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Thread: Battery exploded in flashlight

  1. #1
    Flashaholic* SJACKAL's Avatar
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    Default Battery exploded in flashlight

    My friend was driving when he suddenly heard a loud POP and the car was filled with a really pungent smell so bad that he had to get out of the car.

    Turns out that the SL Scorpion he was wearing on his belt sorta exploded, actually its the Panasonic CR123A batteries in it. The batts are all blacken and the flashlight interior was covered with a layer of black substance. The flashlight lens cracked from the impact/pressure/whatever.

    Amazingly, the light still works and the bulb is ok. The only damage is the lens, I guess its from the pressure.

    He done nothing strange to the light before the incident, just normal regular usage. I wonder why it happened.

    Is the smell and the black substance toxic?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Battery exploded in flashlight

    Do you know if he was mixing batteries, or were they both new bats?


    I've about given up on CR123A's and other lithium batteries cuz they're really starting to scare the hell out of me. Don't want them to burn down my house.

  3. #3
    Flashaholic* leukos's Avatar
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    Default Re: Battery exploded in flashlight

    Panasonic isn't the best quality either....
    Light is sweet and pleasing to the eyes....

  4. #4

    Default Re: Battery exploded in flashlight

    I've got a load of panasonic CR123A's that I'm using in a 6P. Didn't want to hear this !

    I would have expected a branded cell like the Panansonic to be safe when used correctly

  5. #5
    Flashaholic* Delvance's Avatar
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    Default Re: Battery exploded in flashlight

    I think i read in the exploding Peli M6 thread that the substance can actually be dangerous. Be careful.

  6. #6
    Flashaholic Protaeus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Battery exploded in flashlight

    yes....the gas is most definately toxic - almost anything plastic is toxic when burnt so I would not inhale it if possible.

    exploding cells... hope that doesnt happen to me, but from what I can tell it seems to be a rarity...
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    Flashaholic FRANKVZ's Avatar
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    Default Re: Battery exploded in flashlight

    Browning had a recall on batteries rupturing. I had a flashlight that was involved but I can't remember the brand of battery. http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml04/04067.html

  8. #8

    Default Cause is almost always ... mixed batteries

    Alkalines usually simply leak, but lithiums can "rapidly vent with flame," producing a huge increase in pressure inside the light, which is then released when one end or the other pops off. This can happen in any manufacturer's light.

    Having read numerous threads on this subject (do a search and you'll find them), the cause almost always seems to be mixing new batteries with old, or mixing dead or nearly dead batteries with ones that still have a good amount of juice left, or even mixing two or more new batteries made by different manufacturers. As you read these threads you discover that this seems to never happen with lights that use a single lithium cell.

    When you buy lithium batteries, label them. Use matched cells from the same batch only. Never mix batteries made by different manufacturers. Immediately dispose of spent cells.

    Read the other threads on this topic for more information.
    Last edited by europium; 04-13-2006 at 04:40 AM. Reason: grammar

  9. #9
    Flashaholic* roguesw's Avatar
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    Default Re: Battery exploded in flashlight

    yup, panasonics are not the best for some reason, i bought 20 batteries, brand new in shrink wrap, pack of fours, found two were already leaking, opened the rest of them to check them but brand new and 2 were already leaking
    KL-4+Vital Gear FB02
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    Will build for free!!

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Battery exploded in flashlight

    Hello SJACKAL,

    Very interesting...

    One possibility is that the light accidentally got turned on. When the light goes dim, you should shut it off. If you leave it on, one battery can drain faster than the other one and ends up getting a reverse charge just by being in the circuit. Charging and reverse charging lithium batteries results in rapid venting, sometimes with flame.

    Streamlight recommends using Panasonic CR123 batteries in their lights, so I would send a note to them explaining what happened.

    There have been some recent threads about mismatched batteries getting hot, but few have actually vented. We are trying to establish a web site where we can report test results of various batches of batteries of various brands. The ZTS tester seems to allow us to check new battery consistency, but there is an ongoing discussion as to what it means if the battery tests at less than 100%.

    If I had to give a guess based on what little testing I have done so far, I would say that it is possible to have one battery that tests at less than 100% out of a batch of 50 to 100 cells. Some brands are showing results worse than that.

    As others have mentioned, the chemicals and odor are nasty. Make sure you take the proper precautions around them.

    Once again, make sure you contact Streamlight about this.

    Tom
    Behind every Great man there's always a woman rolling her eyes...

    Most batteries don't die - they are tortured to near death, then murdered...

  11. #11
    Flashaholic* Lunal_Tic's Avatar
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    Default Re: Battery exploded in flashlight

    Probably wouldn't hurt to contact Panasonic as well. Glad nothing important got blown off.

