Overblown Concerns Over Li-ion Batteries Stored in Cars

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SawMaster
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I’m a dash-cam-aholic as well as a flashaholic, and those really take a beating from the summer sun and heat. They use LiPo bag cells and many are reported ‘puffing’ in extreme heat, so those who use these in extreme climates have learned to take the cam out of the bracket and store it when parked. That’s usually in the dash. I can’t recall ever hearing of one single instance of a puffed battery from being stored there. Guys have ran extensive tests with temps in a car in different locations and the dash (glovebox) is generally the second coolest location of a car interior; under the seat being the best. Car trunks (boots) vary but again are not a problem with dash-cams and their LiPo’s. The absolute hottest place in a car is atop the dash in direct sun and at the top of the windshield below the tinting in the direct sun. You’re not going to have your flashlights there.

Yes, heat is bad for a lithium cell-battery. Yes, it can kill them. Yes, it can lead to fires. Yes, cheaper cells are more likely to have problems. But it’s only in extreme situations where this is a catastrophic danger. Rechargeable Lithium batteries and cells are designed to vent safely, but flashlights are not. Dash-cams are plastic so they yield rather than burst, but metal flashlight bodies won’t and this has happened enough to show that you should be concerned about it. With flashlights and cells stored in the dash, the trunk, or under the seat you shouldn’t have a serious problem but it may shorten cell life. Best safety will be with cells separately stored out of the light in a fireproof enclosure.

Good to be concerned- that will lead to you becoming educated to the dangers and not making mistakes due to ignorance. Bad to be paranoid- that will lead to you making mistakes because you’re not seeing and understanding clearly. Worst to be stupid- that always leads to problems.

It gets fairly hot here in the summer. I have LiPo and LIon’s stored out of direct sun in my vehicle. I’m watching for danger signs but not worried. If it does burn my vehicle I’m going straight to the store to buy a lottery ticket because it’s going to be a very rare kind of day indeed.

Phil

hank
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LiPo bag cells and many are reported ‘puffing’

Yep. I’ve had two of those puff up like golf balls, almost spherical — both of them were in solar-charged battery boxes, the widely sold cheap things with a large and medium or small USB port and a few LEDs. Broke the boxes open.

Good thing there were no sharp edges in contact with the bag cells when that happened.

Sometimes I figure China’s secret plan to conquer the rich West is to distribute their batteries worldwide.
Then one fine day their secret satellite signal gets sent that triggers them, and makes them all explode at once.
Conflagration.

fnsooner
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I have kept Li-ion cells of various types, sizes, and brands, in my work truck, ever since I have used them (about five years). I normally keep them in the glove box or center console in backup flashlights and in storage boxes. I have had no problems because of the winters and summers of Oklahoma. We have many days of over 100 degrees F during the summer and usually many days of single digit cold during the winter.

Pulsar13
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Just to add my experience, my aluminium-body gps unit turned from black to orange. Stored in dash. Same effect as when people bake their black flashlight. Imagine how hot it can be.

I also had a 70C thermometer burst in the car. This was long ago before temperature is hot as it is nowadays. Luckily it was the spirit one and not mercury.

B42
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Pulsar13 wrote:
Just to add my experience, my aluminium-body gps unit turned from black to orange. Stored in dash. Same effect as when people bake their black flashlight. Imagine how hot it can be.

I also had a 70C thermometer burst in the car. This was long ago before temperature is hot as it is nowadays. Luckily it was the spirit one and not mercury.

Yup, but you are also in Malaysia, and you had to have parked in the sun, probably dash facing the sun for high exposure to get those kinds of temps. Also, you almost certainly didn’t have stuff in that glove box to insulate since the typical glove box contents would catch fire at that temperature.

There are risks, and everyone needs to take them into consideration and alter what they do based on common sense knowledge and environmental conditions. I would probably not leave a Li ion cell in the glovebox if I were living close to the equator, or even if I knew I was parking in direct sunlight during the summer here for hours. But here in WA for example all the risks are altered, I don’t face the dash towards the sun at the very least or park in the shade, my glove box is jam packed with junk including paper and plastic items that would probably burn, certainly melt at the temperatures you describe. In fact I have an “early warning system”: thin dog poop bags which start to melt/deform at lower temps, (I’ve placed them in front of a high powered light beam and started to get them to deform) and Ive never had them deform in the glove box. My cells have been fine for years.

