Warning Against Loose ‘18650’ Batteries

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has warned that consumers should not buy or use loose 18650 lithium-ion battery cells due to a possible fire and even death risk. The batteries are commonly used in flashlights and toys and some vapor products.

The commission said it is working with e-commerce to remove listings of loose or repackaged “18650 lithium-ion” batteries, according to a press release. A superior court in California recently denied a request by Samsung to dismiss a lawsuit about an exploding e-cigarette lithium-ion batteries.

The CPSC warning is about batteries separated from cells that use multiple 18650s such as battery packs for electric automobiles.

“These cells are manufactured as industrial component parts of battery packs and are not intended for individual sale to consumers. However, they are being separated, rewrapped and sold as new consumer batteries, typically on the Internet,” the CPSC said in a statement on Saturday. “Specifically these battery cells may have exposed metal positive and negative terminals that can short-circuit when they come into contact with metal objects such as keys or loose change in a pocket.”

Once shorted, loose cells could overheat and experience thermal runaway, igniting the cell’s internal materials and forcibly expelling burning contents, resulting in fires, explosions, serious injuries and even death.

“Unfortunately a growing number of small consumer products such as vaping devices, personal fans, headlamps and some toys are using loose 18650s as a power source,” the CPSC stated in its release.