    -LT
    lunal tic (n)
    a distinctive behavioral trait or quirk directly related to or caused by light [15th cent. Latin lunaris. Ultimately from an IE word meaning “light,”] and [Early 19th cent. Italian ticchio.] see also: moon quirk

  12. #12
    Flashaholic* TORCH_BOY's Avatar
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    Default Re: Battery exploded in flashlight

    I have had one go off in a charger, I tried to charge a rechargeable Alkaline
    in a charger meant for nicad batteriesl, lucky not in a Flashlight

  13. #13
    Flashaholic a99raptors's Avatar
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    Default Re: Battery exploded in flashlight

    I'll bet SF123s are reliable... but that's just my guess.

  14. #14
    Flashaholic* SJACKAL's Avatar
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    Default Re: Battery exploded in flashlight

    Thus far the best batts seems to be Energiser. I wish I could help my friend, his not exactly a flashlight guy...

    I guess I will try to get a photo and contact Streamlight, but I am not expecting much. I am located in Singapore. My past bad experience with Pelican still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Thus far only Surefire and maybe Arc took care of my warranty issues.

  15. #15
    Flashaholic* SJACKAL's Avatar
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    Default Re: Battery exploded in flashlight

    Thanx for replies guys.

    Oh yeah I just read Streamlight's website, they got this "No Excuses Warranty", I will see how it works out, though personally I don't feel that its Streamlights' fault.

    Previously, Pelican's "You break it, we replace it, forever" was empty talk to me, and the fault was theirs. I know I shouldn't mention Pelican here but I just can't help it when I come to think about flashlight warranty.

    Will email Panasonic too, but I don't know where to start, since Panasonic is a fairly large company dealing with a large range of products. I reckon my email would probably be ignored or KIV due to nobody know whos in charge of exploding batteries, etc, and eventually forgotten.

  16. #16
    Flashaholic* Ray_of_Light's Avatar
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    Default Re: Battery exploded in flashlight

    "Rapid venting with flame" is tipical of overcharged Li-Ion (rechargeable) batteries, not of primary lithium batteries. THe Lithium cobalt oxide, contained in the Li-Ion battery will self-ignite, and burn in absence of oxygen, at temperature above 160 Celsius.

    Standard Li-MnO2 batteries, like the 123s, can undergo a series of problems due to hydratation of the MnO2 (Manganese oxide), that can produce the venting of the battery and possibly, its explosion.
    This can happen if the crimp seal of the battery is defective, letting water from atmosphere in the battery. In operation, the water diffused in the MnO2 reacts with lithium, with known nasty effects.
    Another known case is when the overpressure relief opens, and the battery is kept in operation. After a while, it will contain enough water to spark an explosion.
    One more case is the use of mineral MnO2 (tipically used in heavy duty batteries), instead of pure MnO2 - obtained by high temperature cracking. I have seen this in cheap chinese 123.

    Always inspect your 123 batteries before use. One battery over 100 is a dud, disregardless of the brand.

    Anthony
    VENI, COLLUXI, VICI.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Battery exploded in flashlight

    Can anyone provide any pictures of "dud" batteries as they look out of the box, so I know what im looking for when i check my new ones?

    Or describe how they look different from the good ones?

    Thanks.

    Craig.

  18. #18
    Flashaholic* Ray_of_Light's Avatar
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    Default Re: Battery exploded in flashlight

    Sorry for my poor expression. Obviously, when I said "dud" I meant a defective battery.
    I'm afraid but you will not be able to spot a defective battery by looking at it. There are no externally visible signs that can reveal about the defective internal.
    The optimum solution would be to use a battery tester like the ZTS. It is a tester that puts the battery under electrical load and measure the its behavior by use of a specialized software.

    The "poor man" alternative is to "flash amp" the battery. Use a DMM on 20 Amp. range, "short" the battery for 2 seconds, and verify the max current pulse and its speed of decay.
    Brand new batteries gives from 9 to 14 Amps as max current spike, decreasing 5% after two seconds.
    Do not prolong the test for more than two seconds. The battery contains a number of protections that will kickin. I'm talking of the PTC (positive temperature coefficient) device, that will set off for any sustained current draw above 5 Amps; and the overpressure spike relief that will open the seal of the battery in case of overpressure; if that sets off, your battery becomes unusable. The PTC will eventually reset.

    Anthony
    VENI, COLLUXI, VICI.

  19. #19
    Flashaholic* ACMarina's Avatar
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    Default Re: Battery exploded in flashlight

    You should contact the battery manufacturer too - IIRC, somebody contacted one of the big alkaline manufacturers about a maglite that was frozen shut. I was thinking that although they had the person ship the light to them for verification, they reimbursed the shipment, sent a new maglite and a bunch of batteries..
    I love my Al-PD

  20. #20
    Flashaholic* pedalinbob's Avatar
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    Default Re: Battery exploded in flashlight

    It is surprising that more manufacturers don't place a small vent (or catalyst pellets, or both)) into their lights. It is hardly rocket science. My inexpensive UK's have them, and several of my PT's have catalyst pellets.

