Lipos on fire!

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christerljung   100 W

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Lipos on fire!

Post by christerljung » Nov 15 2012 5:54pm

I heard a "bang" from the garage tonight. When i came there 2 of 6 turnigy 5ah 6s was on full fire! Covered it with heavy rubber sheets. The smoke was terrible. I had forgotten the charger on when trying to adjust some misbalanced cells...
All my fault, lucky i was.
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Philistine   1 MW

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Re: Lipos on fire!

Post by Philistine » Nov 15 2012 6:01pm

Well done on getting some photos, was there much soot in the garage?

Was it a blind/bulk charger? Can you give more details on the circumstances re charging etc..?

Glad you are OK, how big was the fireball?

I am currently taking odds on this turning into another lipo boogeyman thread....

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Lipos on your middrive? -Dont overcharge

Post by christerljung » Nov 15 2012 6:09pm

Maybe wrong thread but just a warning to you guys who is as careless as i am, hopefully no person is.
I had fire tonight in my garage when overcharging lipos that was out of balance, i had just forgotten them when a "bang" drew my attention.

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The work from these batterymedics just wasnt enough... :twisted:
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Re: Lipos on your middrive? -Dont overcharge

Post by adrian_sm » Nov 15 2012 6:19pm

Ouch. Glad the fire did not spread, and that you and your family are safe.

Do you know how overcharged the cells were? What voltage they may have got to?
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Re: Lipos on fire!

Post by christerljung » Nov 15 2012 6:20pm

Not very much soot.
I was bulk charging 3 pack in series. One was ok and i just wanted i put it up a little in volt so the medic could keepon balancing overnight. The other two were misbalanced and out of help, some cell very close to 4.3v and some down at 3v. I should have taken the bad packs out of the garage earlier...

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Last edited by christerljung on Nov 15 2012 6:21pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Lipos on fire!

Post by melodious » Nov 15 2012 6:21pm

I am currently taking odds on this turning into another lipo boogeyman thread....
8/10 on my fear meter... :shock: Thanks for keeping it real. Just when I think I'm ready for the next step too...
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Re: Lipos on your middrive? -Dont overcharge

Post by liveforphysics » Nov 15 2012 6:24pm

Thank you for sharing your experience. That is a real and serious risk when dealing with batteries, RC LiPo being one of the less forgiving types.

I really wish more folks using RC lipo were using Method's slick little HVC/LVC setups. Spending $100-200 up front seems like a lot to spend on a dirtcheap RC Lipo pack to have protection, but it's cheaper than buying the pack twice if you mess up, and it's way cheaper than cleaning up all the smoke damage or burning a garage/home down.

I'm glad nobody was hurt and your home is OK. Seems like we've had an uncommonly high amount of folks letting the smoke out of RC LiPo packs this month.
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Re: Lipos on fire!

Post by Ykick » Nov 15 2012 6:24pm

Taking responsibility is to be commended. Thanks for sharing! Very sorry for your losses but glad nobody was hurt.

Years ago I made myself an "off timer" extension cord for dumb charging. Use a bath fan timer, minute or hour increments. Saved my ass a few times....
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Re: Lipos on fire!

Post by full-throttle » Nov 15 2012 6:28pm

christerljung wrote:I was bulk charging 3 pack in series. One was ok and i just wanted i put it up a little in volt so the medic could keepon balancing overnight. The other two were misbalanced and out of help, some cell very close to 4.3v and some down at 3v.
The problem is in bold font
Never over-charge cells over 4.2V (pref 4.15V)
Never over-discharge cells below 3.3V (pref 3.5V)

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Re: Lipos on fire!

Post by Ypedal » Nov 15 2012 6:41pm

ouf, toasty !!...

one fried gecko award to you sir !
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Re: Lipos on fire!

Post by adrian_sm » Nov 15 2012 6:42pm

christerljung wrote:I was bulk charging 3 pack in series. ......... some cell very close to 4.3v and some down at 3v.
:shock:

The battery medics can only bleed, what, .20 - 0.45 Amps. So if you are bulk charging at a faster rate than this, the wimpy little battery medics won't be able to bleed fast enough, and those high cells will get charged up more. Overcharged. Fire ball.

Might be okay strategy for lightly imbalanced cells, but not great for a totally imbalanced pack.

Glad that you are okay.

- Adrian

P.S. Sorry if that sounded condescending or something, I just wanted to make it clear to others what may have gone wrong.
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Re: Lipos on fire!

