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Old Feb 10, 2006, 03:24 PM
Lee
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USA, UT, Orem
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Lipo fire video

THERE ARE NOW 3 LIPO FIRE VIDEOS AT www.utahflyers.org.

Last updated 4-13-2006.

I'm a "Mythbuster" fan and thought it would be a good project to separate myth from truth about the lipos. I have heard alot of different things, most of which are based on some truth.

The question of "Can a lipo catch fire and start a house fire". Has already been answered by two local flyers. Now the obvious way to prevent lipo fires is by being careful and that works most of the time. It's that one out of 10,000 charging times that comes into question. That once you set the charger wrong or the battery is damaged. So when that happens will your house burn down if the lipo catches fire?

To test this out I needed some lipos that could be destroyed for the sake of science (and fun) and to know what bunkers people were using so I could test a few of the ideas. Our local club tends to be pleasantly paranoid about the dangers and have been quite willing to offer suggestions and donate older batteries rather than throwing them away.

The lipos have to burn to see how a bunker works so my first task was to learn how to get them to burn on command so I could catch it on film. Now for all of you who are concerned that I had the charger set wrong. I had the charger set right......I wanted the batteries to burn.....That is the idea.

I have heard about people charging lipos in bath tubs, showers, buckets, fish tanks, cinderblocks, brinks boxes, amo cans, metal garbage cans, and in planes. Did I miss any????

Wouldn't it be fun to try all of them and make a video while doing it???

Tell us what kind of bunkers are you using?

We will try to represent what people are actually using in the future tests and film.

Just so you know. I am the one burning the lipos and I still charge in my house. I charge 8 Lipo battery packs at once plus 3 transmitters and have never had an indoor fire and doubt I ever will, but I am ready if it happens.

I'm not afraid of Lipos--- I respect them. They are only as dangerous as I let them be in my house.

I throw away damaged lipo batteries. Well I sort of throw them away.
I balance my lipo cells, that have the balancing option, between every charge.
I don't over charge or over discharge. I hate puffed lipos.
I charge lipos after I fly and don't let batteries sit discharged.
I wait for lipos to cool. I don't charge warm/hot lipo batteries.
I don't field charge even though I am set up to do so due to heat and distractions.
I choose props and motors that keep the batteries with in their recommended limits.
I triple check my chargers.
My 4 Hobbico MKIIs have green lights for lipos that I can see from across the room.
My chargers are quick to alarm if batteries are not charging normally.
I charge multiple batteries at once so I can stay with them. This is my build time.
I have glued the charge adjustment knobs on my chargers so they don't accidently get set to higher charge rates.
I use a bunker that separates every battery.
My chargers are 4' from the charging batteries.
I have just concrete and tin in burning range of the bunkers.
I have a fire alarm specific for the chargers mounted directly above the charge site.

I would have a house of foul smelly smoke, but I would have a house.

I started these tests to learn about lipos and see if my cinderblock bunkers are sufficient.

Lee
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Last edited by Lee; Apr 25, 2006 at 07:52 AM.
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Old Feb 10, 2006, 03:28 PM
Bradd
USA
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Looks to me like a poor way to connect the battery to the charger
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Old Feb 10, 2006, 03:33 PM
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Nice video. I'm not surprised they caught fire when charged at 8.3C.

I don't use a bunker.
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Old Feb 10, 2006, 03:44 PM
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Awesome videos. Hmm, I think after watching that I'll start using a cinder block to store and charge my batteries in. Keep posting more videos if you can... Scary how some of the batteries created there own propulsion. I could only imagine a 3 or 4 cell battery going.
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Old Feb 10, 2006, 04:00 PM
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I don't use a bunker either, but I might have to start...

I do use a ceramic bowl with a ceramic plate covering it. I would think it would stop most of it.....

Great video!! I've been pretty cautious with mine, so I've only seen one or two videos of them burning up, but never any like that video.

Good job. Great video for the newcomers to make them aware of the dangers.
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Old Feb 10, 2006, 04:50 PM
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Last edited by Mark Wood; Apr 10, 2006 at 10:36 AM. Reason: working on an idea
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Old Feb 10, 2006, 05:18 PM
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Newmarket Ont. Canada
Joined May 2004
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My Fire Pictures

Had a fire last week myself trying to charge a battery that was at 8.2 volts and the charger would not let me charge it, so I cheated and got it to charge but lost all in the end. If you follow the rules these batteries are safe.
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Old Feb 10, 2006, 05:31 PM
Lee
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USA, UT, Orem
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One of the new flyers in our area was charging a battery in a plane. The plane, the kitchen table and the kitchen vinyl floor ands his were all severely damaged. I never heard what his wife said. Probably couldn't be repeated.

