toolboy's Corner: Ibanti BA002R Battery

In February 2023, I obtained an Ibanti BA002R battery from Amazon in exchange for writing a review. I've written my review, and on this page I've documented my experience with the Ibanti BA002R prior to writing that review.

The Ibanti BA002R

The listing for the Ibanti BA002R indicates that it is a replacement for the Ryobi P108 battery with a capacity of 3000mAh. Here is the listing on Amazon:

The Ibanti battery arrived in an unmarked cardboard box, wrapped loosely in bubble wrap, along with a short user manual.

The Ibanti looks nearly identical to an OEM Ryobi 18v half-height battery. More precisely, the battery shell appears to be identical to a Ryobi P107 (not one of the other half-height Ryobi batteries: P102, P103, P189, P190, PBP002, PBP003, or PBP006) except that the surfaces are slightly rough whereas with the Ryobi P107 the top surface is smooth and the bottom has a rubber overmold. The Ibanti has different stickers that the Ryobi P107, and, humorously, we see a typo in the bottom label stating that the capacity is 3000Ah. The units should be "mAh" not "Ah".

The Ibanti's power meter showed four bars lit, indicating that the battery was fully charged. I placed it on my Ryobi P117 charger anyhow, and the charger quickly agreed that the battery was at a full charge.

After removing the fully charged Ibanti battery from my Ryobi P117 charger I connected the Ibanti battery to my computerized battery analyzer (CBA). I configured the CBA to perform a capacity test at the 1C rate of 3A. I've tested literally thousands of OEM Ryobi 18v batteries, and 1C is the typical rate I'd select for testing IMR and INR cells (up to 4.5A, which is essentially the limit for my tester). If the Ibanti's capacity is 3000mAh, it should take about one hour to complete this test. The Ibanti battery's discharge curve showed a voltage somewhat lower than I expected but it otherwise looked like a typical discharge curve -- for the first five minutes. After about five minutes the curve started dipping more rapidly, as one might expect to see when a battery is nearing its end of charge. After 331 seconds (under 7 mins) and at a measured voltage of 16.726v, the battery quit (i.e., the internal circuitry "BMS" disengaged the cells to prevent over-discharge). The measured capacity was 0.345Ah or just 11.5% of the rated capacity of 3000mAh. The test also indicated that it had measured 5.983 Wh. Thinking that perhaps the Ibanti's BMS may have been triggered prematurely, I waited a few minutes then restarted the capacity test. This test lasted all of 7 seconds, meaning that the battery was indeed fully discharged.

I recharged the Ibanti on my Ryobi P117 charger and repeated the capacity test. This second test ran for 168 seconds, the battery quit at 16.8v, and the capacity was measured at 0.17064Ah, or 5.7% of rated capacity.

I let the battery rest, then charged it on the P117 and tested it again, this time at a more gentle rate of 1A. This third test ran for 553 seconds before the battery quit at 17.316v and the capacity was measured at 0.1752Ah (5.8% rated capacity).

Clearly, the Ibanti battery does NOT have a capacity of 3000mAh. The capacity test shows that the true capacity is about 1/10th or even 1/20th of that. For most consumers, this would be the end of the story. But as far as cordless tools are concerned and ESPECIALLY Ryobi 18v and 40v cordless tools, I'm not a typical consumer.

I noticed that when I tapped on the bottom of the Ibanti battery I heard what I'd describe as a "hollow" sound near the front of the battery and a more solid sound near the rear. Curious, and suspecting that perhaps the Ibanti did not contain five 18650 cells, I decided to open it up and take a look. Frankly, I was shocked to discover that the Ibanti did indeed contain five green 18650 cells. I was unable to read all that was written on the cells as they were all mounted in such a way that the label was obscured. I could read "HH INR18650 A 3.6V" on one cell, on another I could see that beneath this line there was a 1D barcode and the third line began with "AG17", and on two cells I could see the icons for recycle and do not throw in the trash. I'm not familiar with this label style so I cannot guess the manufacturer. The build seems nice and clean, though I'm unimpressed with some of the spot welds.

As a side note, the inside surfaces of the battery shell are smooth, so having the external surfaces a bit rough must be by design.

