Electronic Cigarette E-Cig Battery Explosion
E-Cigarettes, e-cigs, vape and vape mods are new consumer products designed to replace traditional cigarettes. The devices are battery-operated vaporizers. Using an e-cigarette or vape is commonly spoken of as “vaping.” The liquid vaporized by the product is not tobacco but contains nicotine. Non-nicotine versions are on the market. The products are frequently marketed as smoking cessation devices or as a “healthier” alternative to traditional smoking of conventional cigarettes.
Recently many news reports have come out indicating the design of e-cigarettes vape devices, including “mechanical mod” devices, can result in batteries that catch on fire or explode. As e-cigs are a personal electronic device, this failure can result in serious personal injury, especially if the explosion occurs during use.
An e-cig or vape contains these parts:
- Cartridge (tank)
- Heating element (atomizer)
- Microprocessor [in digital devices]
- Mechanical switch [in mechanical devices]
- LED Light [for effect]
Vape mod and mechanical mod vaporizers are products sold to consumers as intentionally modifiable. They are frequently referred to as a mech mod or mech mod vape. The word mod is in reference to the many designs that can be modified by adding, and their history of being built from other devices modified to become a vape. These devices can be taken apart and changed, removing or replacing individual components. Consumers are instructed to mix and match various components in these mod vapes, from batteries to heating elements and switches to change the behavior of their devices. Unfortunately, these changes also alter the power consumption and draw of the device, and many combinations of parts can result in battery failure or explosion.
Electronic Cigarette Battery Explosion
An electronic cigarette or mod vape battery, like all batteries, has limits on the temperature it can withstand or the power that can be safely drawn from the device. A device can be poorly constructed and more prone to failure, or be designed in a way that makes eventual failures highly likely. Typically electronic cigarette batteries are lithium-ion (Li-On) batteries, which will catch fire or explode if improperly used. Batteries with internal failures can be doomed regardless of whether they are handled correctly. Many products on the market do not pair a battery with a charger, leaving after market batteries and chargers to be combined.
Most 18650 batteries and other popular batteries are sold without the additional safety features added to the battery or battery pack that are typical of other consumer products, even those with considerably less power. Temperature sensors and other small chips that are typically added to ensure an electronic product is safe and does not catch fire or explode are typically absent on many e-cig and vape devices sold today. Many devices are sold without a battery, leaving users to combine different batteries with the device, leaving no control from the manufacturer to how each device will work (and fail) when in the hands of consumers.
Faulty design by e-cig manufacturers can result in battery usage that exceeds the limitations of the battery, leading to catastrophic failures. These failures can be the result of overcharging, prolonged usage without regulation to control draw and temperature, drawing power outside the safe range of a paired battery, battery replacement, changes in components, or even from heat from direct sunlight.
Once the battery overheats, whether in the vape or e-cig device, on a charger or outside a device, it can quickly cause a chain reaction that leads to ignition, explosion or leakage of superheated liquid. If a lithium-ion battery catches fire in your pocket, it can cause serious burns to your body. If a lithium-ion battery explodes in your hand or mouth, the damage can be catastrophic or even fatal.
