My 14500 battery explosion, with pictures

I was commenting in another thread about battery explosions. I was just going to add this to that thread, but I thought everyone might want to see the pics of my fun-filled 14500 battery explosion, about 6 months ago, so I started this new thread. The battery was a 14500 gray Ultrafire which had been working just fine for 10-11 charges. Until it decided to blow up. I would like to believe that the cheapy charger just decided to deliver too many volts at some point and the fault didn’t lay in the battery itself, but I really don’t know and never will.

>>>>>If you want a good fire proof container just go to your local surplus store and buy an ammo can.

From my experience with this explosion, an ammo can might contain a 14500 explosion, but it might NOT contain the explosion from a much larger 18650 or an even larger still, 26650. Stick a stick of dynamite in an ammo can and let me know how well that “contains” the explosion. :wink:

The sound of the 14500 going off was like a stick of dynamite. Couldn’t hear anything for like an hour. I can only imagine the force of an explosion from a larger battery, although some quarter sized holes in the ammo can might vent enough of the explosion’s force to keep the can from also exploding. But without the holes …… Not something I would risk. Just a potentially bigger bomb with more shrapnel.

I cannot stress enough that this was a “real” explosion, not some vent event. Here are some pictures.

I wish I had taken one of the coffee maker, whose coffee-making days were over. :wink: But I was so shookup that I forgot. It was literally cracked in half by the force of the battery casing “bullet.” Shattered like someone hit it at supersonic speed with a 10-pound sledge.

Note the decimated charger and the flakes of black crap EVERYWHERE. And I mean everywhere. We were mopping it up two rooms away. It basically took a whole day. It was also stuck all over the ceiling. The flakes were not dry and could not be vacuumed but had to be wiped off with wet towels. They were gooey and sticky. Yes, we wore respirators and rubber gloves for the cleanup. Could there still be toxic bits lurking around? Absolutely, but we did the best clean-up job humanly possible. Yes, we looked online to see the toxicity of the explosion byproducts. If I had been in a city, I might have considered calling a hazardous clean-up company. But as this was in Death Valley, 90 miles round trip from the nearest podunk store and gas station, and finding and hiring a hazardous material cleanup crew would have been just way too expensive. We are alive 6 months later and suffred no ill effects from the cleanup that we could tell.

The explosion happened in the kitchen. Word to the wise: NEVER charge batteries in the kitchen.

And before everyone starts saying I should have done this or that, there was NO warning. I felt the battery (one of 2 in the charger). NO heat. Did not take a DMM reading though, something I now do regularly. Walked away and like two minutes later: KA-POW. Being involved in mining, I have heard a stick of dynamite go off when only buried in a few inches of loose dirt, and this was LOUDER.

The battery cartridge shot 30 feet across the room; shattered the coffee maker and then ricochetted into the living room, another 30 feet, rricochetted off another wall (DENTING it) and finally came to rest smoking behind a couch, where it had melted a section of the rug. No flames. I think the battery casing was just really hot. Remember that this battery casing is a pretty insignificant flimsy, light piece of metal when empty (which it was when it took off on its presumably near-supersonic tour of various rooms in my house). For it to do all this damage, it HAD to be going as fast as a bullet.

If my wife or I were in the kitchen and had been hit by that battery case, there is no doubt in my mind that it would have been similar to being shot by a bullet. If it hit me in the head, I would have been killed or really hurt.

I charge almost all my batteries outside since then. But with the 16340 (A SEPARATE overheating event, not related to this 14500 explosion) it was late at night, two nights ago, and I decided to charge it in the bathroom with the door shut. Never again. Always outside charging from now on. (The 16340 got REALLY hot because of too-high charging current, explained in the other thread).

The battery explosion happened about 6 months ago and was one of the reasons I joined this forum, to find out more li-ion info, which I did, and now charge a lot differently and much more carefully.

But when there is no visible reason for the explosion, just being careful won’t necessarily prevent another explosion. That’s why I now charge outside — to llimit damage (and cleanup).

Wow! Glad your okay! I have to disagree with you about the ammo can though, I have seen them take a lot of excuse without breaking. One of the ones I got had a bullet hole in one side and it only dented the other side. The other advantage to the ammo can is if it is a simple vent with flame you just grab the handle and take it outside.

Edit: Oh yeah, forgot to ask were there any fumes and did the battery seem to have a good capacity? I personally think the number one danger with lion cells is using the cheap ones rather then name brand ones. My 3p Sanyos withstood a prolonged short without anything to dangerous. (Small flame but it did not escalate)

Were those protected cells? 14500/16340?

oh ow, that’s exactly the charger that i ordered last week. trustfire TR-001 with 2x18650 battery

I think using cheap protected Ultrafire cells is much more dangerous then using unprotected brand name batteries. (Sanyo, panasonic, etc.)

