Lith-ion imminent danger?

Lookin4U

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I did the wrong thing, I used this forums search function.....

I have blissfully lived in a world where flashlights are useful and safe. For the last several years I have been using Ni-Cad and Nimih rechargeable flashlights nightly but they have been eclipsed by the newer generation of lights. I have plunged into the world of high performance powered, thus far, by 123 primaries but have recently turned my attention to 18650 powered lights... Until I found this forum.:eek:

Now I have learned that Lithium-ion batteries are an ever-present danger plaguing or world seeking death and destruction to unsuspecting owners. I'm thinking of starting a PAC to help ban this threat from our world...:mad:

But seriously, are there any safe rechargeable high performance batteries, or do I have to stick with primaries or hire the local fire department and security services to vigilantly watch over and guard my charging Lithium-ions until I get a global ban instituted?:thinking:
 

Mr Happy

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Some people might suggest that CR123A primaries are more hazardous than lithium ion cells, especially if you venture into cheap cells sourced from China, or use multi-cell lights and run them right down, or use two or more mismatched cells in a light.

The smoke and fire hazards with Li-ion cells appear to be most present while they are on the charger, whereas the smoke and fire hazards with CR123A primaries appear to most present while the cells are in a light and being used.

But seriously, from what I understand the hazards from charging Li-ion cells are not great if quality cells are used that have protection circuits and if they are charged in a matching quality charger. After all, there are not that many reports of Li-ion powered laptops and cell phones bursting into flames (and the ones that do are usually due to faulty components).
 

LukeA

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Li-ions aren't really as dangerous as you seem to think. It's not like good quality, protected cells charged in a good quality smart charger are bombs waiting to go off in your pocket. You just have to keep an eye on them while they charge and check their voltage before and after discharge.

As they say in RC about li-poly, If you can't handle the safety prodecures, don't use lithium batteries.
 

LuxLuthor

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What Luke says is correct....but the only thing that many people who do know about Lithium Cobalt safety don't appreciate--is how many general consumers have little/no awareness of their risks. It is that lack of awareness that is the biggest concern. Once you know about it, you can deal with it responsibly.

For example when I got my first SF - L2 using 2 x 123a Lithium primary cells, I did not see any warnings on/in the package/manual that made it clear that this battery type has unique safety issues distinct from alkaline or NiMH that require a new level of awareness.

Same with M4, and most recently with M6, which came with 6 cells...but no Lithium battery warning in the package/manual. Nor did I see anything stating the importance of using only SF brand 123a cells which have a higher safety/manufacturing quality performance record.

Yes there are general warnings on the bottom of box of new SF batteries, but nothing that gave me a new/unique level of caution/awareness with this cell type beyond what consumers are used to with using NiMH/NiCad/Alkaline cells.
 

kaichu dento

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As they say in RC about li-poly, If you can't handle the safety prodecures, don't use lithium batteries.
I've had the same concerns but with todays high output one cell lights it hasn't been difficult to avoid pairing bad cells and just using primary lithiums.

That said, is there still danger in using primary lithiums in a one cell configuration?
 

LuxLuthor

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I've had the same concerns but with todays high output one cell lights it hasn't been difficult to avoid pairing bad cells and just using primary lithiums.

That said, is there still danger in using primary lithiums in a one cell configuration?

Nothing like the incidence of multiple cell setups that I have seen discussed here--and most of those are with cheap brand cells. There may be other instances of single cell primary Lithium cell failures, but again that is going to be with generic (read "cheap") brands.

I also do not recall reading about documented rechargeable Lithium (cobalt) Ion disasters in our lights...but many of us use AW or Pila versions with protection circuits. You can't assume a zero incidence with either battery type (primary or secondary) just because we have not seen a posted failure at CPF. We are a pretty small sample size of all those using various Lithium primary/secondary cells in lights, let alone all devices.
 

mdocod

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How many laptops and ipods and cellphones do you hear about on the news exploding and burning down houses?

that's the same and/or similar cell chemistry as the 18650s we are using in flashlights.

--------------------------------------------------------

For every 1 incident with a li-ion cell I have heard on this forum, I have heard at least a dozen or more incidences of exploding CR123 primary cells.

--------------------------------------------------------

The flashlight in my wifes purse, that I put there, contains a protected 3.7V LiCo 17670 cell. I have chosen to have that cell in her purse because I am more comfortable with it's safety track record than I am with CR123s.

-------------------------------------------------------
 

Marduke

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How many laptops and ipods and cellphones do you hear about on the news exploding and burning down houses?

that's the same and/or similar cell chemistry as the 18650s we are using in flashlights.

But those devices have a specifically designed and engineered system for that device's typical use, power draw, charging method, and integrated sophisticated monitoring equipment built in. They are designed to be idiot-proof under most circumstances.

We are taking what in comparison are crude cells*, and using them in circumstances which they were not specifically designed or intended for.

*A simple 3-mode protection circuit is far more crude than the intricate monitoring systems present in the aforementioned systems.
 

mdocod

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But those devices have a specifically designed and engineered system for that device's typical use, power draw, charging method, and integrated sophisticated monitoring equipment built in. They are designed to be idiot-proof under most circumstances.

We are taking what in comparison are crude cells*, and using them in circumstances which they were not specifically designed or intended for.

*A simple 3-mode protection circuit is far more crude than the intricate monitoring systems present in the aforementioned systems.

Hello Marduke!

The idiot proof design can be put together by the combination of 4 things:

1. A quality loose cell charger that doesn't do stupid stuff like over-charge the cells.
2. A PCB just in case something goes wrong.
3. A user that has educated him/herself a bit, and understands that the cells do not like to be discharged to the point that the PCB trips off the circuit.
4. A user that has educated him/herself, knows how to identify a cell that should be retired.

IMO, a quality charger like the popular Pila IBC takes about 50% of the risk out of the equation. Having a PCB to prevent accidental drastic over-discharge takes another 49% of the risk out of the equation, then it's up to the user to reduce the risk of exploding from the remaining 1% to 0.00001% by being proactive in monitoring the condition of the cells over the years of use, and trying to run shallower cycles (80% or less of a complete discharge) whenever possible.

The system above requires that the user not be an idiot, unfortunately. So it's not idiot proof, it's just possible to be nearly as safe (or potentially safer) than the idiot proof pre-made designs.

Eric
 

Marduke

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I agree completely, but I have met very few people who I even trust to set the clock on my VCR, let alone meet the criteria for #3 or #4. Outside of CPF, Joe Public is clueless the differences between anything even as drastically different as NiMH and Lithium Ion.
 

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