I measured the cell voltages at 3.96v, 3.96v. 3.96v, 3.96v, and 3.549v. With one cell a half volt lower than the other four the problem could be that the cells were not properly balanced at the factory. It could also be that one cell is faulty or that there's another problem, but an unbalanced pack is easy to correct so I decided to give this a try. I attempted to balance the cells by individually charging each of the five cells to 4.20v using a single-cell 18650 trickle charger. This is something I've done many times with other battery packs. After charging and allowing all cells to settle, four cells measured 4.14v and one cell measured 4.24v (but this was not the same cell which measured low before!). Weird.

I re-assembled the Ibanti battery then re-ran the capacity test for a fourth time, and at the reduced 1A rate. It should have run for about three hours/180 minutes for a 3000mAh battery, but it ended after 83 minutes. The end of the curve dropped off suddenly at 14.922v which suggests that the internal BMS disengaged the cells. The test measured the capacity at 1376mAh/24.989Wh. I'd say this was a fair capacity test. I've not heard of 1400mAh 18650 cells, so I'll speculate that the cells in the Ibanti battery are rated 1500mAh, and if so then my battery tested at 1376mAh/1500mAh = 92% of cell capacity.

I've attempted to accurately measure the ACTUAL capacity of several individual battery packs before. It's important to understand that a battery's ACTUAL capacity is almost always less than its rated capacity, even for brand new batteries. This is probably due to the fact that battery manufacturers simply claim that the overall battery capacity is the same as the sum of what the cell manufacturer claims per each individual cell. For example, if a battery contains five 18650 cells each rated 3.6v at 3000mAh, then the battery manufacturer will claim that the battery is 18v at 3000mAh (18v = 3.6v x 3 cells). But several factors cause a battery's ACTUAL capacity to be lower than the specification: I've found that most OEM Ryobi 18v batteries test at or above 95% of their rated capacity when first tested. On the next few cycles the measured capacity typically climbs a little higher, and then over time the measured capacity starts to decrease. My strategy for accurately measuring a battery's ACTUAL capacity has been to fully charge the battery and perform a capacity test at the 1C rate (up to 4.5A), then repeat as many times as needed until three consecutive results agree to within 3%. My experience with relatively new OEM Ryobi 18v batteries is that this accurate measurement can be achieved after four cycles (i.e., the first cycle is usually a little lower than the next three).

After recharging the Ibanti on my Ryobi P117 charger, the power meter showed four bars but the computerized battery tester measured 19.01v, which is very low. At the reduced 1A rate, capacity test #5 of the Ibanti ended after 38 minutes when the BMS disengaged the cells at 14.935v and the measured capacity was 638mAh/11.171Wh. This is awful regardless of whether the internal cells are the claimed 3000mAh or even 1500mAh as determined by the previous test. It is difficult to imagine that results will improve much with additional test cycles.

After recharging the Ibanti on a Ryobi P117 charger, test cycle #6 ran for 47 minutes until the BMS disengaged the cells at 14.879v and the measured capacity was 777mAh/13.658Wh. That's a difference of (777-638)/((777+638)/2)*100 = 20%, so let's go again.

After recharging the Ibanti on a Ryobi P117 charger, test cycle #7 ran for 39 minutes until the BMS disengaged the cells at 14.869v and the measured capacity was 643mAh/11.218Wh. That's a difference of (777-643)/((777+643)/2)*100 = 20%. However, this result is within 3% of the fifth test so I'm thinking 640mAh is about right.

After recharging the Ibanti on a Ryobi P117 charger, test cycle #8 ran for 36 minutes until the BMS disengaged the cells at 14.865v and the measured capacity was 605mAh/10.574Wh. That's a difference of (643-605)/((643-605)/2)*100 = 6%. OK, one more time.

After recharging the Ibanti on a Ryobi P117 charger, test cycle #9 ran for 35 minutes until the BMS disengaged the cells at 14.855v and the measured capacity was 583mAh/10.145Wh. That's a difference of (605-583)/((605-583)/2)*100 = 4%.