But again I’d have to say don’t do it, and Id advise everyone who asked not to. You cannot know someone else’s conditions, situations, climates they are exposed to, habits or probability they would ever remember they even have a battery in the glovebox.

pilotdog68
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Even if we just forget the whole “hot car” argument, I know lithium primaries are better in very cold environments, and it is wise to have at least one light in your vehicle that can run on AA primaries in case of emergency.

My Favorite Modded Lights: X6R, S8 , X2R , M6, SP03

Major Projects:  Illuminated Tailcap, TripleDown/TripleStack Driver

hank
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lithium primaries are better in very cold environments, and it is wise to have at least one light in your vehicle that can run on AA primaries in case of emergency.

Also good for years in storage, and they don’t alkaleak and destroy.

brad
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Malaysia doesn’t even get very hot does it? Isn’t their record, 104 degrees Fahrenheit?

That is pretty normal for summer temps in many American states.

Millions of Americans see 110 and 115 during summer, with records hitting the 120s.

Not what we have but what we enjoy, constitutes our abundance.

akhyar
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Normal midday temperature is about 32-35 Celsius (up to 95 Fahrenheit) in the open over here in Malaysia, and sometimes it can hit up to 37-38 Celsius.
But bear in mind that this kind of temperature is throughout the year.

I’ve keep flashlight using 2x CR123 batteries inside my glovebox ever since I own my 1st car back in 2004, from Surefire E2e, Pelican M6 LED and now Fenix P3D without any problem. I also have a pair of new CR123 as spare in the glovebox too.
Recently this year I used to keep Jetbeam C8 powered by 18650 cell, with rechargeable USB but revert to the Fenix as the USB cable that comes with the Jetbeam started to deform when left inside the car.

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akhyar wrote:
Normal midday temperature is about 32-35 Celsius (up to 95 Fahrenheit) in the open over here in Malaysia, and sometimes it can hit up to 37-38 Celsius.

That sounds plenty hot enough to to heat up the interior of a parked car. Park in the sun, and roll up the windows. You might not be cooking bacon, but you could still fry your buns.

My own choice mirrors yours. I would use lithium primaries.

The thing for me is that my car light is just an emergency light. I want to put it in my vehicle and forget about it. If I used Li-ion for the car light, I would want to carry that light with me when I parked on a hot, sunny day. That's a hassle I don't need.

SawMaster
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We can argue this to no end and there will always be at least two camps involved. But the empirical evidence shows that within reason, LIon cells can be very safe and almost always are. Going from safe to unsafe can be a very long-distance jump which once begun might not be stoppable and that is worth considerable thought.

People learning to fly commercially are told that you start out with two bags; one is your luck and the second your experience. You can’t tell how much the first bag holds so you focus on filling the second one because if what you need is not in one of those bags when you need it, it’s all over for you. Don’t waste the first bag being stupid.

Above all don’t bash others who see things differently. Especially that.

Phil

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Depends on the car and where the car is parked:
if you have a 100k$ car parked in a 700k$ house where you live with your whole family and a potential fire can destroy everything…it’s a bad idea

If you have a 500$ car parked on the other side of the street and you need a good flashlight in your car everyday, it’s another story.

As an emergency light which you actually never use, a flashlight with some lithium primaries or eneloops is the best bet. No risk and In case you need light you have a nice working light. That is why I have no 18650s in any car.

B42
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Werner wrote:
Depends on the car and where the car is parked:
if you have a 100k$ car parked in a 700k$ house where you live with your whole family and a potential fire can destroy everything…it’s a bad idea

If you have a 500$ car parked on the other side of the street and you need a good flashlight in your car everyday, it’s another story.

As an emergency light which you actually never use, a flashlight with some lithium primaries or eneloops is the best bet. No risk and In case you need light you have a nice working light. That is why I have no 18650s in any car.

Actually your reasoning is completely backwards and shows classist misunderstanding bias: the people with the $100k car and $700k house have car insurance, good house insurance and good health insurance, whereas the guy with the $500 car has insufficient insurance for his house or family probably (if he has any) and would suffer more by such a fire Silly

But still, either extreme or anywhere in between, I would recommend against doing it. And using Lithium primaries is still better.

hank
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Don’t rely on the assumption that your car, home, and fire insurance are going to pay for losses.
Not that anyone would be intentionally careless because they’re insured — right?

