LiPo charging bags are your friend; use them.

lipo fire damageI’ve been playing with Quads and RC Cars for a long time, too many years to really count actually. It wasn’t until the last 2 or 3 years that my collection of LiPo batteries has grown beyond the count of the NiMH batteries I used for RC Cars. I have half a dozen NiMH batteries and they have always been a pretty safe bet. I’ve had a lot of them, and charged them probably thousands of times. Maybe that’s playing the odds, but I doubt it. I have a couple of really large LiPo batteries for my RC Cars and my big Quad racer. I have charged them for years without incident, that was until a few days ago. Both of my 4S LiPos exploded while one was charging and started a pretty big damn fire in my house. In my house! I had heard warnings about charging them, I’m sure everyone has. Neither of the batteries were damaged and both of them were less than 2 years old. I tend not to charge at high amperage levels, generally only at 2c, so these batteries were charging at 2.5 amps, and had been going for only about 10 minutes. Then I noticed smoke, then the fire alarm went off. It took me a second to figure out what was going on, but when I went into my office it was thick with smoke and there were 2 foot flames shooting up from the floor where the batteries used to be.

Luckily, the fire was easy to contain. I went after the chemical extinguisher, couldn’t get it to work right away so I smothered the fire with a small blanket. Then doused it in the extinguisher to make sure it was out. Had I not been home I would have lost the house. It hadn’t spread to the carpet or all of the books and notebooks that were right there. It could have been SO much worse. I lost $250.00 in chargers and batteries just because I didn’t think I needed to use a charging bag. Now I know better.

Bags are cheap, and they solve a lot of problems; they can organize your batteries and cables, and they can keep you from burning down your house. I bought 2 bags for under $25.00, a large one and a small one for the little 1S and 2S LiPos for the smaller quads I have. The damage is pretty contained, thanks to the fact that the batteries were resting on a piece of synthetic moulding which melted instead of burning, so the shittiest part of this is the smoke, soot and general mess it created. My office smells, and now I have to replace the carpet and clean the mess. It would have been easier to spend the $25 a few years ago.

Any way, lesson learned. I have a spot in the garage all picked out, the charger lives out there now, and the batteries will be charged on a 16″ square solid tile, inside a bag at all times. I bought them from my local Hobby Shop, Tammies Hobbies, but you can get them on Amazon too. I’ve added a couple of smoke detectors to the house too; one in my office and another in the garage where I will be charging the batteries. I’m probably going to set up one of my Raspberry Pis to use a video camera as I charge the batteries in the garage so I don’t feel the need to sit and watch them.

In the mean time, checkout this video from my big quad and the gopro connected to it.

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