Lithium Battery charging - fire hazard

Recent media and Uni research is once again highlighting the dangers associated with recharging lithium batteries.
The recommendation appears to be, don’t charge indoors and definitely not overnight!
How serious is this and how widespread is the recommendation?
The fire hazard issues appeared to focus on e-scooters and e-bike recharging. But the latest warnings are now all encompassing, ie, mobiles, tablets, laptops, tools, AA and AAA batteries.

For decades I have had a rechargeable landline phone sitting in its charging cradle permanently. Is it practical to charge a mobile during the day, ie, never overnight?

Is charging outdoors, in all weathers actually safe and practical?

I’m really raising this for the staff, not sure which staff member to target? @AndyKollmorgen This seems to be a consumer issue that Choice ought to be involved

There are a few articles about LIon batteries on the choice website from safety to tests.

@AndyKollmorgen’s name is associated with many.

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This will most likely be a Ni-Cd battery. The risks of Ni-Cd batteries are very different to Li-ion batteries.

Very serious. While fires have occurred from e-scooters and e-bike recharging, there have also been fires from other devices containing Li-ion batteries such as those you have outlined. More recent example was a toy car.

The other risk other than leaving overnight is recharging with a OEM charger or using non-OEM batteries in a device. The later is a real temptation as non-OEM batteries are a fraction of the cost of OEM batteries…and often OEM batteries become unavailable as a device ages.

QFES also has some useful advice:

I suspect they mean in a garage or outdoor undercover area protected from the weather. There was someone in the news recently (someone in fire services from memory) that uses a fireproof cabinet to charge Li-ion batteries. This may be seen as an overkill, but, this particular person thought the cost outweighed the risks.


This problem has been discussed somewhat in another topic that involves the Lithium battery information for e-Bikes. May be worth a read as it covers many of the issues and does not just discuss e-Bike batteries.


One needs to take a deep breath and look to history. The IBM Thinkpad T20 series first released in 2000 had a. Lithium ion battery. The IPhone 3GS released in 2009 has a lithium ion battery. Dyson, Hoover and other stock vacs have used lithium ion batteries for more than a decade.

The technology has been with us for more that 2 decades. I doubt any are about to now move their valuable Dyson to the middle of an open field in the backyard to charge.


While the technology has been around 2 decades, the number of devices using Li-ion batteries have exploded. 2 decades ago, many households didn’t have rechargeable Li-ion battery devices. Today, households will have many. The risk of fire has always existed, but, has increased with more inferior quality batteries being used, either by buying cheap inferior quality devices or through using inferior battery replacements. This has resulted in increased frequency of fires and the warnings now being made by Fire Services, ACCC and other agencies.

Even companies such as Dyson, iPhones and IBM, where one one expect to have some of the highest quality batteries, haven’t been immune to battery fires.

Another aspect is disposal. Rubbish truck fires which were rare events in the past have now become more common, through the incorrect disposal of batteries in the general waste stream. While possibly one could argue they could be avoided, this assumes a consumer knows exactly the type of battery being used in every application. This is challenging as devices can contain Li-ion batteries without consumers knowing.

Bought a non OEM charger on ebay for my camera battery–never used it since it had no temperature sense and no cut out when charged. The vendor refunded the money but didn’t want the item returned. I binned it.
Not sure some OEM chargers are safe either. Li batteries dont like to ‘float’ and one charger I have for a lawn mower doesnt turn off after the battery is full. I set a timer and manually disconnect.

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It may be a consequence of getting what we pay for. Our Dyson, Stihl and Milwaukee lithium powered household equipment and tools have chargers which indicate state of charge and appear to shut down when full charge us achieved. Not the lowest cost products. Our E-bike which was not a cheap purchase ($2000+), but still far less than many others, and an older Hoover branded stick vac have notes in the instructions to not leave on charge after 24 hours.

Possibly you are onto something in suggesting not all lithium battery systems and chargers are to a high standard.
IE Choice @jhook to consider whether there needs to be a campaign for a minimum legal standard for all consumer rechargeable lithium powered toys, household equipment and tools?
Should there be a requirement that all such products when sold must have charging systems and batteries with safety cut outs that recognise temperature, excessive charging current and other fault conditions that may lead to an unsafe condition. There is an assumption any requirements can be managed through regulation of the importation and or sale. Choice has been actively pursuing better consumer protections against unsafe products.

The first laptop I personally purchased which relied on lithium batteries (Samsung) supposedly incorporated a protection circuit with the replaceable pack. It monitored the cells and if any indication of a condition that might lead to a fault was detected it permanently disabled the battery pack. It was unable to be charged or discharged.