E-Cig Battery Explosion in the News
May 7, 2016: Albertville, AL: Teen recovering from burns caused by classmates e-cig
April 15, 2016: New York City, NY: 14-year-old boy left blinded after e-cigarette explodes
April 7, 2016: New York City, NY: E-cig explodes like a firecracker
February 24, 2016: Owensboro, KY: E-Cigarette battery explodes, burning man’s leg
Video of the Kentucky e-cig battery explosion [Associated Press]:
February 17, 2016: Utah: Man says he suffered third-degree burns
February 10, 2016: Boulder, CO: Colorado teen severely burned in e-cig explosion
February 04, 2016: Houston, TX: E-cig battery explodes in man’s pocket
January 28, 2016: Sonoma County CA: Windsor teen badly hurt when e-cigarette explodes in his mouth
November 23, 2015: Memphis, TN: E-cigarette explosion breaks Memphis native’s neck
October 27, 2015: Naples, FL: Florida man in coma after e-cig explodes in his face
Despite being marketed as safer for consumers than traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes and vaporizer kits powered by batteries can fail and explode or catch fire. Manufacturers and distributors have made some of the following recommendations to avoid a battery explosion:
- Do not leave the battery unattended while charging it
- Do not overcharge the battery
- Do not allow prolonged undercharged states
- Test and replace batteries that have low resting voltage using a multimeter
- Test and replace coils and atomizers regularly
- Test mechanical mod devices for power draw
- Test charging devices to ensure they are compatible with the battery
- Do not short circuit the battery within the device
- Do not let batteries touch each other or other metal surfaces
- Do not mix-and-match chargers and e-cigarette devices
- Calculate the batteries’ capacity in milli-Ampere-hours (“mAh”)
- Calculate the maximum discharge rate in Coulombs (the “C-rate”)
- Calculate the discharge rate of the mechanical mod
- Ensure the tested discharge rate is lower than the battery maximum discharge rate
If this list seems unreasonable for the average consumer to manage, you have just learned why e-cig vaporizers are so dangerous! Most consumers are not engineers. Manufacturers of consumer products have engineers in their factories who are supposed to make these kinds of calculations to ensure a device is safe enough for the average consumer. Yet any error in the above list of steps, or other failures including poorly designed components, can result in a battery fire or explosion.
E-cig Battery Lawsuit
Levin Simes Abrams is accepting e-cig battery explosion lawsuits and is investigating claims of failed and faulty e-cig mechanical mod devices. If you or a loved one has been injured by an e-cig device, please contact us about investigating an e-cig lawsuit at 1-888-426-4156 or at [email protected].
Popular E-cig Vaporizer Brands
- USA Made Mods
Popular E-Cig Batteries
- AW IMR
- Efest IMR
- EH IMR
- MNKE IMR
- Samsung ICR INR
- Trustfire IMR
U.S. Fire Administration
In October 2014 the U.S. Fire Administration and FEMA released a report on Electronic Cigarette Fires and Explosions. You can find a copy of the report here. As of October, 2014, the U.S. Fire Administration claimed that e-cig battery explosions were rare. However the market in the United States for e-cigarettes has since grown rapidly, particularly the market for the more dangerous vaporizer, digital and mechanical mod devices. Smaller “cig-a-like” and disposable e-cigarettes, which do not provide for modifications to the battery and which generally contain much smaller batteries, are less prone to catastrophic battery failure. As the market for larger vaporizers grows, so does the frequency of catastrophic consumer injuries.
The U.S. Food Administration (FDA) has proposed regulations for e-cigarettes. New regulations to help ensure future e-cig vaporizers are designed with consumer safety in mind will likely be a part of any future regulatory scheme. Currently the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has advised that e-cigarettes do not fall under its jurisdiction. Underwriters Laboratories (UL) has developed standards that relate to lithium-ion battery safety. However, currently e-cigarette designs and products are not required to be subjected to product safety testing, even though most similar products undergo such testing. Given the high potential dangers of these devices, it is not surprising consumers are being injured by these unsafe devices.
FDA E-cigarette Regulation
The FDA released new rules to bring e-cigarettes under federal authority. Under the new rules, manufacturers will be on a timetable to submit their new products for FDA approval. In addition, the sale of e-cig devices to those under 18 will be prohibited and those under 26 will require photo ID to purchase e-cig nicotine or e-cig devices. The 499 pages of new regulation can be found here.
E-cig Battery Explosion Lawyers
Levin Simes Abrams represents multiple e-cig battery explosion clients and is investigating new claims of failed devices or batteries. If you have been injured by an e-cig battery explosion, please contact us about investigating an e-cig lawsuit at [email protected] or 1-888-426-4156.