E-bike and e-scooter owners urged to check if chargers are appropriate | Science & Tech News

E-bike and e-scooter owners have been urged to check whether they are using appropriate chargers to power their devices, so as not to risk a potentially catastrophic fire.

If they are not compatible with the voltage of the battery, it risks a process called thermal runway – a self-heating chemical reaction that can quickly prove devastating.

A survey by charity Electrical Safety First suggests 43% of owners use secondary after-market chargers – and more than one in three of them know it’s not compatible, while one in five don’t know.

Giuseppe Capanna, the charity’s product safety engineer, said it was “essential” people used compatible chargers, ideally ones that come with the device.

To make it easier for people to avoid using something dangerously incompatible, the charity is calling for a ban on universal chargers that come with multiple outlets to connect to various batteries.

It has already called for the batteries to be regulated like fireworks and heavy machinery, which need third-party approval before going on sale.

At the moment, lithium-ion batteries used in e-bikes and e-scooters can go on sale with only the manufacturer’s declaration that they meet safety standards.

Consumers are also being advised to stick to reputable manufacturers and retailers.

Read more:
Police urge retailers not to ‘exploit’ e-scooter buyers
E-scooters banned from London public transport over fire fears

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Do e-bike batteries need regulation?

‘Never block any exit ways’

The charity’s warnings come after a spate of recent deadly incidents linked to e-bike and e-scooter batteries, prompting warnings from fire brigades.

Last month, a woman and two children in Cambridge died in a flat fire likely caused by an e-bike on charge.

Owners have been told not to charge them in areas that may compromise escape routes, like a hallway or staircase, given how quickly these fires can spread through a property.

Mr Capanna said: “Never block any exit ways when charging, the results could be fatal.”

The London Fire Brigade also suggests letting the battery cool before charging, unplugging it once it’s finished, and installing alarms where you charge.

The government has said fires linked to e-bikes and e-scooters are being looked at, and a research project has been commissioned to examine commonly used batteries.

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