Lithium-ion batteries have become widely used in society from small applications such as mobile phones and tools to larger applications such as transport; electric bikes, e-scooters and electric vehicles (EVs) and also for storage facilities for renewable energy. This due to the unique properties of Lithium-ion batteries which is best summarized as the ability to store an enormous amount of energy in a very small space. This guide concentrates on portable lithium-ion batteries such as those that you can charge in your home.
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The ability to store enormous amount of energy in a very small space is also one of the main disadvantages of lithium-ion batteries and can lead to risks of fire and explosion if they are not stored and charged safely.
When used properly lithium-ion batteries are convenient and safe to use but batteries can present a fire risk when over-charged, short-circuited, or if they are damaged. Charging them safely is really important. Here are some simple tips for safe charging of your lithium-ion batteries
- Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions precisely
- Regularly check the condition of the battery, Look for dents, deformation or signs of overheating. Stop using/charging the battery as soon as you notice any damage and replace any damaged battery.
- Only use the charger supplied with the battery. It is designed to steadily charge the battery at a predetermined rate, it will monitor the charge and avoid overcharging.
- If the original charger is not available, obtain a replacement from the original manufacturer. Counterfeit and substandard chargers can be deadly. Overcharging, over discharging and charging the battery too quickly are some of the main causes of fires from lithium-ion batteries.
- Disconnect the battery and unplug your charger when the charge cycle is complete, don’t leave items on charge continuously, for example it's best not to leave your phone plugged in overnight.
- Charge your batteries in a safe place;
(i) Do not charge batteries where they may prevent you from escaping in the event of a fire
(ii) Do not charge batteries close to combustible materials or hazardous substances.
(iii) Do not charge lithium batteries where high temperatures or sunlight are to be expected.
(iv) Do not cover lithium batteries when charging.
- Monitor the charging of your batteries if you can, in particular, powerful ones like e-bike or e-scooter batteries.
- Ensure that you have adequate back up and early warning systems in place;
(i)Do you have smoke/heat alarms to alert you if something goes wrong?
(ii) Is your electrical installation up to date? Does it have RCDs fitted that can switch off the power in the event of a fault.