I recharged on the P117, but at this point I decided to check individual cell voltages again. All five were in the range of 3.90v to 3.92v. That's close enough to consider them balanced, but a full charge should be more like 4.2v. Evidently the Ibanti's BMS is stopping the charge before the cells reach full capacity. So I bypassed the BMS and charged the pack using a 5-cell charger set to a 3A bulk rate (same as the Ryobi P117). After the charge completed, I measured the cell voltages at 4.15v on four and 4.28 on the fifth. I reassembled the Ibanti and test cycle #10 ran for 82 minutes until the BMS disengaged the cells at 14.856v and the measured capacity was 1374mAh/24.988Wh. That's practically identical to the previous time I bypassed the Ibanti BMS to charge/balance the cells manually. This result reinforces my suspicion that the Ibanti contains 1500mAh cells.

After recharging the Ibanti on a Ryobi P117 charger, test cycle #11 ran for 36 minutes until the BMS disengaged the cells at 14.825v and the measured capacity was 601mAh/10.487Wh.

It appears that once again Ibanti's internal BMS has not allowed the cells reach a full charge. The charge was terminated after the battery had been charged to about 600mAh. That's less than 1/4 of the claimed capacity of 3000mAh or a little under half of what I'm guessing is the actual capacity.

I had the idea to try charging the Ibanti further that the battery's BMS will allow a Ryobi P117 charger to go by using a trickle charger. After charging the Ibanti on a Ryobi P117 charger, I transferred the battery to a Ryobi P119 trickle charger. Sure enough, the Ryobi P119 trickle charger started charging the Ibanti. The rate of the trickle charger is up to 250mAh/hr, so if we assume that the P117 charged the Ibanti to 600mAh and that the cells are rated 1500mAh, then it should take about (1500mAh-600mAh)/(250mAh/hr) = 3.6 hours for the Ibanti to reach a full charge. I waited until the P119 indicated a full charge, which I did not clock accurately but I'm certain took between 2 and 5 hours.

After recharging the Ibanti on a Ryobi P117 charger and then topping off with a Ryobi P119 trickle charger, test cycle #12 ran for 81 minutes until the BMS disengaged the cells at 14.793v and the measured capacity was 1345mAh/24.319Wh.

This means it's possible to fully recharge the Ibanti without cracking it open and bypassing the BMS to charge the cells directly, but it's very inconvenient that a full charge cannot be achieved easily with Ryobi's flagship single port charger, model P117.

I decided to see if a Ryobi model P118 could be used to fully recharge the Ibanti. The P118 has a bulk charge rate of 1.8A/hr as compared to the P117's 2.9A/hr, which makes it slower but not nearly as slow as the P119 trickle charger. I connected a datalogger between the charger and the battery to monitor exactly how the charge proceeded. What I observed was that after 25 minutes the P118's green LED came on solid indicating a full charge, but the datalogger indicated 750.3mA delivered -- exactly half of the what I've guessed the cell capacity to be. I left the battery on the charger and two minutes later, the charger started trickle charging the battery at 390mA/hr! The LED remained solid green. The trickle charge continued for an additional 97 minutes, at which time the datalogger indicated 13,833mA delivered. I left everything in place overnight and in the morning I reviewed the data and learned that throughout the night the charger had "awakened" periodically and charge the Ibanti at 390mA/hr for about a minute.

Test cycle #13 ran for 81 minutes until the BMS disengaged the cells at 14.809v and the measured capacity was 1355mAh/24.548Wh.

Given the experience with the P118, I decided to carefully monitor how the P117 charged the Ibanti. After falsely indicating a full charge when the Ibanti was half charged, the P117 "woke up" about every 45 minutes thereafter and delivered a trickle charge for about 30 seconds, resulting in a net charge of about 150mAh each time. After four hours I stopped this madness, figuring that at this rate it would take about 2 days for the Ibanti to reach a full charge. I put the Ibanti on a P118B charger to see if it would behave any differently. The P118B quickly switched to CV mode and finished charging the Ibanti. This isn't the same as a trickle charge so the result is inconclusive.

Test cycle #14 ran for 79 minutes until the BMS disengaged the cells at 14.778v and the measured capacity was 1317mAh/23.897Wh.

