Thinning My Battery

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by Brian Beezley, Dec 12, 2014.

  1. Brian Beezley

    Brian Beezley Mu-43 All-Pro

    A year and a half ago I bought a MaximalPower battery for my E-PL2. It has worked fine until recently, when it has become difficult to remove from the camera. I think this is due to a slight internal swelling that has developed over time. The side with the labels seems to have a very slight bulge in the middle. I couldn't see it, but I could tell it was there when I placed that side of the battery on a flat surface because it rocked slightly. My original Olympus battery doesn't move when placed on a flat surface.

    To fix the problem, I simply filed down the label side of the battery with a wood file. I didn't have to remove much material. The labels are in recessed areas and didn't seem to contribute to the problem. But I removed them anyway since the file had begun to chew into them. After filing, the battery usually pops out far enough to grab. If not, a gentle shake brings it out. Before I sometimes had to resort to grasping it with pliers.

    If you try this, carefully clean the plastic filings and dust off the battery before you insert it into the camera. I'm not sure how well isolated the battery compartment is from the optical area.

  2. hazwing

    hazwing Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 25, 2012
    swelling of the battery is probably not a good sign.... have you thought about getting a new battery, instead?
  3. Ricoh

    Ricoh Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 2, 2013
    Real Name:
    Don't think it's a good idea to go 'thin wall' on the battery. Filing isn't fixing the problem, it's temporarily alleviating it. What would your reaction be if it ruptured - said rhetorically.
  4. Brian Beezley

    Brian Beezley Mu-43 All-Pro

    You may be right. It's hard to tell for sure, but the battery seems like it may have a little less capacity now than the original Olympus battery. It used to be that I couldn't tell which was in the camera when it came time to swap (I alternate batteries), but I've been guessing pretty well lately. If I had heard stories about these batteries damaging cameras when they got old, then I would toss it and get another. As it is, I'm curious to see how long it will hold up and whether it will get stuck in the camera again. If I had an OM-D instead of an E-PL2, I might be more cautious. If it blows up my camera, it will just be a convenient excuse to get the OM-D I've been wanting.

  5. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    bulging battery?... bin it!!!...


    it is not going to get better....

    Your camera is worth more than a battery

    • Like Like x 3
  6. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    Real Name:

    My cheapo phone batteries swell before failure.

    Ditch it - quick smart IMO
  7. jnewell

    jnewell Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 23, 2011
    Boston, MA
    Get the d@mned thing out of your camera and out of your house. Dispose of it immediately in a safe place.
  8. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    Just to be clear I am a level minded european who spends time in the US.. I often laugh at the CNN/Fox/US media approach where, reporting minor things as major apocalyptic future, is a common theme.

    I am no way a scare monger

    but in this case.. really... ditch that battery and buy a new one... the old on will hurt you somewhere down the line

  9. plaatje

    plaatje Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 15, 2012
    Sell your camera, the first money for your OM-D is coming in . . .
  10. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Real Name:
    It is usually not a pretty site when lithium batteries fail and/or become defective. Just ask the airline industry.

  11. bassman

    bassman Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Apr 22, 2013
    New Jersey
    Real Name:
    At some point the battery will swell again, and perhaps be lodged in the camera when it does. Then you have an expensive repair. Spend a few bucks and get a new battery.
  12. zulfur666

    zulfur666 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 30, 2014
    usually during charging the battery gets hot. You run the danger that while it is charging it may rupture. Toss it out and get a new battery.
    Mobile phones have been reported to explode while charging due to bad batteries and the bulging up. Be safe, get a new battery or use your OEM Oly battery.
  13. newphoto

    newphoto Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 12, 2013
    Real Name:
    :biggrin:I really think filing away on a lithium battery qualifies one for a "Darwin Award".
    • Like Like x 1
  14. Brian Beezley

    Brian Beezley Mu-43 All-Pro

    Here's a little more data: The thickness of the material I removed to make the battery fit well was about equal to the depth of the label recesses. Perhaps the thickness of a piece of paper. Although I couldn't see any swelling or bulge, and the battery looked identical to the Olympus battery, I assumed its thickness had changed. But it's possible the battery compartment dimensions changed with the recent temperature drop, which is about when I began to notice the problem. One side of the compartment has a flexible metal plate that contacts the battery surface. The MaximalPower battery has always been a tighter fit. Recently it got too tight. I don't know whether the battery thickness increased or the compartment clearance decreased. I assumed the former simply because I thought it more likely, and I didn't recall having a problem last winter. The battery charges normally. I don't recall either battery ever feeling warm. I just topped up both batteries and ran each in the camera for 1 minute. After resting a bit, their terminal voltages differ by 126 mV.

  15. DoofClenas

    DoofClenas Who needs a Mirror!

