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Old Jan 25, 2011, 01:35 PM
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You think, no way, this won't happen to me!!

I had sent his around to a few of my flying buddies and they suggested I post this. I was fortunate.

I had heard about someone's house burning down locally from batteries but though no way this won't happen to me, I take all the precautions.
I had a Lipo catch fire while I was charging it Saturday. I walked away from it for maybe 5 minutes to do something in my office and as I came back to my garage downstairs, I noticed a lot of smoke in the basement.
I opened the door and there is a flame 3' high coming out of the pot I use to charge in and somehow the table around it is on fire as well (guess from the battery exploding). The smoke is so thick that you can't see across the garage, no you can't see your hand in front of your face and so I can't find my fire extinguisher, and I know exactly where it is!! I can't breath but I need to get this fire out and NOW!! And the fire is getting larger I guess from what in the batteries. and everyone in the house is screaming (what a scene.....lol).
I manage to drag, after a few trips, the table across the length of the garage and outside and put it out with a fire extinguisher from our kitchen.
I will NEVER EVER again charge unattended even for a minute inside. In fact, I will charge at the field or outside here.
Live and learn. The worst of it is there is soot everywhere that I'll be cleaning for the next month.
BTW this was a 3S battery. Imagine what the fire would have been like on a 5 or 6S!!
Learn from my mistake.............

In retrospect:

I think the battery was somehow as I wasn't getting the amps out of it I thought I should earlier in the day when testing on a motor. It was also puffed. And it was an older battery with unknown origin. The charger was set to the correct lipo setting (3S, 2100mA, charge) but had objected earlier in the day when I tried charging it. I should have thrown the battery away right then but kept at it.

It has made me take a close look at how and where I charge. From now on I will when charging:

1- Charge in an appropriate container and near an exit door.
2- Charge outside when I can
3- Have a bucket of sand ready to put a fire out if needed
4- Never ever charge unattended.......EVER!!
5- Discard puffed and damaged batteries. It's just not worth it.
6- Come up with something else that will contain the fire in the event this happens again.
7- Always charge in Balance Mode

Moral of the story is you may contain the fire charging in a clay pot or
something fireproof. BUT the worst part is the soot and smoke which you
can't contain. I was lucky and except for a ruined table and a few things I had on it, escaped basically unharmed. It could have been much worse!

Terry
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Old Jan 25, 2011, 01:46 PM
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Curiously, what specific charge equipment (make, model, external balancer?) were you using?

My suspicion is that you were using a non-balancing charger?

#1 means of preventing a charge-related lipoly fire is to use a quality balancing charger and always charge with balance leads attached. This is far more effective in preventing fires than any reactionary or fire containment measures (battery bunkers/bags, external balancers that have no charge interrupt feature, charging outdoors, buckets of sand). These other devices/techniques are certainly helpful but nowhere near as effective as preventing a fire as a good quality balancing charger.

Mark
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Old Jan 25, 2011, 02:01 PM
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Mark,
As I stated above, I was on Lipo Charge not balanced charge which I do 99.9% of the time. But good point.
The charger is a Turnigy. 4 port charger that I have found it to be a good reliable charger in the 10 months I have owned it. It always objects when I have setting incorrect.
There is no doubt that I am to blame for what happened by first charging a battery that was clearly puffed and giving me a hard time and second leaving the area.

Terry
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Old Jan 25, 2011, 02:11 PM
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Terry
How puffed is that, puffed seems to vary with the individual.
It's really good you only lost the battery. thanks for the post.
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Old Jan 25, 2011, 02:47 PM
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Thanks for posting your experience Terry. Hopefully your words will keep someone else from having the same experience.
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Old Jan 25, 2011, 04:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuchuf View Post
I was on Lipo Charge not balanced charge which I do 99.9% of the time.
In that case you may want to adjust your above listed procedure to include "Always connect balance tap and always perform balance charge" as your #1 safety precaution. This would have avoided the fire altogether, in my estimation.

