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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  • Dan, there were logs on the computer located on the shelf above the battery, which is nothing but a memory now. It was almost completely consumed by fire.

  • Moderator
    Great idea @Earl, I hadn't thought of that!
    With our long winter, and not having a heated garage, I charge in my workroom in the house, while Working beside the charging station.
    I have always worried if I was quick enough to run outside with a flaming lipo, but you have solved my problem with the fireplace idea!
    I will now set up the charging station inside and if something should happen, yank the power cord out and close up the firebox quick enough.
    Wow, this is a revelation!
    Thx Earl.
    • I found the perfect place to charge my lipo batteries. 10 feet from me where I work is a fireplace with door!


  • Great thread. 

    Sorry about your garage Robert. This stuff scares the crap out of me.

    I currently charge my LiPOs inside a Sentry 1100 fire safe (locked) sitting inside a deep sink, in my laundry room. I suppose that there is combustibles nearby so I'm going to do my best to move them away but I imagine there is a better solution.

    So seeing were on the topic. What would be a practical Lipo charging place? fire-resistant system? Best case scenario and middle ground (where most of us would probably operate under). 

    And... lastly is it just under charge LiPOs are hazardous? Should I be storing these batteries securely too?

  • Moderator

    Hi Oliver, maybe there is a difference in the way countries describe the classes of fires.  However, in Australia the common classifications are:

    Class A - Wood, cloth, paper, most plastics, rubber & textiles

    Class B - Flammable and combustible liquids i.e. petrol, oil, grease & paints

    Class C - Flammable gases i.e. natural gases, LPG, hydrogen and acetylene.

    Class D - Combustible metals i.e. magnesium or aluminium shavings.  Special smothering methods are required

    Electrical (E) - No official class exists as electricity isn't a fuel, however, fires that involve electrical energised equipment.

    Class F - Combustible fats and oils i.e. food deep fryers.

    ABE - Is classified as a multipurpose extinguisher so can be used on 3 classes of fires. However, it is not recommended for use on fat fires in the kitchen - a fire blanket or a BE rated extinguisher to put out cooking oil & fat fires should be used.

    BE - Can only be used on class B & E fires, not suited for class A fires. Best use for a BE extinguisher is in the kitchen & garage.

    ABE & BE - Are suitable to use on or around electrical fires as the extinguishing agent is non-conductive.

    Hope this helps for the Australian and New Zealand users.

  • Robert, you mentioned you were monitoring cell voltage on a computer.  Do you have any logs that you could share?

  • Thanks Oliver! I agree with you 100% and my only purpose in this post to make sure people were fully informed. Thanks for the very thorough safety list.

    To answer the unanswered questions:

    The charger was an iMax B6 digital. The safety timer was a maximum time and it should have also shutoff at the max cell voltage. I also definitely won't buy a battery without a brand name regardless of where it is made.

  • @Robert:

    Please don't take any of this personally and as I said before I'm sorry if it sounds harsh; the intention here is to prevent fires and (as you describe) the endless PIA consequences of even a "minor" fire. Your particular story is one that has played out exactly as you describe many times.

    As a retired fire chief and FD safety officer I can attest that many people are casual about safety guidelines. No doubt in part because we are bombarded daily with the most ridiculously contrived asinine CYA safety warnings about anything more threatening than a paper clip. But here there are real dangers:

    1.By your own account you didn't stay in attendance, as is always demanded shrilly by the manufacturers and in forums like this one. Well, you are far, far from alone in that. Staying in attendance if you charge the best way, which is one Lipo at a time at 1C,  is obviously not realistic for anyone really active in this hobby. I come home from the field with maybe eight or so depleted Lipos, between 1200 and 5000 Mah. It typically takes many hours to charge them all.Am I going to sit with them the whole time, every time. No.

    2. You also had, obviously, combustibles in reach of a potential fire. You again have a lot of company in that. A "charging bag" or metal box etc. can help but is not a cure-all. Search for "lipo fire" on YouTube and look at the sort of flames generated. Three feet is way too close, as you'll see.  

    3. A third factor might involve the quality and/or condition of the Lipos and the charger. About the Lipos you mention "Chinese" which is absolutely not a factor in itself, if for no other reason than that they are just about all made there. You also mention "brand new" and "no brand" both of which should induce considerable caution.We still know nothing about the charger.

    4. Finally there's the question of charging technique, also still unknown. You mention a timer - I hope that's referring to a "safety" timer or some sort of estimated remaining time counter, as Lipos that are charged purely with a timer are guaranteed to burn sooner or later. Some high-end chargers such as my Hyperions don't even have a timer on their Lipo setting. And any time a Lipo is charged at above 1C risk increases and battery life is shortened. Any time a Lipo is charged without balancing risk increases and battery life is shortened.

    What started the Lipo fire will probably never be known. Likely something from items 3 or 4.  What started the garage on fire however was the combination of items 1 and 2. You can get away with either indefinitely, but not both. So the secondary fire was 100% avoidable.

    Reading about something like this and vowing to not leave charging Lipos unattended is well and good, but in the long run unrealistic for many people (myself included). Therefore the "fail-safe" needs to be along the lines of location/partial enclosure/automatic control. It's really not hard or expensive and once set up shouldn't be much if any nuisance. Think bricks, sand, open steel container, cinder blocks.

    Extinguishment: There is a  lot of old and conflicting information on the net about Lipo fire management. Some early Lithium batteries contained chunks of metallic Lithium and thus required a very expensive "D" class extinguisher (not "E" as someone here suggested). Lipos aren't made that way and Lipo fires can generally be managed with water and/or an ABC extinguisher. Smothering (with dry sand) is also effective. Letting a Lipo fire burn out is an option - it won't suddenly explode etc. - but the fumes are nasty. If you charge in a steel bucket with six inches of sand on the bottom you give yourself a lot of options. For example  dump sand on top of the fire and carry the whole mess outdoors (use a stick under the bucket's bail so it doesn't burn you) and then get after it with the garden hose, staying upwind.


  • Robert, I share your pain. I would like others who have had lipo fire problems to post here or on my blog. Guys, there is no shame in saying 'oops I screwed up and here is what happened'. My guess there is a LOT of issues with lipo's.

    Not only do I want to be safe, I want my expensive batteries to last their normal life.

    My most big goof up is I am at the computer testing and developing software with a lipo powering the equipment and I let time get away from me. The lipo runs down lower in voltage than you should let it and now you have a problematic battery.

    From now on I am doing testing with a good power supply connected to the mains. I have one, a very expensive BK Precision adjustable I got from work because it was bad. I fixed it and now  use it.  will now use it more.

    When you do report a lipo problem, try to provide as many details as you can. It will enlighten us to check our stuff and prevent a problem. Maybe the lipo manufactures need to take a good look at safety and build in some circuitry to check charging like most laptop batteries. Sure it will cost us a little more, but for automatic safety I will go for it.


  • Moderator

    Thank you for sharing more details Robert and certainly glad to hear that no-one was hurt.


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