Jump to content
Kraken de Mabini

Strobe Flood Damage – Hot Gas and the Pressure Relief Valve, Fact or Fiction?

Recommended Posts

Posted (edited)

When water enters a strobe’s battery compartment it damages the batteries, in some strobes it also enters and damages the electronic compartment, with usually serious and often irreparable damage.

To help explain the damage, some have claimed that the wet batteries release heat and gas; also that some current strobes have a pressure release valve (1).

However, as these two claims may be of questionable accuracy, let us examine them.

 

1. Pressure Relief Valve:

I have examined several flooded Inon strobes and found that the black plastic disc at the bottom of the battery compartment, mentioned by some as a possible valve, was not damaged or affected by the water. As this disc has no moving parts, is not connected to anything and is glued firmly to the strobe, it is not a relief valve (Fig 1).

 

post-47296-0-97731800-1560971376_thumb.jpg

 

Inon D2000 post flooding, front lens removed. The round black disc is firmly attached to the case, has no discernible function and is not a pressure relief valve. Just above the black disc, note the corroded battery contact nut: the water from the battery case traveled around these battery contacts to flood the electric compartment.

 

I examined five Inon strobe models: S2000, D180, D2000, Z240 and Z330 strobes and four models of Sea&Sea strobes: the Sub-50 TTL, YS-110 TTL, YS-D1 and YS-D2J. None had a pressure relief valve. The discontinued YS-250 Pro did have such a valve.

For all other available strobes, I used the information I gathered last month to prepare the Wetpixel Underwater Strobe Finder spreadsheet of currently Available Strobes (2); none of the UW strobe ads and specifications mentioned a pressure relief valve.

 

2. Battery Gas and Heat Release:

To see if gas and heat are released when a battery is immersed in salt water, I put three AA Duracell batteries in an inverted small transparent jar filled with in 4% NaCl dissolved in water (w/v) to trap released gas, and monitored the water temperature with a digital thermometer for three hours.

During the first two hours, the water temperature held steady at 19°C, then rose 1°C during the third hour to 20°C, (68 to 69 F) there was no visible release of gas; the control jar remained at 19°C and the room temp at 19.5°C.

The batteries released turbid yellow-reddish liquid, but did not bubble, swell or deform, something one would expect if gas was being formed inside them.

 

Conclusions:

1. As AA batteries immersed in 4% salt water released no detectable amount of heat or hot gas, the rumors of their release are unfounded, perhaps carryover information from the discontinued Sea&Sea YS-250, and from lead-acid automobile batteries.

2. No Inon have, Sea&Sea strobes no longer have, and no other UW strobes on the current market claim to have, a pressure relief valve (2). Why not? Because none is needed.

 

In closing, a hypothetical heat and gas release need not be invoked to explain strobe water damage, as the water and the chemicals released by flooded batteries suffice to explain the damage.

 

References:

1. Strobe Problems and the Battery Compartment.
http://wetpixel.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=64202, comment posted 16 June 2019; also

 

comments about discontinued Sea&Sea strobes quoted below. Sea & Sea YS-250 Pro Strobe leaking
http://wetpixel.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=37737&hl=%2Bpressure+%2Brelief+%2Bvalve&do=findComment&comment=261754

 

The problems with Sea & Sea YS110alpha
http://wetpixel.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=28796&hl=%2Bpressure+%2Brelief+%2Bvalve&do=findComment&comment=201773

 

Sea&Sea YS-110α Announced
http://wetpixel.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=26213&hl=%2Bpressure+%2Brelief+%2Bvalve

 

2.Underwater Strobe Finder.

http://wetpixel.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=6501, post of 16 Jun 2019,

 

with link to Google Sheets spreadsheet:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1otS2RTR47KhaFdBkO6Gd7DDju3CQLEnTT2Wwetay4vE/edit#gid=0

Edited by Kraken de Mabini

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

can you try nimh batteries as that is what most people use.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi, I too use them, rechargeable Duracells and Eneloops. My Eneloops are new so I hated to sacrifice them.

