I said this on HN as well, so I’ll just copy/paste. There have been a number of stories about laptops and mobile phones exploding due to issues with batteries. Fortunately the author here managed to get the Mac into a reasonably safe place just before it really exploded and he got away with only blistered fingers.
What I’m curious about is, are companies like Tesla able to put some sort of safety precautions into their cars and their PowerWall to prevent this from happening and to alert the user that something in their battery is horribly wrong? An electric car battery is way bigger than a Mac’s battery, but at least the car owner has the chance to get out of the car and get away from it. But a Powerwall? If it’s going to blow up is it going to burn your house down in the process?
Data on powerwall failure would be very interesting to read.
That being said, both Tesla cars and powerwalls are charged much less than laptop batteries. In principle, you could charge a Tesla battery significantly more (25% more, at least), but you’d sacrifice lifetime, reliability, and I think safety too.
I’ve been following some projects where people are making their own Powerwall like systems:
It turns out Standards Australia (a voluntary standards body here) is attempting banning people from installing lithium-ion batteries into their homes and sheds. Supposedly Standards Australia has a history of giving not-outrageous guidelines for safety, so some people think this might demonstrate how dangerous Powerwall-like products are.
But others are arguing that we already put flammable gas into homes. Is a Powerwall more dangerous than a gas stove?
There’s also a bit of history behind this: Australia is a huge exporter of coal and a lot of jobs have depended on it over the past few decades. A lot of politicians have links to coal. One theory is that Standards Australia is being bought by Big Coal.
Another thing is that Australia has over 15% of households having some form of solar power system. Having batteries inside of Australian homes would be very useful.
I have a 2014 MBP. Not sure how you would even know this was going to happen, but hopefully it never does.
Is this more of a one-off thing or have there been a lot of reports on that model?
My MBP 11,3 has minor battery swelling, which manifests itself in the mouse not clicking correctly.
EDIT: Thank you for the concerns for my safety. I live very far away from the nearest Apple store, and am replacing it with a Dell XPS 15 9560.
Please go and fix it, It’s a very, very serious risk. And Apple is very interested in fixing it.
Last I checked, Apple didn’t give a shit about pregnant batteries that are out-of-warranty; went to a couple of stores in SV in 2012, and they said my battery is still “safe to use”, even though it no longer fits within the laptop. It didn’t even have the number of recharge cycles that it’s rated for, and makes the trackpad completely unusable, and even the back cover can be hardly closed when the battery is in.
I still have it somewhere. Did they change their policy, or what?
This is the only way to tell if the battery is swelling on the newer aluminum models without opening it, I’d look into it if I were you.
My battery had swollen so much that it deformed the bottom case and my retina macbook didn’t sit straight on a table anymore. Apple fixed it even though it was out of warranty.
Swelling occurred on the original battery in my MBP 9,1 (mid-2012) with similar trackpad problems. I replaced the battery myself with one from One World Computing and it continues to work though one edge of trackpad remains raised slightly above the case.
I’m not sure what I’ll replace it with, but Dell and Razor are contenders.
Good, they should.
Years ago I had a plastic MacBook, and my boss had I think a MacBook Pro, which each had trouble clicking at different times because of battery swelling. This puts it in a whole different perspective. Eesh.
If this is caused by the battery swelling, I think your case will swell as well.
But I’m not certain.
I haven’t seen anything widespread.
The proximate cause here was probably all of the air vents being blocked by the bedspread (on the 2015 model they’re spaced around the bottom of the case in a kind-of U shape). Heat a LiON battery up enough, and this is the result.
I don’t think that’s a defensible position for Apple since that is a widespread use case for laptops and with all the tech packed into MBPs why don’t they have sensors to prevent this sort of thing from happening? Before the forced shutdown is mentioned, that was too little too late and was most likely a CPU threshold being hit, nothing to do with the battery.
The battery was almost certainly compromised already, causing the overheating. The dropping sounds like it was the final straw.
My bet: Long term, we won’t be able to take phones and laptops on planes. Just like we can’t take water bottles (if even to put out the fires caused by our laptops and phones).
if even to put out the fires caused by our laptops and phones
You don’t particularly want to get water near a lithium fire. You want a class D extinguisher for these cases.
You can take water bottles, you just have to fill it up after security… at least in the US.
You’re right. I don’t fly enough in US. Luckily, too, I can now have my shoes in the security line, so I should be able to stamp out any fire that occurs there.
Never seen anything otherwise. You can also buy them throughout duty free and take them on the plane.