If the insurer’s lawyers can argue you were careless, or used something wrong, or used non-brand-name equipment, you may not be covered for losses that they can attribute to lithium-ion batteries — remember this isn’t about what you did, it’s about what they can claim you might have done.

There is a LOT of expertise being dedicated to denying claims for fires attributed to lithium-ion problems.
Here’s a discussion of how the lawyer-them-away approach to claims is done, by lawyers who do that kind of work:
http://www.wilsonelser.com/files/repository/PL_eNews0308_LithiumIonBatte...

It always comes down to the same thing:

Do ya feel lucky? Do ya?

light-wolff
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If an 18650 vents or even explodes due to heat in the car, this means that the car was already burning beforehand and the additional damage caused by the exploding cell is negligible.

And the guy measuring 1000°F (538°C) on the bezel of his flashlight should get himself a decent thermometer and some education how to use it.

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gauss163 wrote:
light-wolff wrote:
If an 18650 vents or even explodes due to heat in the car, this means that the car was already burning beforehand and the additional damage caused by the exploding cell is negligible.

Why do you believe that? I don’t think it is reasonable to make such a general claim.


Why don’t you think? What do you think instead?

I read what you posted in #22, though I don’t see how the linked FAA document relates to the topic of this thread. But according to that document, Litium metal primaries are a lot more dangerous than Lithium Ion rechargeables – in case they are set on fire, somehow.

Any decent 18650 can tolerate 80°C, it’s the usual temperature limit for high current discharge. 60°C even for extended periods (weeks) will age the cells, but is not dangerous. I.e., above 80°C (176°F) one could start being concerned about battery safety. 80°C in the glove box. Go figure.

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80C is hot but not impossible to reach in the central/southwest and even if they don’t vent or fail catastrophically they will degrade. At that temperature, cell failure becomes more likely to cause a fire. Autos are made of combustible materials exclusive of the papers and whatnot also kept in glove boxes. Were talking about EDC’s left in the vehicle day in day out. This is all about risk assessment. There is risk, less for some, more for others, but saying there is no risk at all is wishful thinking. Some will get away with skirting the grey edge of caution and some will prefer not to. Even good cells can develop faults and bad cells come preloaded so eventually Murphy will have his carbeque.

Three Tanna leaves to give him life, nine to give him movement. But what if he eats the whole bag?

Scott

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gauss163 wrote:
@light-wolf Posting further unsupported claims does not in any way support your prior unsupported claim. So, I ask again, why do you believe these claims? What is the logic you used to make these inferences? Do you have links to reputable studies that support them, or are they simply guesses?

Here’s one case that refutes your claim. If a cell has an internal short, then the heat from that plus the high ambient car temperature may be enough to cause a cell to reach thermal runaway. This may produce extremely high heat and venting, which may ignite surrounding materials (cf. the highlighted case in the cited FAA study)

The report provides the results of tests conducted under various conditions. However, I could find no documentation of any actual events. Moreover, while the test results were provided, the testing protocols were not discussed. So, we don’t know how the fires were started – all we know is the aftermath of the fires.

Rule 1-1 as it applies to life, take it as it comes.

Rufusbduck
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If the tests show that it can happen then sooner or later it probably will and might have already. Documentation might be hard to find since it would be hard to tell from the remaining slag pile whether cell rupture started the fire or happened during the fire. Also, to find it they would have to be looking for it, how often do carbeques get a forensic study before being sent to a scrap dealer. We’re not discussing legislation here but whether it not it’s advisable or whether the risk is overblown. It might be minimal but it’s not zero.

Three Tanna leaves to give him life, nine to give him movement. But what if he eats the whole bag?

Scott

hank
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http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Qingsong_Wang4/publication/257224404...

cited in http://www.researchgate.net/publication/229047548_Capacity_fade_of_Sony_...

Quote:
“Li-ion batteries are considered as excellent power sources for hybrid or electric vehicles (HEVs/EVs) due to high energy and power density [1]. However, the remarkable deterioration in the performance of Li-ion batteries at elevated temperatures is hampering their practice applications [2] [3] [4]. It has been reported that the optimum operating temperatures for Li-ion batteries should range from 20 to 50 °C, and the maximum temperature difference in a battery pack should be kept within 5 °C [5]. “

see also http://www.ul.com/global/documents/newscience/whitepapers/firesafety/FS_...

These problems appear to suggest the cheap vaper equipment industry may need some attention.