Post by liveforphysics » Nov 15 2012 6:48pm

full-throttle wrote:
christerljung wrote:I was bulk charging 3 pack in series. One was ok and i just wanted i put it up a little in volt so the medic could keepon balancing overnight. The other two were misbalanced and out of help, some cell very close to 4.3v and some down at 3v.
The problem is in bold font
Never over-charge cells over 4.2V (pref 4.15V)
Never over-discharge cells below 3.3V (pref 3.5V)

Yep, in that situation, you're going to be driving the high cells easily past 5v for certain. The tiny bleed current of a battery medic doesn't have a chance at keeping up with even a 1-amp bulk charge current.
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Re: Lipos on fire!

Post by ohzee » Nov 15 2012 7:05pm

+1 for honesty and sharing thanks

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Re: Lipos on fire!

Post by neptronix » Nov 15 2012 10:15pm

adrian_sm wrote:The battery medics can only bleed, what, .20 - 0.45 Amps. So if you are bulk charging at a faster rate than this, the wimpy little battery medics won't be able to bleed fast enough, and those high cells will get charged up more. Overcharged. Fire ball.
Ding ding ding! you win.
That cell had to be in the 5v zone.
With another cell, you would have got fire, smoke, or if you were really lucky, toxic ooze.

I am glad the damages were so minimal. I've seen worse results from less RC Lipo. That concrete saved your butt!
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Re: Lipos on fire!

Post by Bazaki » Nov 16 2012 2:01am

I'm glad nobody got injured, I have had similar experience in the past.

But did you start the bulk charger while some cells were about 4,30 V, and some 3,5v ?
3 packs in serie, 6s packs ? So the bulk charger was set to 74,5v or so ?

I just would like to know how high the highest cell was before getting into fire.

A couple of weeks ago I did a test with one single cell and it did not catch fire until almost 6,00V :shock:
But I have seen fires at I think 4,6V too

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Re: Lipos on fire!

Post by lester12483 » Nov 16 2012 8:57am

wow, was there any other damage to the garage?
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Re: Lipos on fire!

Post by TheBeastie » Nov 16 2012 11:52am

I know some of you are saying congrats for showing his mistake etc, but I say we fully ban him and firewall his IP :mrgreen:
Seriously though I just wanted to know when it went bang did the batteries move at all?
I got mine sitting in a pan on a lipo safe pouch and am interested in know lipo "jump-ability".

Had my lipo cells for about 2 weeks and realise I got a dodgy cell.
No2 always falls lower then the others, and when I pull throttle/increase load it drops lower.
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Re: Lipos on fire!

Post by knoxie » Nov 16 2012 4:21pm

yes pleased that you didnt burn your house down, I still dont think anyone should bulk charge lipo unless they are within feet of the pack and have means to put out any fire that may start, unattended bulk charging is to be seriously avoided, there isnt much wrong with RC chargers and I still dont know why more foks dont use them, I have had not 1 problem in 3 years using them, I still charge all my batts on a fire proof matt in my brick garage.
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christerljung   100 W

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Re: Lipos on fire!

Post by christerljung » Nov 16 2012 4:27pm

There was no other damage to the garage than the awful smell :shock:
Im gonna get a steel sink for these lipo experiments.
The two packs that took fire was close 4.2 on some cells, some were at 3.1. They were already under observation with the medics connected. Anyway the reason for that i turned on the bulk charger, which had cutoff set at 74 something, was that the third pack with healthy cells needed some more charging, just a couple of minutes and i didnt bother to unplug the bad packs(im an idiot sometimes).
After that it was meant to just stand overnight and slowly balance throu the medic. But i forgotten these poor batteries with charger on, charging 5A and went inside the house. Maybe an hour later i heard a soft bang from the garage, my memory was suddenly very fresh and i ran to the garage, took fire down by cover the cells with cloth and rubber mats.

Fire was about an half meter high and very aggressive. Batteries did not move under the disaster.

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Re: Lipos on fire!

Post by o00scorpion00o » Nov 16 2012 4:41pm

Jesus man , ye crazy bastard. :mrgreen:

Could have been a whole lot worse.

Lesson learned ? :mrgreen:

Thanks for highlighting the Need to keep within the rules of charging LiPo, this makes me more aware, but I never break the charge or discharge rules.

I just received 8 x 6S 5ah worth of Turnigy, Tomorrow I'm going to remake my harness and maybe make a pre charge, I need to do that anyway going to 24S :D .

Got my 1.2 KW charger on the way from bmsbattery, I expect to have it in a couple of weeks, but I can't wait to go from a 400 watt charger to 1.2KW. :twisted:

Anyway, goad you are O.K!
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Re: Lipos on fire!

Post by dogman dan » Nov 17 2012 7:16am

I am also very glad you posted. You did some things wrong, but you did one thing right enough. We try to tell people it's dangerous enough to take a few precautions, but a careful person will not likely have a fire.

I'm not clear whether you had the batteries on the bike or not, but you clearly had them on a fire resistant enough place to avoid a major catastrophe. VERY GOOD!