Individual batteries may not have smart technology incorporated. These batteries are like the AAA, AA, C, and D cells or possibly the larger and often used in pack batteries types such as the 18650. There are a number of 18650 batteries among the other cell sizes that now incorporate protection devices and it is becoming more popular to include the protection circuit (BPC). I guess it depends on the manufacturer to include this in every Lion battery to ensure greater safety. Every 18650 I buy I check to see if they have BPC built in before I purchase them e.g, the Fenix ARB-L18 3400mAh 18650 Lithium-ion Rechargeable Battery (for the purposes of information not as a recommendation of the business this links to).

Some reading on the various modes/types of BPC

There are also some standards now and for battery safety it is IEC 62133 (as with most standards a paid for access sadly) (for Industrial applications the standard is IEC 62619-2023 currently $442.86 AUD to access) and then IEC 61960 which is for specifying “performance tests, designations, markings, dimensions and other requirements for coin secondary lithium cells and batteries for portable applications and backup power supply such as memory backup applications” (as with most standards a paid for access sadly), and the not so important vocabulary unless you do not understand the terminology used IEC 60050-482:2004.

Most batteries that have multiple cells require at least balancing circuitry, this ensures that batteries charge more evenly across every cell. Many also exclude cells that no longer perform and/or the cells are soldered in such a way to each other that one cell failure does not stop the battery from supplying power, this decreases the power available from a pack, but allows a longer lifespan. If one battery fails without this in place then the battery pack will not work (the circuit is broken).

So from a safety and usability standpoint, it is best if both the batteries (cells and packs) and the chargers were “smart”. I guess the warning is if you buy cheap and unbranded you probably risk getting unsafe product.


Great post. Thanks.


My iPhone 8 became too hot to handle on a leisurely drive to Victoria 18 months ago. I stopped using it at Albury and bought a new iPhone 11. The iPhone 8 looked perfectly normal but I haven’t used it since - I presumed that it was unsafe to use. I still have it at home, unsure what to do with it. From what I read now, I should have disposed of it (safely) 18 months ago, but how do you remove any personal information from a phone which is unsafe to use?

Should I have put my iPhone 8 in a container of water when I noticed it overheating 18 months ago?

Regarding other lithium batteries, we have changed some of our recharging habits. We try to make sure the power to the stick vacuum cleaner is off at the wall every night. I am trying to use the (largely depleted) battery on my laptop computer instead of having the power on continuously. However, getting my better half to stop overcharging her iPhone and iPad has been a challenge. Presumably it may be worth having the odd extra smoke alarm these days, such as near the laundry.

It could be a faulty battery or the iPhone working too hard. If it the battery, it should be possible to get a OEM battery replacement. If you take it to Apple, they possibly won’t replace it but try and sell you another phone…so they can replace the battery an onsell it to someone else. If you are looking at replacing the battery, go to a reputable service agent and ask for an OEM battery. See with the cost if it is worth doing to give you a phone you can use for non-mobile connection based purposes (e.g. sat nav for the car, streaming videos etc).

If you don’t want to keep it, you might be able to onsell it yourself after doing a factory reset.

Putting it in a container of water would have eliminated the ability to replace the battery to extend its life…creating potentially unwanted eWaste.

Your practices are similar to ours. We avoid leaving any li-ion device on the charger. We also try and charge on non-flammable surfaces where we can as well. Trying to monitor battery temperature during charging and use like you do is also a worthy addition to see if overheating is occurring.

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@tim3 I think your comment about an extra smoke alarm may be the best comment to date!


A close friend has been into building and flying remote model airplanes, many of which are these days powered by lithium battery engines. New comers are told to only charge the batteries in a dry cool area outside their home or garage because of the risk of a fire if charged indoors. They are also told to not leave them on charge overnight and unsupervised.

Are you aware that Fire & Rescue are called out to over 1,000 such fires a year?

Take it to your nearest Apple store and they can erase the memory and take the phone.

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I have a good mate that likes gadgets. Before moving from Brisbane four years ago, he was into drones. Would buy them online from overseas. He is also highly risk adverse and would charge the batteries in a fire resistant charging bag. I had never heard of such bags nor charging risks of Li-ion batteries until I saw and asked what he was doing.

Next time we chat, must ask him if he still does it and it he has had any battery failures/fires.

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Be helpful to have the details about these “Charging Bags”. I’d never heard of them or seen any advertised.

Here’s an example (just the first one I found with a search):

Seems intended for use with drone batteries.


Fire and Rescue are called out across Australia for many different fires with home fires most commonly starting due to direct home owner actions, (not to do with charging lithium batteries).

Yes, the ABC suggested 1,000 calls nationwide including fires due to lithium batteries that were not in homes. The reporter noted,

It’s a call for better education and management of the risks.

To note in the winter 2023 in NSW there were 1063 residential/home fires and 8 fatalities. In context lithium battery caused fires are just one of many concerns for improving fire safety.