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Are Lithium Batteries Dangerous?

Are Lithium Batteries Dangerous?

Ah, the age-old question of first-time lithium battery users. Before answering this, let us first make sure we know what a lithium battery basically is. Widely used in a range of appliances, power tools, and even gadgets, lithium batteries are primary batteries that have metallic lithium as an anode. They stand out mostly due to their higher density compared to other batteries, reaching up to 150 watt-hours of energy per kilogram.

Among the most common uses of lithium batteries is for outdoor trips such as camping or caravanning. These types of batteries are lighter than the usual alkaline batteries so they already win in the portability department. Additionally, lithium can withstand low temperatures, so they're ideal for outdoor applications. Coupled with sufficient capacity that can power camping essentials and electronics, this makes a good choice if you're planning any outdoor activity.

Are Lithium Batteries Safe?

Now, onto the primary question. How safe are lithium batteries? Generally, they are safe and reliable especially if there are no damages prior to usage. It is important to note, however, that as with all batteries, safety is also dependent on how you use them. While there are risks about using lithium batteries, they commonly spring from improper use, storage, or charging and are preventable.

Among the things that may cause damage to your batteries which can also lead to danger is physical impact. This can be from dropping, crushing or puncturing. Extremely high temperatures going beyond 130 °F and placing your battery near open heat sources can also result in defects or may even cause it to burst.

Lithium battery failures due to mishandling also pose chemical reaction risks. The battery cell walls could expand and by-products may leak out including carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and hydrocarbons. Aside from health risks, these might combust and ignite too.

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LiFEPO4: The Safest Batteries

If you really want to ensure safety, try using LiFEPO4 batteries or lithium iron phosphate batteries. They are considered the safest battery in the market today due to quality cells and modern battery management system (BMS). LiFEPO4 is made with non-toxic materials with no hazardous fumes, making it safer for the environment too. Most importantly, they will not overheat or catch fire even when punctured, unlike lithium-ion batteries. Lightweight with a higher capacity, longer life, and advanced features, this is your best option when you're planning to go off-the-grid for a couple of days.

Safety Tips

As mentioned earlier, most risks with using lithium batteries can be prevented with proper usage. Below are some of the safety measures you can do before, after, or while using a lithium battery.

  • Test the batteries including the battery chargers and accessories according to the appropriate test standard before use. If applicable, you can also check if it's certified by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL).

  • Read and follow the manufacturer's instructions for use, storage, and charging.

  • If you're using any lithium-powered device, disconnect it from the charger once the battery is full.

  • Store lithium batteries in cool, dry places to avoid overheating, ideally between 5 °C and 20 °C.

  • Disconnect immediately if, during use or charging, it gives off an unusual smell, heat up, or change shape. Dispose of the batteries.

  • Dispose damaged batteries properly. Place in a fire-resistant container with an extinguishing agent and dispose of according to local, state, and federal regulations.

  • Keep away from flammable or conducive materials like seawater and strong acids.

  • Do not parallel charge batteries with different charge statuses. All batteries should be at least within 0.5 volts of each other.