The Case of the Exploding Battery

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by CrashX, Oct 18, 2014.

  1. CrashX, Oct 18, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2014

    CrashX macrumors regular

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    Apr 13, 2012
    #1
    Okay, so I bought a brand new rMBP this year.

    I placed my 2007 MBP in its box, for safekeeping about 6 months ago.

    I took it out tonight, and the battery had "exploded". Luckily, it hadn't damaged the computer.

    But... WTF? My new rMBP has a battery sealed inside it. At what point should I expect, (because it's 7 years old?), that the battery inside explodes and rips the case apart, completely destroying the computer?

    I'm seriously very concerned about this. I didn't realize the battery was a bomb, and I can't even take the thing out of my new rMBP. It's just stuck inside.

    If it's relevant to anyone who wishes to "protect" Apple from my complaint, the computer was simply stored inside the box, with the battery at half-charge as recommended, sitting in my closet.

    I opened the box today and was shocked. I have an "icebook" that's much older, checked on it - it's all good.

    I am seriously leery of the problem - primarily, again, because the battery in this $3000 machine is soldered inside it. And there is no such thing as a 7 year AppleCare warranty.

    I have an Apple /// in my junk room that (probably) still boots up - it did about a year ago.

    So this is something completely new to me - and it makes me very sad to think I might now own an Apple computer that is set to self-destruct. That's not cool.
     
  2. Lachhh macrumors regular

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    Aug 30, 2014
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    Mainland Europe
    #2
    I'm not quite sure what would make you think that a rare event (the battery on your 7 year old computer expanding and damaging the case) is somehow likely to be a permanent design flaw that makes every apple machine a time-bomb, regardless of the fact that very few such cases are documented and the components in your new machine are completely different in design to your old one.

    Also it's most likely an expansion of the battery, not an explosion. (Unless you see some kind of charred residue around the case it's likely not exploded.)
     
  3. poiihy macrumors 68020

    poiihy

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2014
    #3
    Woahh... You mean the case literally cracked open?! :eek: can you take a picture?

    I think those MBPs use a different battery than the new ones so you should not worry about it...
     
  4. Lachhh macrumors regular

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    #4
    Lol. Way to fall for this guys pathological paranoia and sensationalism. Google "macbook battery expanded", enough pictures there if you need to see what it looks like.
     
  5. poiihy macrumors 68020

    poiihy

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    #5
    OUCH :eek: wow
     
  6. leman macrumors 604

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    Oct 14, 2008
    #6
    That is certainly a bit extreme, I'd talk to Apple about it!

    On the other hand, keeping the same battery inside a computer for 7 years is negligence. The batteries get too old and then they swell, and if they swell too much, they can damage the computer case. This is one of the reasons why you are supposed to get your battery serviced after a certain period of time. If you plan to keep your rMBP for 7 years, I would strongly suggest that you change the battery after 5 years or so at latest.
     
  7. CrashX, Oct 19, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2014

    CrashX thread starter macrumors regular

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    Apr 13, 2012
    #7
    Thanks to everyone for their replies.

    Can anyone enlighten me as to what has changed with the battery that is soldered into my rMPB so that it's safer? I would greatly appreciate any information, as it would make me feel better about having this computer to pass on in 5-7 years when I replace it.

    For the "it's your fault" crowd -

    I'm honestly not trying to be a "smart ass" - but please let me know when Apple told me that I should replace the battery every five years?

    That information didn't come with the computer. Apple didn't send me any "notice" about it. If they had, then I wouldn't have KEPT the battery for 7 years.

    But fine - I'm an idiot for not knowing that information. Apple good. Me bad.

    The machine is fine. I can buy a new battery for it. I was lucky it didn't damage the computer.

    The battery installed in THIS machine is soldered into the machine. This machine didn't come with any warning to replace the battery in 5 years either.

    Neither battery in either of my previous "icebooks" have ever exploded. I'm not sure how old either one of them are.

