I appreciate the concerns raised in the Vancouver Sun article on March 21, 2024 regarding the storage of e-bikes and e-scooters within condo units or associated storage areas. The move by a few B.C. strata councils to impose restrictions or outright bans certainly highlights the need for a cautious approach towards the potential risks posed by lithium-ion batteries.

Indeed, a key issue with low-cost or homemade lithium-ion batteries is the absence of battery management circuitry. This crucial component prevents overcharging, a significant risk factor for these batteries, especially if paired with an incorrect charger. Without this circuitry, there is an elevated risk of overheating, which can lead to battery failure or even fire, posing a significant safety risk in communal living spaces like condominiums.

Furthermore, these low-cost or homemade batteries often use non-proprietary charging plugs, which makes it all too easy for them to be inadvertently connected to a household charger or power supply. This mistake can result in improper charging rates or methods, further compounding the risk of dangerous malfunctions.


Example of dangerous Lithium-ion Battery Charger with generic DC type charge plug can be easily mistaken for household chargers.

At OHM Electric Bikes, we firmly believe in the safety of lithium-ion batteries, provided two fundamental conditions are met: the use of certified batteries and the use of proper chargers designed for those batteries. Our commitment to these standards is unwavering, as they form the cornerstone of our product safety assurance.

To elaborate, certification of lithium-ion batteries, such as the UL certification or TUV certification, indicates that the batteries have undergone rigorous testing for safety and performance under various conditions. These tests assess the batteries' responses to extreme temperatures, impact, overcharging, and short circuiting, among other stress scenarios. By adhering to batteries that meet these standards, we are ensuring that the inherent risks are significantly minimized.

Furthermore, the use of proper chargers is equally vital. Chargers specifically designed to match the battery's chemistry and voltage requirements prevent overcharging and overheating, two primary risks that could lead to battery failures. It is the synergy between certified batteries and their appropriate chargers that creates a safe and reliable energy ecosystem for powering e-bikes and e-scooters.

Example of safe Lithium-ion Battery charger with proprietary charging plug that can only charge its specifically designed battery. 

Lithium-ion batteries are not predisposed to catch fire randomly. The primary scenarios that could lead to a battery fire involve overcharging or physical damage that leads to the internal fluid leaking out. Both of these situations are preventable with proper care and handling. Overcharging risk can be mitigated by using the charger that is specifically designed for and provided with the battery, as well as adhering to manufacturer instructions. Physical damage is a risk for any battery, and thus, proper storage and handling are key.

We recognize the potential concerns of residents and strata councils regarding fire safety. To address this, we advocate for broader educational initiatives aimed at both end-users and housing administrators. Users must understand the importance of using only certified batteries and chargers and following the manufacturer's guidelines for care and storage. Concurrently, strata councils could consider guidelines that allow the safe storage of e-bikes and e-scooters, leveraging the expertise from industry professionals and fire safety experts.

While the apprehensions about the safety of storing e-bikes and e-scooters in residential settings are understandable, it is essential to acknowledge that when operated and stored correctly, with certified batteries and appropriate chargers, the risks are greatly mitigated. Let's work together towards informed regulations and practices that ensure safety without unduly restricting the adoption of sustainable transportation options like e-bikes and e-scooters.

Michael DeVisser