Batteries are not a toy. Extreme precautionary measures must be taken to make sure that you don’t fall a victim of making a mistake that has a catastrophic outcome. Batteries are generally safe and unlikely to fail, but only so long as there are no defects and the batteries are not damaged. When batteries fail to operate safely or are damaged, they may present a fire and/or explosion hazard. Damage from improper use, storage, or charging may also cause batteries to fail.
Risk of Electric Shock:
Batteries operate at a low enough voltage to handle without being electrocuted, however, battery banks can operate at dangerous voltages, sometimes exceeding 500 volts. We do not recommend beginners work with systems over 24 volts because touching any connection with bare hands above 24 volts presents a risk of electric shock. When working with a system above 48 volts, hot-gloves are required and must be tested for pinholes prior to use. We highly recommend following safe working practices and encourage you to treat every system as if it was live at high voltage.
Risk of Short Circuits:
Batteries are capable of outputting hundreds of amps nearly instantly. Batteries rated with a max discharge rate of 300 amps still can easily output over 1000 amps when a short circuit occurs. This large flow of current can instantly heat up wires, tools and other conductive objects rapidly, leading to burns, arc flashes, and flying molten metal particles. When handling batteries, wear safety glasses, gloves, proper clothing/PPE gear and use insulated tools.
Risk of Fires:
You could start a fire with a AA battery and some steel wool – Now imagine a 48v battery that can easily output hundreds of amps at any given moment. The large flow of power can cause heating of wires that can catch surrounding equipment and materials on fire. Any battery must be installed with proper overcurrent protection to reduce the risk of fire from shorts. Any battery system should be installed in a location that prevents any catastrophic failures from causing excessive property damage. Electrolyte found within LFP batteries is flammable when vaporized, such as when a battery is punctured. Care must be taken to make sure that batteries do not become damaged in normal use or in case of an accident.
Risk of Chemical Exposure:
Batteries contain electrolyte. Lead acid batteries contain a solution of Sulfuric Acid and water, which can quickly dissolve skin, and metal. Lithium batteries also contain electrolyte that can leak out of a battery is subjected to abuse. Do not install any battery in a living area. If a battery is leaking, immediately remove it from service and contact the manufacturers documentation for proper emergency protocol.
Risk of Explosion: Lead Acid Batteries
A solution of sulfuric acid (35%) and water (65%) serves as the electrolyte solution in a lead acid battery. This electrolyte solution can cause chemical burns to the skin and especially to the eyes.
During normal operation, water is lost from a non-sealed (or flooded) lead-acid battery due to evaporation. During charging, lead-acid batteries produce hydrogen and oxygen gases (highly flammable/explosive) as electrolysis occurs.
Many lead-acid battery explosions are believed to occur when electrolyte levels are below the plates in the battery and thus, allowing space for hydrogen/oxygen to accumulate. When the lead-acid battery is engaged it may create a spark that ignites accumulated gases and causes the battery to explode