The Cases of Exploding Technology

It’s not just Samsung

An exploding Samsung Galaxy Note. An exploding Dell laptop. A pair of exploding headphones. A hoverboard that caught fire. What do they have in common? They’re all powered by lithium-ion (or Li-ion) batteries.

As scary as that may sound, it doesn’t mean you should stop using anything that makes use of a lithium-ion battery. Because that would probably mean you’ll have to stop using all your portable gadgets. If you happen to have a Tesla Model S, then you’d have to stop using your car too.

It also won’t be fair to judge lithium-ion batteries as incompetent and being of low quality. Because although this type of battery has its shortcomings, its efficiency can’t be denied. Your phone, your tablet or your laptop won’t last as long as it does if not for its lithium-ion battery.


What makes a lithium-ion battery dangerous?

A lithium-ion battery is dangerous by nature because of the way it is built. It contains an anode made of graphite (positive terminal), a cathode made of metal oxide (negative terminal), and the ion-filled liquid electrolyte containing lithium salts.

The only thing separating the anode from the cathode is a thin layer of porous material (polyethylene) that keeps electrodes from touching. If that layer is breached in any way, whether through an electrical short-circuit; a mechanical failure resulting from a fall, bump or crash; incorrect installation; or ineffective internal safety measures, the positive and negative sides come in contact with each other, heating the battery up rather quickly. And because the battery also contains a flammable electrolyte, the heat generated can cause it to explode or catch fire.

In spite of this seemingly frightening set-up, however, the probability that your gadget will catch fire is actually pretty small. According to K.M. Abraham, one of the pioneers of the Li-ion battery, failure rate is less than one in a million. To put that in perspective, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimates that your chance of being struck by lightning within your lifetime is 1 in 13,000.


What can you do to keep your lithium-ion battery from exploding or bursting into flames?

While manufacturers strive to develop better and safer versions of lithium-ion batteries, there are some things you can do to keep yours from heating up.

Avoid storing your battery at high temperatures.

Don’t leave your gadgets in a hot car. Don’t use your laptop on a non-flat surface, such as on top of a soft blanket or a couch, which will prevent air circulation. Don’t park your Tesla Model S under the hot sun for a prolonged period. You get the idea.

Charge your battery properly.

Unlike the old nickel-based batteries which should be completely drained before recharging, lithium-ion batteries fare better when recharged before being completely drained. In fact, it deteriorates faster if it is regularly allowed to drain completely, and when it is left to become over-charged. As much as possible, unplug from your charger as soon as your battery reaches full charge. And for optimal use, partial charging is better.

Avoid exploding technology


Charge at the right temperature.

Moderate temperature is best. Don’t charge at hot temperatures or at freezing temperatures.

Charge on a hard, flat surface.

Avoid charging on a soft surface that insulates heat and prevents it from escaping as this can cause overheating.

Don’t use a charger other than what is intended for your battery.

It’s okay to use third-party manufactured chargers, as long as you are sure that the brand is a trustworthy one. And that it’s specifically for a lithium-ion battery, of course.

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Knock off on the left, certified on the right

Don’t let your battery heat up.

As soon as you notice that your charger or your battery becomes unusually warm, discontinue the charging process.


Bring Your Computer or Phone to iDoctor

If you suspect that there is something wrong with your battery, bring it to either of our Billings locations! We can test it for you and determine if it is indeed on its last legs, or if what you’re experiencing is perfectly normal.

And don’t panic, for every one case of exploding technology, there are millions of cases of non-exploding technology. And often you can look at those cases where the things burst into flames and see signs for carelessness.

We do everything from iPhone screen replacements to computer repairs to game system repairs. If it is technology, then we will fix it! Call us at 406-534-2547 or 406-206-3437 to learn more about how we are the best repair shop in Billings.