Lithium-ion batteries are one of the most popular ways to power up a variety of devices, being used in the likes of e-cigarettes and laptops.

The increase in usage is due to the fact they are rechargeable, meaning you don’t have to remember to always have a stash of batteries somewhere in the house for toys and gadgets.

It is also because these types of batteries are lightweight and have high energy density but what exactly are they?

What are lithium-ion batteries?

Lithium-ion batteries have become widely used in society from small applications such as mobile phones and tools to larger applications such as transport; electric bikes, e-scooters and electric vehicles (EVs) and also for storage facilities for renewable energy,” reports Electrical Safety First.

“This due to the unique properties of lithium-ion batteries which is best summarized as the ability to store an enormous amount of energy in a very small space.”

What devices and products have lithium-ion batteries in?

As well as e-cigarettes and laptops, you can also find lithium-ion batteries in:

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Apple iPhones also have lithium-ion batteries insideApple iPhones also have lithium-ion batteries inside (Image: Dominic Lipinski/PA)

  • Mobile phones
  • Tablets
  • E-Bikes
  • Electric toothbrushes
  • Tools
  • Hoverboards
  • E-scooters
  • Solar power backup storage
  • Digital Cameras
  • Watches
  • Portable power packs
  • Surveillance and alarm systems
  • Electric vehicles and mobility scooters

How to charge lithium-ion batteries safely

“The ability to store enormous amounts of energy in a very small space is also one of the main disadvantages of lithium-ion batteries and can lead to risks of fire and explosion if they are not stored and charged safely,” explains Electrical Safety First.

“When used properly lithium-ion batteries are convenient and safe to use but batteries can present a fire risk when over-charged, short-circuited, or if they are damaged.

How you can reduce your energy bills

“Charging them safely is really important. Here are some simple tips for safe charging of your lithium-ion batteries.”

  • Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions precisely
  • Regularly check the condition of the battery, look for dents, deformation or signs of overheating. Stop using/charging the battery as soon as you notice any damage and replace any damaged battery.
  • Only use the charger supplied with the battery. It is designed to steadily charge the battery at a predetermined rate, it will monitor the charge and avoid overcharging.
  • If the original charger is not available, obtain a replacement from the original manufacturer. Counterfeit and substandard chargers can be deadly. Overcharging, over-discharging and charging the battery too quickly are some of the main causes of fires from lithium-ion batteries.
  • Disconnect the battery and unplug your charger when the charge cycle is complete, don’t leave items on charge continuously, for example it's best not to leave your phone plugged in overnight.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Do you still buy standard batteries or do you only use rechargeable ones?Do you still buy standard batteries or do you only use rechargeable ones? (Image: Getty)

Charge your batteries in a safe place

  • Do not charge batteries where they may prevent you from escaping in the event of a fire.
  • Do not charge batteries close to combustible materials or hazardous substances.
  • Do not charge lithium batteries where high temperatures or sunlight are to be expected.
  • Do not cover lithium batteries when charging.
  • Monitor the charging of your batteries if you can, in particular, powerful ones like e-bike or e-scooter batteries.

Ensure that you have adequate backup and early warning systems in place

  • Do you have smoke/heat alarms to alert you if something goes wrong?
  • Is your electrical installation up to date? Does it have RCDs fitted that can switch off the power in the event of a fault?

You can find more information about lithium-ion batteries on the Electrical Safety First website.