We hopped on a call with Milwaukee, to discuss a new safety warning they were putting out regarding their M18 9.0Ah battery pack. The new warning will be added to product manuals, and although it singles out the M18 HD 9.0Ah battery pack, it’s a good practice to keep in mind for ALL Li-ion battery packs.
Basically, the warning says this – do not allow highly conductive or corrosive liquids to get inside an M18 9.0Ah battery pack. Doing so could lead to short-circuiting, which could lead to very dangerous reactions. We’re guessing this means fire, explosions, and the potential for bodily harm.
What counts as a highly conductive or corrosive chemical? Salt water, bleach or bleach-containing cleaners, as an example.
It was stressed that these battery packs are safe to use, and that ANY liquid infiltration is already warned against. But given that these battery packs have greater energy capacity, there is increased potential for harm.
Why now? Milwaukee mentioned wanting to stay on top of things, and that this is a campaign to educate users. They see it as their responsibility to do so. They also said that they have a commitment to continued improvement, and regularly conducts internal testing.
If highly conductive or corrosive chemicals get inside a battery pack, and if they cross contacts or otherwise cause a short circuit or other such failure, it could lead to unpredictable failure, even days later.
They stressed that under no circumstances should anyone even think of intentionally testing one of these batteries to failure. That was mostly aimed at the media and reviewers who regularly push tools to their limits, but it’s still worth repeating.
Every now and then there are news reports of exploding battery packs. This usually happens when a battery pack is not designed properly, charged properly, or if it’s abused.
Keep your battery packs away from highly conductive or corrosive liquids. You should be keeping them away from some fluids anyways. Even if they wouldn’t bring a battery pack to catastrophic failure, exposure might at the least damage your tools.
This whole situation is unusual and even a little strange, but it’s better for Milwaukee to be up front about this. I wish we were told more about the “why” behind the all-of-a-sudden educational campaign.
We were also told that Milwaukee sees the industry changing, with more warnings to follow in the wake of higher and higher capacity battery packs, and that they’re trying to stay in front of it.
To sum it up, avoid exposing your high energy battery packs (or any battery pack) to highly conductive or corrosive fluids (or any liquid).
While we’re talking about warnings, be sure to read tool and battery user manuals, it’s a good practice.
Here is some notable info from their Safety Notice FAQ page:
We are expanding the instructions and warnings to inform users of potential risks when highly conductive or corrosive fluids enter the M18 HIGH DEMAND 9.0 battery pack.
Rainwater is typically not a highly conductive or corrosive fluid. However, rainwater may still degrade the performance and life of your M18 HIGH DEMAND 9.0 battery pack. In an abundance of caution, we recommend disconnecting the M18 HIGH DEMAND 9.0 battery pack from any tool or charger and call us at: 1-844-577-5515 (7:00am – 10:00pm Eastern time Sunday – Saturday) to receive further instructions.
You do not need to return any of the instructions or warnings that accompanied your M18 HIGH DEMAND 9.0 battery pack. You simply need to get a copy of the expanded warnings and instructions and read them. You can download them here: www.milwaukeetool.com/expandedinstructions.
Milwaukee Tool continuously looks at ways to improve battery pack performance and to further reduce the likelihood of potential risks and hazards when using our products. While we are always looking at ways to improve our products, you should still read and always follow the warnings and instructions that come with your product for proper usage.
MILWAUKEE, WI – JUNE 29, 2017 – In consultation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”), Milwaukee Tool is voluntarily expanding the warnings and instructions of its M18™ HIGH DEMAND™ 9.0 battery pack (model no. 48-11-1890). The expanded product warnings address situations that could lead to a battery pack failure and/or other safety hazards. This safety notice does not require users to return their M18™ HIGH DEMAND™ 9.0 battery packs.Should highly conductive or corrosive fluids get inside the M18™ HIGH DEMAND™ 9.0 battery pack in sufficient quantities, it can cause battery pack failure. Failure can include short-circuit which, in the extreme situation, can result in smoking or fire, even when not in use. Examples of highly conductive or corrosive fluids include seawater, certain industrial chemicals and bleach or bleach-containing products.
Because Milwaukee Tool is committed to continuously improving safety, quality and customer satisfaction for the professional trades, the company is proactively taking immediate action, issuing expanded warnings and instructions for the M18™ HIGH DEMAND™ 9.0 battery pack.
Milwaukee Tool is urging its customers to download, read and understand the expanded warnings and instructions in their entirety at milwaukeetool.com/safetynotices, where they will also find frequently asked questions and answers.
Any customers who believe highly conductive or corrosive fluids have entered their M18™ HIGH DEMAND™ 9.0 battery pack should immediately contact Milwaukee Tool at 1-844-577-5515 (7am to 10pm Eastern Time Sunday through Saturday).
More Info(via Milwaukee Tool)