If somebody is willing to mail me a couple of tired Eneloops, I will repeat the salt water experiment.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi, I too use them, rechargeable Duracells and Eneloops. My Eneloops are new so I hated to sacrifice them.

If somebody is willing to mail me a couple of tired Eneloops, I will repeat the salt water experiment.

If your rechargeable Duracells are also NiMH chemistry, probably no need to do further testing. Your original posting did not say they were recharageables.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would suggest there are a couple of issues with your experiment, first NiMH batteries have different chemistry to alkalines. The Name Ni MH is the first clue - as part of the reaction the batteries evolves hydrogen to make a metal hydride - hydrogen gas stored in a metal matrix. This may take a number of forms, one of the metals used is Mitsch metal which includes the rare earth elements cerium and lanthanum which will react with water to form hydrogen, you would expect that some of this hydrogen may evolve in contact with salt water, particularly if the metal of this electrode reacts with water. . A short circuit can occur as well, salt water is conductive and the there is potential for a current to flow which can also generate hydrogen and oxygen to simulate this you would need the batteries installed in series so the water will see the 4.8V differential between the positive and negative terminals of 4 cells in series - this does make a difference you need a certain voltage to start evolving hydrogen/oxygen.

 

I've seen reference to a pressure relief valve in other posts but can't locate them right now. The battery compartment is sealed with o-rings. You will note that page 50 of the user manual Z-240 - basic operation that INON recommends replacement of all o-rings every 3 years - I doubt this happens very often given that service is not always easily obtainable. This post also refers to causes for leaks: https://www.scubaboard.com/community/threads/flooded-inon-urgent.356273/. It makes sense that if o-rings are older or perhaps have been impacted by contact with chemical soup coming out of the battery for too long that they might leak. The are likely butyl rubber o-rings which give good service in salt water, but perhaps not so good with various chemicals and like all rubbers slowly oxidises with age.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

That report was dated 1999, 20 years ago. Since then, the last Sea&Sea strobe with a relief valve was the discontinued YS-250. The YS-110, YS-50 and similar strobes, and current Sea&Sea strobes have no relief valve, not in the body nor in the battery plug, that I can find.

 

post-47296-0-22951300-1561160097_thumb.jpg

These three recent Sea@Sea valve plugs for the Yellow 50 TTL, YS-110 and YS-D2J strobes have no relief valve or vent hole.

 

Inon strobes do have a relief valve, contained in a black disc on the outside of the battery compartment, and connected to the battery compartment via a small, less than 1 mm, hole in the inside, centered on the black disc (1).

 

post-47296-0-82131300-1561160176_thumb.jpg

Inon D2000 strobe. The small hole at 3 o'clock to the right of the shiny battery strap is centered on the external black disc, the gas vent valve.

 

Two problems with current stobes are:

 

1. UW photographers use Eneloop and similar Ni-MH batteries with hydrogen generating potential, even though Eneloop warns against using these batteries in sealed lamps such as strobes.

 

2. Current relief valves do not prevent water from flooding from the battery into the electronic compartment. Water proof seals between both compartments are needed.

 

Us UW photographers pay for, and deserve, better designed strobes.

-

1. The Inon Black Disc - A Strobe Mystery

http://wetpixel.com/forums/index.php?showuser=47296

Edited by Kraken de Mabini

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When flooded with warm Bonaire salt water, black eneloops do produce gas, at least mine did. Amazingly, they also continue to work for a short while afterwards.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah and cold California salt water with white eneloops also make gas. Not clear though that they continue to work.

 

Cheers

Bill

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Opinions are interesting, recorded facts are reliable. I would find it useful for a Wetpixeler to mail me one tor two old, used white and black Eneloop AA batteries so I can put them in a salt water bubble trap to follow any heat and bubble release, and take photos. My email address is in my Profile.Thank you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This experiment has already been done multiple times (generally never on purpose). You already have the reports from 2 of them.