    I was genuinely shocked to see what had happened. It freaked me out. So I appreciate the info on the "5 year" plan. I was going to purchase my first AppleCare warranty because my inability to replace anything in this machine did worry me - but I realize now it will likely be just as "solid" as every other Mac I've ever owned, and I'm better off saving that $300 to pay the "geniuses" to replace the battery in 5 years before it might explode due to my negligence.

    Anyway, no - I had no idea my battery would ever do that. I'm guessing idiots like me only "google" that after it's already happened to them.

    But honestly, I think it's a manufacturing fault. I own older vehicles, and I know that if anything is expected to explode, the manufacturer sends me a "recall" notice. I just got one last year for my 2000 Jeep Wrangler, because some little piece in the engine could have exploded. So I took it in to the dealer and they replaced whatever it was, even though the mechanic assured me that my engine wasn't likely to catch on fire, with or without the "recall".

    But that's just my opinion.

    Apple did send me a notice about a faulty logic board in my machine, 2 years after the warranty had lapsed, and I brought it in and had it replaced. I thought that was very good of them.

    Anyway, the battery thing freaked me out. I promise I've never heard of any "five year" replacement - I'm just now learning this advice.

    So thanks to everyone for any further advice. I'm still spooked about the battery - what if I happen to have a bad battery in my particular rMBP and it decides to blow the case apart after only 3.1 years? Should I then expect to hear "Well that's just insane. Sorry you lost $3000 on your machine, but please don't blame Apple because all of us know that we now replace batteries every 3 years" - stuff like that?

    I wish I lived closer to an Apple store - because I can promise you I would have no problem walking in that store with that blown-up battery and expressing my displeasure and requesting a free replacement. Not because it's an old battery, but because it almost ruined my machine - and I shouldn't have to "google" known manufacturer defects and rely on the kind people in this forum to be kind enough to relate this "5 year" battery explosion issue.

    Thanks.
     
  8. leman macrumors 604

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    Oct 14, 2008
    #8
    Nothing has changed. It is quite common for old Lithium Polymer batteries to swell. This is not in any way specific to Apple, every manufacturer that uses LiPo batteries can get swollen batteries.

    There is a 'service battery' warning that tells you to service your battery when its time. Actually, mine has been on since few month now ;)
     
  9. duervo macrumors 68000

    duervo

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    Feb 5, 2011
    #9
    1. You're not an idiot.

    2. The battery did not "explode". It "burst" at its seams due to swelling. (Why are people so overly melodramatic on this site? (rhetorical question ... no need to answer.))

    3. The battery in the rMBP is not "soldered" in. It's "glued" in.
     
  10. CrashX thread starter macrumors regular

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    Apr 13, 2012
    #10
    Thanks. I probably am an idiot - now I guess I'm less of an idiot because something really bad happened? :)

    I suppose the battery did "burst" - I didn't intend to be overly melodramatic. When I just happened to check in on my old MBP, I was literally shocked to see this buckled mass hanging out of the bottom of my laptop. So my reaction was pretty "dramatic" - I felt bad because I questioned someone who had access to it, "Hey, did you play around with my Mac? Yeah, so then why has my battery suddenly exploded?"

    Obviously, it's not C4 and didn't level the house - I didn't see it explode, I just saw the aftermath of whatever happened to it.

    Fwiw, prior to storage, the battery still retained about a 2-3 hour charge. I don't recall any warnings to replace the battery. Given the massive computing power of even my old machine, here's what I'd at LEAST expect - a big pop-up window with a message that reads in some corporate-speak:

    "DANGER! Your battery is about to explode! Service your computer's battery NOW!"

    Heck, it even has a timer built in. Right now, my new rMBP shows 100% with a battery icon with a lightning bolt.

    If it's bound to "swell" or "explode" - then why not at LEAST a hazard symbol? I'll even go one step further and say it should be animated so that it constantly "blinks", heck even beeps at me.

    But no. I literally got my new computer. I called Apple because I had 90 days of AppleTLCare. The "genius" over the phone suggested I drop the battery power to 50% for storage before storing my old Mac.

    Then I open it up and FREAK OUT - because, other than not having a retina display, my 2007 MBP is STILL a solid machine that I'm free to pass on. Formerly, my ex always got my retired Macs.

