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Can solar lights catch fire?

2021-05-27 17:50:46

I have been considering installing a few solar safety lights in our property, but when deciding where to install the new lights, I suddenly realized that these lights have batteries in them, which may cause a fire.

Read on to understand the working principle of solar lights and the real risks.

 

Can solar lights catch fire? The solar light is equipped with one or more batteries, which can be charged through a photovoltaic panel during the day, and once the light disappears, the light can be powered. Any device that contains and charges a battery may cause a fire.

 

How do solar lights store electricity?

Each solar lamp is equipped with one or more batteries. The solar cell array is usually installed directly on top of the lamp during the day, or installed on a separate unit through a piece of cable to charge the battery in daylight, and once the light disappears, the lamp can be powered.

The solar array converts light into electrical energy, and then passes it to the controller. The controller then charges the battery. The controller contains some safety circuits to prevent overheating, overvoltage, undervoltage and overcharging.

 

Battery type: good, better, best?

Modern solar lights are equipped with one of three different battery types, namely lithium ion (Lithium Ion), nickel metal hydride (NiMH) (nickel metal hydride) and, in rare cases, nickel cadmium (NiCd). Each battery has its advantages and disadvantages.

 

Nickel Cadmium

Nickel-cadmium or nickel-cadmium is the oldest and cheapest battery technology. These batteries can work under extreme conditions of cold and high temperature (+30°C to +50°C), but they are susceptible to the memory effect, which means that over time, the battery cannot make full use of its battery Power.

Although this limitation can be overcome by proper charging and repairing methods, this is not a really feasible solution for solar lights.

 

NiMH batteries

The charging time of nickel metal hydride or nickel metal hydride is 40% longer than that of nickel cadmium batteries, but it does not work efficiently under extreme temperatures.

Although NiMH batteries are not as susceptible to memory as NiCd batteries, this effect still exists, which means that as time goes by, the running time of the battery will be shortened.

 

lithium ion

Lithium-ion batteries or lithium-ion batteries have the ability to pack a large amount of power into a very small package. Therefore, why lithium-ion batteries are the battery of choice for many mobile devices such as mobile phones and laptops. They do not have any memory effect, but due to chemistry and manufacturing methods, they are more volatile.

 

Can solar lights catch fire? 1

Lithium-ion batteries can pack a lot of energy in a very small package.

 

For many years, although nickel-metal hydride batteries have always been the battery technology of choice for solar lighting, as costs have decreased, lithium-ion batteries have become more and more popular. Unfortunately, due to the variability of lithium-ion batteries, a higher risk of fire is introduced.

 

What makes lithium-ion batteries so volatile?

Lithium is the least dense metal, which means it can accumulate a lot of energy in a small space. Since lithium is also highly reactive, it makes it combustible. Most importantly, each battery is in a highly flammable lithium salt and organic solvent solution, which will burn when heated.

Inside, the battery uses a very thin porous polypropylene slurry to separate the electrodes. If the separator is broken, the electrodes contact each other, causing a short circuit, which in turn causes heat to build up, which is called thermal runaway. Can you see where we are going?

 

Lithium-ion batteries need to use a smart controller to monitor the battery status and ensure that the battery does not overcharge or consume more than a certain voltage. These controllers also monitor the temperature to shut off battery power when a fault is detected.

 

How overcharge can adversely affect lithium-ion batteries

Although most well-known manufacturers will do a lot of checks and balances to ensure the quality of their lithium-ion batteries and controllers to reduce the risk of fire, but even the most prestigious companies, it seems that they are not immune to lithium-ion batteries. risk.

Companies such as Apple, Sony, Hewlett-Packard, Toshiba, Lenovo, and Samsung have experienced lithium-ion battery explosions or spontaneous combustion in daily use.

All-Pro and Defiant solar lamps have recently caused fires due to their defective lamps, causing the batteries to overheat and melting the lamps. Since many of these lights have been fixed on the fence or directly on the house, the excess heat can easily cause a fire.

The following All-Pro and Defiant models have been recalled.

Almighty MST800L

Almighty MST800LW

Almighty WPS2040M

Huda MST1000LWDF

Defiant MST1000LWDFC

 

Cheap purchases increase the risk of fire

In today's online shopping world, customers need to always strive for the cheapest option. Manufacturers and retailers have been competing for the cheapest products on the market to compete.

No wonder short cuts are taken in the manufacturing process. Purchasing cheap photovoltaic cells, using cheap Chinese batteries in battery manufacturers, and taking shortcuts on smart controllers can help prevent batteries from exploding.

Solar lights are very reliable, and some can even be charged in cloudy weather, but if you don’t spend more money, you can’t expect this quality at all.

We have encountered many solar garden lights on Amazon and eBay sites, and a set of 12 lights is less than $20. Each lamp is $1.66. The price of the luminaire bracket is $1.66, including brackets/seckill lamps and spherical bulbs, photovoltaic panels, LED bulbs, batteries and controllers, and free shipping in many cases.

 

Reduce fire risk

Obviously, even the most prestigious companies are having trouble checking lithium-ion batteries, and there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of solar lights catching fire.

Buy solar lights from reputable retailers.

Although Amazon’s customer service is great, don’t always believe the reviews on many products. It has been proved time and time again that most of the comments are not forged.

Do not automatically choose the cheapest option. Lithium-ion batteries and photovoltaic cells are still relatively expensive, so you cannot expect cheap products to contain high-quality components. Although you may need to spend more money to buy a decent set of solar lights, they will last longer than cheap lights and may perform much better.

Consider where you want to place/install the lights. If a lamp does catch fire in the middle of the garden, the greatest power you will lose will be the lamp itself, but the burning lamp attached to the wooden fence may cause more damage to your property and people.

 

If one of my lamps catches fire, what is the best way to put out the fire?

For best results, use foam fire extinguishers. Carbon dioxide, ABC dry powder, graphite powder, copper powder or soda ash (sodium carbonate). Halon is also used as a fire extinguishing agent.

Of course, if you do not have one of these fire extinguishers, please use water or soda water. Water can also cool nearby areas and prevent fire from spreading.

Lithium ions have high reactivity. Therefore, once the fire is extinguished, it is recommended to leave it outdoors for six hours before processing.

 

In short

Yes, solar lights have a fire hazard. This is especially true for batteries equipped with lithium-ion batteries. However, the risk is relatively low. When choosing the lighting and installation location, you can reduce the risk by following some simple precautions.

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