By Mike Garrison
A Moment with Mike is a weekly opinion column where LiveRC’s Mike Garrison gives his take on hot-button issues, general topics, and conversations within the RC industry. The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of LiveRC.
Last night I decided to clean out my cabinet in which I have been piling crap that I will “sort out later” for years. In doing so I found not one, not two, but twelve used LiPo battery packs – none of which would take a charge. I will be the first to admit I don’t know the ins and outs as to how LiPo batteries work, but regardless I am scared to death of them. Being as scared of LiPos as I am, as you can imagine I was terrified to find these twelve battery packs just floating in the cabinet under years of junk.
Needless to say, I wanted to get rid of them ASAP. I put them all in a bag and headed for the trash can, but then I realized just the thought of twelve LiPos in a trash can nearly gave me a panic attack. Not to mention, if they survived the trash can what happens with the trash truck smashes them in the back? At this point I began to hyper-ventilate. So how on earth do I get rid of these things?!
In over 15 years of racing I can honestly say that I have never been faced with the problem of having to dispose of twelve LiPo batteries all at once. In fact, thanks to our local track offering LiPo battery disposal, I’ve never disposed of a single LiPo on my own – let alone a dozen of them.
I won’t be going to the track until the weekend, and I’m not about to let them just sit around for days – who knows what they might do (despite the fact they’ve sat around in the cabinet unknown for years). There was only one way I was going to figure out what to do with them…YouTube.
Have you ever YouTube searched “LiPo battery disposal”? If you are looking for ACTUAL advice on how to safely dispose of LiPo batteries - don’t do it. I did not learn anything other than how to blow them up in a multitude of ways ranging from shooting them with a shotgun shirtless in the woods to super charging them to the point of giant flameballs.
After being sucked into watching hours of exploding LiPo YouTube videos I am now 115% more terrified by them, and had yet to find a way to dispose of them SAFELY. At this point I have dug a hole in my yard – FAR away from my house, removed all of the grass from around it, built a dirt barracade around it, put them in a plastic bag, and sat them deep in the hole to wait for proper disposal when I figured out how.
My dad comes by for a visit and sees a the hole out in the yard and asks what it is. I explain to him my story, how I found the batteries from years ago, they won’t take a charge, I have a fear of LiPo batteries, and that I need to get rid of the asap, but I don’t know how. I turn away for 15-seconds, and like a 4-year old child he is already at the hole with the shovel in hand and jabbing and spiking the deadly LiPo pit.
As I scream in terror and wheel away as fast as possible expecting an earth-shattering explosion, I turn around to see how close the fireball was to reaching me…but there was no fireball?
Remember the part where I mentioned they wouldn’t take a charge? When a battery doesn’t take a charge that means it is usually dead – as in the voltage is too low to charge. That being said all twelve batteries made a gentle “poof” noise and that was all she wrote.
Not convinced the giant holes punched through them was enough, we then soaked them all in saltwater (because apparently that works?) and took them to our neighbor who owns a battery/alternator business for disposal with his next batch of full-size car batteries.
Did I over-react? Maybe. Was a hole in the middle of the yard with a dirt barricade and grass removed slightly excessive? Probably. Am I going to search my entire house for LiPos and forever be haunted knowing I somehow allowed twelve LiPos to escape years ago and they have been hiding in cabinets ever since? You better believe it.
How do YOU properly dispose of your old LiPo battery packs?
Share your thoughts, comments, and SAFE disposal methods below!