    And I'm sitting here with my awesome brand new rMBP that I plan to own for at least 5 years.

    Whether it's soldered, glued, whatever - the battery that "swells" (which I would say is a euphemism for something that buckles and warps and can easily destroy the delicate electronics around it) is just stuck inside my Mac.

    Seriously, does no one agree with me that our beloved Apple didn't think this through? Or they did think it through and timed our Macs to self-detonate and rip apart at the seams thanks to some (relatively) cheap battery?

    I appreciate everyone's help and advice - but I'm really not cool with this. I don't think anyone else should be either.

    A few people made a big deal of of some bogus #bendgate - guessing some hipsters who forgot to buy a murse and instead decided to run around with a phablet sticking out of their skinny jeans?

    I would very much like to at least have SOMETHING onboard our glued-together $3000 machines that will ALERT PEOPLE to the DANGER.

    Right now, I'm a bit less of an idiot. But I'd hate to be the guy who pops up here in 5-7 years to be "educated" about why his machine just ripped apart at the seams on him.

    My guess is that person will also be melodramatic in the case of their EXPLODING rMBP - and then be advised of the "common issue" that just took out his computer?

    This is just in no way acceptable to me. Apple's battery care page says NOTHING about the things "swelling" to the point they buckle and look to have exploded. No warning whatsoever. Just advice on stupid charging cycles.

    Okay, sorry - end hysterical rant. $3000 freakin' time bomb in my lap... how many years 'til she blows?
     
  11. leman macrumors 604

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    Oct 14, 2008
    #11
    Hey, CrashX, no, you are perfectly right. I am also sorry if my first post in this thread appeared confrontational (now that I read it again, it certainly sounds so). It is true that Apple does not warn the customers about the possible swelling, they could certainly add a more clear warning that very old batteries can be dangerous. This is also an area where an average user is often under-educated. Personally, I would never use a LiPo battery which is over 5-6 years old, simply because I have read enough about them. Apple's batteries are fairly safe, so they are very very unlikely to explode in a firestorm on your lap, like some others, but I think its wise to have a certain degree of respect of something that can burn like gasoline ;)
     
  12. CrashX thread starter macrumors regular

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    Apr 13, 2012
    #12
    Thanks, Leman. I guess now we'll just wait to see if Apple changes their policy or if the trial lawyers get to them first.

    Really, people have had laptops blow up in their laps? Or are you being facetious?

    And, just so I can take preventative measures, where are you getting that 5-6 year estimate?

    Also, I've always found the little twerp "genius" kids to be pretty condescending about anything older than four years, or whenever it is they graduated from college to the "Apple Bar".

    Will they even deign to "work" on my "ancient computer" in 5 years, or will I have to send it off?
     
  13. CrashX thread starter macrumors regular

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    Apr 13, 2012
    #13
    Because I just looked into it - the cost to replace the battery is $199.

    $200 every 5 years isn't bad. Please advise if the 5 year "window" would be following best practices?

    [Posted new b/c I tend toward long-winded rants - thought this additional post would be more helpful to anyone looking into the same issue. If you're reading this in 2021, bummer for you.]
     
  14. duervo macrumors 68000

    duervo

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    Feb 5, 2011
    #14
    Well, nobody can be expected to know everything about everything they buy. For some things, we learn by something bad happening to us ... that's life. In your case, you learned that long term storage of the battery in the older Mac laptops should be done with the battery left out of the laptop. Unfortunately, that does not help with the present laptops that Apple sells.

    Personally, I'm skeptical about Apple's recommendations for long term storage of their products that include non-removable batteries (or at least batteries that are very difficult to remove, like the Retina MacBook Pro.) So, with that in mind, if it were me, I would try not to store those systems for too long without taking them out periodically and giving them a visual inspection and/or using them for a while, even if it's just a couple hours every 1 or 2 months. However, after a while of doing that, I would then begin to question if I should really keep such a device around, and would then consider selling it or giving it to somebody else that might get more use out of it, but that's me. Obviously, we're not all the same person, so in the end, whatever you decide is up to you, but at least you can make those decisions now with more data to make that decision a more informed one.
     
