Credibility problems.

Another report of an ‘exploding electrofag’ in the news. Seems the antis can’t find anything even remotely real to whine about in the e-liquid or vapour so they are going for the batteries. The liquid will not burn and the batteries cannot explode in use unless deliberately short-circuited. All the explosion stories are about rechargeable lithium batteries. Some might be true, there have been rare cases of phones and laptops doing the same thing – but it’s not the phone or laptop, it’s the battery. There are so very many of these batteries produced that the occasional duff one is pretty much a certainty.

Okay, let’s look at the story closely. The guy claims to have been vaping for four months and this is the third one he’s blown up. This one, the third one, he left charging overnight in his car. Does that seem like the action of a rational mind? Some comments –

One: If two similar items blew up in four months, I would not charge the third one while asleep because I’m not an idiot.

Two: Why charge it using the car battery? Also, is this even possible? Do car cigar-lighter sockets work when the ignition is off? The one in my Mk II Cortina did in the early eighties but that’s because I fitted it and wired it in with pliers and Scotchlok connectors. It was in a rough centre console I made along with a radio, a battery voltage indicator and an oil pressure gauge – the voltage indicator and fag-lighter were wired direct to the battery. You can just see a corner of the centre console in this old photo –

cortinadashDashboards were simple affairs in those days. I can’t remember what the two switches did. Lights, I think. Later I replaced the bus-sized steering wheel with a much smaller one. I should have kept that car, it would be road-tax exempt now.

Cars I had later with the socket already fitted only worked with the ignition on. If he is daft enough to use his car as a charging station then he is probably daft enough to leave the engine running.

Three: Four to six hours is usually enough. Overnight charging using a mains charger that can cut out when the battery is full is probably okay but a simple car-socket connector isn’t likely to do that. Nobody expects anyone to leave anything charging in the car unattended so the car – charger is a simple device.

Four: If these lithium batteries are so deadly, why are people buying electric cars that mean they are sitting on enough explosive power to send their arse into orbit? And why are they charging them overnight?

Five: They are used by more than 3.5m Americans and 1.5m people in the UK. All of whom have more than one battery. How many are claimed to have exploded now? Usually due to the user having no common sense when handling lithium batteries and nothing at all to do with the use of an Electrofag. It looks to me like the batteries are showing about a one-in-a-million failure rate and most – if not all – cases are because of using the wrong charger, leaving it on uncontrolled charge for too long or meddling with the device.

And finally, the giveaway line:

‘God knows what would have happened then, or if it had gone off when we were driving and I’ve got children inside the car.’

Theenk of the Cheeldren – I suggest that this story is an antivaper fake. As are most of the ‘me too’ comments. What would you do if one of your batteries exploded on charge and burned your car? The first thing most people would do is lodge a complaint with the seller.

A spokesman for Vapouriz, which offers advice on charging the devices on its website, said: ‘Chris Thomas has not contacted us with regards to any complaint, and actually purchased ‘e-liquid’, which in its diluted form is not flammable, from us only four days ago.

Does anyone suspect that maybe there was no battery charging in that car and maybe something else caused a fire and maybe it’s convenient to claim the battery did it? I’m not saying this is the case, but there are so many absurdities in this tale that it can’t be true as reported. Even accounting for the Mail’s notorious twisting of facts and spinning their own agenda, the idea that someone would charge a battery using their car battery instead of the mains is, in itself, utterly bizarre.

I know Maesycwmmer. Used to pass through often when travelling between the side I lived on (Pontllanfraith) and the places many of my mates lived (Ystrad Mynach, Hengoed and Fleur-de-Lys). I went that way to go through the old railway tunnel – now closed off permanently but not filled in so if you have one of the houses built on top, tread softly. The time I lived in Cefn Fforest did not lend itself to going that way, it was much too far in the wrong direction.

So I have a link to the area and the people (I’m related to lots of them) and even with that link, I still don’t believe this story is real.

I call bovine rear extrusions on this one.

30 thoughts on “Credibility problems.

  1. ” ‘God knows what would have happened then, or if it had gone off when we were driving and I’ve got children inside the car.’

