Lithium batteries are used nearly everywhere these days. Whether you are on the job or at home, you likely have several lithium batteries there with you. Being able to recharge these types of batteries quickly is a massive benefit of the lithium type. However, before you begin to recharge all the batteries you can find, there are a few things to know about these batteries and several safety tips from our e-waste experts to protect you while recharging.
Things to Know About Lithium Battery Safety
As lithium batteries become the top battery type worldwide, there are a few details about these batteries you should understand.
- Avoid storing these batteries in the sun or temperatures above 15C. High temperatures can trigger a condition where the heat generated by the battery is greater than the heat dissipated by the battery, a condition known as thermal runaway. If a thermal runaway happens, it will ruin your battery, and you are at risk of fire and explosions.
- Colder temperatures do not adversely affect lithium batteries. Typically the batteries are safe in temperatures as low as -40C.
- Do not use old batteries. If a battery is past its prime, it is prone to overheating and causing fires.
- Do not store batteries for long periods. Manufacturers suggest an inspection of the battery if it has been in storage for over six months to a year.
- Never ignore swollen lithium batteries. This is a sure sign that something is significantly wrong with the battery. The pressure build-up that causes the swelling can also cause fire and explosions. Immediately contact your battery disposal service.
Lithium Battery Charging Cycles
You need to understand charge cycles to get optimal use out of your lithium batteries. A charge cycle is a complete charge and discharge of a battery; the number of cycles is how the life of a rechargeable battery is measured.
An average lithium battery will last through 300-500 charging cycles or two to three years. However, many lithium batteries will last years longer. The battery lifespan is finite, and once the ability to recharge is lost, the battery is useless.
Many debates have taken place over the issue of whether complete charging cycles, also called deep charges, are better for a battery than short charges, called shallow charges. Regardless of how many complete charging cycles or short bursts of charging you give a lithium battery, the impact is relatively the same for both charging methods.
Partial Charge and Discharge
It is worth noting that charging to 100% and depleting the battery to 50% will cause a shorter lifespan for a battery than charging to 85% and draining to 25%.
Charging and Discharging Tips
- You can improve the battery lifecycle if you avoid charging to 100%
- For best results, be sure to charge your lithium battery with a charger designed for that battery type. While the type of charger will not directly impact the factors that help overall battery life, lithium chargers allow for customisation of charges.
- Do not continue to charge a battery that is fully charged. By continuing the charge, you are accelerating an irreversible battery capacity loss. This can lead to an internal short circuit.
- Use partial discharge cycles to maintain the best life for your battery.
Essential Safety Measures for Recharging a Lithium Battery
- Train Your Staff – Maintaining a safe workplace will be much easier if everyone working with or around lithium batteries understands the proper procedures and precautions.
- Display Safety Signage – Remind those nearby that there are dangerous goods on the premises and that there should be no smoking and no ignition sources within three metres.
- Inspect the Lithium Batteries – Look for leaks, swelling, dents or other signs of damage.
- Discard Old Batteries – If your batteries are no longer charging, it is likely time to discard them. The same is true for damaged batteries. Keeping these sorts of batteries in your shop is a dangerous practice as they cause a substantial risk of fire and explosions.
- Contact Professionals for Lithium Battery Disposal – Under no circumstance should you toss old or damaged lithium batteries in the rubbish container. A professional with the right equipment to safely dispose of the batteries is the person to call.
- Charge on a Safe Surface – Be sure you charge on a sturdy surface free of debris, especially flammable goods. A metal workbench in a cool, dry space is ideal. Ensure that the battery will not accidentally be knocked off and damaged.
- Monitor the Charging – Check and see how the charging process is progressing, and do not forget about batteries charging at the end of the day.
If your lithium battery will not charge, contact Collins Recycling to learn more about how you can get paid to recycle your battery. We also pay cash for a wide variety of recyclable metals. Contact us for more information.
- Can I charge a lithium battery with a normal charger?
If you are a new owner of lithium batteries, your very best option is to get a charger with a lithium charge profile. These are easy to get because the LiFePO4 batteries are the most predominant battery with lithium chemistry that you can find.
- Is it bad to fully discharge a lithium battery?
It is not advisable to do this. The deep discharge can irreversibly damage a Li-ion battery. There is a risk that the metal plating inside the battery will cause internal shorting. Once this happens, the battery is no longer useful and could become a hazard.
- Can you charge a lithium battery with an AGM charger?
While using the intended type of charger is always the preferred course of action, it is possible to use an AMG charger to charge a lithium battery. A key point to remember if you are going to use an AMG charger on a lithium battery is that this kind of battery requires specific volt ranges. The typical charge for an AMG charger is between 14.1-14.4 V. This is within the safe zone of 14.2 -14.8 V that a lithium battery needs.