    My biggest concern with these reports is the potential for explosion and injury. The thread where the Pelican was shredded really opened my eyes.

    I have even considered drilling a very small hole in our Tec-40's (they live in our cars with lithiums), and either filling the holes with candle wax or covering them with a sticky tape. This would create a kind of emergency vent, hopefully preventing an actual explosion, and still provide water proofing/resistance.

    Bob

  21. #21

    Default Re: Battery exploded in flashlight

    so one of the best way to prevent this is run the same brand of battery, replace battery with the flashlight is dim?

    what about low drain flashlight? (e.g. Inova X5T, etc)
    Let there be light.

  22. #22
    Flashaholic* ACMarina's Avatar
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    Default Re: Battery exploded in flashlight

    Same thing, you'll just hit that point slowly..
    I love my Al-PD

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Battery exploded in flashlight

    Ok I lied. I haven't given up on CR123A's, but they kinda scare me.

  24. #24

    Default Re: Battery exploded in flashlight

    Okay, this isn't the first post I've seen about combusting 123's. How dangerous is this if it happens? I have no idea what kind of force these things put out when they blow. Is it really an "explosion" or does it just catch fire? Would it hurt you if you were holding the light (or battery) when it blew? Does it give you any advanced warning? I'm just wondering how freaked out I should be, since I know nothing about this.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Battery exploded in flashlight

    Quote Originally Posted by SJACKAL
    Thus far the best batts seems to be Energiser. I wish I could help my friend, his not exactly a flashlight guy...

    I guess I will try to get a photo and contact Streamlight, but I am not expecting much. I am located in Singapore. My past bad experience with Pelican still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Thus far only Surefire and maybe Arc took care of my warranty issues.
    hi sjackal,

    is this the scorpion i sold to your friend? oh no!!!!!!!!! its dead !!!!! j/k

    try and contact streamlight. i have contacted them before and they have been professional.

    i also suggest that you contact panasonic. i guess the best way is to go to their global site and see if you can find a link to their batteries.

    hope you friend gets a new scorpion.

    cheers.
    amlim aka lim (sometimes mis-identified as amlin)

  26. #26
    Flashaholic vaism's Avatar
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    Default Re: Battery exploded in flashlight

    wow.. that is nasty. Can imagine how bad it'd be if it exploded in my pants pocket..

  27. #27
    Flashaholic* atm's Avatar
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    Default Re: Battery exploded in flashlight

    Quote Originally Posted by SCblur
    Okay, this isn't the first post I've seen about combusting 123's. How dangerous is this if it happens? I have no idea what kind of force these things put out when they blow. Is it really an "explosion" or does it just catch fire? Would it hurt you if you were holding the light (or battery) when it blew? Does it give you any advanced warning? I'm just wondering how freaked out I should be, since I know nothing about this.
    http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/...ad.php?t=78843

    Should answer most of your questions.

    Andrew

  28. #28
    Flashaholic* Northern Lights's Avatar
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    Default Re: Battery exploded in flashlight

    Quote Originally Posted by vaism
    wow.. that is nasty. Can imagine how bad it'd be if it exploded in my pants pocket..
    I had contemplated providing my wife with high capacity 9V lithium batteries for a medical device she wears for support of a disability. I settled on cost effectiveness and got her several high capacity 9V NiMh 's rechargeables.

    It seems that in my advanced age I have noticed some women to be blessed with premonitions. As we were standing outside two weeks ago I could smell in the air the odor of burnt garbage, like plastic burning. That odor inspired my wife to comment that just moments before she envisioned herself exploding into flames. No more were the words out of her mouth and she jumped turning out her pockets, her slack smoldering and smoking. I explained the obvious that you do not put 9V batteries with unprotected terminals in a pocket of keys and coins. The battery had blown up splitting its seams while igniting its plastic label.

    I wonder what the lithium 9V would have done. I wonder about the Golston I carry in my pocket with rechargeable Li-ions.
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  29. #29
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    Str Re: Battery exploded in flashlight

    Quote Originally Posted by a99raptors
    I'll bet SF123s are reliable... but that's just my guess.
    Last I heard (from a Panasonic employee) SF CR123s are made by Panasonic
    These stories always scare the #&*! out of me ! They remind me that I have hundreds of little bombs all over the house, my car, and in my pockets

  30. #30

    Default Re: Battery exploded in flashlight

    When batteries go dead in one light, I like to take them and suck them dry in my single cell lights, is this bad? I keep my dead batteries out in the gbarage in a metal pail, is this bad? Now I am starting to get scared.

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