Dell recalls 4.1 million laptop batteries


Citing fire hazards, Dell Computer Co. said yesterday that it would recall 4.1 million notebook computer batteries, the largest ever electronics-related recall involving the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Dell's announcement is the latest in a wave of fire-related recalls involving the standard power source for portable electronic devices: lithium-ion batteries.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has tallied 339 incidents in which lithium-ion batteries used in laptops and cell phones - not just Dell products - overheated since 2003. No one has been killed. But there have been several reports of injuries - including burns - and incidents of property damage.

Dell said it would recall lithium-ion batteries manufactured by Sony Corp. and installed in computers sold between April 2004 and July 2006, said Scott Wolfson, a spokesman for the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Those batteries could have a manufacturing defect, Wolfson said. "It's a quality-control issue."

The batteries were also sold separately for $60 to $180.

Lithium-ion batteries pack a tremendous amount of energy in a small space, making them ideal for laptops, cell phones and myriad other gadgets. But if they short-circuit, they can overheat and unleash their energy by exploding or burning.

Lithium-ion battery fires and explosions are rare, considering the hundreds of millions of cell phones and computers sold. Still, battery recalls have been rising, particularly involving notebook computers. In the past year, Hewlett-Packard has recalled 150,700 batteries; Apple Computer has called back 156,000 in the past two years.

Dell recalled 284,000 batteries in 2001 and an additional 22,000 in December. The latest recall, which affects the Latitude, Inspiron, Precision and XPS laptop models, is an extension of the one announced in December, Wolfson said.

The Dell recall far exceeds the largest prior lithium-ion recall: 1 million batteries called back by cell phone manufacturer Kyocera in October 2004.

Companies usually do recalls in tandem with the Consumer Product Safety Commission. A recall normally occurs after regulators or the company itself has fielded multiple product complaints.

Dell told the Consumer Safety Product Safety Commission that it had learned since December of six cases of its notebook computers exploding or bursting into flames. None of the fires caused any injuries.

Dell didn't detail the incidents. But a Dell laptop reportedly caught fire last month at a business in Vernon Hills, Ill. A picture of the burnt laptop was posted recently on the Web site Engadget.

Earlier this summer, a picture of a Dell laptop in flames - this one at a conference in Japan - was widely circulated on the Internet.

"That [incident] is related to the worldwide recall," Wolfson said.

Dell's recall affects 2.7 million computers in the United States and 1.4 million sold abroad.

Dell told Bloomberg News that the recall won't have a material impact on the company's finances. News of the recall came out after the stock market closed yesterday.

Mike Hughlett writes for the Chicago Tribune. The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Dell recall

Dell Inc. is recalling battery packs made for the following models of notebook computers that were shipped between April 2004 and last month:


D410, D500, D505, D510, D520, D600, D610, D620, D800, D810


500M, 510M, 600M, 700M, 710M, 6000, 6400, 8500, 8600, 9100, 9200, 9300, 9400, E1505, E1705


M20, M60, M70, M90


XPS, XPS Gen2, XPS M170, XPS M1710

Identification number:

Each battery bears an identification number on a white sticker. Customers should have the number handy when they call to learn whether the battery is covered by the recall.


866-342-0011, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., or

[Associated Press]

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