LiPo disaster

Since everybody seems to be sharing LiPo stories. I have one from March 17th when a 2200 Mah 3s burned my entire garage. Check this out!3689543415?profile=original

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  • Wow! The conjecture is out of control here. Here are the details of how this fire got started.

    This was caused by a brand new Chinese made no-brand name battery on the first time it was charged. It was on a timer and the battery charger was properly setup and double checked. I sat and watched the computer monitoring the cells voltages until there was only 8 minutes left on the chargers timer. My wife was calling me from upstairs to get another project done so I gave the battery one last check. I held it in my hands to check for hot spots. None found. I noticed the cell voltages on the outside cells (3S) were lagging but not enough to be of great concern. I pushed everything else on the bench to the back left corner. I pulled the single 2200 battery to the front right corner along with the charger. There were 3 other LiPo batteries on the bench (1x 2200-3S and 2x 6000Mah 4S) and lots of cardboard boxes on a shelf up above. The nearest other combustible item was 3 feet away. I did not have the battery in any sort of container.

    A few people are being rather harsh and unhelpful in your criticisms. I absolutely made mistakes and wanted to share this with you so you don't do the same. I was super careful when I first started using LiPo batteries. I had read all the stories and thought like most people, this could never happen to me. Wrong! I learned a very harsh lesson by losing almost all my hobby equipment, 1 brand new car, 1 company car and everything else in my garage. I also spent 3 months with contractors in and out of my house from daylight to dusk. It could of been much much worse. Nobody got hurt and insurance covered most of the loses. I will never again complain about the fire truck sirens from the fire station across the street. They are music to my ears because the rolled up in my driveway BEFORE I could call 911.

    NEVER leave a LIPo charging unattended.

    Fire extinguishers probably won't put the battery out, but it will control secondary fires. 

    Use a LiPo bag or fireproof container

    Buy the best charger you can afford!

  • I know that the iPhone batteries have integrated microchips to prevent overcharging. If you get the correct hobby charger it should also have a feature to prevent over charging. I think most people just set it to quick charge and the battery will be charged beyond its rated capacity. I think all these measured to contain a lithium fire are great but the first measure of safety should be correctly charging the battery.
  • Moderator

    Not that I have had to use them *touches wood*, but two dry powder extinguishers are rated A, B (E), which is meant to cover lithium batteries too.  The other two are just water - to help put the apartment block out. (;

    If I had the space, I would have a sand trap, but alas no. 

  • Right but you probably only have a "ABC" extinguisher, and that would not be properly rated for a lithium fire (like your lipo...)

    Sand will work much better on that type of fire suppression. (and just use the ABC fire extinguisher to put your house out after, haha)

  • Moderator

    John M, I do sit or (sleep) near my s3 whilst it's charging and there are 4 fire extinguishers not more than 10m away. Two reasons really. Firstly because my girlfriend is with the emergency services and secondly after having a dishwasher catch fire at 02:00 burning half the house down im kinda paranoid about fire.

    So maybe its more of a question of why don't people have this gear?

  • Oliver - your idea is brilliant!

  • I recently purchased a metal explosives case to charge my lipos - it was $20 from a secondhand store. I have never had an issue charging (except a minor one at work where a mate's wiring for dual charging somehow shorted - I burnt myself ripping the cords to separate them thus preventing the evacuation of 3000+ people in our building). I have also purchased a big ammunition case to store my lipos now that we have a new home and my son is not far off being born/taught how to fly :-) I do have puffed batteries but whenever I charge they are inside a lipo charging bag, sitting in a cooking pot (now the explosives box) and it is right next to me and also away from any flammables. I also tend to charge most of the time where I can hoy the battery outside through a window or a door. Call me paranoid but I think the main thing that makes me this way is the potential for embarrassment explaining how the fire started (not to mention the lectures from boss lady otherwise known as my wife).  

  • Moderator
    These consumer devices have batteries with dedicated charge control circuitry, limiting risk. Hobby batteries rely on a do-it-all charger to try and make sure they charge properly. Hobby batteries are also abused quite a bit more harshly than well designed consumer products.
  • Do people sit near their smartphones with a fire extinguisher when they're charging them? Serious question because an iPhone uses a 3.7 V 1400 mah lithium battery.
  • Steel bucket or fat can. Bricks and/or sand in bottom upon which lipos are charged or quarantined. Larger can or bucket sits on top. This one has a large hole cut out of its bottom, hole is covered from inside with thin plastic. That in turn is covered by a few pounds of sand. Any fire will melt the plastic and dump the sand onto the lipo.

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