Posted on 26 February 2016 by Matt Brown.
As seems to be the case periodically, at the moment we're seeing a glut of articles in the press regarding batteries venting or exploding, causing damage to bags, clothing and even harm to the user in a few unfortunate instances.
What the media seems much less keen to pick up on is that, in most cases, this kind of incident could have been easily avoided had the user followed some basic battery safety steps.
- Never store a loose battery in a pocket or bag.
- Wherever possible, ensure your device or battery is safely stored in a suitable protective case where it cannot be activated accidentally.
- Always be sure to use the correct charger, and never leave a charging battery unattended.
- When working with IMR cells, never exceed the stated max. continuous amperage limit.
- Always shop with reputable companies who comply with CE and RoHS certification.
- If in doubt, speak to our customer service team.
Most of the reports which have made headlines in recent weeks centre on batteries exploding in the user's pocket or bag. This sort of event is obviously going to be very traumatic for the individual involved, but it's not necessarily an indication of a problem with the battery they are using, or a liability on the part of the business who sold it in the first place.
In fact, when a battery vents or explodes in this situation, it's actually almost certainly doing so because of how it has been stored. Loose batteries should never, ever be stored in a pocket or bag. Doing so has the potential for the battery to become damaged from rolling around, which can dent or pierce the battery in some cases, or rip the insulated wrap which helps protect the battery from shorting.
What can also happen, which is arguably more likely, is the loose battery can come into contact with other batteries or metal objects. If this happens, the battery is at risk of shorting, which can in some cases lead to venting and even explosion. This doesn't mean that there is a problem with the battery, however, it's simply reacting in the same fashion as any battery would under the same conditions.
Instead, batteries (IMR cells and eGo batteries alike) should be stored in a suitable protective case when not in use. This will protect the batteries from physical damage as well as preventing accidental activation.
The recent scare stories in the media have, for the most part, nothing to do with the fact that an e-cig is involved. Any electronic device, be it a laptop, smartphone or camera, can be subject to similar faults, but as long as the device and its battery is treated with care and stored correctly, the risk of something going wrong is dramatically reduced.
So, it's important to review the basic Do's and Don'ts of battery safety to ensure that you get the most from your kit:
- DO - Always make sure to charge your battery in or on a fire-proof surface.
- DO NOT - Leave a charging battery unattended.
- DO - Remove your battery from its charger as soon as possible after the charge cycle is complete.
- DO NOT - Continue to use your battery if it becomes hot to the touch. If your battery does become hot (not simply a little warm, which can happen through prolonged use), or if it begins to emit a burnt smell, CEASE USING IT IMMEDIATELY. Allow it to cool completely (for at least 1 hour) in a safe environment, preferably outside on a fire-proof surface. When the battery has cooled, dispose of it safely, or make arrangements to return the unit if it is still under warranty.
- DO - Remove the cart or tanks from your battery immediately if your device begins to activate by itself and CEASE USING IT IMMEDIATELY.
- DO NOT - Charge your battery with wrong charger. Using an incompatible charger, or a charger supplied by a third-party, can lead to the battery being charged at an unsafe voltage, which may lead to it being damaged.
- DO - Keep batteries out of reach of children or pets, at all times.
- DO NOT - Store your device in a pocket, bag or out of visibility where you can't immediately separate the two components should the need arise.
When it comes to IMR cells, there are few additional battery safety considerations to take into account. As well as the correct storage of the batteries themselves, it's essential that the user understands how their battery interacts with the device and tank which they choose to use.
IMR batteries are the most commonly used power source for regulated devices (such as our SERIES-B Tilt), and mechanical mods. With a regulated device, the limits of the battery are less vital, as the device itself should be fitted with safety features to prevent these from being exceeded.
If you're using a mechanical mod, however, a good knowledge of Ohm's law and battery limits is required in order to use such devices safely. It's important that the user understands the power demand of the coil they are using and whether or not their battery can support it. If not, and if the battery's max. continuous amperage is exceeded, it will be at risk of venting or worse.
It's also important to be confident in the battery and device you are using. Only shop with trusted and reputable retailers, and ensure you are happy with the quality of hardware you purchase. In the case of mechanical mods, it's advisable to regularly clean any threading and the connectors to help to reduce the risk of hard-shorting.
For further battery safety information, see our full battery safety guide.