NYC PSA E-bike Battery Fires 11/11/22 NBC News

indianajo

Well-Known Member
NBC News on 11/11/22 covered a NYC Public Service Announcement about E-bike & Scooter fires of LIthium Batteries.
There were the expected videos of burning apartments, a destroyed bike store, plus one scary video of a bike bursting into flame as a toddler ran away.
There were a list of recommendations including:
1 Watch the battery continuously while it is charging
2 Never replace a charger, use only the original charger that came with the bike or scooter
These are the most brain dead recommendations I can imagine. Watching a battery charge is right up there in productivity with watching the grass grow.
My battery has outlasted 3 chargers so far. NYC must really want to bury large quantities of functional batteries in their landfill. Chargers last ~100 - 200 cycles, except the ones that come with $5000 up bikes from manufacturers with enough assets to lose from lawsuits that they test their product and QA their battery & charger production thoroughly. Batteries last up to 1000 cycles.
My recommendations:
1 charge only outside, never indoors. Lock the battery to something that won't move.
2 Put the charger on a AC duration timer so the battery only charges to 100% monthly or quarterly. Alternate to that, buy a charger with 80% and 90% cutoff settings. Make sure the charger max voltage on the label is the one for your battery voltage. The 80%90%100% charger I bought from Luna for $70 arrived dead, I use $20 chargers from ebay, a timer from the home store, and a DVM to monitor the resulting voltage. Batteries that won't reach the expected voltage in the same time as new should not be further charged; they have a bad cell.
3 If you can't charge the battery outside, put the battery in a 3/8" thick 6 sides steel enclosure while charging. Ammo cans are not that thick. A gun safe is the only commercial product approaching this thickness, and they don't have a port for a charger cable.
4 Don't charge below freezing
5 Buy LiFePo4 batteries, not LiIon
6 If you can't afford 1 or 3, don't buy an e-bike or e-scooter.
 
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arcom

Active Member
I have not found charging bags big enough to contain an ebike battery, but that does not mean they don't exist. I always use the fire proof bags when charging my drone batteries. Some of those bags actually have some sort of fire retardant layered into the bags material so that a fire that buns through a potion of the lining will release the retardant which is then supposed to extinguish the fire. Don't know if that's the case. I actually had a battery fire when a Dewalt battery charger malfunctioned and began to smolder. Fortunately, I dragged the battery and charger out of the garage but when I separated the battery from the charger (I had to use a hammer as the battery fused into the charger), the battery erupted in flames. It took a spackle bucket full of dirt the extinguish it. In hind sight, I probably should not have separated the battery from the charger. As it turned out there was a recall on the charger which I was not aware of. Dewalt replaced both. I now do all my charging outside with a bucket of sand nearby.
 

tomjasz

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Minnesnowta
There were a list of recommendations including:
1 Watch the battery continuously while it is charging
2 Never replace a charger, use only the original charger that came with the bike or scooter
These are the most brain dead recommendations I can imagine.
Obviously, you might be brain-dead. I've NEVER seen the phrase "Watch the battery continuously". That's probably your paraphrase. ANYreseller with half a brain will mitigate responsibility and suggest a buyer do exactly that. Because you take silly risks doesn't imply others aren't as smart. I read further and you clarify, but your suggestions aren't remotely realistic. Battery charging needs to happen indoors for many of us and there's no way around monitoring.

Charger replacement may or may not be silly. Guess what happens if some dolt manages to use a non-proprietary charger on a proprietary battery, as one example. Another is just read the forums and see how many n00bs are confused by battery voltages. Those cheap batteries and BMS may not give the best overcharge protection.

1 charge only outside, never indoors.
Really, and what do you do when it's below freezing? Not ride?
Ammo cans are not that thick.
I shouldn't bother but having sold hundreds of batteries and taken thousands of customer contacts I see things quite differently than a fellow that has owned more problem batteries and charges than good.


Please don't give n00bs bad advice.
 

6zfshdb

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Northeast Pennsylvania
If you want to ride an E-bike, you will have to assume some risk when storing & charging batteries. Many threads here on EBR have outlined ways to mitigate this risk. They largely depend on budget (The ability to afford quality batteries & chargers), environment, DIY capabilities and a certain level of common sense.

Obviously, the safest way to charge is outdoors and away from anything flammable. Unfortunately, not everyone has the ability to do this consistently, mainly due to climate issues. The next best approach is to charge in a temperature controlled structure separate from the living area like a detached garage. Again, not everyone has this luxury.

In my case, I lack the ability to charge outdoors or in a detached garage. My only option is to do it in my attached garage / workshop. I use ammo cans to both store & charge. They are placed on a dolly, on a concrete floor under a smoke / fire / CO2 detector. I never charge when I'm not able to hear the alarm. The dolly can easily & quickly be rolled out of the building with a garden rake should an incident occur.

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Two of the ammo cans are used for storage and the third for charging. That one has bulkhead connectors installed which will let me charge 1 or 2 batteries with the can sealed. I rarely charge two at a time unless it is at a low current rate to minimize heat buildup.

I can connect 1 or 2 chargers as necessary. I use Satiators with XLR plugs and adapters but almost any charger and connector type can be used. The bulkhead connectors allow the cans to remain sealed to better contain a fire.

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Keep in mind, battery fires are relatively rare even when no precautions are taken. My system certainly isn't perfect but it does further reduce the risk of a catastrophe.
 

J.R.

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
I posted the following a little over a year ago, reposting here.
-----
I often see old wood stoves cheap on CL and elsewhere. I thought one with a standard single wall steel vent stack would work for charging.

