Headset batteries could catch fire

A Nashua company is recalling more than 1 million headset batteries worldwide after some have been reported to catch fire, the company and consumer safety officials said Tuesday.

GN Netcom, with a North American headquarters at 77 Northeastern Blvd., agreed to recall its GN9120 Wireless Headsets after discovering that an internal short circuit can cause the batteries to overheat.

The lithium-ion polymer batteries are manufactured by a Hong Kong company called Amperex Technology Limited. GN Netcom stopped using the manufacturer in May of this year.

In the United States, GN Netcom has received 10 reports of overheating, including three reports of open flames and property damage to furniture on which the headsets were resting, a statement from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said. In Europe, one of the 37 overheating incidents resulted in second-degree burns.

Danish-based GN Netcom specializes in headsets and other types of hands-free and wireless communication devices.

The affected GN9120 model is primarily used in offices and business call centers. About 525,000 of the units have been recalled in the United States and another 675,000 outside of the country.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission urges people to stop using the headsets and unplug them unless otherwise instructed.

Lithium-ion batteries draw electricity from the movement of charged lithium atoms. They are more potent that other types of rechargeable batteries, which makes them popular in consumer electronics, but that potency makes them prone to overheating.

Most famously, lithium-ion batteries were to blame for the recall of millions of Dell notebooks in 2006 after some burst into flames.

The batteries in the GN Netcom recall are different, in that they are of polymer form – that is, the lithium is held in a solid plastic form that can be molded into various shapes. The polymer design is considered less likely to overheat than those in which the lithium is held in a solvent.

Phyllis McCullagh, president and general manager of GN Netcom North America, said the company has been monitoring incidents for several months in order to determine the size of the problem.

“Were being very proactive with a very limited number of incidents,” McCullagh said. She was referring to the company’s decision to recall more than 1 million units, despite fewer than 50 incident reported.

The company is also replacing all of the batteries for free. Customers can visit the Web site or call the company for a replacement unit.

The headsets, produced since 2005, consist of three main parts: a headband, base station and an earpiece. The battery is located between the earpiece and the band, according to McCullagh.

Affected units were sold between January 2005 and September 2008 for $150 to $350. Replacement batteries were sold individually for $20.

GN Netcom also sells a line of mobile products under the brand name Jabra and owns a product reseller called Hello Direct.

Northeastern Blvd., agreed to recall its GN9120 Wireless Headsets after discovering that an internal short circuit can cause the batteries to overheat.

The lithium-ion polymer batteries are manufactured by a Hong Kong company called Amperex Technology Limited. GN Netcom stopped using the manufacturer in May of this year.

In the United States, GN Netcom has received 10 reports of overheating, including three reports of open flames and property damage to furniture on which the headsets were resting, a statement from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said. In Europe, one of the 37 overheating incidents resulted in second-degree burns.

Danish-based GN Netcom specializes in headsets and other types of hands-free and wireless communication devices.

The affected GN9120 model is primarily used in offices and business call centers. About 525,000 of the units have been recalled in the United States and another 675,000 outside of the country.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission urges people to stop using the headsets and unplug them unless otherwise instructed.

Lithium-ion batteries draw electricity from the movement of charged lithium atoms. They are more potent that other types of rechargeable batteries, which makes them popular in consumer electronics, but that potency makes them prone to overheating.

Most famously, lithium-ion batteries were to blame for the recall of millions of Dell notebooks in 2006 after some burst into flames.

The batteries in the GN Netcom recall are different, in that they are of polymer form – that is, the lithium is held in a solid plastic form that can be molded into various shapes. The polymer design is considered less likely to overheat than those in which the lithium is held in a solvent.

Phyllis McCullagh, president and general manager of GN Netcom North America, said the company has been monitoring incidents for several months in order to determine the size of the problem.

“Were being very proactive with a very limited number of incidents,” McCullagh said. She was referring to the company’s decision to recall more than 1 million units, despite fewer than 50 incident reported.

The company is also replacing all of the batteries for free. Customers can visit the Web site or call the company for a replacement unit.

The headsets, produced since 2005, consist of three main parts: a headband, base station and an earpiece. The battery is located between the earpiece and the band, according to McCullagh.

Affected units were sold between January 2005 and September 2008 for $150 to $350. Replacement batteries were sold individually for $20.

GN Netcom also sells a line of mobile products under the brand name Jabra and owns a product reseller called Hello Direct.