltage on each individual cell in the pack and ensures that no cell is over charged ie. it ensures all cells are voltage balanced. The cheap wall wart charger supplied with lights just pass a current through the pack until a nominal voltage across the pack is achieved. If you have a weak cell it's voltage will be low and the other cells in the pack will be overcharged to compensate. This is when the exploding batteries happen.

Equally with discharging, the light should have a drive circuit with a battery voltage sense. This prevents the pack being discharged below its safe value. In the case of lithium cells this is around 3.2v per cell. If the pack is discharged below the safe voltage the cells can be damaged leading to the above weak cell scenario when charging. These cheap lights generally do not have a drive circuit and just use a limiting resistor meaning the battery will discharge until there is not enough voltage left in the battery to drive the LEDs. This will be below the safe cut-off voltage for the battery.

Whilst your light may last a number of year, equally it may fail next week. Cheap lights with lithium based batteries really are a lottery and just changing the battery for a good one will not solve the problem. Changing to NiCad or NiMH would remove the exploding issues but introduces the problem of battery memory.

If you are happy using the cheap Lithium batteries please use a battery charging bag. These are only a few quid and should prevent your house burning down should the battery catch fire.

There really is a reason that lights from the big manufacturers are expensive and it isn't just the brand name. It is the use of quality components, batteries and chargers, drive circuitry and proper thermal design of the housings.
Interesting, & frightening stuff...

I've never heard of a battery charging bag before ... I do -however- charge them rested in an oven tray on top of the glass cover of my cooker for safety. And only charge em when I'm in the house.
Jon - have you personally seen Chinese lights with resistors in the battery packs?
I have seen inside a fair few battery packs that have come with different lights and all have had protection circuits.

The protection circuit gives you low voltage safety cut-out and several have had overvoltage prevention as well ( which in fact was set too low).

Lots and lots of these lights are sold and only a very few have had a problem - but I would agree with your advice of using a charging bag.

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