I’m asking about the 14500 and 16340 he mentions in the post.

Also, it’s worth noting that nobody ever said it will never happen, only that it’s statistically overblown.

I suggest improving basic reading comprehension before commenting further.

I don’t think being disingenuous is perfectly nice.

I have been wondering which one is more probable to happen:
Get injured by lightning or a blown Li-Ion?

Both are possible, no doubt about it.

>>>>>>I think using cheap protected Ultrafire cells is much more dangerous then using unprotected brand name batteries. (Sanyo, panasonic, etc.)

I now use almost-all (95%?) unprotected NAME-BRAND (sanyo, LG, Pannasonic, Sony, Samsung, etc.) cells. Although I use matched-voltage TFFs in the few multi-cell lights I still have. I really try to stay away from multi-cell lights now because of the explosion.

There are many arguments for and against protected/unprotected cells. My personal feeling is that I can’t trust the PCBs in ANY protected battery to do more than become shrapnel. They’re the weak link even in expensive “designer” protected cells. No one can see inside any battery wrap and know who made that PCB. It could come from a tin shack in China. I just don’t know. If a manufacturer said where and how the PCB was manufactured, I might trust it more, but then some of these vendor/manufactturers are the same ones who try and sell me 1200 lumen lights and crap batteries that supposedly have 3000 Mah.

I feel safer with straight as-manufactured unprotected cells from major manufacturers with established safety records, but that is me and I don’t expect anyone else to follow my example.

>>>>>>Oh yeah, forgot to ask were there any fumes

Not what you would call fumes exactly, but a strong odor that smelled EXACTLY like the afternath of a dynamite/gunpowder/cordite explosion. And the gooey flakes were in the air for a few minutes. We quickly set up exhaust fans to vent the flake crap, but it had mostrly settled by then.

Yes, the gray 14500 ultrafire was “protected.” whatever that really means. You can see the bottom disk from the protection unit on the floor in picture three, lower right.

I reciprocate quite consistently.

Stop it you two.

To be fair, re-read the 3rd from the last paragraph - Ubehebe refers to the explosion as a 16340, while the title says 14500, so the question was legitimate.

Ubehebe - I'm glad everything worked out ok and there were no injuries or fire. It takes reminders like this every once in a while to keep us from getting complacent with Li-Ion. No matter the statistics, we need to treat these batteries with respect and be vigilant when chargingl. Thanks for posting.

On reflection it seems more likely that this was an internal chemical fault, not really anything a pcb would’ve helped. Electrical safeguards offer protection for a different (perhaps more common) type of fault.

Ubehebe had two issues, the one with the 14500 explosion, and the 16340 (over)heating. I was curious about both.

>>>>>>To be fair, re-read the 3rd from the last paragraph -
>>>>>Ubehebe refers to the explosion as a 16340, while the title says 14500, so the question was legitimate.

I apologize for any confusion.

I am talking about TWO events:

1. 14500 gray ultrafire explosion 6 months ago.
2. 16340 xtar battery overheating event (without explosion), covered in another thread, which occurred two nights ago.

I thought I was explaining it clearly, but apparently not. As a professional writer, I try to be concise, but often I try to detail too much and include too much spurious detail. My apologies. Hopefully with this further explanation, it will all become clear now.

I also changed the original post to hopefully make it clearer. Thanks for poiting that out to me.

Another ultrafire kaboom story. Somehow I think these batteries are living up to their names.

Ubehehe, did you happen to check whether the protection circuit actually has circuits on them? They look flat to me.

The reason I'm asking was because, I once disassembled a protected 18650 with dubious characteristics and found that the "protection" was nothing more than a shorted bare PCB. It was painstakingly soldered, placed and rewrapped there JUST to make it look protected. Looks a lot like yours.

>>>>>>Ubehehe, did you happen to check whether the protection circuit actually has circuits on them? They look flat to me.

The ultrafire had a PCB in it. It was recovered with the various debris. Was the battery protected, i.e, would it shut down as designed and prevent a catastrophic event? As I said, I wouldn’t trust that or any battery pcb to do anything more than become shrapnel. As I said, I for one have no idea who makes those PCBs or even if they work reliably at all. As I said, I don’t trust them any more. I just buy the best unprotected batteries I can.

But I don’t wnt to get into an argument about the benefits of those PCBs. Not trusting them is my choice. I’m not trying to push that choice on others.

Wow! :open_mouth:

Do you have seagulls close by? If so, avoid them.
Switch to NiMHs. Your family, the neighbors, the fire dept and police will be glad you did.
I was almost at the point of considering trying a Li-ion. This convinced me that not using them, ever, is the right decision.

Yeah, watch out for those seagulls, especially the ones carrying fish. :P OL, I still think you should try Li-ions; they are really great and rarely explode. :)

It’s the initial cost of the Proper safety enclosure, that’s my concern, LOL.