I don’t tend to use V-Mount batteries all that much for my gear. At least not recently. Battery power isn’t all that important when you can’t actually go out and film anything on location. But V-Mount batteries are hugely popular in the world of video, particularly when it comes to lighting, but they also often power cameras, monitors and countless other devices.
V-Mount batteries are not without their potential dangers, though, as this video from Gaffer & Gear explains. In short, there are multiple voltages and apparently multiple “standards” for V-Mount batteries that might potentially cause you to accidentally kill your gear or even make your batteries explode (they are lithium-based, after all).
The problem essentially boils down to voltages and pin assignments. V-Mount batteries are available in two voltages. They’re either 14.8v or 26v. A series of pins along the bottom of the battery carries the voltage out to whatever gear you’re powering with them. Ideally, 14.8v and 26v batteries both use a different set of pins in order to send out that voltage. This way, if you plug a 26v battery into a 14.8v charger or device, no power connection is made and everything’s fine. It just doesn’t power up.
And often, that’s the way they work.
But it appears that in some cases, the 26v batteries use the same output pins as the 14.8v batteries to carry their power supply. And if you have one such 26v battery, then plugging it into a 14.8v charger isn’t going to cause much of an issue – at least not in the short term. But plugging a 14.8v battery into a 26v charger that uses the same pinout could potentially cause a very big problem as it attempts to push too much voltage and current into the battery, potentially overcharging it and causing it to do what lithium-ion batteries do when they overcharge.
And if you plug that 26v battery into gear that’s expecting 14.8v… Well, that may not cause much of an explosion, but it is likely to fry your gear. And with the number of camera rigs these days using V-Mount batteries, that could be an expensive mistake to make.
V-Mount batteries are perfectly safe, as a rule. At least, as safe as any other lithium-ion battery. But, make sure you pay attention to which batteries you use with your gear and that all the voltages and pin assignments match what they’re supposed to, especially if you find yourself working on-set with others where you might be grabbing somebody else’s battery to power your kit in an emergency!