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Local LiPo fire - please people be smart!

jhitesma

Some guy in the desert
Mentor
#1
Loaded up my local newspapers homepage today and what do I see?

"Charging battery cause of weekend house fire"
http://www.yumasun.com/articles/fire-90343-battery-house.html

Admittedly my first thought was "Oh great, someone left a car battery charging next to an ignition source" since that's usually what we see around here.

Unfortunately no. This one was a lipo. Left charging on carpet next to a pillow in a bedroom...with no one home.

Really? Seriously? Come one people!

LiPo's and chargers already come plastered with a ridiculous amount of warnings. To leave one charging unattended on carpet next to a flammable pillow is just negligence IMHO. It's not an accident. It's willful negligent behavior and IMHO there are no "victims" here as they brought this on themselves. I'm sure they'll be filing an insurance claim and the insurance company will probably go after the battery and charger manufacturer which will just keep making prices go up (not to mention insurance premiums.) To be honest I'm surprised insurance companies still honor claims related to LiPo fires like this and won't be surprised when we start hearing about people having their claims flat out denied.

Take some responsibility people and please be safe and responsible with charging your lipos! Don't leave them charging unattended. Don't do it where they can catch something on fire.
 

jhitesma

Some guy in the desert
Mentor
#4
Wasn't me it happened to. Just someone else in my town.

My methods vary based on season and battery size.

Smaller batteries (<1000mah I started with a bunch of 130-160mah single cells for micro helis as my first experience with lipos but also have a number of 500mah 2/3 cells for smaller planes) I either charge outside on top of a marble surface in the hole of a cinder block. Or in the summer when it's 114 outside I charge them inside in a nomex LiPo bag in my deep stainless steel sink.

Larger batteries I sometimes use an ammo can instead of the cinder block and when doing them inside I use the lipo bag inside the can.

Batteries that have been through a crash or two or which otherwise seem less than perfect I always do outside in a lipo bag in the cinderblock on concrete.

Anywhere I charge them I try to make sure that it's somewhere that if they do catch fire they'll be able to safely burn themselves out where they are - or that I have a safe way to quickly move them outside if they catch.

So far I haven't had any issues. I've charged a few that I fully expected to burst into flames (2200mah on the nose of my Axon took a beating as I was learning to fly) but so far haven't had the "opportunity" to see how well my safety measures do under fire.
 

jetpackninja

More combat please...
Mentor
#5
I've charged a few that I fully expected to burst into flames (2200mah on the nose of my Axon took a beating as I was learning to fly) but so far haven't had the "opportunity" to see how well my safety measures do under fire.
I hope you don't get the opportunity.
I now do all of my charging outside. Attending the charger is important, but I came to realize that there probably isn't a safe way to move a ruptured and degassing or flaming lipo outside. Not only that, even if I could; where is all that smoke going to go? Best case scenario a very unhappy wife and family- more likely a very costly hazmat cleanup bill...

Play safe
 

jetpackninja

More combat please...
Mentor
#6
Want to make sure my last post is not misunderstood. I agree with you 100%. The risk and impact of a lipo failure is very real. Please people, don't be lulled into complacency just because you have never had a failure. Be aware of the risk and the impact. Manage the risks and play safe.

Never charge unattended
Don't charge in the engine (or passenger) compartment of your car
Charge in a bunker
Charge outside

have fun, but be safe...
 

jhitesma

Some guy in the desert
Mentor
#7
Yeah, didn't mean to imply I'm hoping to test my procedures ;)

I don't fly much in summer and when I do it's mostly the smaller stuff - 160mah 1 cells and 500mah 3 cells I'm willing to take the risk of charging in a lipo bag in my sink. But even then I only charge them inside when they're bats in good condition with minimal risk of anything happening. When I do have a battery that I'm at all doubtful about it gets charged outside...even if that means waiting until after dark (when it at least gets down to about 90) in the summer.

I messed up about two months ago and left my lipo alarm attached to one of my 500mah 2 cells and didn't notice it until the next day - at which point the battery was dangerously low. To charge that one I waited until after dark, and charged it in a lipo bag in an old microwave oven outside on concrete.

I've been tempted to force a failure on a small 160ma single cell just to see how big of flames and how much smoke a little battery can generate when it fails. But I haven't had any that I'm willing to sacrifice just yet. I've seen a good number of youtube videos of people forcing failures on lipos but they're all larger batteries. Based on those I believe my precautions are enough that I'm willing to risk charging the little batteries in my bag in my sink inside when outside isn't an option. But I admit I still have concerns about it and watch them like a hawk as a result.