Li-Ion airsoft batteries show down Oper8 vs TITAN Power
At Airsoft Wholesale Sale UK we would like to thanks 18650.UK for providing comprehensive testing and independent review between the Oper8 Li-Ion and Titan Power Li-Ion airsoft power packs. It just proves everything is not what it says in the tin.
Not our usual bag, but our customers want what they want!
At 18650.UK we do a LOT of battery testing. It forms a basic part of our daily routine, whether testing to ensure the products are always genuine or on behalf of other businesses who need data or have concerns.
Titan Airsoft Batteries
A few months ago I was handed a Titan 11.1v Airsoft battery by a member of staff who wanted it tested for no real reason other than “for the sake of science” and that he works for a company with the capacity to do it. Being a company of keen airsoft players I hadn’t actually seen the brand before but was intrigued by it. In a sport full of LiPo products, why was someone looking to change the game and why now?
It’s actually quite simple and for a battery and technology business, glaringly obvious – Energy Density. Volumetric or Gravimetric, Lithium-Ion cylindrical cells outperform their LiPo counterparts in a big way and this lends itself well to a sport that requires an easily inserted/removed product that won’t let them down halfway through a game. Also, global cylindrical cell prices have dropped by over 50% in the last 5 years. They’re now an economical option.
Keen to get an understanding of exactly what the product was, I approached Titan for the factory datasheet and MSDS, something that any business supplying a battery should be able to provide (in the UK, is written into law). This is something I always ensure we have on hand when testing. It’s a useful reference for the way in which the manufacturer expects the product to behave and also from a safety aspect. You wouldn’t want to unwittingly push one of these too far. LiPo packs tend to “vent”. In an 18650, that pressure is held inside a metal can and can build up quite a bit pressure before it lets go, sometimes quite spectacularly.
Unfortunately, having requested this information twice from Titan (both via their website and email), they declined to answer. For a company who have provided and made a big effort to push one of the first Lithium-Ion cylindrical cells products for the airsoft industry, I really expected more. Even the factory datasheets for the cells under the wrap would have been sufficient to show me that they truly understand the product they’re providing. Alas, it wasn’t to be and I’ve not been able to garner any response at all from them.
I set the pack aside for a time when we didn’t have client work to carry out. Fast forward a month or so, and I receive a call from a local company who are supplying a similar product and want to see how it really performs. Even more, intrigued now, and with something to put the Titan up against, I pick it back up and put them in the queue…
PREPARING FOR TEST.
Our testing is carried out in house on computerised battery analysis equipment which plots charge and discharge curves via its accompanying software.
With no datasheet to hand and has been in the industry long enough to not trust anything on an outer wrap, it took it off. Underneath, I did actually find the same Sanyo UR18650NSX cells mentioned on the outer wrap. Although uncommonly used in pack building these days (its quite an old cell in current technology) its not a cell I’m unfamiliar with and a Grade A factory sourced cell should have a capacity of 2600mAh and be capable of a constant 20A discharge. Cross-referencing the date codes on the cells (V15), they were manufactured in July 2017. For a product purchased just a few months ago this is a very old cell and a clear cost-cutting exercise. Not a great start. Sanyo are one of the only manufacturers who actually provide the same level of data in the same format that we do. Here’s their discharge plot;
You might have noticed that the graph has Panasonic at the bottom. Panasonic own Sanyo and all data is provided by the parent company.
From the graph above, you can see that at it should be reaching its full 2600mAh capacity easily with a 2.5A discharge, so this is where I started the testing.
Oper8 is an OEM brand and is currently being distributed via their retail outlet as well as their wholesale arm, Airsoft Wholesale UK. Keen to get a full understanding of the products they were having manufactured on their behalf in China and to ensure they were as good as they were being promised, they sent me a handful to charge, test and teardown. Along with the factory datasheet for the cell, they also sent me details of their manufacturer in case I wanted to refer to them during the process.
The cell being used is the Samsung INR18650-25R. This is one of the most commonly used cells in pack manufacture due to its versatility and strength and its for that reason 18650UK generally holds around 10,000 in stock at any one time. Its also very commonly used in vaping for the same reasons (although Samsung SDI, of course, warn against this).
The INR18650-25R is a 2500mAh, 20A cell. Its widely known that the ratings of Samsung cells are often understated by the manufacturer and they have been tested to as far as 95A on a half second “pulse”. Tearing down the pack, we took note of the date codes and cross-referenced them with the Samsung dating database (for cells, not people….!) and they were manufactured in May this year. This is veryfresh, when you consider these cells will have spent a minimum of 7 weeks between then and now at sea.