Sorry to hear of your incident but glad to know that your losses were minimal.

Mark
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Old Jan 25, 2011, 05:03 PM
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Originally Posted by slowflow View Post
Terry
How puffed is that, puffed seems to vary with the individual.
It's really good you only lost the battery. thanks for the post.
I'd say very puffed both sides.
I ran these batteries when I first started flying electric and didn't understand the care and feeding of batteries as I do now. I generally charge at 1C rate (my preference) and never discharge more than 80%. I have a lot of 4S batteries that range in size from 2250 - 5000 that have been flown quite a bit under that methodology that are still rock solid. So I guess it works.

Terry
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Old Jan 25, 2011, 05:06 PM
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Originally Posted by hoppy View Post
Hopefully your words will keep someone else from having the same experience.
That is my goal here.

Terry
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Old Jan 25, 2011, 05:27 PM
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Haralson County GA. USA
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Quote:
Always connect balance tap and always perform balance charge" as your #1 safety precaution. This would have avoided the fire altogether, in my estimation.
There are chargers however which can do a non balanced charge but with the balancing leads connected still terminate the charge if a cell exceeds 4.2 volts.


I would be interested in hearing how close this battery was to be fully charged when it was left for 5 minutes. Not trying to be argumentative but experience is that it takes more than 5 minutes to go from nearly charged to overcharged to the point of venting with flames.

Once again the first rule of Lipolys charging was violated and the price was paid. Thank goodness damage was very limited and I hope the items in your basement end up being OK.

Charles
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Old Jan 25, 2011, 06:14 PM
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6- Come up with something else that will contain the fire in the event this happens again.
Consider a LipoSack (www.LipoSack.com and NOT a Chinese copy). They work well to contain flaming debris, are proven performers and carry a free replacement warranty in case it is damaged in an ignition. They're made here in San Diego, Ca. Not "overseas".

mw (shameless plug from The Bagman of LipoSack)
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Old Jan 25, 2011, 06:29 PM
A man with too many toys
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I think that by far the most dangerous is the use of LiPo batteries in transmitters. Models that are not familiar with the correct way to charge LiPo batteries use them. Most don’t bother to take the battery out and charge in a LiPo sack and just charge them in the transmitter and never bother to balance the cells. That’s a good way to burn down the house.

Some transmitters designed for LiPo have safety circuits built in. It’s the do-it-yourself conversion by amateurs that worries me.



.
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Old Jan 25, 2011, 07:12 PM
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Originally Posted by everydayflyer View Post
There are chargers however which can do a non balanced charge but with the balancing leads connected still terminate the charge if a cell exceeds 4.2 volts.
Understood, however I'm not certain that the Turnigy's are among them and why I revised my statement in post #2 to include 'balance charge' in my later post. This will all but guarantee that an overcharge related fire (as presumed here) will be prevented.

As many know, balancing chargers when used properly will prevent a fire. Fire containment devices can only contain a fire. Some will choose both to ensure that they do not become a statistic.

Mark
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Old Jan 25, 2011, 07:56 PM
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Even some of us LIFEPO4 guys do it safer.

I still charge on the driveway stones. When my old mind remembers. Why not ????

The car is ALWAYS upwind.

Batteries are like loaded Handgrenades.

You do not want to be unlucky more than 1 time.
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Old Jan 25, 2011, 09:05 PM
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Where can i get a clay charging pot???
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Old Jan 25, 2011, 10:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by everydayflyer View Post

I would be interested in hearing how close this battery was to be fully charged when it was left for 5 minutes. Not trying to be argumentative but experience is that it takes more than 5 minutes to go from nearly charged to overcharged to the point of venting with flames.



Charles
Since the packs were very puffed to begin with according to Terry, the tell tail puffing of an overcharged pack may have been disguised and the pack may have been subjected to overcharging for quite some time.

Terry, how long was the pack on the charger before the fire started?

Another problem is we don't know that the previous puffed up condition may have compromised the pack making it more susceptible to ignition even under 'normal' charging conditions.
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