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Are E-Cig Batteries Dangerous Fire Hazards? A Response to Recent News Articles

Recently there has been a lot of mentions of electronic cigarettes malfunctioning during charging, which might be a worry to some people.

In every case so far the electronic cigarette in question has been plugged into the mains or into a car via a USB-to-Mains adapter plug or an in-car charger.

There have been reports recently that fake Apple mains chargers are circulating, due to their cheapness and availability. When plugged into an Apple product a message is displayed stating that the charger isn’t genuine and may cause malfunctions.

These fake chargers are not safe.

They offer none of the protection built into genuine products by the company. If these chargers are used to charge electronic cigarettes they will be putting out far more power than the battery is designed to take, as they will have no step-down conversion, no surge protection and in some cases not even a fuse.
Now whether or not the particular chargers involved in these e-cig malfunctions were official chargers from phones or other such devices or whether they were cheap fake chargers is part of the debate but either way here at TABlites we do not recommend the use of mains chargers to charge our electronic cigarettes, even a genuine phone charger will be putting out far more power than an electronic cigarette charger is designed to handle.

We recommend only using a laptop or desktop computer with the USB charger supplied in the kit (most new TVs have a USB port these days, and games consoles do too. They should be okay as well.)

This week Notts County Council’s Trading Standards team have said they’ve received an increasing number of complaints due to people using batteries or chargers with the wrong voltage.
Councillor Glynn Gilfoyle, chairman of the council’s Community Safety Committee, said: “Mixing and matching different chargers with electronic cigarettes can result in damage to your home or cause serious injury. We are advising users to check the instructions thoroughly if they need to get a new charger for their electronic cigarette to assess whether it is suitable for the product.”

We also recommend that you regularly replace your battery. Lithium-ion batteries are volatile electrical items. They need to be treated delicately.
Every lithium-ion battery contains a separator sheet that keeps the positive electrode from making contact with the negative electrode. If the sheet gets punctured and the electrodes touch the battery will malfunction and can heat up to almost 1000 degrees Fahrenheit.
Knocks, drops, leaving a battery in direct sunlight or a hot car, they can all negatively affect the device. Overheating (or ‘thermal runaway’) can cause a lithium-ion battery to vent gases, which can often lead to a release of the organic solvent used as an electrolyte. The heat can cause this substance to catch fire.

Lithium-ion batteries have a finite life, too, and over that life the charge capacity decreases.
Attempting to charge a battery with a lowered charge capacity may result in over charging which can cause problems as a battery that initially held 4.7 volts of charge could lose a whole volt or more. When placed on charge the charger will still attempt to charge the battery to 4.7 volts, well above its actual capacity. We recommend that you replace your battery every 4-5 months or so to avoid this.

This seems very doom and gloom but there’s no need to worry. As long as batteries are cared for properly they’ll be safe and will give you all the power you need for maximum vaping pleasure.

Just make sure to remember the basics:

  • Only plug your charger into a USB port on a laptop or PC (or a TV or games console). NOT a mains or car charger.
  • Take care of your battery. It’s delicate technology.
  • Make sure you don’t leave the battery on the charger for too long.
  • Replace your battery every 4-5 months.

Happy vaping,
Team TABlites.

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