While 99.9999 percent of the time charging your batteries is safe, there’s always that 0.0001 percent chance that things can go nuclear in your garage while you’re not looking. Because of this, I’d like to share with you some important safety tips.
E-cigarettes, hoverboards, cell phones, laptops, and other devices can all have their own personal summer. The common denominator with these devices is their lithium batteries and chargers. Companies like Samsung have recalled their products as soon as they discovered a problem, but there are so many sources selling batteries online that you may never even know who you’re actually buying from. Places like eBay, Amazon, and a slew of others sell products from third party vendors in China, so you may not even be buying from a legitimate brand.
In today’s battery industry, there are many unscrupulous manufacturers. They claim unbelievable capacities based on bad formulas, and some forgo protection circuitry to save money. Some companies copy the design of established manufacturers’ packs, but use lower quality, more sensitive battery cells, and then never do any safety testing. I’ve personally seen all of these things done.
Some businesses, like Samsung, recently had a spectacular flame-out of their Galaxy Note 7 cell phones. Samsung has a testing facility with researchers and extensive equipment, and they still had a major problem. If a company as established as Samsung can have a problem, imagine what could happen with a shady manufacturer.
Counterfeit manufacturers are a huge problem as well. Right now, there is a flood of batteries on the market that look just like the originals. In the image below, this 18650 battery listed as Ultrafire shows a capacity of 5000mAh. It’s commonly used in e-cigars. But guess what? Ultrafire never made a 5000mAh battery.
Battery chargers can be suspect as well. Not that long ago, a manufacturer we know (but I won’t name) sold a charger to a police department that was installed in a squad car. The charger overcharged the battery pack, causing a fire. The loss was somewhere in the $90,000 range. So it’s critical that you take preventative steps with lithium batteries to protect yourself from danger to yourself, others, or your stuff.
- When charging your devices, leave them in a place where you can periodically check on them. Charging in the garage is fine, as long as you make sure that you go out there and look every once in a while.
2. If you’re charging two-way radios, keep the charger on a non-flammable surface away from the wall.
3. Buy from a reputable manufacturer or reseller. That guarantees if you do have a problem, you’ll have some recourse.
4. Aftermarket changes (rewraps) are okay, just make sure the manufacturer lists the cell’s origin or brand of the cell.
5. Never use cells whose wraps or contacts have been damaged. If you see a tear in the wrap, dispose of the battery or rewrap it immediately.
6. Never dent, pierce, burn, or crush your batteries.
By taking these simple measures, you are protecting your life and your assets. Please feel free to comment or ask questions!