Powering up the Wand

The Wizard Tag Wand uses safe and dependable Lithium-Ion rechargeable batteries that have a high capacity and a Current Discharge Rate that allows all of the features to be used simultaneously.

Powering up the Wizard Tag Wand

How did we decide what kind of battery to use in the Wizard Tag Wand?

Rechargeable devices are part of everyday life.  Smartphones and watches, laptops and many more devices are plugged in around our homes, in our cars, at airports, on planes, and even in restaurants.  We take the power for granted and often do not think about the specifications as long as the functions work and we don’t have to charge the device too often.

Today’s energy storage for electronic devices falls into two categories:

  • Devices that should work all day long at least, then get recharged at night, such as phones and wearables.
  • Cars or electric bikes that have high power demands, and will not run all day long before needing to recharge.

Safety is also important, since rechargeable batteries can be dangerous under certain conditions.

Wizard Tag wands run on rechargeable Lithium-Ion batteries, like so many other products these days.  We want wizards to be able to play Wizard Tag for hours without worrying about running out of juice!

Cylindrical shaped batteries were the natural choice, of course, but there are so many sizes.  

We chose the 18650, which is 18 millimeters in diameter, and 65 millimeters in height.  This size easily fits into the handle of our wand and provides significantly more power than other standard sizes that are smaller in diameter.  

Notably, this is a common battery that is connected in modules to power e-bikes and is also used in some electric cars.  One Tesla uses 16 modules containing 444 of the 18650 batteries.  This adds up to 7,104 per car!  The extended version uses 516 per module for a total of 8,256.

The Wizard Tag Wand uses one!

We also opted for rechargeables since we don’t want wizards to have to replace their batteries and the Li-ion options can last for days depending on use.  In fact you can use a Wizard Tag Wand as a nightlight, and even if it is not plugged in, the battery will easily get you through the night!

Are all Lithium-Ion 18650 batteries the same?

We had to research the options and were surprised by the variability and quality of rechargeable batteries.  Sometimes reviews on batteries can be misleading, since the battery may suffice for the application, but not really achieve the stats listed on the wrapping or box.  The standard 18650 is limited in height and diameter, so the main difference between batteries is how compact the components are, which can be measured in weight.  

Batteries that over-promise and under-deliver often weigh considerably less than their higher quality counterparts.  In fact the difference can sometimes be 100%!  For example, we tested a battery that has 9900 mAh listed on the wrapper, but in actuality those batteries tested on average at 1200 mAh and they were about half as heavy as the good batteries we tested.

Safety is also a concern and there again, not all 18650s are created equal.  Some have built-in safety measures, which add to the size and cost of the batteries.  Batteries can include their own circuits to protect from overcharge, overdischarge, temperature, and short circuit.  We have dedicated protection circuits built into the power management of our Wizard Tag Wands.

How did we test and decide?

When we were testing the Infra-red systems on the wand, we wanted to make sure that we removed as many variables as possible.  One of the batteries we tested was the Samsung 25R 18650 2500mAh 20A CDR.  This battery has a great track record with its reliable capacity and relatively high Current Discharge Rate.  The four we ordered for testing arrived with the exact same voltage load of 3.55V.  

We also bought the Opus BT-C3100 V2.2 charger and verified that all four batteries had the capacity advertised.  This device has great reviews and is able to test voltage, charge batteries, discharge, test, and verify capacity (usually shown in milliamp hours or mAh).

After testing the infrared systems with audio and sound effects at full volume, and light animations at full brightness, we realized that we did not need a high CDR.  Then we looked at reliable brands with the highest capacity in the 18650 form, regardless of CDR.  We are currently doing testing with the Samsung 35e, which has a 3500mAh capacity rating at 8A CDR, which is plenty for our purposes.  

Most importantly though, when wizards get their wands, they won’t need to worry about power.  Wizards can recharge their wands through the hidden USB port at night at the same time as their Magelight function provides the appropriate shade and glow to help you fall asleep.

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

  1. Do you think about battery technology when you are buying a rechargeable device? 
  2. Do you prefer rechargeable to replaceable batteries?
  3. Have you ever had a phone or electric tool with an unreliable battery?

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