ires involving e-bike batteries

Are Lithium-Ion batteries hazardous? Do the batteries in e-bikes catch fire on their own?

Last Updated on 27 February 2024 by Stefano


Lithium-ion batteries that can be recharged are widely available. They may be found in common electronic equipment like cameras and, of course, cell phones, in addition to e-bikes.

Does using defective phone batteries and chargers pose a risk, given the numerous cases of fires caused by them over the years? Most of the time, the response is no. There will be unique cases, though.

Therefore, caution must be exercised while handling any lithium-ion battery. Nevertheless, it seems that a large number of the fires that have been recorded have been caused by goods that didn’t originate from reliable, well-known companies.

These batteries explode primarily because of abnormal or unstable ion flow, which can be brought on by several factors including overheating, defective cells, impurities inside the battery from subpar manufacturing, and so on. Overcharging is typically the cause of these explosions.

There are frequently a few warning indications before a malfunctioning lithium battery catches fire. Should you spot any of these indicators:

  • Heat: When batteries are being charged or used, some heat production is usual. On the other hand, if the battery in your gadget feels abnormally hot to the touch, it could be faulty and could catch fire.

  • Bulging: When a battery swells or becomes distorted, it usually indicates that it is about to fail. Your battery should be disconnected right away if it seems bloated. Similar symptoms include lumps of any kind or leaks from the apparatus.

  • Noise: Hissing or cracking noises have also been observed from failing lithium batteries.

  • Scent: A strong or peculiar scent emanating from the battery may also indicate that it is deteriorating.

  • Achievement: Extended periods of charging or an inability to fully charge your battery might indicate a malfunction.

  • Smoke: A fire has already begun if your gadget or battery is emitting smoke.

We are predominantly seeing fires in converted e-bikes which have been purchased from online marketplaces and batteries sourced on the internet which may not meet the correct safety standards” adds LFB.

Fire caused by electric bike
(Image credit: London Fire Brigade)

What then are the appropriate safety guidelines?

If rechargeable batteries are to be carried commercially, they usually need to meet EN50604-1 and UN-T 38.3 criteria.

It’s vital that people purchase an electric bike, or e-bike battery, from a UK-based supplier, where products have been verified by authorities to meet legal requirements for safety. Buying batteries and electric bicycles online from Chinese sites or in countries that do not have any legislation is a serious danger for the consumer suggests the London Fire Brigade.

Guidelines for users of e-bikes and e-scooters regarding safety (safety warnings from LFB website)

  • Avoid obstructing your escape path with objects, such as e-scooters and e-bikes. Keep them out of the path of the major thoroughfare. If at all feasible, we advise storing these things outdoors in a secure shed or garage.

  • Make sure you use the right charger at all times to avoid increasing the danger of fire and get an authentic one from a reliable vendor.

  • Avoid modifying or tampering with your battery. Observe the manufacturer’s directions at all times.

  • Using DIY kits that may be purchased online to convert pedal bikes into e-bikes might be quite risky. They may present a greater fire danger. To ensure that the battery you purchase is not second-hand, make sure it is from a trustworthy supplier and have it converted by a professional or competent individual.

  • According to UN-T 38.3, the test schedule comprises a series of safety tests that drive the test specimens to their limits on a certain number of rechargeable batteries. These include vibration, heat, impact, overload, and short circuit testing, among others.

  • Verify that your charger and batteries adhere to UK safety regulations. We are especially concerned about batteries that may not fulfil the necessary safety requirements when they are acquired online or bought via online markets. When purchasing any product, consumers may verify that it satisfies all safety, health, and environmental regulations in the UK and EU by looking for the UKCA or CE mark. When making an online purchase, choose a UK vendor.

  • Keep an eye out for indications that the charger or battery isn’t operating properly, such as a heated or warped battery.

ebike battery fire london
LFB said it was safest to buy an e-bike from a “UK-based trusted and reputed retailer” (Image credit: London Fire Brigade)

What to do if there’s a risk of fire with your lithium battery

You should immediately switch off the device and disconnect it from the power source if your battery begins to display any of these warning indications.  Call the device manufacturer or retailer for further instructions. If the gadget emits smoke or ignites, sound the alarm, leave the area, remain outside, and dial 999 right away.


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