Don’t buy no-name lithium batteries!
A little background:
Well, i must say that i got suckered into buying a no-name brand battery from a Chinese company recently, after salivating over a “Li-Mn” battery that had a higher energy density ( lower weight, smaller size, higher AH ) than my collection of RC Lipos that i run on my electric bike.
So i found a company called leadershobby that was selling a “Transmetic 3-5C 5S 10AH” pack. It weighed 996g, which was a marked improvement over the 1330g that 10AH of 5S Turnigy or Zippy lipo from hobbyking.
I told them that i wanted to buy a large quantity of these, but was interested in a test pack first. They told me the batteries were Li-MN, hence the 3-5C rate, and that they should have more in stock once i recieve mine. I thought – excellent – this may be the battery i was looking for.
I ordered the pack, at a cost of $56.33, plus $20.55 shipping, which was claimed to be ‘International Register Air Mail’ on 11/05/2011.
The pack shipped out via “Swiss post Singapore”. I found this very odd. It was reported as being mailed 11/09/11. Reached Zurich, Switzerland on 12/09/11, then made the trip to USA, and arrived at my door on 12/16/11. So, via air mail, it took almost 1.5 months. That’s interesting, as i have recieved packages from China via sea in 2 weeks at most, and via air in usually 7-9 days.
Here’s what i recieved:
That’s a bit large for the little battery…
Excellent, little battery in a big box with 1 layer of bubble wrap around it. Now THAT is how you package a battery. LOL
Wait – this is not the 3-5C battery i ordered! It’s also not too much bigger than my hobbyking lipo of half the capacity..
All cells seem to be at a good storage voltage.
Standard issue lipo label. I am sure this is ROHS and CE approved.. lol
….and we’ve got a puffy cell on the bottom and the top, so i now know that this pack is junk.
At this point, i am not even going to put this thing on the charger. Puffed cells can be a sign that this pack is a pyrotechnics show waiting to happen.
How can i (not) help you?
After a couple of dozen emails to leadershobby asking for a refund, they keep snaking around the idea of giving me a refund. They at first offer me $10 store credit, so i can buy another dead lipo pack from them. As appealing as this is, i ask for a refund of 2 cells worth ( ~$28 ), and nope, they won’t do that either, after all my attempts, all they will do is offer me a $10 refund. I try to get the address to send the pack back for a refund and after they dodge that long enough, i figure i would probably get ripped off on return shipping, not get my money back, then it would be too late to refute the order via paypal.
Here some highlights from the conversation:
ME: I finally got the battery today, a month and a half after ordering.
The voltages are correct, 3.85v/cell.
But the pack is slightly puffed. A lipo pack should be flat at the storage voltage.
This is also not what i ordered. You said this battery was a 5C Li-Mn battery. You sent a 25C ‘hi rate’ lipo battery.
You also said that you would be stocking more of the 5C Li-Mn batteries. The reason i ordered is because i wanted to test the 5C Li-Mn battery to see if it was suitable for my application so that i could order 100+ units. I told you this before ordering. Now the item is removed from your site!
I am not happy about this and would like a refund.
( they ask for pictures, so i send them )
THEM: Dear friend,
So sorry for the inconvenience..
Since now we have no 9394001220063 in stock. How about we refund 10 dollars to your store credit? maybe you can sell the battery to your friend..
Hope can get your understanding..
Waiting for your comment..
( i ask for the refund of $28 to account for the 2 dead cells, thinking that maybe i’ll get 3 cells out of the pack that i can use for another project.. )
THEM: Hi David,
How about 10 dollars to your paypal account?
As you know we always provide you the best price. you can try to sell it,maybe the price will be higher …
Sorry for your inconvenience..
ME: No way, i am being generous by only asking for a half refund. If you’re not willing to do that, i will start the paypal refund process.
