Vape batteries could cause lethal explosions, shopper security company warns
Shoppers mustn’t purchase or use particular person 18650 lithium-ion battery cells as a result of doable hearth danger, in keeping with a warning simply issued by the Client Product Security Fee (CPSC). The fee says it’s working with e-commerce websites like eBay to take away listings of unfastened 18650 cells, that are generally utilized in vapes, e-cigarettes, flashlights, and toys.
“[T]hese battery cells could have uncovered metallic optimistic and detrimental terminals that may short-circuit once they come into contact with metallic objects, akin to keys or unfastened change in a pocket,” the company wrote Friday. “As soon as shorted, unfastened cells can overheat and expertise thermal runaway, igniting the cell’s inner supplies and forcibly expelling burning contents, leading to fires, explosions, severe accidents and even loss of life.”
Accidents associated to exploding 18650 cells have been documented for a number of years now, however the frequency appears to have elevated together with their availability on websites like Amazon or from wholesale retailers.
One of many corporations that makes 18650 cells, LG Chem, requested distributors of e-cigarette gear in a late 2018 letter to cease promoting them, warning that “[i]ndividual shopper use and dealing with” that might “result in extreme burns and disfigurement,” in keeping with a report in The Atlantic. Samsung and Sony additionally warn shoppers in opposition to utilizing the cells.
We do have some questions on why the CPSC is unilaterally warning in opposition to all unfastened 18650 batteries, and why the CPSC is singling out the 18650 alone. “They’re typically misused as a stand-alone shopper battery, however do not need safety circuits,” writes the company, however you can purchase 18650 batteries that do include safety circuits — see an instance within the image above.
The 18650 isn’t the one Li-ion battery that has the potential for misuse, both — you should purchase standalone 14500 cells as effectively, that are roughly the identical measurement as an ordinary AA however greater than twice the voltage (don’t put them into your distant). You too can buy the 16340, a chargeable cell much like the single-use CR123A you may put right into a smoke detector. We’ve contacted the CPSC and can replace with any solutions we get.
18650 cells are bigger, greater density, and sometimes utilized in extra heavy-duty business settings, and even energy Tesla’s Mannequin X and Mannequin S automobiles — although the CPSC acknowledges that’s superb, because it’s their meant use. That mentioned, there’s a small however rising DIY neighborhood bobbing up round constructing customized battery packs for e-bikes and even electrical vehicles utilizing 18650 cells purchased on the web.
This isn’t the primary time the CPSC has intervened in battery tech. Again when hoverboards have been bursting into flames, the company demanded manufactures recall their unsafe merchandise and threatened to grab ones that have been non-compliant on the border. The company was additionally in control of investigating when the Be aware 7 began catching on hearth, though in that case Samsung labored with the company to get the product recalled earlier than the company pressured them to take action.
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