Laptop Batteries may cause Fires

Numerous laptop fires have industry experts and computer manufacturers concerned. Exploding laptops have occurred due to faulty or overheated batteries and according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, upwards of 43 laptop fires have been reported in the U.S. since 2001. Several incidents reported that heat from a laptop melted and burned the carpet it was lying on.

In response, laptop companies recalled more than 150,000 batteries since Jan. 1, 2005, including 15,700 by Hewlett Packard recalled in one month alone. As well, Dell recalled 22,000 batteries in December and Apple retrieved approximately 120,000 batteries in 2005. But the recalls may be the equivalent of putting a bandage on a bullet wound: In June, 2006, a reporter at [The Inquirer] actually photographed a laptop on fire at a conference in Japan. Apparently the laptop caught fire and produced several "explosions." The laptop was a Dell machine.

One laptop manufacturer cites defective notebook batteries as the culprit, but there may be more involved than the batteries. According to one research analyst, a burning laptop could happen anywhere, anytime, particularly as they become faster and acquire more features such as DVD players, which makes the batteries work harder. Adding more fuel to the potential fire hazard is the fact that laptops are getting slimmer with less room for ventilation.

Generally, lithium ion batteries power laptops. Lithium batteries are one of the best energy-to-weight ratios, have no memory effect (as in other rechargeable batteries) and a slow loss of charge when not in use. But they can be dangerous.

Through a chemical process that releases oxygen, lithium ion batteries produce electricity. The oxygen reacts with one of the battery's components that produce heat, potentially causing the battery's membrane to melt.

Caution should be taken, especially on long-haul air flights. Consumers are warned to discontinue use if your laptop warms up and under no circumstances put a pillow under it or wrap it in a blanket.

Laptop Fires in the News

Aug-21-06: Faulty batteries may not be the only reason for Dell laptop fires. [CONSUMER AFFAIRS]

Aug-15-06: Battery recall could cost $400 million for Dell and Sony: [INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE]

Aug-14-06: Dell recalls battery packs on laptop computers shipped from April 2004 to now. [YAHOO]

Dell Announces Recall of Notebook Computer Batteries Due To Fire Hazard: [U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission]

Register your Laptop Battery Fires Complaint

If your laptop battery has overheated and caused a fire, you may qualify for damages or remedies that may be awarded in a laptop fire class action or lawsuit. Please fill in our form on the right to submit your complaint to a lawyer for a free evaluation.
Last updated August 24 2006

Reader Comments

Posted by

August 12, 2017, we were awakened by the sound of a loud BOOM that shook our home. We had no idea what it was and we looked all over and we found out that our HP laptop had exploded and that the battery was still melting. There was lots of smoke and soot in the bedroom. Shrapnel went all over the room and destroyed a lot of personal items in which I have a list of everything that was damaged. We took the melting battery and threw it into the kitchen garbage, meanwhile my son was violently ill in the restroom and we then heard several other pow pow sounds and went back to the room to see what was going on and then realized that the sounds were coming from the kitchen and now the garbage was engulfed in flames and shooting towards the ceiling and so we grabbed the garbage as quick as we could and put it outside for fear that the battery would blow up more times. The main thing that was damaged is the HP laptop. We took it in to find out if we were able to salvage anything from the computer and the repair place said "NO", but that they could send out the motherboard and the recovery would be anywhere from $1000 to $1600. I am only thankful for the fact that we were at home and were able to save my home and my animals, because if this would have happened when we were gone we would have lost EVERYTHING!

Posted by

On November 17, 2016, around 2:00 pm, we heard a very loud boom, followed by another loud boom, I raced upstairs to my office to find my HP Laptop engulfed in fire. Before I could pick it up another boom occurred.Pieces from the computer flew every where. I took the computer to the bathroom tub and returned to my office to put out several small paper fires.There were wall and rug burns around my computer area. I was blessed to be home and not on my computer.

Posted by

At approximately 12:20 at night on February 6th, 2008 a Dell Vostro laptop caught our couch on fire. My two children and I were fast asleep in my room when I heard popping. I went out to the living room and found the Dell and my couch on fire. I attempted to get some water however the pipes were frozen. I got my children from my bed (daughter in undies, myself in boxers) and attempted to run through the fire to the outside. My son was so scared he pulled his hands from mine and yelled," daddy I can't, daddy I can't". I ran through the burning door frame and put my daughter down on the cold desert floor. I then ran back through the fire to retrieve my son.

Pulled him through as something exploded cutting the top of my right foot. Still today I cannot feel my big toe or the one next to it - the cut is healing fine.

MY two dogs who were 17 years old and 14 respectively perished in the flames.

I am a full time single father at NMSU/Dacc college studying computer science. We lost everything. Our clothes, furniture, all our pictures and personal belongings. I had a computer cluster researching Artificial Intelligence and my work of the last five years went up in smoke.

Fox Local News, ABC Local News, and Sun/Times covered a short article. However, a lot of help is still needed.

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