Screenshot_20210706-113206_Chrome.jpg
Screenshot_20210706-112827_Chrome.jpg
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In summer these wood stoves are as cheap as above, winter you can expect to pay more. They could be setup to charge and store several packs of any size. A simple single walled steel stack could be vented much like a dryer vent.
 

tomjasz

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Minnesnowta
I often see old wood stoves cheap on CL and elsewhere. I thought one with a standard single wall steel vent stack would work for charging.
How about cross breeding. ;)
 

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6zfshdb

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Northeast Pennsylvania
Absolutely brilliant! Another winning creation. Copying for my 2 Satiators.
Here's a link to the XLR bulkhead connectors:


If you need short XLR male to XLR female jumper cables like the ones shown in my pics, DO NOT use audio or microphone / speaker cables. Most use 26 gauge or finer wire and can't handle 8 or even 4 amp charging currents. They will heat up and eventually fail. The resistance will also cause an inaccurate voltage reading and can affect the performance of the Satiator chargers.

I made up my own jumper cables using 18 gauge 3 conductor wire:


and these connectors:


Easy solder connections and the above cable fits the connectors perfectly.
 

6zfshdb

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Northeast Pennsylvania
I posted the following a little over a year ago, reposting here.
-----
I often see old wood stoves cheap on CL and elsewhere. I thought one with a standard single wall steel vent stack would work for charging.

Screenshot_20210706-113206_Chrome.jpg
Screenshot_20210706-112827_Chrome.jpg
Screenshot_20210706-112931_Chrome.jpg

In summer these wood stoves are as cheap as above, winter you can expect to pay more. They could be setup to charge and store several packs of any size. A simple single walled steel stack could be vented much like a dryer vent.
An interesting concept. Stoves are designed to contain a fire and direct gasses up the flue so I don't see why it wouldn't contain a battery fire.

I usually don't need to charge batteries during the winter so I could use my coal stove during the warmer months. Not an option for storing batteries during the winter though when the stove is lit. I usually disconnect the flue pipe from the stove when it isn't in use to keep dampness from coming down the chimney and causing corrosion. Still, a battery fire should be contained inside the stove, even with the flue capped. Clever idea!
 

6zfshdb

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Northeast Pennsylvania
Here's how NYC proposes to address the problem of 200 battery fires so far in 2022..

https://www.bicycleretailer.com/industr ... 3UeMOTMJKJ
.
Involves education, regulating and certification of batteries. No more junk batteries.
I applaud the effort since something definitely needs to be done. Enforcing these regulations will be problematic though. Unfortunately, there is no effective way to legislate against stupidity.
 

6zfshdb

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Northeast Pennsylvania
I posted the following a little over a year ago, reposting here.
-----
I often see old wood stoves cheap on CL and elsewhere. I thought one with a standard single wall steel vent stack would work for charging.

Screenshot_20210706-113206_Chrome.jpg
Screenshot_20210706-112827_Chrome.jpg
Screenshot_20210706-112931_Chrome.jpg

In summer these wood stoves are as cheap as above, winter you can expect to pay more. They could be setup to charge and store several packs of any size. A simple single walled steel stack could be vented much like a dryer vent.
Another possibility would be to charge in a fireplace with the damper open. Glass doors or even a screen would provide some protection from sparks and debris ejected from a fire.
 

Dewey

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
I thought this article was interesting in New York news website The City titled "Where and Why E-Bikes Catch Fire in NYC — And What Can Be Done About It"
Makes it clear the need for safe, secure, battery charging facilities, particularly in low income neighborhoods. A suggestion: as publicly funded EV charging infrastructure rolls out perhaps cities might look into channeling some of that money to install public charging lockers or battery bunkers outside neighborhood fire stations?
 
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SC00CHB00CH

Active Member
Region
USA
I've seen batteries explode right on the bike. No wood stove, battery bag or special storage shed would have prevented that fire. The biggest issue is buying off brand aliexpress generic battery ebikes from China for $200 and flooding the market with dangerous goods. I see so many fires with badly built battery packs. Rarely see em with highly overbuilt battery packs using high end grade a cells.
 

tomjasz

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Minnesnowta
At least fire blanket like the welders use,
Not good enough to smother. A blanket designed for LiIon battery fires is a $500 investment. 60 cells burning is a lot hotter mass than weld splatter.
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
My only option is to do it in my attached garage / workshop. I use ammo cans to both store & charge.

View attachment 140216

Two of the ammo cans are used for storage and the third for charging. That one has bulkhead connectors installed which will let me charge 1 or 2 batteries with the can sealed.
The bulkhead connectors allow the cans to remain sealed to better contain a fire.
I've seen no test data that proves that ammo cans are safe for 8 to 25 ah LiIon battery fires.
Bulkhead electrical connectors are suitable for sheet metal, not 3/8" (1 cm) steel plate.
My wood stove is sheet metal, not 3/8" steel plate.
 

J.R.

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
Burning wood in a stove doesn't produce heat until it reaches 500°F and the burning isn't efficient until it reaches 1000 to 1100°F. The outside of the stove is typically between 600 and 800°F. A stove rated for coal, the coal reaches 2500 to 3500°F.

Lithium Ion cells burn at just under 1000°F (932°F to be precise).

Many modern steel fire boxes are lined with fireproof refractory panels that protect against the hottest fires. Cast iron fire boxes don't typically require refractory panels.

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The only perfect solution is to not own any lithium-ion batteries.