Next I charged the Ibanti on a Ryobi P118B charger. I left the Ibanti in the P118B overnight (14hrs) and the datalogger indicated that 1365mAh was delivered into the battery in 69 minutes. The charge curve is typical for the P118B and shows that charger switched from CC to CV mode during the 25th minute at 20.37v and after 799mAh had been delivered into the Ibanti at the "Bulk" rate of 1.95A/hr. This curve is what I would have expected to see using the P118B with an OEM Ryobi battery. I wish now that I'd been monitoring the charge cycle with the datalogger on all of the previous charging attempts.

Test cycle #15 ran for 76 minutes until the BMS disengaged the cells at 14.749v and the measured capacity was 1271mAh/22.922Wh.

Next up was the Ryobi P135 6-port Supercharger. I noticed after about 15 minutes that the LED was glowing solid RED, which indicates "defective". I removed then re-inserted the Ibanti to restart charging and in less than a minute the red LED was again glowing solid RED. I removed/re-inserted a second time and after 2-3 minutes the LED glowed a solid GREEN to indicate fully charged. But the datalogger indicated that only 656mAh had been delivered. I left the Ibanti inserted to see what would happen when the P135 "wakes up" to top off the inserted batteries, but after an hour this did not happen so I terminated the charge. But I soon realized that my datalogger had frozen, and I'm not sure when that happened. So I rebooted the datalogger and re-inserted the Ibanti, and in less than a minute the P135 indicated a full charge. Once again waited to see if the P135 would "wake up" to top off the Ibanti. After three hours it did not. This behavior is similar but worse than what was seen with the P117.

Test cycle #16 ran for 36 minutes until the BMS disengaged the cells at 14.728v and the measured capacity was 608mAh/10.523Wh.

I decided to try the P117 one more time, and this time I monitored the charge cycle with the data logger. I'm thinking that after the charge is terminated I'll remove/re-insert the battery to see if that helps the Ibanti reach a full charge. But this didn't work. The datalogger showed that the Ibanti received 670mAh initially, then 33mAh on the second try, 17mAh on the third, and 8mAh on the third. The Ibanti will never get fully charged this way.

Test cycle #17 ran for 40 minutes until the BMS disengaged the cells at 14.729v and the measured capacity was 658mAh/11.405Wh.

Given the very strange behavior seen before with the P118 charger I decided to try the Ibanti on this charger a second time. The behavior was as seen before. The P118 charged at the normal 1830mA rate and indicated that the Ibanti was fully charged after 25 minutes, though the Ibanti was only half charged at that time (749mAh). Two minutes later the P118 still indicated charging complete, but it started charging the Ibanti at a reduced rate of 390mA which continued another 97 minutes until the Ibanti reached a full charge (1380mAH).

Test cycle #18 ran for 81 minutes until the BMS disengaged the cells at 14.642v and the measured capacity was 1346mAh/24.30Wh.

At this point I figured I might as well test charging the Ibanti on the other Ryobi charger models I own.

Next up was the P125 6-port Supercharger. The P125 Charged the Ibanti at its normal rate of 2780mA and indicated that the Ibanti was fully charged after 27 minutes, at which the Ibanti had nearly reached a full charge (1246mAh). After a 10 second delay, the P125 started charging the Ibanti at a rate of 860mA for another 9 minutes at which point the Ibanti was fully charged (13663mAh). This is the best result yet, the Ibanti was fully charged in 36 minutes!

Test cycle #19 ran for 77 minutes until the BMS disengaged the cells at 14.666v and the measured capacity was 1276mAh/22.986Wh.

On to the Ryobi P131 Automotive charger. I used a 12vdc @ 10A power supply to power the P131. When I returned to check how the Ibanti was doing on the P131 charger I found that the RED and GREED LEDs were flashing together = "Defective", yet the datalogger indicated that 1234mAh had been delivered. I removed/re-inserted the Ibanti and the P131 simply blinked RED. A review of the data revealed that the P131 started off delivering 3.09A but slowly tapered to 2.47A and then abruptly at 22 minutes the charge rate jumped to 1.85A and again tapered to 1.16A at 32 minutes, at which point the charge ended. The Ibanti was fully charged (1238mAh).

Test cycle #20 ran for 72 minutes until the BMS disengaged the cells at 14.716v and the measured capacity was 1207mAh/21.801Wh.

I decided not to try charging the Ibanti with my Ryobi P114, P116, and P180 chargers. The P114 was produced for a short time before being replaced by the P117 more than a decade ago. The P116 and P180 are both trickle chargers, so it's unlikely that the result will be any different than the P119.

