Beginners Guide to Processing 18650 Cells | Cell Database

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Fake 18650 Cells, Anything with 'fire' in it will probably result in one.

I felt the need to add something to the latest video for beginners. I didn't want to post it on Youtube so I'd rather do it here where people might actually read it Smile

I love the "Fire" joke by the way, that one never gets old. For quite some time we even have cheap knockoffs of Trustfire, Ultrafire and the likes now. Just brilliant. Cheap knockoffs of cells that are already amongst the most crappy ones you can buy.

Anyway, lets get to it.

These fake cells with made up capacity are often the lightest ones by far. That is often because it is a 18650 cylinder which isn't completely filled. Sometimes there is just a smaller cylindrical lithium cell put into the empty 18650 and two wires connecting to the positive and negative terminal. We're talking 30g here, sometimes even less. Anything below 40g is suspicious and can hardly be a proper 18650. Most 18650s are in the range of 43g to 48g I think.

Cells without markings (or some you can't find any information on) on their wrap, recycled, rewrapped cells. You find these regularly in the cheaper 3rd party laptop batteries and powerbanks. If you buy a laptop battery or powerbank and pay about ~2 EUR per cell that is inside them then this is usually what you get. I've tested this some time ago.
These are proper 18650s but are probably rewrapped and reused.

1. Panasonic CGR18650 E, rated 2600mAh, typ. 2550mAh, approx. 46.5g by spec, I have weighted the cell at 46g, for reference

2. Lime green with white/slightly transparent ring, it says "18650 3.6V 9.0Wh / barcode / SZNS UN4M151EJ 561377" on it. / indicates a new line. It is interesting because they don't state a capacity, but the cells energy. Usually you don't get either. 9.0Wh at 3.6V is 2500mAh. I have measured this cell at 2738mAh and it weighs 46g.

3. Candy fluffy unicorn pink with white/slightly transparent ring, with no markings on the wrap whatsoever. 2768mAh, 48g.

4. Purple with white/slightly transparent ring, it says "ASO GL4L021EJ1 829833 / barcode / SZN" on it. Measured at 2251mAh, 43g.

No. 2 came from a powerbank sold on Amazon (Poweradd Pilot X7 20000mAh), No. 3 came from a Xiaomi powerbank clone directly from the manufacturer stating that he sells powerbanks using the same PCB and cells as Xiaomi and No. 4 came from a 3rd party Acer replacement battery.

I say proper in terms of "real 18650s" unlike those hollow 18650s with a smaller lithium cell in them. I don't say you should all be using them. But chances are you are using them already, wrapped in heatshrinks that say LG or Samsung on them. How likely is it? I don't know, that's what it's about. That is why you don't find any information on them on the internet. You are not supposed to. This is a business where companies like ASO and whatever, if ASO is a company in the first place, don't like you to take a look into it. And where LG, Sony, Panasonic/Sanyo and Samsung probably don't want anyone to know either. They want to sell new cells since they don't earn a penny on recycled ones. These also might be cells that have fallen through the quality checks at the big manufacturers plants.

You will have bigger differences from cell to cell with these ones which also fits the quality check failure theory.  Obviously this could also mean they have been used already.
The lime green ones No. 2 are (implicitly) sold as 2500mAh, most of the eight I have are actually in the mid and high 27xxmAh. The highest is 2781 and the lowest is 2688.
The pink ones No. 3 were (implicitly) sold as 2600mAh. Again, most of the twelve I have are high 27xx. Two are especially high at 2842 and 2904 and one is below the target with 2532.
The purple ones No. 4 are supposed to be 2200mAh, they all measure between 22xxmAh and 24xxmAh.

2200mAh is a recurring thing with 3rd party laptop batteries by the way. You often see 4400, 6600, 8800mAh. That is 6, 9 and 12 cells at 10,8V/11,1V. The 8800mAh pack you have is genuine, it just got 12 of these cells.