No matter what you are doing to charge and balance, or how much you spent on the balance boards or chargers, charging where a fire is less likely to burn the house, car, kids, or neighbors is the single most important thing you can do. Personally I charge off the bike, but the main thing is don't charge next to something extra flamable. Those 2x4's got charred, but at least it wasn't the paper recyle bin or the gas can right next to the charging packs. Give that charger a few feet of space before anything that can burn is present. Smoke alarms near the charger, and I have a flat shovel nearby so I can flip the pack outside.

Your ready to hand non flamable blanket worked great too, I need something like that too! I even have some Nomex fabric in my garage, why didn't I think of it?

Very simple precautions can help a LOT. An old sink is not a bad idea, but just something less flamable than wood or carpet can work fine. Sheet tin, sheetrock, tile backer board, brick or tile can serve to make a less flamable wall and floor next to your charger.


What you did wrong has been pointed out, but I'll repeat for the noobs and lurkers reading. The battery medics ability to balance the pack was slower than your charger. Idealy, a "bms" will discharge the highest cells fast enough, but in addition to that, the charger or power supply shuts itself off before any cell gets too overcharged. Then when the voltage of the entire pack drops enough, the charger turns back on for just a brief period to keep charging the low cells. This on off on off cycle repeats many times till the pack is balanced.

It takes a long time, especially if your pack is really out of balance. So that's why you were waiting so long for it you stopped monitoring what was happening to the high cells. You can't sit there watching battery medics your whole night. I've done the same thing myself to a pack I was experimenting with, after watching for a hour went to pee, came back and a pack was overcharged and ruined. Wow, that was quick!

Now I advise people with RC lipo to get at least one RC charger. It's just fast, safe, and convenient to charge a single cell to balance a pack if you have a very large inbalance. Other balancers work fine when a pack is just slightly unbalanced. But when really badly unbalanced, I think it's just better to simply charge only the low cell. That way the rest of the cells don't have to risk an overcharge at all. What I mean is this, a bms can't make a mistake if you are single cell charging. Only the cell being charged is at risk of overcharge.

Single cell charging to balance the pack is the only way to go when you have one cell at 3.1v, and another at 4v. That's just too much for most balancers to handle in any reasonable lenth of time.

The safe way to single cell charge, is with a good charger you trust to shut off at the right voltage, such as an RC charger set to 1s charge. You just set the charger to 2 amps or less, and use the jst balance wires to hook up only the lowest cell. At 1-2 amps, the jst plug and wires can handle the load fine.


The other option would of course be to single cell discharge the 4v cells, with something faster than a battery medic. A turn signal light bulb, or again use the RC charger which can also discharge at 1s.

Lastly, NEVER hesitate to chuk into the recycle pile any pack with a cell that won't perform. That cell is the risk that you don't need. For a savings of $40-60 you risk your house? GET RID of packs with cells that continually get way out of balance.

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Re: Lipos on fire!

Post by dogman dan » Nov 17 2012 7:35am

Re Beastie.

If you have a really noticeably underperforming cell, it's a risk. A big risk in my opinion. However, the definition of unbalanced varies greatly. I sure don't worry about unbalaced cells at the level of .01v!!!. Just because you can measure it, doesn't make it matter. But if you are seeing a difference of more than .1v every cycle, that's a pretty likely to be defective cell.

I have seen cells go whacky for a cycle or two, and then behave normally after that. But if the same cell consistently won't charge similarly to the others, I'd set it aside in a fireproof storage area. Then when you have a second pack with a wonky cell, use the good cells from pack one to repair it.

The other big huge red flag is if a certain cell gets really hot discharging, or puffs really big.

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Re: Lipos on fire!

Post by hydro-one » Nov 17 2012 9:42am

I know exactly what you did. very stupid move. you wont do it again. If i set a lipo "bomb", i always set a timer and carry it with me. that timer has saved my ass many times . Most of the reason for this is that we are what they call "butchers" in the industry. We hack things to pieces, and break things , most of the time we are lacking in time, money, parts, etc.....i just want to ride, get r done , blew up all my balance chargers, china too slow, cant find my glasses ,,,,,,,,,

the solution is to only "manually" balance by discharging..... :wink:
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dogman dan   100 GW

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Re: Lipos on fire!

Post by dogman dan » Nov 17 2012 2:53pm

Well, if you have a rock solid means of stopping the discharge at the right point.

I think single cell charging to bring up low cells is pretty safe, when a trusted RC charger is used. But still not so safe you do it next to the curtains in the baby's room.

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Re: Lipos on fire!

Post by kentlim26 » Nov 18 2012 6:04pm

BC168 charger is said to charge cell individually. this charge seem and this rc charger can be found in ebay. i have been thinking to buy one. my greentime bulk charge blew up when i connect to my house plug. im using hobbyking charger from now. i bought 2 , it looks good
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