Lithium-ion battery tech is rising in popularity, but so are the dangers

PECATONICA, Ill. (WTVO) — Fire departments across the nation are warning about the danger of lithium-ion batteries.

The growing popularity of hoverboards, e-bikes and other tech is bringing more attention to the issue. There are a few issues at hand, from over charging to using third-party devices.

Mishandling lithium-ion batteries can be costly, or even life-threatening.

“You have to handle it well,” said Richard Backeberg, owner of The Bicycle Hub. “I do a conversation with every customer that purchases a bike from me, specific on how to handle that battery, how to handle the charger.”

The Bicycle Hub sells and repairs both traditional and electric bicycles. Backeberg said that it is not hard to stay safe is residents are using the correct brands and following the correct rules.

“So, lithium-ion batteries are a very common battery in the e-bike world. There’s a lot of instructions that come with that from a reputable manufacturer, and there’s very low risk when it comes to that,” he said. “If you’re using the proper charger, the proper storing, following the proper storing rules, you’re going to be just fine. You have to handle it well.”

Manufacturers said that the optimum temperature to store batteries is 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The battery could self-discharge if it is any warmer than that.

It is also recommended to hang these batteries and keep them away from other objects when charging, as well as to never leave them charging for extended periods.

“Scooters or those hoverboards, things like that. Those tend to draw a lot of power and they can get heated quite a bit,” said Michael Schnaper, an arson investigator with the Rockford Fire Department. “Even some computers will see these issues, not generally with your smaller appliances like computers, but anytime you’re using like an aftermarket charger or an aftermarket battery, something that wasn’t come according, that didn’t come according to the manufacturer’s specs, that’s kind of when we start to see these problems.”

It is important to use these electronics with care, because while they can be a lot of fun, they can also be very dangerous.

“People lose their entire houses over that. Your explosion from a computer-sized battery, probably not going to be that large explosion, but all it needs is enough to start a fire and then you have enough of a problem,” Schnaper said. “The larger explosion seem to be traced more to, again, the electrical scooters, the electric cars, things like that.”

Schnaper said that it is crucial to not confuse these batteries with the ones mandated for smoke alarms and the recent 10-year law.

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