I'd say were also tapping into something here that will become a huge business pretty soon. Even bigger than it is already. And that is reusing (like in 2nd use, instead of recycling to make something else) batteries. With the growing numbers of electric cars we will see applications for their batteries after you don't want the car anymore after 10 years or so. Or 500.000 km. The battery will still be good, only the chassis needs to be recycled, together with the drivetrain.

Anyway, I digress. Where were we? Ah yes, fake cells! Smile

What I'm saying is that it is a difficult topic. There is fake cells, definitely to the point where they are dangerous, and cells where we don't know what they are. I'm not putting them into my bigger applications as well, but I'm using them for smaller stuff. Four of these lime green ones are powering my selfmade fume extractor I use while soldering.
I would go so far to say they probably aren't dangerous at all, at least not more than proper, branded cells. However you don't know anything about them which is obviously the biggest problem with them. That is solely my opinion though, everyone is obliged and encouraged to build their own opinion on that.

I hope my babble makes some sense. Not saying you are wrong at all, just trying to provide some more insight to it.
hbpowerwall likes this post

Hmm I read through your post 3 times now and im not sure i get it?

I did a run down on fake cells to but a bit different and with some other parts a while ago. Its important to distinguish between fake cells and reused cells. They are different if you ask me. Fake cells dont containt what they should do and reused are proper cells just 2nd hand Smile
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Yes, this is exactly what I'm saying. You did get it Smile I got the feeling that Pete didn't fully distinguish between them so I thought I might elaborate this a bit. These companies do what we do as a business, it doesn't mean that these cells are bad though.

To be honest, what I've written down here might be a bit unorganized. I've watched the video and thought you could go a bit more into the details but I then found it difficult to write it down in a organized way.
BlueSwordM likes this post
I was about to write something about Pete's video after I saw it, then I saw you guys being a little faster... Big Grin 

I agree with DarkRaven, you have to distinguish between fake and unbranded cells. I have plenty of SZNs and ASOs, and most of them tested ok, so I'm not surprised by Pete's results. I'm even using them in my powerwall (hey,no risk - no fun Wink ) and I'm pretty sure they're not worse than branded cells. I even think they're probably exactly the same as the ones from the big players, maybe they were bought in bulk from them and neutrally wrapped or, like DarkRaven stated, cells that didn't pass the strict quality tests at Samsung, Panasonic or LG. Moreover, I think if they were fake, the manufacturer would intentionally label them with fake values too, just to make sure stupid people buy them... they wouldn't label them neutrally, because people will think they're ordinary cells and won't buy them.

And like DarkRaven said, fake cells are really "fake", they just pretend to be 18650s. You can find plenty of videos on youtube where people open these cells and find funny things in them, like wheat, for example, to make them heavier Big Grin . I also have a fake one from a cheap China torch, disguised under the brand name "focus" (I think they already know that we won't buy anything with "fire" in the name), labelled 5000mAh. I checked it and it has less than 500mAh. Also funny: There's written "discharge rate" on it, but no value -  and plenty of spelling mistakes.

But to come to a conclusion: I think "noname" cells are not necessarily fake, they have to be tested. Sound or weight might be a an indicator, especially very light weight cells <40 grams, but if you want to make sure, you'll have to test.
BlueSwordM likes this post

Cells tested: 4571 (overall: 8770 Ah, average: 1918 mAh)
Cells in production: 2240 (overall: 4704 Ah, average: 2100 mAh)
Powerwall config: 7s320p, 672 Ah, 16 kWh
What's left: my current grid consumption

What's funny is that originally, the UltraFire name was a good brand. Now, there are so many copies.
The power of lithium ion is in our hands!
We'll show them what we're made of!
You are correct BlueSword. They were proper cells from the start many many years back! I have several of them with proper capacity still and I also mentioned that in my video I did.
The Ultimate DIY Solar and build place
YouTube / Forum system setup / My webpage  Diy Tech & Repairs

Current: 10kW Mpp Hybrid | 4kW PIP4048 | 2x PCM60x | 83kWh LiFePo4 | 10kWh 14s 18650 |  66*260W Poly
Upcoming: 14S 18650~30kWh | Automatic trip breakers, and alot more

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