    Theenk of the Cheeldren – I suggest that this story is an antivaper fake. As are most of the ‘me too’ comments. What would you do if one of your batteries exploded on charge and burned your car? The first thing most people would do is lodge a complaint with the seller.

    A spokesman for Vapouriz, which offers advice on charging the devices on its website, said: ‘Chris Thomas has not contacted us with regards to any complaint, and actually purchased ‘e-liquid’, which in its diluted form is not flammable, from us only four days ago. ”

    ====

    Leg, I think you’ve called it 100% on this one. The company should go after this guy tooth and nail with some competent investigators and if it IS a fake they should prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law, particularly if it turns out, as is most likely, to be an Antismoker/Antivapor thing rather than a mere lawsuit ripoff. As to “why use the car”? Perhaps it’s because the whole thing was set up to produced a discharge/fire of some type and the guy didn’t want to take a chance on deliberately burning his house down. Home fire insurance investigations in suspicious circumstances aren’t anything to fool around with and he might not want this getting looked at too closely.

    The plea of “the cheeeldrun” is indeed a dead giveaway: when was the last time you saw the main tag line of a driver after some sort of potentially dangerous machine failure being “What if I had children inside the car?”

    It’s unfortunate that if the story does disappear into a plea bargain/settlement type thing to avoid investigation/exposure, all that will will ever go down in the visible public annals will be the original, uncontested, story.

    – MJM

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    • That’s all you ever see – the original story. The mere fact that there is never any report of any Electrofag company being sued for incinerating a child is enough to say that none of these stories have any basis in fact.

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  2. Also, depending on whether you read the main article or the picture caption he is either a “father of one” or a “father of three”. OK, perhaps just an honest mistake (though very sloppy journalism/editing) but coupled with the other things that don’t quite add up it smacks somewhat of a hastily-written piece of fiction.

    The Mail comes from the same publishers as the “Metro” free advertising/propaganda rag and the latter often contained silly unbelievable stories as space-filler articles, which I’m pretty sure got repeated from time to time despite supposedly being “news”.

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    • And how does he know the device “shot out of the 12V power socket ‘like a firework'”? His story claims that when he first went out to the car alarm he saw nothing amiss and that on his return the second time the damage had been done. He therefore can’t have seen what happened.

      Interestingly enough, if the damping mechanism is worn or badly adjusted the actual car cigarette lighter can shoot out of its socket when it “pops out” shortly after activation. And it’s red hot. I doubt it could make it as far as the back seat though

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      • XX if the damping mechanism is worn or badly adjusted the actual car cigarette lighter can shoot out of its socket when it “pops out” shortly after activation. And it’s red hot.XX

        And when it hits Granny Mc Chavish, sitting in the pßassanger seat, and it takes her eye out, that will be recorded as “a smoking related illness.”

        Wanna bet it WOULDN’T?

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        • A smoking-related injury AND a motoring injury I would expect. They’ll probably also partially attribute it to alcohol on the grounds that most smokers enjoy a drink from time to time. Hell, it’ll probably be recorded as an electrical fault too in order to justify an automotive equivalent of Part P (in all seriousness, EU proposals in the pipeline for motorcycles are not far removed from that – and once they’ve got them in place for the much-maligned minority, cars will be soon to follow).

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          • His story claims he went out in the early hours and saw nothing wrong at all. When he left for work – an hour or so later – the car looked like it had been torched. That’s one fast fire.

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  3. Grrrr…. my computer has been very annoying this past week. It’s gotten some kind of bug that’s keeping it from loading certain types of pages. One of those is the Daily Mail page in question. 90% of it loads and then everything hangs with a little “processing request” msg in the bottom corner. My local weather page, and a dsl speed measurement page as well as several others are also victims. Meanwhile, this page and Google Chrome load up just fine. ::sigh::

    In any event THIS is what I’ve been trying, unsuccessfully, to post over there:

    ===

    The article says, “One French study claims they contain carcinogenic chemicals that make some as harmful as normal tobacco.” and is a good example of the quality of this entire article. Note that the study isn’t named, so there’s no way to check it. I have just published a new book that spends an entire chapter examining this topic, and as part of that process I examined over a dozen studies and summaries of studies on e-cigs and *none* of them “claims they contain carcinogenic chemicals that make some as harmful as normal tobacco.” I repeat: *NONE* of them that I am aware of have this claim of multiple chemicals similar or “as harmful as” regular smoking I challenge the author of this article to produce the study and its results. I have an additional challenge as well:

