It’s been unusually hot lately, even for summer. From record-breaking temperatures in the west, to the gigantic heat dome that hit the southern and eastern states, the summer conditions have been a bit brutal to say the least. It’s because of these rising temperatures that our minds have turned towards batteries, and how to store them safety in this summer heat.
Those of you who remember the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco, know that Lithium Ion batteries have the potential to catch fire or even explode, given the right conditions. This process is known as Thermal Runaway, and it basically boils down to a battery generating more heat than it is able to normally dissipate. This leads to further reactions that cause even more heat, and the failure grows exponentially- hence the term “runaway.” In most cases, this is the result of a manufacturer defect or physical damage that has impacted the battery. But sometimes, external factors (such as excess heat in the surrounding environment) can trigger thermal runaway, even in healthy batteries. That’s why it’s important to work safely with the Lithium Ion batteries, especially during hot weather.
First off- we encourage you to look further into battery and electrical safety (assuming you haven’t already), as well as laws and regulations pertaining to your state and municipality. There’s a lot to this topic and most of it is beyond the scope of this blog post. But in general, we’ve compiled a few simple steps that you can take to help reduce the risk of fire or injury when storing batteries at your repair shop.
If you plan to keep spare batteries in your shop, make sure they are kept in a dry, well-ventilated place, between 40 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep them away from direct sunlight, additional heat sources, water, or humidity above 50%. If you live in an especially hot climate without access to consistent AC, then you can store them in a refrigerator. Just make sure to keep them in airtight containers (such as a freezer bag) along with some desiccant packets to protect them from moisture.
If you operate a mobile repair business, do not leave your batteries inside a vehicle in direct sunlight. Take them with you or use some kind of insulated storage to keep them cool.
Keep your batteries stored in a dedicated space or container (preferably individually sealed, such as in our battery boxes), away from other objects, and with their terminals covered. Loose batteries can be stacked, but keep them in the same orientation and don’t stack anything else on top of them.
Don’t keep your batteries loose and in a pile. Stack them neatly and safely in a simple, dedicated space (like a file cabinet drawer).
Swollen, dented, or damaged batteries should be taken care of as soon as possible. Laws vary between states and local municipalities, but generally, it is ILLEGAL to throw rechargeable batteries in the trash. Check with your local or state authorities regarding safe disposal of batteries, or call your local home improvement store to see if they participate in battery-recycling programs.
As you’ve seen, failing batteries can do some serious damage. But in many cases, a failed battery will simply swell, rather than ignite. When this happens, there is a risk of leakage, which is problematic since the internal chemicals are hazardous. That’s why it’s important to wear protective gear such as eye goggles and ESD or nitrile gloves (which not only provide skin protection, but are also less electrically conductive).
We all make an effort to keep cool (and safe) during hot weather, but we don’t always think about how these high temperatures affect the objects around us, such as our device batteries. And while exploding batteries are the last thing we need in this crazy summer, if you implement these best practices year-round, then hopefully you won’t need to worry about it. That way you can spend your time thinking about more important things, like growing your business (or your upcoming weekend plans).