Wise Use of Batteries: No More Do-It-Yourself! Quality PL Response Team

The majority of the electrical and electronic equipment we use requires batteries, so understanding how to handle them safely is critical.

However, incorrect use cases, such as purchasing unauthorized batteries or personally modifying batteries, are easily found online.

Therefore, the Quality PL Response Team at LG Energy Solution stepped up to help customers use batteries more safely. Let’s look at what you need to be aware of for proper battery use with “real” experts.

Q. Please give a brief overview of your work.

(Specialist Dae-hwan Kim, Quality PL Response Team)
I am in charge of responding to and preventing safety issues arising from the use of products by end users at the corporate level.

(Associate Hyo-jun Kim, Quality PL Response Team)
PL stands for “product liability,” which is related to the law of product liability. I’m in charge of PL issues in the Quality PL Response Team.

(Associate Ji-eun Lee, Quality PL Response Team)
I am in charge of single-cell leakage monitoring and tasks related to battery liability lawsuits filed against the company.

Q. Why does the following problem occur when a person modifies a battery pack?

An inappropriate attempt at DIY battery pack modification

(Specialist Dae-hwan Kim, Quality PL Response Team)
The image above appears to be an example of a spark occurring when a metal material contacts a battery and conducts electricity while an individual modifies an actual battery pack.

(Associate Hyo-jun Kim, Quality PL Response Team)
Generally, the exposed part of the battery is the positive electrode, also known as a cathode, and the part wrapped in wrapping material is the negative electrode, also known as an anode. A pack is created by connecting several batteries with a nickel plate. When a non-expert attempts to disassemble it, the wrapping paper around the batteries tears and the cathode and anode connect. When the anode and cathode are connected with an electrically conductive material, a large amount of energy passes through a narrow passage at once, generating heat. This appears to be what caused the accident in the previous image.

Q. Is there a problem if the device is operated after the modified battery pack is installed?

An inappropriate attempt at DIY battery pack modification

(Specialist Dae-hwan Kim, Quality PL Response Team)
An individual appears to have removed and modified the robot vacuum cleaner’s battery pack in the image above. Even if the device works with a modified battery, prolonged use can be highly hazardous. Because single cells contain significant energy, they must be used with a protection circuit.

A “protection circuit” is a safety mechanism that protects batteries when they become unstable due to overcharging or over-discharging. If overcharging continues, the battery’s state becomes unstable; not only does the capacity decrease but also damage occurs, posing a safety risk.

Because the protection circuit is designed to suit the product’s environment and the characteristics of the battery, it may not function properly if non-experts directly modify it. Please keep in mind that attempting to modify the battery on your own is dangerous.

Q. Can I buy batteries sold in open markets or online?

(Associate Ji-eun Lee, Quality PL Response Team)
Batteries traded on the open market and not officially sold by manufacturers are mostly single cells with no protection circuits. The KC certification mark* is not found on electrical or electronic products that use single cells without protection circuits. According to the Electrical Appliances and Consumer Products Safety Control Act, distributing and selling products without the KC certification mark is illegal. In addition, the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards has also announced a ban on using single cells without the KC certification mark.

The sale of single cells without protection circuits is also prohibited in the United States. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a notice in 2021 banning the use of 18650 without protection circuits. You should avoid purchasing batteries through unverified domestic or international channels.

(*KC Certification Mark or Korea Certification Mark: A national certification mark integrating legally required certification systems such as safety, health, the environment, and quality.)

Q. Do you have any final advice for customers?

(Associate Ji-eun Lee, Quality PL Response Team)
It was recently discovered that there is a YouTube channel with content encouraging viewers to buy and use a single battery without a protection circuit. You shouldn’t follow the instructions or purchase one!

(Associate Hyo-jun Kim, Quality PL Response Team)
Even if an accident does take place, it is considered consumer negligence, and adequate compensation cannot be obtained from the manufacturer.

(Specialist Dae-hwan Kim, Quality PL Response Team)
In fact, it is reported that there are frequent accidents involving individuals who modify their electric bicycles in China. Inadvertently attempting to modify to save money may result in property and human life being damaged, so it is strongly advised that you use genuine batteries.

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