Stop Doing This to Your Strobe Battery Pack! [VIDEO]

Stop Doing This to Your Strobe Battery Pack! [VIDEO]

By Jean Rydberg

Ever since starting out in the Ikelite service department back in 2003 I've been seeing customers making the same mistake with their strobes year after year. The error stems out of the absolute best intentions in gear maintenance.

I want to tell you why it’s important to NEVER lubricate the o-ring for the battery pack and really to AVOID removing it altogether.

There are so many o-rings in our kit which require regular attention, handling, and lubrication to keep things dry. But it happens that the o-rings on our DS160, DS161, DS230, and DS125 strobe battery packs are NOT that type of o-ring.

Ikelite Strobes Side by Side

The styling has changed through the years but the reliability, performance, and signature toggle attachment has not. Battery packs are interchangeable between your new and old strobes. Over time it is possible to get some sand and dirt inside of the toggle. If that's a problem for you I recommend checking out our video on how to clean it out.


The only user serviceable o-ring on your battery pack is visible around the perimeter on the side that mates to the strobe front. We’re trying to keep water away from these contacts and out of the inner compartment that has the high-capacity cells inside.

Lubricant does not enhance a seal or improve its waterproof integrity. Its sole function is to reduce friction. 

When the o-ring is seated in this groove, it is preventing dirt – and water – from getting past it. When you go to remove the o-ring from this groove you are exposing the groove to contaminants. You’re also risking accidentally stretching, twisting, or scratching the surface of the o-ring and groove.

Ikelite Strobe with O-ring

There are a lot of completely unnecessary risks involved in removing the battery pack o-ring: gouging the o-ring or sealing surface with a tool, stretching the o-ring, and inadvertently trapping additional dirt and lint in the groove. 

Why use lubricant?

Lubricant does not enhance a seal or improve its waterproof integrity. Its sole function is to reduce friction. 

But it’s also a sticky substance – it has to be so that it sticks to the o-ring. When you apply a lubricant to an o-ring, it’s going to act like a magnet to any stray fibers, dust, and dirt that’s around you. If you’ve ever seen a single detective show you know that there’s a lot of that stuff coating everything at all times. 

This is a necessary evil for o-rings like on your lens port, where the o-ring is sliding against another surface when you install the port. You don’t want the o-ring to twist or roll when it slides.

Lubricant makes dirt, sand, and lint stick to the surface of an o-ring like glue

Lubricant acts like a magnet for dirt, lint, sand, and debris. The o-ring above was very lightly lubricated on the left half and then dropped into the sand. The lubricated side looks like the rim of a margarita glass. The dry half on the right hardly picked up any sand at all. The lack of lubricant does has NO negative effect on a compression seal - like your DS strobe battery pack (or DS51 battery compartment).

Why to NOT use lubricant!!!

Back to the battery pack. Your o-ring isn’t going anywhere. There is no sliding action. It’s simply being crushed between two surfaces as the toggle lock closes.

There’s no chance of rolling or twisting so you DON’T need lubricant. Lubricant would be working against you in this case by attracting dirt and fibers to the o-ring when you put it back on. And you’ll never be able to see those things once they are stuck down in between the o-ring and the groove.

The right kind of maintenance

If you’ve been in a dirty or sandy environment, simply wipe off the visible surface of the o-ring with a damp, lint-free cloth. Don’t remove it and fiddle with it. Just clean the visible surface and you’re done.

So that’s it! I promise this is exactly the way that every photographer at Ikelite has been maintaining battery packs for the past 20-odd years. In fact, we have a whole bin of false battery packs with o-rings that go on and off strobes all day, every day for water pressure testing and NEVER get removed or replaced.

DON’T come back with a flooded pack because you want to be extra cautious. Keep it simple.




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Jean Rydberg IkeliteJean Rydberg, daughter of Ike Brigham, became President & CEO of Ikelite in 2006. Prior to that, she wisely pursued a degree in Astronomy & Astrophysics to prepare herself for the challenges of running a technology-driven manufacturing business with global distribution. Jean fully embraces the need to travel outside of her hometown of Indianapolis to experience good diving. She believes that any camera is capable of amazing results in the right hands, and anyone can become a great photographer given the right advice. When she's not working she's spending time with her husband, cats, and two daughters.


Additional Reading

Batteries + Chargers for DS161, DS160, and DS125 Strobes

Common Questions about Strobe Firing, TTL, and Sync Speeds

DS230 Strobes in the Red Sea

The Next Generation of Professional Underwater Strobes

Why You Need Strobes Underwater

How to Polish an Acrylic Dome Port [VIDEO] 

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