As mentioned above, Sanyo/Panasonic are very generous with their test data. Samsung are not, however, given the hundreds of them we’ve tested over the years, we know that they are always more than capable of meeting their datasheet figures and there is a huge amount of data available for them;
As you can see, the INR18650-25R is quite comfortable around the upper end of its rated discharge limits but even pushing it 5A further, it still maintains a shade under its rated capacity. Between 5 and 20A, it actually regularly exceeds it.
First, all cells are charged on a balance charger to a full 4.2V per cell at circa 21’C/70’F. With these 3S packs, the final voltage is 12.60V (+/-0.05v) and left for 1 hour. The first test is carried out is always capacity. The industry standard for this is a CC (Constant Current) discharge at 0.2C all the way down to the factory stated lower voltage limit. In the case of both cells, this is 2.5V and so for a 3S battery, the lower limit is 7.5V. For the Sanyo UR18650NSX 0.2C is 520mA and for the Samsung INR18650-25R, its 500mA.
Unusually, I actually chose to run the tests at 2500mA. This is purely on the basis that in the factory data for the UR18650NSX (and with nothing from Titan), the lowest discharge given is 2500mA/2.5A and it met its rated capacity. I also ran the INR18650-25R at the same which is actually a disadvantage to it, given its 0.2C rating is lower but we’re trying to remain concurrent here.
I also ran a further discharge test on both at 10A and the software plots all tests on to the same graph. Here are the results;
Often, once built into packs, cells struggle to meet their full performance criteria, even if only marginally missing the bar. This is normally down to the materials and quality of overall construction of the pack. Poor inter-cell connections, terminations (deans, Tamiya etc) and pure nickel strip vs plated nickel strip and/or solder all have an effect on how efficiently a cell/pack can expend its energy and any resistance in flow is turned into heat – wasted power.
The two red lines are pass/fail lines. I set the bar for cells quite conservatively at 90% of the rated capacity for Chinese manufactured packs. This is largely down to often unknown cell age, storage methods and time in transit. The first red line represents 90% of the Oper8 battery’s rated capacity. The second is 90% of the Titan’s. Anything less than 80% would be considered by the manufacturer to be “end of life”. Anything under 90% is quite poor.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Oper8 battery (red line) made its full rated capacity and delivered 2501mAh. It’s a scrape, but its there. We could easily attribute the result to a very good quality, fresh, direct from manufacturer cell assembled using very good quality nickel strip. The Oper8 packs came with mini Tamiya connections which aren’t known for being the most efficient but don’t appear to have hurt it at all here.
The Titan battery (green line) unfortunately didn’t hit its target, managing just 2416mAh, almost 200mAh off its rated capacity and out of line with what the cell manufacturer states it would be capable of.
The Oper8 battery also suffers from less voltage drop. Voltage drop or “sag” as its sometimes called is loss of potential energy when current passes through a cable or component. Batteries or packs with higher sag struggle to expend their energy as efficiently and turn a portion of it into heat. Again, this can be the cells themselves, or the down to the quality of materials used in construction. A lower voltage drop rate translates to a stronger battery, able to maintain its voltage for longer and expend its energy much faster.
In airsoft, a lower voltage drop or “sag” rate translates into a higher sustained rate of fire and faster trigger response.
Ordinarily, we would increase in 5A increments up to the manufacturer’s maximum rated discharge limit. Unfortunately, with Titan unable or unwilling to provide us with any data to this end, I have only carried out one further test but it does show that the Oper8 product is stronger here too.
On the graph above you can again see that the Titan battery (in purple this time) suffered a greater degree of voltage drop than the Oper8 battery (blue line). Voltage drop rates do increase with load however the Oper8 battery is still suffering less and in my experience, it would continue to outpace the Titan battery even beyond its rated limit.
So what does this mean?
Overall, the Oper8 battery is a stronger product. It will deliver more game time, a faster rate of fire and a marginally quicker trigger response over its rival from Titan. It’s a shame that Titan weren’t able to provide me with any data to back the product but from the above results, it wouldn’t have changed the outcome.
If i was looking for a new battery in the format tested from both of these manufacturers, I would choose the Oper8 product. Not only has it clearly outperformed the Titan offering, but the retailer was also more than happy to offer up any information I wanted when asked and when dealing with potentially hazardous products, it’s the minimum level of service you should expect. In my experience, a company who will go to this level of support before you even purchased a product, is far more likely to help you if something ever goes wrong.
Sales and Technical Director