Battery Fires Create Concerns For Every Electric Bike Owner (UPDATED)

Bike Europe, a publication claimed to be the “leading trade journal for the bicycle, e-bike market” recently published a courageous story on the dangers of Lithium-Ion batteries used in the majority of electric bikes (e-bikes). The publication had a fire safety engineer and battery safety professional examine the aftermath of a fire ignited by an unattended charging battery in a bicycle shop (video footage of the shop fire has been removed). His observations are frightening.

The expert is quoted as saying that Lithium-Ion batteries are, “rather unreliable, rather explosive. You are never sure if or when they will explode. And when they do, you have a big problem.” While the expert has an obvious conflict of interest (he owns a consulting business called Fire Safety Engineering Support), he supports his statements with references to numerous e-bike shop fires. Well documented fires have plagued e-bike shops in America as well, including incidents in Solana Beach, California (click here to see the video), Dunedin, Florida, Seattle, Washington, Arlington, Virginia, Crown Heights, New York and Crazy Lenny’s E-Bikes in Madison, Wisconsin.

A fire safety engineer and battery safety professional recommends e-bike shops to invest in a battery storage container. E-bike riders don’t have such a simple or effective option.

Put it in a box
This safety consultant made recommendations for bike shops that apply to any e-bike owner. He suggests the use of a battery storage container with a certified lithium extinguishing system or a storage room equipped with an integrated automatic extinguishing system that would include a heat/smoke detector. Problem is, his recommended products are designed (and priced) for industrial use.

Luna, a company that converts bicycles to electric-motorized bicycles and offers conversion kits (for do-it-yourselfers), sells a recommissioned ammunition box for $34.00 that they call the Luna Charge Safe Box. The company says. “You cannot be too safe when it comes to lithium batteries. Wherever there is energy density there is the possibility of fire.” The company claims the Safe Box will “contain a lithium fire.” My only reservation is that there is no mention on the Luna website of third-party testing.

Throw it on the barbie
ElectricBike-Blog
, who take a rather outlaw approach to e-bike use, recommends a very ingenious DIY workaround of charging e-bike batteries in a wood stove. Electricbike.com has an extensive article on Lithium-Ion batteries where they recommend charging batteries in a barbecue grill.

The battery safety professional also recommends that stored e-bike batteries be charged to no more than 30% capacity. He also explains that a dropped or damaged battery can sustain internal damage, making it more susceptible to catch fire.

This product won’t prevent a battery from exploding or catching fire, but it can help a rider move the danger out of the house or garage.

Tips riders can use today
Until a company offers an e-bike-specific, certified, consumer-level, battery storage container, there are valuable tips e-bike owners need to adopt today to protect themselves:
1. Never leave a battery charging unattended. Day or night.
2. Don’t overcharge batteries.
3. Don’t charge batteries near combustible or explosive materials.
4. Don’t charge a battery in a confined space like a motorhome, RV, boat, automobile, van or shed.
5. Never charge a battery that has been dropped, damaged or dinged.
6. Never modify a battery.
7. Use only batteries recommended and approved by your bike’s manufacturer.
8. Charge batteries on wire shelving with rollers. This allows an overheating or flaming battery to be quickly rolled away from structures.

The source of a fire that totally destroyed a Toronto garage is being attributed to a charging e-bike battery. Following our first rule may have prevented this tragedy.

It can happen here
E-bikes, when used properly, can reduce traffic congestion, improve air quality, increase parking availability and reduce transportation costs. Plus, try to ride one without smiling. Riding an e-bike is the most fun you’ll experience since you learned how to ride a bike. But unless the potential dangers are clearly explained, as Bike Europe  did, the growth of e-bike use in the United States is likely to stall when avoidable tragedy strikes more homes and businesses.

A LIST OF REPORTED E-BIKE FIRES

UPDATED 9/15/21: Austin Hotel Fire Started By Charging E-Bike.

UPDATED 9/8/21: Charging battery explodes in front of owner’s apartment.

UPDATED 9/8/21: Super73 RX Controller catches fire. Note: This video documents the rider breaking multiple vehicular laws.

UPDATED 9/8/21: E-bike fire destroys Ocean Isle Beach home, significantly damages adjacent home.

