How can you prevent short circuits in batteries?
You turn on the oven and suddenly – poof! – the light goes out! The mains switch trips as soon as a short circuit (in this case in the oven) occurs. But how does that work with batteries? Can they even short circuit? And what precautions can you take?
What is a short circuit?
In a battery, electricity flows from pole to pole. If the positive and negative poles of a battery come into direct contact with each other, a short circuit occurs. Electric current follows the path of least resistance. When the two poles make contact, the current will immediately search for an exit.
What are the possible consequences?
In the event of a short circuit, the battery drains very quickly. Sometimes the release of energy – a large amount at the same time – can generate an enormous amount of heat. In some cases, due to the high pressure inside the battery, it can even lead to leakage and, in exceptional cases, an explosion. If the battery is almost empty when the short circuit occurs, the impact will be much more limited. After a short circuit, the battery will no longer work or will have reduced capacity.
If the short circuit happens in your device, the remote control or torch (or any battery-powered item) may become very hot. Allow the device to cool down and carefully open the battery compartment. Preferably, you should wear household gloves to do this in order to avoid contact with the chemicals. Does something smell burnt? Then, unfortunately, new batteries are not the solution. Take the device to the shop and check whether it’s possible to repair it.
‘‘The poles of a button cell battery are very close together, which increases the risk of short circuiting if you store them with other batteries. So stick all your button cell batteries on a strip of adhesive tape. Much safer!
How can you prevent battery short circuits?
Since short circuits are caused by the negative and positive poles of the same battery coming in contact, this must always be avoided. Some useful tips:
- The poles of a button cell battery are very close together, which increases the risk of short circuiting if you store them with other batteries. So stick all your button cell batteries on a strip of adhesive tape. Much safer!
- 4.5 V and 9 V batteries both have + and - poles that are very close to each other. If a button cell battery gets stuck between the two poles of the battery, this may also cause a short circuit. So cover the poles with a piece of tape!
- Dropping a battery-powered device on the ground may also cause internal damage. Check that the battery compartments and batteries are still intact.
- Want to deposit your used batteries at one of the Bebat collection points? Put the batteries in a collection bag – don’t just put them loose in your pocket!
Used batteries lying around the house? Collect them in a bag and take them to a collection point!