  15. leman macrumors 604

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    Oct 14, 2008
    #15
    Not any Apple laptops, from what I know. You can check out the youtube for 'Lithium Polymer battery fire', that's always fun ;) Of course, Apple's batteries are engineered very well and are as safe as it gets and it takes a lot of abose to get the battery to actually burn, but nevertheless, the older the battery, the less stable it is.

    After 5-6 years, the battery has generally lost so much charge, that it becomes pretty much unusable. That is IMO, the time where you should replace it.
     
  16. CrashX thread starter macrumors regular

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    #16
    I think both of you are right. My battery mishap seemed to be the result of two separate issues. Yeah, the battery was 7 years old - but it still held a decent charge and there were no warnings. THEN I went and stored it and "kaboom".

    At any rate, I'm gonna go with the 5 year plan for $200 on this forever encased "glued battery" rMBP.

    But why exactly do you think it is that Apple chooses not to warn us about this battery issue? Here's my suggested video, to be narrated by Jony Ive.

    "Apple laptop batteries, simply stated, are the thinnest, best batteries we've yet to introduce in an Apple laptop. But, let's take a look at this battery - as you can see, when it expanded, the results are just... AMAZING. Why, it doesn't even resemble a battery at all. Truly amazing. And that's why we suggest you replace your Apple laptop's most wonderful batteries that ever existed in the entire universe every 5 years, retiring the old battery and perhaps using it as a simply amazing table trinket or what have you. In a word, it is truly astonishing."
     
  17. capuzino macrumors regular

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    Finland
    #17
    Apple doesn't tell straight away that batteries may "explode". Because they won't. Because the same case is with every company around there. And no one tells that. Because you ain't allowed to use batteries that have a chance to explode. That's what battery design is about. Of course there might be misfaults. There's always a chance, even thought it's not so big one.

    But they tell:
    • If you plan to store your device for longer than six months, charge it to 50% every six months.
    • State of Li-ion battery after longer than 12 months storing is uncertain.
    • For computers that have non-removable batteries, shutdown the computer and fully charge the battery. If storage will be longer than a month, fully recharge the battery every two months.
    • Batteries may be damaged if stored for prolonged periods with a closed circuit. (=Better to take it out before you storage it in case of removable batteries)

    Atleast for me it seems that Apple does pretty great job with telling about the batteries. And I'm pretty sure that Apple tells you to read all that stuff before you use your device.

    And links for my sources:

    In normal cases, if you use the device, there are always (with the under percent chance of not) noticeable marks around before the battery is going to explode or eh, erupt. Battery expands, overheats, doesn't work so well. Mac shows warnings etc etc.. If it doesn't do any of that, there's something really wrong with the battery or the logic board.

    Just saying.
     
  18. Gav Mack macrumors 68020

    Gav Mack

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    #18
    I've found the classic MBP square type batteries kind of ooze out but not explode. Happens to a lot of Lithium polymer cells when they get old and aren't charged.

    You can get new genuine cells on eBay far less than Apple sell, or even just fit a pattern part which may not last as long capacity wise but are much, much cheaper.
     
  19. CrashX thread starter macrumors regular

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    Apr 13, 2012
    #19
    Thanks for finding that link to tips on battery storage. You should work for Apple. It would have been helpful if you'd been the person who might have provided me that info rather than the Apple rep who told me to drop the battery to 50%, no worries.

    OH - here's where they must have gotten that information:

    http://www.apple.com/batteries/maximizing-performance/#macbook

    [​IMG]

    And NO link there to the information you were kind enough to provide.

    Yes, I should familiarize myself with Apple's entire knowledge-base before attempting to use my computer or store it or whatnot. Because there are obviously some true gems hidden somewhere in there that basically refute what Apple states on its marketing pages?

    I'll just refute that they're doing a good job of informing users, having presented that evidence - and you can pat Apple on the back for refuting that information buried in their knowledge-base. Win/win - except in my case where I was just lucky the battery didn't take out my old Mac.

    And in pretty much everyone's case who owns a Mac with an "integrated" battery - trust the knowledge-base, NOT the

    [​IMG]

    marketing crap.
     

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