Friday, December 16, 2011

Danger UXB - Uber-eXploding Battery!

The other day there was a funny smell in the living room... and come to think of it, I heard some unaccounted for popping noises.

Couldn't trace it - inspected the solar batteries and couldn't figure it out.  Had to open the window and vent the smell.

Today I found the culprit... And it was an unlikely suspect...  Some cheap Tronic Energy Eco 850mAh AAA NiMH cells I bought from Lidl a while ago to use in the multimeters on the wall.  I'd put two of these cells on charge and one exploded in the charger!  Well, the end cap had blown and leaked electrolyte all over the charger.  The third cell that had been on charge at the same time (a Sony one) was fine.

I wondered if it was just the one duff cell, so I put three more in the charger and set it running.  It finished in the usual time and the lights went out for each cell.  I felt the cells and they didn't seem unusually warm.  Huh... maybe it was just one duff cell after all.

But just as I was saying that to myself, all three cells erupted in a fizzing hissy fit!  Nope, all of them are rubbish.

Can't be that they don't like fast charging, as Lidl also sells them in a pack with a fast charger.

At least my new cheap 180Ah solar batteries haven't exploded yet...


  1. I was just charging some of the same batteries in my Lidl KH 980 charger. I had 6 AAA Tronic 850 batteries in there. Two of them were the ones pictured above and the other 4 were the red ones (same brand). I was going to charge them this morning but a re-read of the manual suggested this could take 7 hours. I didn't want to leave them alone so I set them to charge this evening. A couple of hours later 4 of them showed the green light, indicating they were charged. I didn't want to take these out while the others were still charging but thought it would be fine to leave them there for a little longer. A little while later, all but 1 were showing as charged.
    A kind of clicking noise caught my attention and I thought it might be the sound of some kind of safety trickle charge type circuit firing for the already charged batteries. Eventually it got worse so I unplugged the charger and removed the batteries.
    I discovered it was actually one of the batteries (the one that was showing as still charging) that was clicking since it was still making the sound after I took it out of the charger. I noticed a small line of liquid in the charger along the length of the slot where this battery was situated and a tiny drop more on the top end cap of the battery.
    It was one of the black 850 eco batteries you spoke of here.
    I guess I should dispose of it... how about the rest of them though? And how about the red ones? I also have some of the 900mAh black ones. Are they unsafe???
    The problem is, I bought a few of every type in Lidl thinking I'd always have a rechargeable battery for everything :(
    Bad Buzz!

    Any advice?

  2. p.s. On the package they also say:
    "Leak-proof metal construction"
    I guess the ones I got were sweating then....

  3. Yeah, my advice is to take them back and demand a refund as they're pants. Take the charger to show the damage caused (on my charger the silver paint on the plastic melted off). I couldn't as I'd lost the receipt by the time I used them. You can still demand a refund for bad product without a receipt (especially as they are Lidl own brand, so they can't claim you bought them elsewhere), but it's always harder to argue with them. For the money involved though, I can't really be bothered but I'm happy to damage their reputation by warning others here :D

    These Tronic cells have defective valves or are not recombining the gas produced during normal charging properly.

    I bought some Tesco own brand "hybrid" NiMH cells after that and they've all been fine with the same fast charger, as have all the Sony ones.