The bottom line is that most Ryobi chargers will falsely indicate that the Ibanti has been fully charged when in fact the Ibanti is only half charged. When using the P117 or P135 chargers, a half charge is all the Ibanti will receive. When using the P118, if the Ibanti is left on the charger for an additional 90 minutes or so after the charger has falsely indicated a full charge the P118 will top off the Ibanti battery to a full charge. The P125 falsely shows that the Ibanti is fully charged after 27 minutes, but if left on the charger the Ibanti will continue charging full in another 10 minutes. Of the chargers I tested, only the P118B and P119 correctly identify when the Ibanti has been fully charged.

I don't doubt that I received a faulty Ibanti battery. The internal cell voltages of a battery pack should be balanced at the factory, the cells should charge and discharge at about the same rate, and cell voltages should never differ by much -- much less than 0.1v. I do not know what caused the cell imbalance on the battery I received. It could be a rare anomaly. But I do know that I've not observed this on any of the thousands of new OEM Ryobi batteries I've tested over the years, and yet somehow this occurred with the very first Ibanti I've tested.

Keep in mind that even if the Ibanti had not had the cell imbalance problem, it would not be a 3000mAh battery as advertised. A 1500mAh capacity rating would be much more realistic for this Ibanti.

Now that I've manually balanced the cells the Ibanti is a serviceable 1500mAh battery with an ACTUAL capacity lower than OEM Ryobi 1500mAh batteries. However, the Ibanti has the bizarre quirk that it cannot be charged on the Ryobi chargers which I use most often -- models P135 and P117. I've labeled my Ibanti to charge it on a Ryobi P118 or P125 charger.

UPDATE - What happened, Ryobi?!

I've only owned the Ibanti for a few weeks now and it has performed just fine in various tools (orbital sander, radio, drill, flashlight). But I'm not pleased that I must charge it in a P118 instead of the P135 I have mounted in the wall of my shop, and I'm really disappointed that it doesn't last any longer than the other half height batteries I own.

While in The Home Depot I discovered that the compact brushless hammer drill kit PBLHM101K2 had been discounted to $80, so I picked one up. The manufacture date of the batteries showed them to be 38 weeks old (9.5 months). This kit included two half height 2000mAh HIGH PERFORMANCE batteries (PBP003). As per my usual custom, I charged each battery on the Ryobi P117 charger in my office then ran a capacity test (I chose a 2.5Ah rate, which is 1.25C). The first PBP003 tested at 1.94Ah, or 97% of the rated 2000mAh capacity. Great! The second PBP003 tested at 1.56Ah, or just 78% of the rated capacity. Uh-oh.

I recharged the second PBP003 on my P117 then connected it to my CBA. The voltage on the pack was low, much like I'd recently seen with the Ibanti. I decided not to run the test, and instead I took the PBP003 apart and checked the individual cell voltages. I measured the 18650 cells at 4.06v, 4.06v, 4.06v, 4.06v and 3.89v. That's not nearly as unbalanced as the Ibanti was, but it's still enough to be concerned. I manually charged the one low cell up to 4.06v to match the others, then manually charged the string of five cells at a 1.0A rate up to a full charge (bypassing the BMS). After reassembling the PBP003, it a second test on the CBA measured the capacity at 1.83Ah or 92% of the rated capacity. I recharged the PBP003 on my P117 and tested it for a third time and the measured capacity was 1.91Ah or 96% of the rated capacity.

Of the thousands of OEM Ryobi batteries on which I've performed capacity tests, this is the first I can remember which has had the problem of unbalanced cells. Or at least this is the first time I've realized that unbalanced cells is the problem. Over years of teting, the failure rate for OEM Ryobi batteries (not reaching at least 85% of rated capacity) has been under 1%. However, I suspect that many problems occur due to Li-Ion batteries sitting idle on the shelf for too long. After a fiasco with P104 batteries in 2010 I've carefully avoided accepting batteries which are more than 18 months old. I'm very disappointed that a genuine Ryobi battery less than a year old had this problem. But I'm pleased that after manually re-balancing the cells the PBP003 performs at its rated capacity.

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Last revised 23-Mar-2023
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