PDA

View Full Version : Fake batteries on tv tonight


Olybirder
16th November 2015, 11:05 PM
I don't usually watch it but when I switched the tv on this evening 'Fake Britain' was just starting. When I saw that it included a feature on fake lithium batteries for phones and cameras I thought that I would stay with it. It was especially relevant as I had spent a long time today trawling through the many Samsung phone batteries on offer which would fit my ancient and non-charging 7 phone. I got more and more depressed and confused, trying to work out what was genuine and what was a con.

The programme included a dawn police raid on a house, the occcupant of which was suspected of offering fake batteries online. When they entered they discovered many boxes containing, amongst other types, fake Canon and Olympus camera batteries. The packaging was extremely professional and convincing and the Canon ones even included holograms. Apparently Canon have a special viewer which can show if the hologram is genuine or not.

They featured a Canon user who had been conned and had paid 50 for a fake battery. As he explained, if it had been 10 he would have known it was not genuine but at 50 he thought he was getting a bargain. I can see myself thinking the same way. I have often wondered about the cheapish 'original' Olympus E-M1 battery which I purchased.

The feature ended with some hair-raising demonstrations of what could happen if a lithium battery were to malfunction and overheat. Not nice! I am usually very sceptical about these programmes but the inclusion of the Samsung and Olympus batteries gave me cause for thought. If only the genuine ones weren't quite so expensive!

Ron

Grimbleweed
16th November 2015, 11:08 PM
Good program - but this would be completely stamped out if the major manufacturers stopped charging ridiculous money for their batteries.

Phill D
17th November 2015, 06:57 AM
Yes I watched it too. Pretty graphic and a must watch I'd say. I was a bit disappointed that they didn't explain what actually goes wrong with the batteries and why the fakes are likely to malfunction and the original ones don't. Just quoting quality issues or saying that safety features were missing isn't a good enough description in my book without a proper description. Dumbing down for TV let down the whole article IMHO. Why can't an original battery do the same thing?

Wee man
17th November 2015, 08:45 AM
Will have to get it on catch up.

Olybirder
17th November 2015, 09:10 AM
I agree with Phil. They showed what would happen to any lithium battery if it overheated. They didn't test a fake battery which then heated up and exploded in flames. Their argument was that fake batteries don't have the same quality control as genuine ones, so they might malfunction and overheat but they didn't explain how or why.

It was still a sobering sight to see the explosions and jets of flame. A Samsung phone battery turned into a catherine wheel, spinning round wildly in flames.

Ron

drmarkf
17th November 2015, 09:55 AM
Lots of useful info and some tests here: http://www.imaging-resource.com/news/2015/10/28/counterfeit-battery-fakes-with-risks

Jim Ford
17th November 2015, 10:00 AM
The feature ended with some hair-raising demonstrations of what could happen if a lithium battery were to malfunction and overheat.

No, they showed what would happen if a battery was put on a hot plate and heated up until it caught fire. Any lithium battery would do the same - genuine or otherwise.

It was a very poor and unscientific test which proved very little. It certainly didn't demonstrate that the genuine batteries would fare any better. They just guessed that they would!

A more meaningful test would be to short the battery and measure the temperature rise, but it wouldn't be so sensational.

Jim

Naughty Nigel
17th November 2015, 10:34 AM
Yes I watched it too. Pretty graphic and a must watch I'd say. I was a bit disappointed that they didn't explain what actually goes wrong with the batteries and why the fakes are likely to malfunction and the original ones don't. Just quoting quality issues or saying that safety features were missing isn't a good enough description in my book without a proper description. Dumbing down for TV let down the whole article IMHO. Why can't an original battery do the same thing?

Some genuine batteries have done exactly the same thing! :eek: You may remember there was a scare two or three years ago involving fires in both Sony and Dell laptop batteries, a few of caught fire during flights. Apple also recalled some models of the iPod owing to fires and overheating.

The problem, very simply, is that lithium ion batteries have a very high energy density, so that a typical laptop battery can store as much energy as a motorcycle battery, but in a much smaller space.

Lithium ion batteries are inherently powerful things, (much more so than lead acid or NiMh batteries of the same size and weight), but their energy density can be increased still further by minimising the thickness of the dielectric 'separator' between the positive and negative electrodes in each cell, and by cramming the biggest cells possible into the space available. This tight spacing increases the risk of both overheating and short circuit; even in a new battery. Older batteries with one or more weak cells are even more at risk.

Any short circuit between electrodes results in a very high current flowing, generating heat that will start a fire in any battery that is anywhere near fully charged. To make matters worse, lithium ion batteries become chemically unstable if they are overheated or ruptured.

The difficulty is that even major manufacturers like Sony and Olympus often 'farm out' production of batteries to smaller manufacturers, so there is always the risk that some production, including reject stock, leaks out into the market.

There are probably hundreds or even thousands of such manufacturers across the far east, so the scope for fraud is huge.

Many postal services and airlines now refuse to carry bulk shipments of Lithium Ion batteries, whilst some passenger airlines recommend that laptops are not allowed to become fully charged from at seat charging points.

This BBC article is also interesting. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-31709198)

However, I agree with others that this would be much less of a problem if manufacturers sold spare batteries at reasonable prices, and if they didn't change their battery designs every time they build a new laptop/phone/camera or whatever!

Jim Ford
17th November 2015, 10:44 AM
A couple of Boeing airliners caught fire near the tail recently, because the lithium battery caught fire.

Jim

Naughty Nigel
17th November 2015, 10:59 AM
A couple of Boeing airliners caught fire near the tail recently, because the lithium battery caught fire.

Jim

Yes. and don't forget the Boing Dreamliners that were grounded owing to fires in their Lithium Ion batteries.



Lots of useful info and some tests here: http://www.imaging-resource.com/news/2015/10/28/counterfeit-battery-fakes-with-risks

Fascinating article Mark, well worth a read, thank you.

Otto
17th November 2015, 10:59 AM
Yes, the 787 Dreamliners were grounded for three months following lithium battery fires ...
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2013-01-10/boeing-fire-spotlights-hazard-of-plug-in-cars-laptops

[ Edit: snap! ]