How To Choose The EV Fire Extinguisher?

As of 2023, statistics show that electric cars make up 1% of all registered vehicles in America. That’s approximately 3.3 million vehicles, and the number is projected to reach 30 to 42 million by 2030. In 2021, EVs were only 1.3 million but increased to 2 million in 2022. California has the leading adoption rate of EVs, at 2.5%.

Due to their lithium-ion batteries, EV cars are at risk of causing electric fires. Electric fires can also spark from wires in an EV car. If you ever encounter an electric fire, never use water or a standard extinguisher! The best extinguisher to use is an electric vehicle fire extinguisher.

Read on to learn more about EV fire extinguishers.

Why We Need EV Extinguishers

Electric cars use lithium-ion batteries, which have high fire hazard risks. Suppressing the fire with a standard fire extinguisher is impossible.

The first reason a standard battery fails is the thermal runaway phenomenon. These batteries have a flammable energy-storing electrolyte. If the cell’s heat capacity surpasses what dissipates, a rapid energy release might occur. This might cause an explosion.

Also, in a damaged battery, the chemical reactions within the battery might cause vaporization. When this happens, the casing expands, cracks and releases flammable gases that cause a fire.

Larger batteries on specific models pose a more significant fire hazard.

Benefits of EV Fire Extinguishers

The only solution to electric car fires is electric vehicle fire extinguishers. Below are some of the reasons why the EV extinguishers are the best solutions:

The Extinguishing Agent

EV extinguishers are unlike traditional extinguishers that use foam, water, or dry chemicals. These types use ABC drying agents, CO2, or special foam to suppress lithium-ion battery fires. Other agents are Aqueous Vermiculite Dispersion (AVD) and Fluorinated Potassium (FK).

They are High-Temperature Resistant

Electric car fire suppressions are resistant to high temperatures. The casings and other parts are also more sturdy. They can withstand and operate at high temperatures, like battery fires, without melting or bursting.

They have longer Discharge Durations

Unlike typical extinguishers, which run out after a few minutes of use, EV fore extinguishers last longer. The nozzle also sends out the extinguishing agents at tremendous pressure, allowing you to keep your distance while putting out the flames. Such features help reduce instances of re-ignition.

They are Safer

The manufacturers use non-conductive materials, preventing electrical conductivity. This keeps the handlers free from electric shock.

Types of EV Fire Extinguishers

Electric car fires are dangerous and can spread without proper gear. The following are the types of electric vehicle fire suppressions that can help put out such fires. We’ll base the categories on the extinguishing agent, mechanism, and portability.

By Agents and Mechanism to put flames out

Some of the common extinguishing agents you’ll find inside electric car fire suppressions are:

F-500 Encapsulator that removes the fire by encapsulating the fuel particles. This agent cools and neutralizes them, preventing further combustion.

AVD Smothers the fire by creating a barrier between the fuel and air. This agent also absorbs the heat and coats the burning surface to prevent re-ignition.

Halon replacement agents like Halotron I and FE-36 are nonconductive and leave no residue. They are the best to cut damaging the car’s surrounding electronics.

CO2 Electric vehicle fire suppressions are also clean, leaving no residue. Their mechanism involves replacing oxygen molecules with inflammable carbon dioxide. 

EV extinguishers with Aqueous film-forming foam, or AFFF, create a foam blanket over the fire. This smothers it and prevents re-ignition.

Potassium-based discharge extinguishers interrupt the chemical reaction of fire.

By Portability

Because electric fires can spread in seconds, always have a portable extinguisher. A bulky extinguisher may hinder fast reactions, while smaller ones offer quick help. Here are some of the smallest, most portable EV fire extinguishers:

The Element E50 Fire Extinguisher measures about 11 inches and operates with a potassium-based agent.

Lifesaver Mini Fire Extinguisher is about 10 inches and weighs 1.3 pounds. It has a foam-based agent.

 The Firexo Compact Fire Extinguisher is about 10 inches and weighs 1.5 pounds. This one contains a multi-purpose agent.

How to Choose an EV Extinguisher

When narrowing down your selection, use these factors:

Size and weight: Opt for compact and lightweight extinguishers like the above three examples. These are fast to use during an emergency.  Seek models ranging from 1 to 10 pounds, ensuring they are easy to handle.

Ease of use: Choosing a complicated EV extinguisher will cost you precious time. To avoid this, choose one with clear instructions and straightforward operation. Also, go for the ones with pressure gauges to help you track the agent levels.

Certification and Ratings: The best electric vehicle fire suppressions must hold Class C certification. Also, select the ones with ratings like NFPA 10 and UL299 specific to EV fires.

Maintenance Cost: Always use an EV fire suppression with minimal maintenance care. Still, ensure you always check the pressure gauge and store the unit well.

What Are the Risks Of Not Having An EV Fire Extinguisher?

Electric vehicle fires are lethal, spreading in seconds. Without an EV extinguisher, it heightens risks like:

Safety: Burning EV batteries can release toxic fumes, affecting those inhaling them. 

Fire Damage: Without a functioning electric car fire suppression, fire can engulf the entire car, leading to total loss. 

Fire Spread: If you cannot contain an EV battery fire, it can spread to other nearby items. For instance, if it’s in an indoor garage, it may spread into the main house.

When To Change your EV Fire Extinguisher Change

Let’s say you’ve had your EV fire suppression for six years and haven’t had a fire. Should you throw it away?

Well, the answer to that question depends on the model’s lifespan. Most have a five- to ten-year lifespan, but please counter-check what yours is. Change it before its expiry date. If it’s five years old and you’ve had it for six, discard it and get another.

Another determinant is the the state of the extinguisher. Suppose you stepped on it while reversing, and it has a few dents and visible leaks; discard it. Also, if you discharged it, you might need to change it.

Conclusion

Electric cars are eco-friendly, but they also have a heightened risk of causing electric fires. Specialized fire extinguisher for EV cars can help put out such fires. Luckily, now you know how to choose one based on type, mechanism, and portability. We advise picking portable EV fire extinguishers for a quicker response.

If the fire gets out of control, ensure you and everyone else are safe at a distance. Then contact emergency services, such as 911, so firefighters can be sent to your location.

 


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