There is also alot of dark smelly smoke when a lipo burns. Just the block I used in the video stink.

I personally have charged hundreds of batteries and never had an unintentional fire but I believe that every time I charge it could happen.
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Old Feb 10, 2006, 07:12 PM
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Dallas, TX
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Awesome video.

I just don't trust myself with lipos. I'll stick with heavy metals.
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Old Feb 10, 2006, 07:36 PM
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WisCONsin
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Given this and other videos, I think many are convinced of the dangers. I would actually like to see more tests done on what kinds of bunkers/barries/protective measures work and what don't, so we can find the best ways to house and charge these batteries safely.

Looking at the one test, Im wondering if a concrete construction block (with the spaces in the middle) like the one in your video, with a concrete block as a "lid" would work.

I currently use a small, old Bar-B-Q grill to house my LiPo's. Im wondering if the force of the "explosion" (pressure from the expanding gas, heat and fire) would blow the lid off. Im also curious to know what kind of "blast radius" there is and also how easily nearby flammables (such as paper, wood, drywall, ceiling panels, etc.) could start a secondary fire, especially in an indoor environment.

I use 3 cell Lipo's....I guess that would make three explosions!
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Old Feb 10, 2006, 09:04 PM
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springfield,ma
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I store mine in a aymy surplus ammo can. I charg them in my cast iron bath tub.
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Old Feb 11, 2006, 12:59 AM
Model Designer - AMA 667982
starcad's Avatar
Tucson, AZ, USA
Joined Sep 2000
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee
We just posted a new lipo fire video at www.utahflyers.org.

We have had a fair number of older weak batteries donated for further testing and filming.

Tell us what kind of bunkers are you using?

We will try to represent what people are actually using in the future tests and film.

Lee
Truly Lee, What charge rate are you using to preform the tests? I've only had one battery that went south in the two years I've been using Lipos and have found that if used properly following the safety guidelines that lipos are just as safe as nicads and niph's. Fires usually occure when safety precautions are not followed or one of those moments when your not thinking about what your doing.
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Old Feb 11, 2006, 01:47 AM
Lee
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Since the batteries have the potential to cause a fire and I wanted to see what would happen when they did burn. I wanted to know how big the fire would be if and when a battery burns. I do charge in the house. I have 4 foot connecting wires to keep my chargers away from the charging batteries. I charge in the cinderblocks and have a tin shield that protects surrounding areas. When I first started the testing I just wanted to know how much of a shield I needed to build to protect my house.

I've never had a battery burn unexpectedly but I know several people who have. My chargers always seem to kick off before there are problems. I often charge 4-8 batteries 2x week. I have had a couple of cells puff but the charger apparently kicked off before there was a fire.

I think the problem comes when you miss program the charger by setting it for the wrong kind of battery or forget to check your settings or a battery has a short.

To get the batteries to burn for the video I set them at a 10 amp charge rate and they go within 7 minutes. I know this isn't a normal situation or even a setting that most chargers can do.

The next video will include larger cells in closed bunkers. I think closed bunkers will concentrate the flamable vapors and have explosions. I'll post more video in about a month and let you see what happens. Our local club has already donated a stack of old batteries to test with. Some have said that they are also going to donate metal boxes and bunkers to the cause.
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Old Feb 11, 2006, 09:18 AM
Model Designer - AMA 667982
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Tucson, AZ, USA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee
I think the problem comes when you miss program the charger by setting it for the wrong kind of battery or forget to check your settings or a battery has a short.

To get the batteries to burn for the video I set them at a 10 amp charge rate and they go within 7 minutes. I know this isn't a normal situation or even a setting that most chargers can do.
Yep! Pretty much my point Lee. Back in the day ( hahaha I can say that now ) I tried to charge a set of 225mah Nicad cells with a train transformer. After about 30 minutes I heard two loud pops and smoke all over the living room. Flames were shooting from the transformer and smoke pouring out. I then thought I'd better learn a little more about charging batteries from that lesson.

Keep up the work as I think you are provideing a nessessary example of what can go wrong if people get careless and don't follow the reccomendation concerning proper handleing of Lipo's

Guy
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Old Feb 11, 2006, 10:39 PM
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WisCONsin
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I forgot to add to my last post, I wanted to say thanks to you, Lee, for doing these "experiments". They are a real eye opener and really got me more conscious about how I deal with my LiPo's.
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