What is the possibility of old laptop batteries exploding in my attic?

southwestform

Estimable
Jun 9, 2014
4
0
4,510
0
I have old laptops (Dell, Gateway, Toshiba and Apple) going back about 15-years. I never sold them and at this point they are pretty much antiques so I put them in my attic along with old toys, etc. I'm guessing that the batteries for these laptops couldn't possibly still have any charge, though I never did check them before putting them in the attic. My concern is that the attic gets extremely hot during summer, and I am wondering about the possibility of the batteries exploding? How much of a concern is this, and what if anything should I do to minimize the risk of this?

Thanks.
 
At 15 years old, they're probably NiMH batteries (nickel metal-hydride). I don't think Li-ion became common until the mid-2000s? One of the drawbacks of NiMH was that it self-discharges relatively quickly. The Thinkpads I had which used them would lose more than 10% a week sitting on the shelf.

Low self-discharge NiMH were introduced at some point (are still used in rechargeable AA batteries like Eneloop). But a quick Google search says those didn't arrive until 2005. And they were quickly eclipsed by Li-ion batteries.

After that many years of non-use, the batteries are probably completely dead. Never gonna work again. There's no point saving them unless you plan to donate them to a museum. They're probably inert and safe. But if you want, you can remove the batteries and dispose them at a recycling center (Home Depot, Staples, etc) - the electrolyte is mildly toxic. The exploding batteries are mostly Li-ion, and the energy released during the explosion/fire is electrical charge energy. If the battery has no charge, there's nothing to explode. The only thing you need to worry about is toxicity of the battery's chemical components (e.g. lead-acid batteries like gel cells use sulfuric acid).
 

drkatz42

Estimable
Apr 5, 2014
85
0
4,610
21
likely not an issue although if they are lithium ion batteries then they could pose a risk when exposed to high temps. remove the batteries and place them in a cooler spot. better yet, donate the laptops to a local charity, Good Will etc.
 
Most likely not an issue, unless you replaced them with the cheap non-oem replacements. Then it is a possiblity but would need to have an idea of what kind of temps you talking about.....attic in Michigan and attic in Arizona desert are very very different.
 
At 15 years old, they're probably NiMH batteries (nickel metal-hydride). I don't think Li-ion became common until the mid-2000s? One of the drawbacks of NiMH was that it self-discharges relatively quickly. The Thinkpads I had which used them would lose more than 10% a week sitting on the shelf.

Low self-discharge NiMH were introduced at some point (are still used in rechargeable AA batteries like Eneloop). But a quick Google search says those didn't arrive until 2005. And they were quickly eclipsed by Li-ion batteries.

After that many years of non-use, the batteries are probably completely dead. Never gonna work again. There's no point saving them unless you plan to donate them to a museum. They're probably inert and safe. But if you want, you can remove the batteries and dispose them at a recycling center (Home Depot, Staples, etc) - the electrolyte is mildly toxic. The exploding batteries are mostly Li-ion, and the energy released during the explosion/fire is electrical charge energy. If the battery has no charge, there's nothing to explode. The only thing you need to worry about is toxicity of the battery's chemical components (e.g. lead-acid batteries like gel cells use sulfuric acid).
 

southwestform

Estimable
Jun 9, 2014
4
0
4,510
0
Thanks for the info everyone. I'm keeping the laptops, along with old digital cameras, and some old cell phones because I do like to collect things with the idea that I might find some novelty in them. So now that I think of it, I actually have laptop, digital camera and some old cell phone batteries in my attic in CA.

Any idea how long a lithium ion battery can retain a charge?
 
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