1dash1
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Rufusbduck wrote:
We’re not discussing legislation here but whether it not it’s advisable or whether the risk is overblown. It might be minimal but it’s not zero.

Isn’t that the point of all this discussion? How minimal or real the risk is?

I mean the risk of you catching a serious disease from handling doorknobs might be substantially greater than the risk of a Li-ion fire, but that doesn’t mean that you wash your hands every time you open a door.

Or does it? Evil

And as to the tests, what do they really prove unless we know what the test parameters were! I would be more inclined to be concerned if the test conditions were closer to, say, 150 degrees F, than if the test conditions were conducted at 300 degrees F. And I would be less inclined to give the report much credence if an external ignition source was used to propagate the combustions.

Rule 1-1 as it applies to life, take it as it comes.

1dash1
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gauss163 wrote:
1dash1 wrote:
The report provides the results of tests conducted under various conditions. However, I could find no documentation of any actual events. Moreover, while the test results were provided, the testing protocols were not discussed. So, we don’t know how the fires were started – all we know is the aftermath of the fires.

That’s a red-herring. The FAA study was linked much earlier (for a different purpose). But the recent discussion concerns a different matter, namely if there is any evidence whatsoever supporting light-wolff’s claim that “if an 18650 vents or even explodes due to heat in the car, this means that the car was already burning beforehand”.

You got me. I haven’t the foggiest notion of why I brought up the FAA report to begin with. Wink

Rule 1-1 as it applies to life, take it as it comes.

Rufusbduck
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I just think it unwise to give it an AOK thumbs up. Regardless of how complete our knowledge base or understanding of any tests or their outcomes people will read this and say “these guys said it’s fine so I’m gonna do it”. Blowing off test data or standardized recommendations for no better reason than you don’t agree with it is small reason to suggest someone else stick their neck in the noose. The risk may be small but how small? Plane crash, struck by lightning, random gun violence, heart attack? At what level of risk does one begin to take precautions? It’s an individual decision and there’s not enough data to be informed but it’s pretty easy to err on the cautious side for the time being. There are far more vapers than flashaholics so I have no doubt that failure mode testing of single cell high current devices exposed to excessive temperatures will be forthcoming.

Three Tanna leaves to give him life, nine to give him movement. But what if he eats the whole bag?

Scott

1dash1
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In practice, that’s another story. Glasses

And what I do in practice may be identical to what you do, namely rely on primaries.

But that has entirely to do with the pragmatic reasons listed in the OP: energy loss, shortened lifetimes, and expense of Li-ion cells. (I didn’t list cold weather, because I don’t spend much time on Mauna Kea!)

Rule 1-1 as it applies to life, take it as it comes.

Rufusbduck
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Quite possibly. Most of the time i do carry lights and li-ion cells with me in my truck. I also carry half a dozen 10-cell power tool packs, a practice I’m unlikely to discontinue however I’m aware of the concern and during heat waves remove the lights and take precautions with the packs. I’m simply counciling prudence, awareness, and continued observation of reality.

Three Tanna leaves to give him life, nine to give him movement. But what if he eats the whole bag?

Scott

1dash1
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hank wrote:

http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Qingsong_Wang4/publication/257224404...

cited in http://www.researchgate.net/publication/229047548_Capacity_fade_of_Sony_...

Quote:
“Li-ion batteries are considered as excellent power sources for hybrid or electric vehicles (HEVs/EVs) due to high energy and power density [1]. However, the remarkable deterioration in the performance of Li-ion batteries at elevated temperatures is hampering their practice applications [2] [3] [4]. It has been reported that the optimum operating temperatures for Li-ion batteries should range from 20 to 50 °C, and the maximum temperature difference in a battery pack should be kept within 5 °C [5]. “

see also http://www.ul.com/global/documents/newscience/whitepapers/firesafety/FS_...

These problems appear to suggest the cheap vaper equipment industry may need some attention.

Thanks, Hank, for doing the research.

The first link goes to a broad sweeping overview of safety specifications and the like, offering no insight as to quantifying the risks.

The second link talks about the affects of high temperatures on the storage capacities of cells. Again, nothing to sink one’s teeth into on the subject of this discussion.

The third link “Thermal runaway caused fire and explosion of lithium ion battery” is a lot more interesting. However, it raises more questions than it answers. Thermal runaway is a stated risk at 130-150 degrees centigrade. Standards call for batteries to pass heating tests of 130 degrees centigrade. Oven baking tests cited in the report were conducted at temperatures of 150 degrees centigrade.
a. What happens below 130 degrees C? Is it relatively safe and that’s why there’s no testing of lower temperatures?
b. What were the results of the oven baking tests conducted at 150 degrees C?

