5 ways to ensure lithium-ion battery safety

From phones and toothbrushes, to cordless hammer drills and angle grinders, lithium-ion batteries are everywhere. With the technology now commonplace, it's easy to overlook its vulnerabilities. Air shipping requirements mean they now need special handling, as with more power density comes higher risks in cases of misuse and lack of care.

When handled correctly, Li-Ion batteries are super safe, so let's take a look at 5 ways to ensure battery safety - helping you to boost productivity and the lifespan of your batteries.

1) Most of the time, Li-Ion accidents are caused by misuse & lack of care

Misuse and lack of care are the most common causes of Li-Ion accidents, like using batteries as hammers, using incompatible devices or carrying out modifications. In a worst case scenario, the temperature and pressure in one or more Li-Ion cells can get out of control and surge beyond the levels that the cell package can withstand. This means the pack can leak hazardous chemicals, release toxic smoke or even vent with flames.

A modified battery pack will potentially result in damaged cells and electronics.

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2) Temperature is paramount for Li-ion batteries

Temperature is really important when it comes to battery packs. In general, lithium technology can safely operate between -20 and 60 degrees. For peace of mind, built-in electronics and software prevent professional cordless systems from working in unsafe thermal conditions. However, the batteries don’t tolerate high temperatures well and can result in lost capacity and performance when used or stored at 60 degrees and above.

→ The optimal temperature bandwidth is between 10 and 30 degrees.

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3) Use certified compatible devices when charging batteries

For battery chemistry, the process of charging and discharging is stressful. However, the intensity of such stress depends on several conditions, including temperature, tool and charger type, and the applications they’re used for. First and foremost, using certified compatible tools and chargers (that exchange information with the battery and stop or adjust energy transfer when needed) is the best way to ensure battery safety.  It’s also recommended to regularly inspect your battery packs and avoid charging or discharging if any damage is visible.

→ Use certified compatible tools and chargers to avoid battery damage.

 

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4) Disconnect your batteries from tools and chargers

If your battery becomes unusually hot while being used or charged, you should disconnect the battery pack from the tool immediately. It’s essential you let it cool down away from any flammable surfaces. Luckily, no specific concerns should arise from partially charging and discharging, as Li-Ion batteries are very versatile and do not suffer from ‘memory effects’ (a reduction in the longevity of a rechargeable battery's charge due to previous incomplete charges). However, a battery kept in a state of full charge ages quickly, so it’s best to use it relatively soon after a full charge.

→  Regularly inspect batteries and avoid charging or discharging if visible damage is found.

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5) Maintain batteries by removing dust & debris

Proper maintenance not only helps prevent accidents, but also ensures stronger performance and battery life over time. Fundamentally, it’s all about keeping the battery clean, with special attention to the venting slots and the contacts on the interface, to allow for battery cooling and to prevent spontaneous short circuits. Don’t forget that periodic cleaning should be carried out without any liquids or compressed air, as electronic components might be compromised and dust could be pushed into the battery housing. 

 → To remove dust and debris, a dry soft brush or rag will work best.

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Did you know...

Our Hilti tool case is UN-approved, meaning all Hilti Li-Ion batteries can be transported in the case? This means packaging of batteries in cardboard boxes is no longer mandatory - a huge benefit all round for shipping cordless tools and batteries.

It’s clear that Li-Ion technology offers numerous advantages: more energy density, slow self-discharge rate and virtually no “memory effect”. However, higher energy density also means higher potential for hazards if not properly controlled. While Hilti battery systems incorporate internal protection mechanisms, proper handling by the user is critical to minimise issues with all Li-Ion batteries.

Our batteries are at the heart of your cordless tool park, which is why battery safety is paramount to increasing jobsite mobility and productivity. So, whether you're looking to drill concrete with the TE 6-A22 rotary hammer, fasten cables and conduits to floors with the BX3-ME nailer or screw anchors into concrete with the SIW 6-AT impact wrench – we can support all trades to help you get the job done.

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