UPDATED 9/2/21: Nine-year-old dies in fire caused by charging e-scooter. Note: I usually limit my postings to e-bike fires, but there is so much e-bike owners can learn* from this tragedy, I have posted it.

UPDATE 9/1/21: E-bike burns on the streets of New York while firefighters attempt to extinguish

UPDATED 8/23/21: E-Bike ignites outside London McDonalds

UPDATED 8/21/21: Oklahoma City Fire Department douses flaming e-bike battery in garage

UPDATE 8/17/21: NYC e-bike infernos: Scooter, e-bike batteries caused 55 fires, two deaths so far this year, FDNY

UPDATED 8/4/21: Eastbourne fire caused by e-bike battery.

UPDATE 8/4/21: The fire brigade believes the fire due to lithium-ion battery pack for an electric bicycle.

UPDATE 7/1/21: Urgent warning after spike in ferocious fires.

UPDATE 6/25/21: Finally, some vindication from Human Powered Solutions.

UPDATED 6/20/21: Family billed $32,000 after e-bike battery sparks house fire.

UPDATE 6/19/21: E-bike battery charger sparks fire in Wiltshire.

UPDATED 6/8/21: E-bike left on charge blamed after fire engulfs Sydney home.

UPDATE 6/7/21: Fires caused by e-bikes up 74.5% this year.

UPDATE 6/3/21: E-bike battery caused Springfield apartment fire.

UPDATE 5/27/21: Specialized recalls two popular e-bike models due to fire hazard.

UPDATED 4/20/21: E-tricycle catches fire near High School due to battery explosion.

UPDATED 7/20/20: E-bike’s battery explodes on city street destroying the bicycle.

UPDATED 5/1/20: Raw footage of exploding Lime Bike Battery on UW Campus.

UPDATED 4/20/20: Pedego Electric Bicycles shop in Dunedin, Florida, suffers fire.

UPDATED 3/27/20: Battery explosion kills 60-year-old rider.

UPDATE 1/15/20: Modified E-bike’s fiery explosion a warning.

UPDATE 10/21/19: Why communities can’t trust micromobility rental businesses.

UPDATE 10/17/19: Dutch insurers and fire fighters worry about increase in e-bike battery fires.

UPDATE 8/18/19: A sad story from CBS8 reports that Ocean Beach surfboard shaper Ace Elliot has lost his workshop to a fire that he suspects was ignited by his charging e-bike battery.

UPDATE 8/3/19: Lyft has removed their entire E-bike rental fleet from San Francisco after two bikes caught fire.

UPDATE 2/3/19: Forbes reports that it is “unusual for electric bikes to catch fire” in their report on Stella, a Dutch E-bike company that suffered three fires in seven months.

E-bike battery Fires Don’t Have To Happen

Lyft Pulls Rental E-bike Fleet After Battery Fires

Stella E-bike Company Suffers Third Fire In Seven Months

E-Bike Kit Fire Destroys Bike And starts Bush Fire.

DIY E-bike builder destroys family home.

E-bike Battery Fires Fans Flames Of Consumer Concerns.

E-bike fire sends two to hospital.

E-bike explodes in Newport Beach.

E-bike shop damaged by fire.

Homemade electric bike explodes on street.

Four, including baby, taken to hospital after e-bike catches fire.

Faulty electric bike charger caused garage fire, firefighters say.

Electric bicycle catches fire, sends flames up back of house.

Homemade Electric Mountain Bike Explodes.

San Francisco Apartment Fire Linked To Charging e-bike.

Authorities Sound Alarm On Fire Risks Posed By e-bikes.

*BATTERY CHARGING TIPS YOU CAN USE TODAY 

1. Never leave a battery charging unattended. Day or night.

2. Don’t overcharge batteries.

3. Don’t charge batteries near combustible or explosive materials.

4. Don’t charge a battery in a confined space like a motorhome, RV, boat, automobile, van or shed.

5. Never charge a battery that has been dropped, damaged or dinged.

6. Never charge a battery in a hallway entry/exit.

7. Never modify a battery.

8. Use only batteries recommended and approved by your bike’s manufacturer.

9. Charge batteries on wire shelving with rollers. This allows an overheating or flaming battery to be quickly rolled away from structures.

10. Look for the UL 2849 certified sticker on your next e-bike purchase.

11. Avoid e-bikes that are not UL 2849 certified.

 

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