A Bump on My Battery: Is It Dangerous?
A smartphone that suddenly bursts its bounds? A tablet with a bulge? A laptop with a bump? Batteries can swell for a number of different reasons - such as overheating. In extreme cases, they can even double in size, so that your device's cover may start to bulge. The phenomenon occurs mainly with lithium-ion and lithium polymer batteries. These are the batteries that are generally standard in smartphones, laptops, e-readers and fitness trackers today.
From battery to balloon
Lithium-ion and lithium polymer batteries have many advantages, such as a high energy density and long battery life. But there is also a disadvantage: lithium is a lot more reactive than most of the substances found in other batteries. The battery's cells can produce a gas when overheated, and the pressure caused by that gas causes this odd swelling.
‘‘There is no point waiting for the battery to “shrink”. The ever growing pressure can cause damage to the entire device.
One symptom, many causes
The gas is produced if the battery gets too hot. This may happen if you charge the battery too often, if your battery is overused, or it may be the result of a production flaw or of using the wrong or a defective charger. Worried? There may be no immediate cause for concern. Devices with lithium-ion and lithium polymer batteries normally have built-in safety functions such as heat sensors and a network of circuits to prevent overcharging. Moreover, lithium ion and lithium polymer batteries have a sturdy casing. As a result, the gas cannot escape.
First aid for battery bulges
Turn your device off if you have any indication of swelling and take it to a service centre. Do so safely! There is no point waiting for the battery to “shrink”. The ever growing pressure can cause damage to the entire device. Leave the battery in the device only if it is stuck. Never try to “solve” the swelling yourself by pricking a hole in it or with any other creative stunt. That is very dangerous: not only is the gas flammable, but also toxic. The service centre will ensure that the battery ends up reaching Bebat.
Here’s how you can prevent a swollen battery
- Lithium-ion and polymer batteries despise heat. Don't leave your laptop in the car on a sunny day and don't block the vents on your laptop. Don't charge devices in sunlight or near a heat source. Planning 30-hour a gaming marathon on your smartphone? Not a good idea.
- If your battery or the device is not going to be used for a long time: store it in accordance with the instructions in a cool and dry place.
- Use the charger that comes with the device. If it's defective, then buy one of the same make and model. High quality equipment and safety certificates cost money. You will no doubt find a charger for half the price. But what you save on a cheap charger you may well spend on buying a new device.
- Replace used batteries. If you see that your battery drains very fast, you would do best to replace it. If you are not a handy Andy, leave it to the professionals. This is not only convenient, but also reduces the risk of safety problems.
- Don't leave your device plugged in all the time. Your battery will of course stop charging automatically once it is fully charged. Nevertheless, you are advised to disconnect your device from time to time and to run it on the battery so that it can perform its function.