    The author notes two of three instances of similar problems with batteries charging in e-cigs. I’d ask how many similar problems have been reported with batteries in smartphones and laptops. At a rough guess with no real facts on it I’d guess the number at about ten times as many. Does this mean the Mail and the author will run a series of ten screaming headlined articles about this ten times larger problem if it exists? Or was there perhaps just a political purpose behind this particular article?

    Michael J. McFadden

    ===

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    • Worth noting that even with the Mail’s anti-vaping campaign they can only turn up a few rarities. Someone who only reported the third bang, and has not contacted even the third company about it, is something really special.

      Or someone really ‘special’.

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  4. “If these lithium batteries are so deadly, why are people buying electric cars that mean they are sitting on enough explosive power to send their arse into orbit? And why are they charging them overnight?”

    Unfortunately lithium batteries DO have form when it comes to catching fire. Surely you must have heard about the Boeing Dreamliner? Sony had to recall thousands of laptop batteries over similar concerns. The problem is they suffer from thermal runaway, and need sophisticated charge control circuits to get the best out of them. This Electrofag most likely had a cheap and nasty trickle charge circuit, which didn’t shut off the current when the battery was full. You can get away with that sort of abuse using older NiCad or NiMH cells, but not the latest types.

    As to why people buy electric cars – that’s a different matter entirely. They’re doing it to “Save the planet”, and feel good about themselves in polite company (me NOT included). In order to permit fast charging at suitable high current facilities, these vehicles have computer controlled charge monitoring, which will often have individual temperature probes for each cell.

    I think you’re right that few modern cars have the fag lighter socket permanently “live”. I suspect the manufacturers are too concerned that drivers will leave all sorts of equipment plugged in and run the main battery flat. That wouldn’t be too much of a problem with your old Cortina – it didn’t have remote central locking, so at least you could still get in to the damn thing. And I’m pretty sure it would have had a starting handle to coax it back into life?

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    • Unfortunately lithium batteries DO have form when it comes to catching fire.

      True. They have no history of explosions, though, unless explosion means something different there. A driver would have to be awfully slow of reflex not to be able to pull over somewhere before the blaze becomes a conflagration. You’d think someone would have already jerked his license.

      Behind that letter lives a troll.

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  5. I checked the ecig site. The voltage for charging is about 4V. He was using a 12V car battery.
    The alarm went off ‘in the early hours’? Probably a lie designed to limit the time of the fire. The article says that he is a vehicle engineer and that the car is a company car.
    I wonder what really caused the fire?

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    • The charger plug should have a resistor to reduce the voltage.
      However, if this is his third one, and all the batteries have roughly similar connections (I have several and they do) then he might have been using the wrong charger.

      A slight difference in diameter would be enough to short one of these things.

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      • A resistor won’t be any use with a lithium battery, as once it’s fully charged the terminal voltage will keep rising. NiCad’s & NiMh can put up with this (within reason), but not lithium. The only safe way is a circuit that completely disconnects the battery when fully charged. Alternatively it requires a DC-DC converter voltage dropping circuit, which will contain several electrolytic capacitors. These CAN explode – quite spectacularly – as I know from personal experience!

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  6. It’s a little dumb using a car dash board charger. Eecig chargers deliver 5v, not 12V. They very rarely explode. They are no more likely to explode than mobile phone batteries. This guy was doing something wrong.

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    • Well ordinary cigarettes are actually on fire so if someone is careless with them, they can set fire to anything flammable. They are blamed for many more fires than they cause, of course.

      Electrofags use heaters, not combustion. An Electrofag in normal use cannot set fire to anything and although it would be possible to rig the battery and heater to set fire to something, it could not be done by accident. Drop a real cigarette, it’s still burning. Drop an Electrofag and nothing happens (other than it might get broken).

      None of these Electrofag scare stories are about real-smoking nor are they about Electrofags. They are all about lithium batteries being charged in stupid ways.

      Like

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