Over the past year numerous people have reported having issues and failures with both the VB18 Lithium-ion battery for the Godox V850 / V860, as well as the PB960 battery pack, which are also required for the Witstro flash units.
Hopefully the worst of this should be over already, with Godox reportedly correcting the faults in subsequent batteries. Though reports of issues are still coming at the moment, likely because it takes time for new stock to reach all distributors and dealers etc.
The faulty batteries were either basically dead on arrival, or unable to recharge within a few weeks or so.
Or they are only holding around half the capacity they should be capable of. And these may last for quite some time around half capacity, or deplete within a few months to the point the battery can not be recharged at all via the supplied Godox charger.
One of the biggest problems in all of this has been that the VB18 and PB960 battery packs do not have any serial number, or date of manufacture etc marked on them. So there is no way to differentiate one battery from another, or even know if they are recent stock etc or not.
And this has made it difficult for people to even purchase new batteries they know will be reliable, let alone negotiating reliable exchange units under warranty etc.
This also makes it difficult to gauge how the situation is really progressing now, as any issues could still be attributed to older stock.
So at this point my main suggestions would just be to try and purchase from reliable dealers. And if possible check and monitor the batteries voltage (when fully charged) yourself, as this gives an indication of their health from the beginning, and how they are progressing over time.
UPDATE – January 2015 – Godox have now informed us that the later improved VB18 batteries can be identified by a faint black text “GREPOW” printed on the top right hand corner of the battery case as shown below.
UPDATE – April 2015 - The latest batteries now have a manufacturing batch number like 5B13k, printed where the GREPOW was previously (as shown below).
UPDATE – JULY 1025 – PB960 battery packs also now have a batch number printed on them.
Checking Battery Voltage
A good battery voltage when fully charged does not always guarantee a healthy battery, though it does at least provide some quick feedback as to the current state of the battery.
If a new battery, after being fully charged, reads below around 12.4 volts across the terminals, then you pretty well know it has some issues to start with. That may be that it will only hold partial capacity (and may still last a decent time with that partial capacity), or that its possibly headed for a fast decline.
Both the VB18 and PB690 batteries when new should read close to 12.6 volts across their terminals when fully charged. Around 12.5 volts may still be fine, but below 12.4 volts and you pretty well know there is an issue to start with.
UPDATE – It appears some charges will stop charging once the battery reaches 12.48 volts, where other chargers will allow up to 12.6 volts.
It has also been pointed out that it can help to check the voltage around 12 hours after charging the battery as well, as the battery can settle and the voltage drop a little.
On the meter, just set the main dial to 20V DCV, and place one probe on each terminal of the battery. The voltage will then display on the meters screen. Its really as simple as that. You don’t need to be an engineer to use a meter for something simple like this, and they are not expensive.
If you don’t want to use or purchase a multimeter, then the other way gauge the battery’s current state is to fully charge the battery, and then simply count how many flashes it will actually provide.
This is also really the only way to get a true indication of the current capacity of the battery. A multimeter just gives a much quicker indication if something is wrong when there is a low reading shown.
A fully charged new VB18 battery should get close to the 650 full power pops the specs state. I have counted 640 pops a few times, and others have reported up to 660.
A fully charged new PB960 battery should get around 400 full power pops with the AD360. With the AD180 and speedlites it gets hard to count, as the AD180 should be double the AD360, and a speedlite around double that again.
As mentioned previously, part of the issues experienced are batteries that are only holding around half of their capacity. And its possible more people have this issue than currently realize, because they don’t use or even need the full capacity of these batteries.
And as long as the battery is not steadily declining (which you can monitor with the fully charged voltage as above), a lower capacity may not always be something to be concerned with if you’re happy with the number of shots you are getting.
Another sign of the same issues with the VB18 batteries is that they will not start charging straight away when you place them in the charger. You will see the charger looks like its computing a number of times before the green lights start emerging and flashing as they should.
Also when a battery gets to the stage that the top green light just keeps blinking, like the battery has never reached full charge, that is a good sign the battery is headed for a terminal end in the near future.
And once the lights do not come on at all, there is no way to charge the battery anymore with the Godox charger.
For those buying from Amazon, Neewer (one of the cheapest retailers of the V850 etc) have at least been replacing faulty batteries, after a few negative reviews prompted them into action. So they are at least aware of the issues.
If you are having issues with your current Godox batteries you will need to contact the seller first and try to arrange an exchange. Godox have previously instructed their distributors to inform sellers of the issue.
If for some reason you have not been able not arrange an exchange with the seller, you can contact
Gwen – gwen(at)godox(dot)com firstname.lastname@example.org
UPDATE – April 2015 – Gwen is no longer working with Godox.
You can contact Lindy instead
UPDATE September 2015 – Lindy is away on maternity leave until late February 2016, please contact – email@example.com instead.
The V850 / V860 and Witstro are otherwise great flashes, and hopefully any major battery issues are mostly resolved now. It takes time to see how the batteries are holding up now though, and all we can do is monitor them over time.
Godox – Website.