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Lithium-ion Batteries – Tips on the safe usage

The usage of Lithium-ion batteries has increased dramatically over recent years. Today they are common throughout society from the smaller applications – mobile phones, power tools and larger applications within the transport sector such as electric bikes, e-scooters and of course electric vehicles (EVs) and even large storage facilities for renewable energy.

Risk of fire

Lithium-ion batteries are rather unique, their ability to store a large amount of energy in a very small space makes them extremely popular. However, this ability to store all this energy in such a small space does have one main disadvantage, if they are not stored and charged safety, they can lead to risks of fire and explosion.

When correctly used the lithium-ion battery are very convenient and safe. The battery can present a fire risk when they are over-charged, short-circuited or if they are in a damaged condition.

Below are some tips on portable lithium-ion batteries that can charged in your home.

  • Always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions precisely on storing and re-charging batteries.
  • Regularly check the visual condition of the battery. Look or dents or some sign of deformation or an indication of where the unit is showing signs of overheating. Should you notice any of these signs then you should stop using/charging the battery and replace the damaged unit with new. Any replacement should be purchased from a reputable manufacturer or supplier.
  • Only recharge the battery with the original charger supplied. OEM charges are designed to steadily charge at a safe predetermined rate, it will monitor the process and avoid overcharging.
  • If the original charger is not available obtain a replacement from the original manufacturer. Substandard or chargers from a dubious source can prove to be deadly. Some of the main causes of fires from lithium-ion batteries are related to overcharging, over discharging and charging too quickly.
  • Disconnect the battery and unplug the charger when the charge cycle is complete. Ideally, do not leave items ‘on charge’ continuously – this includes your mobile phone – if possible, don’t leave your mobile phone plugged in overnight.
  • Charge your batteries in a safe place – don’t cover the battery when it is being charged or expose to high temperature or strong direct sunlight. Also isolate from any combustible materials or hazardous substances.
  • Do not recharge the battery in a location that, in the event of a fire your escape route may be in-accessible.
  • Take extra care when charging powerful batteries, such as e-bike or e-scooter, heed the above tips.
  • It would be wise to have smoke/heat alarms fitted to raise an alert should something go wrong. If you also be beneficial to check that your electrical installation is up to date – does the unit have RCDs fitted that can be switch off the power in the event of a fault.

At Cox Mahon we know and understand just how important your home, contents and personal possessions are. Our clients may find the above guidelines helpful in using lithium-ion batteries correctly and safely.  

Content provided by Aviva and the UK’s leading charity on electrical safety – Electrical Safety First – and contributed by Emma Matthews BSC Hons. ACII, account executive, Cox Mahon.