You lied to me about the stock, sent me the wrong item, and sent me a damaged item. And the shipping was awful!! ( i get hub motors and batteries from China via sea in 1-2 weeks… your shipping company took 6 weeks and they charged a much higher price per kG than hobbyking does for shipping ).
Everything was bad about my first experience with your company and i am giving you only 1 chance.
$28.44 USD or i will work with paypal against you. Your choice.
( we try to negotiate for the 2 dead cells.. )
THEM: Dear friend,
Merry Christmas!!! If you send the two cells back,that also cost you 15-20 dollars.
and two cells about 22 dollars.then you just got 2-7 dollars and will wait about a month ..
If we refund you 10 dollars. it is convenience…and you can get more..
Do you think so?
Waiting for your comment..
No more mr. nice guy!
At this point i am done playing games, 22 emails later of me trying to get my money back and i decide to rip the pack apart and do some real tests to see how BAD i got screwed. I’ve given up on a refund and am going to expose this company, THEN take action with paypal!
I open up the pack, and the cells have all sorts of scratches and indentation on them. This tells me that these are used or abused cells. It’s not looking good so far.
I pry the cells apart, and i recognize these cells. Tekocell 1C 10AH cells, used in telephony/VOIP applications for backup power.
For further proof, here is an eBay auction showing the tekocell packs..
And a post from a fellow in Tampa, who had came across a box of these cells and was trying to figure out what they were worth, etc.. on candlepower forums.
Congratulations, you’re now the owner of 4 year old used 1C cells!
So at this point, i know 100% that i’ve been boned. Every aspect of the experience of ordering from this company has been awful. From a major postal delay, to getting the wrong item, to having the item packed in an unsafe way, then realizing i’d been lied to, then the hassle with customer service.
But i must soldier on, and find out how bad i have been screwed, precisely. So let’s stick it on the iCharger!
I set the iCharger 1010b+ to 1A charge, and WOW, Cell #1 is extremely, extremely out of wack, and it is strange that the cells jumped in voltage DRASTICALLY, except Cell #1. This indicates that i may have a healthy cell here, and 4 cells that are totally, totally dead.
Another 30+ minutes of balancing and we seem to not be making much progress. That’s odd – i have never had that occur. I stop now, as i don’t have much patience left. This is probably well balanced enough – right? let’s discharge!
I applied a 3.5A load with 2 x 12v 50w halogens in series, for a total wattage of about 60-70w. Look at those cells dive!! At a 0.3C load, they are sagging to HALF their operational voltage! Imagine how well these would do at 1C ( 10 amps ). They’d probably blow up from thermal runaway. LOL
( the halogen discharge, of course, does not have constant amps. but it ranges between 3.8A to 3.3A by the time i am done discharging, so i’ll say 3.5A average.
I stop the discharge now, and decide to check the internal resistance. WOW, these are dead cells, My turnigy and zippy 20C lipos measure between 2-11 milliohms, these are up to 10 times that.
Oh well, what the hell. Let’s get back to the discharge and see how long this battery will hold out.
At about an hour and a half, i have to stop the discharge. The pack has reached 110F, with one cell hitting 115F.
I think the only positive thing i have to say about this pack is that it would make an excellent space heater. That internal resistance is so, so bad.
So i stick the pack back into the fridge, after drawing about 3.6AH out of it. I’m curious if i can get any more AH out of this pack at all.
After coming out of the fridge at 50F, it does not take long to heat up again, and i have to stop the discharge in short time as 1 of the cells hit 2.0v.
So i got about 4AH out of this 10AH pack. I got 0.2C performance out of a 25C pack.
Now let me show you how this battery compares to a 1 year old turnigy 5AH 5S 20C pack.
Yup… that’s the turnigy battery having the same 3.5A load applied to it for about a minute. Notice that it barely flinched.
I hope i have taught an invaluable lesson – stay away from these unknown Chinese brand lipos. Stick to what is tried and true. It’s amazing how many scammers are out there. My story is not unique in any way.
Here’s one of my favorite swindle examples: ultrafire cells!