 

Flooded eneloops produce gas. Known fact.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Again I believe there are some issues with your experiment - Old eneloops that one might sacrifice have likely lost capacity - storing less energy this might mean they are not holding much hydrogen and will give off less heat when wet. I also think having them setup in series like they are inside a strobe may have some influence on the reactions that occur. The other influence might be the tight quarters inside the battery chamber- only a little bit of salt water gets in because that's all there is room for and dilution can have a significant impact on electro-chemical reactions. If you use too much water the temperature rise will be supressed which will also influence the reactions. These points may or may not be valid but to prove it you need to completely simulate the environment inside a strobe compartment. These batteries are storing energy when charged and that doesn't just disappear when you mix all the ingredients with salt water.

Edited by ChrisRoss

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In order to settle this gas release issue, please send me four used Eneloops and I will repeat the experiment using the battery compartment of an Inon strobe.

 

But the real problem is not whether gas is released or not. The real problem is that damaged batteries release corrosive substances into the water. At this moment, only the batteries are damaged, and with prompt action the strobe can be rescued.

Unfortunately permanent damage occurs when this corrosive water then leaks along the connecting electrodes from the battery into the electronic compartment.

 

post-47296-0-45180500-1561311603_thumb.jpg

 

This photo is of the inside of an flooded Inon D2000. The deposits starting at the top right electrode show where the water entered from the battery compartment, along the batteries' electrodes, into electronic compartment to destroy the strobe's electronics.
The leak occurs as Inon strobes are not properly sealed between the two compartments. A water tight seal between the two compartments, battery and electronics, is definitely needed to keep leakage damage contained to the batteries and to save the very vulnerable electronics.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Battery compartment floods WILL NOT affect the internals of a properly maintained Sea & Sea strobe.

 

The battery posts include sealing orings on the shaft of the post. I would assume Inon is clever enough to follow a similar design for their battery compartment?

 

This is not rocket science. They are smart enough to properly seal all of the switch shafts which involve a dynamic turning seal. Sealing the static battery post is trivial.

 

These are 2 companies with decades of waterproof design experience. I think they know their stuff better than any of us.

 

I also think it makes sense that each of us educate ourselves a bit more before we start making bogus claims. A simple way to do that is to ask questions first...

 

 

Known facts:

1) flooded eneloops create gas

2) battery compartments on well designed strobes are sealed from the strobe internals.

 

Cheers...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

P.S. Do you have the flooded D2000 in your possession? If so please remove the posts and check for orings....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As I pointed out in the link above: https://www.scubaboard.com/community/threads/flooded-inon-urgent.356273/.%C2%A0 this link has Reef photo an authorized INON service facility saying that there are o-rings sealing off the electrodes. I also reported in another post about p50 of the INON basic instruction manual which recommends changing all o-rings every 3 years. You will also note Reef's recommendation to put your strobe in to be checked if you ever flood the battery compartment. I recall various threads here asking about the waterproofs-ness of INON's battery compartment and the responses are mixed some relating stories where they survived a flood and others where it has leaked. To me this indicates the strobes are sealed - but eventually that seal will fail due to aging of the o-rings.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know the battery compartment of the Inon strobes have o-ring seals, but I flooded one and the whole strobe head was full of water, I suspect that the battery compartment got a real high pressure event that allowed a leak past the seal. In any case, I agree that the major strobe guys have mostly figured this stuff out.

Bill

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

... Not clear though that they continue to work.

 

Cheers

Bill

I guess I should clarify my comment about continuing to work for a short while.

 

The batteries continued to work for a short while during the same dive AFTER I noticed the bubbles coming out of the battery compartment.

 

It was mid dive when I saw the bubbles and I realized that I had a flood. The strobe was still working at that point. But it was too late to save the batteries as it would have taken at least 5 to 10 minutes to get back to the boat. So I just carried on. Once the strobe stopped working I switched it off and went with 1 strobe for the rest of the dive.

 

I did consider opening the strobe underwater to stop the chemical reaction, but that meant I would either be dumping the batteries in the Bonaire marine park or carrying them around for another 30 minutes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sponsors

Advertisements



×
×
  • Create New...