    Nov 9, 2012
    Traverse City, MI
    Real Name:
    Had this happen with my epm2 after market batteries (I think it was the same brand as yours) it actually swelled to a point where it almost couldnt be removed from the body. The battery is failing. Recycle it and by wasabis.
  16. woof

    woof Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 18, 2011
    The present.

    Quoting: If you suspect that your device has a swollen battery, the first step is to exercise caution. Puncturing a battery in any state is incredibly dangerous, but swollen batteries are especially vulnerable to compromise as their casing is already under stress from the built up gasses within. In short, handle any device with a suspected swollen battery with care.

    You seem to feel that the removal of some of the case, ie: the thickness of a sheet of paper, is inconsequential. It isn't. You really are playing with a ticking time bomb.
    • Like Like x 1
  17. John M Flores

    John M Flores Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 7, 2011
    Somerville, NJ
    Yes, it literally can explode and start a fire.
  18. HarryS

    HarryS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 23, 2012
    Midwest, USA
    In the BLS5 package, I've also seen Maximal Power batteries swell up relatively quick, like within three months. The Upstart brand also did that. I also used to shave down the offending batteries, as there is plenty of plastic, but now I just pitch them. In general, the quality sucks. If you read the amazon reviews on any of them, even the much praised wasabis or the Progo's, they all ship stuff that stops working or swells up. You might get lucky. I did with my Progos. Almost two years and they still work fine.

    There seems to have been a batch of "genuine" Olympus batteries now available on amazon and ebay for under $20, The main issue seems to be they are dated from 2012. Well, my genuine Olympus PEN batteries from 2010 and 2012 are still going strong, so I plan to try one of these..
  19. Brian Beezley

    Brian Beezley Mu-43 All-Pro

    This reminds me of the time I explained on an antique radio forum how I safely aligned AC/DC radios without an isolation transformer. I received similar dire warnings and stern admonitions.

    I managed to locate a reliably flat surface, a thick glass tabletop. It turns out the Olympus battery does wobble a bit on the label side. What surprised me was that it wobbled even more on the other side, which I'll call the top. Although I can't see any surface curvature when I hold the battery, if I lay it at the edge of the glass and peer down the tabletop surface from the side, I can see the curvature as well as feel the battery wobble. The top of the MaximalPower battery is even more rounded. I don't see any reason these surfaces would be designed to be anything but flat. I never examined the battery that closely when I got it, but I assume the curvature has developed in the 19 months I've used it. Although it always fit fine, the Olympus battery exhibits its own curvature.

    Filing the label side solved the fit problem for the MaximalPower battery, but the question arises: is the battery safe to use? To find out, I tried to locate authoritative sources, mainly books, academic papers, and commercial white papers.

    The most common cause I found mentioned for lithium-ion battery swelling (known in the trade as battery bloat) was charging or discharging at high rates or high temperatures. I don't think my battery has experienced either. It's never even felt warm when I've removed it from the charger or camera. Another cause of battery bloat is moisture intrusion, a non-energetic battery failure mode. I doubt this has occurred to my battery. It's never been wet and the humidity where I live is low. The adhesive seal around the battery top looks perfect, better than that of the Olympus battery. Finally, several sources listed manufacturing defects as a cause of battery bloat. I suppose it's possible such a defect is only now making its presence felt.

    Leaving the academic world, most examples of battery bloat I found in consumer publications were for grossly distorted cellphone or laptop batteries. Sometimes they cracked the device case, its circuit boards, or display. I found mention of swelling accomodation over a battery's useful life, suggesting that it may be a normal consequence of battery aging. But it was a passing reference made by a marketing guy instead of an engineer so I discounted it.

    But then I ran across this in a manufacturer white paper: "By nature of the Li-Ion technology, the charge/discharge cycle will gradually cause a Lithium Ion battery to bulge slightly." It went on to say that based on feedback from various vendors and experience in the field, over the life of a battery (500 cycles) they considered a thickness expansion of up to 5-10% to be normal. They recommend battery replacement beyond that point. They state that even expansion well beyond 10% is not a serious danger, but the battery is beyond its useful life. I wonder if this process describes my MaximalPower battery. Or is it ready for "rapid unexpected disassembly?" That is the industry euphemism for explode. Another wonderful euphemism is "venting with flame," which means thermal runaway.

    • Like Like x 2
  20. Mikefellh

    Mikefellh Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 7, 2012
    Toronto, Canada
    You buy a cheap battery in the first place, and then risk your camera further by saving a few more bucks and not replacing a defective battery?

    Suggest you search Google Images to see what can happen when a battery starts swelling, how far it can go!

    It's why I only buy OEM batteries (and I have two spares, both OEM).