We don’t know. This report was based on culling other research reports. To find the answers, we would have to read the original reports.

So, it looks like you’re right, Hank.

It always boils down to the same thing…

Do ya feel lucky? Do ya?

Rule 1-1 as it applies to life, take it as it comes.

Rufusbduck
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UN and UL requires cells tested to have long term stability at 70-75C. Above that point long term exposure(2 days) leads to self heating and thermal runaway so it may be unlikely to happen since it’s hard to maintain that extreme overnight but we know there are plenty of fakes and poor quality cells around that might not pass that test. Good thing I already avoid close in parking at malls and 10k parking lots, you never know what’s in the next car over.

Three Tanna leaves to give him life, nine to give him movement. But what if he eats the whole bag?

Scott

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gauss163 wrote:
@light-wolf Posting further unsupported claims does not in any way support your prior unsupported claim. So, I ask again, why do you believe these claims? What is the logic you used to make these inferences? Do you have links to reputable studies that support them, or are they simply guesses?

You did not answer MY questions. I’ve been following enough “discussions” where you were involved, here and on CPF, to know that any answer I post will be “deliberatley misunderstood”, not actually read, and any question not answered. It will be nothing but a waste of time.
Post any evidence for a cell “self-igniting” at a temperature that can be reached in a car, and we can start talking.
First, we state what temperature this should be. Of course you can drag in an example of a black car parked in the sahara in full sunlight with a black flashlight lying not in the glovebox, but under the windscreen. 80°C maybe? And we’re not talking about degradation or aging, but exploding or venting.
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I haven’t seen enough evidence that the temperatures inside a vehicle during the hottest of summers can cause a realistic danger above and beyond the normal Li-ion dangers. I do believe that keeping cells in this environment and keeping them 100% charged will degrade a cell quicker over time but from my observations, I have decided to ignore. My biggest concern is over discharge.

I also do not recommend, to anyone I come in contact with, the use of Li-ions. Although if asked, I will give my opinion. I usually mention pipe bombs and overstate how dangerous they can be.

hank
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Wash hands after handling doorknobs?

That depends on where the doorknob is!

Understanding risk? You need to know details about construction, materials, and handling.
Badly made li-ion cells are readily available, and fake wrappers to disguises crap as good ones are cheap too.

I don’t advise other_people to be lucky. How would they follow that advice?
You may feel lucky, that’s your business.

Hey, store it in the glovebox and just don’t drive the car, that will avoid a whole different hazard: vibration:

Quote:
… the mechanical cell design, especially the fixation of the internal components, determines whether a cell withstands vibrations and shocks. Depending on the cell design and the loading direction, long-term vibrational loads can have additional detrimental effects on lithium-ion cells compared to standard tests.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378775315007648

Always be lucky, if you know how.

Hmmmm. Now, how would one try to have better luck?

They say good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.

Or, you can study statistics and epidemiology and try to change your odds even for things you haven’t personally seen happen yet.

Hey, the Europeans have a regular conference on fires in vehicles. Perhaps they should be consulted on this?

Quote:
Fire Spread due to Thermal Runaway in a Lithium-ion Battery Cell
Johan Anderson ; Fredrik Larsson (Institutionen för teknisk fysik) ; Petra Andersson ; Bengt-Erik Mellander (Institutionen för teknisk fysik)
Fires in vehicles (FIVE) 2014 Conference proceedings Vol. 2014 (2014), p. 267-270.
[Konferensbidrag, poster]

The risk of spreading of fire between Lithium-ion battery cells is assessed using Finite-Element (FE) modelling of the heat transfer initiated by a thermal runaway. The results are contrasted to experimental data where the heat release rate (HRR) is utilized as an input to the simulation. It is found that the temperature increase in a neighbouring cell can be quantitatively estimated during the early stages of the fire taking into account the anisotropic thermal conductivity of the cells.

Nyckelord: Lithium-ion battery, thermal simulations, fire test

SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden. SP Report 2014:44. “Proceedings from 3rd International Conference on Fires in Vehicles – FIVE 2014 October 1st-2nd, 2014 Berlin, Germany Edited by Petra Andersson and Björn Sundström”

I’m way past done on this thread.

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