Factory fire causes laptop battery shortage

Fire guts South Korea's second-largest battery maker, LG Chem.

Have trouble finding an extra or replacement battery for your laptop? Both Dell and HP say they are experiencing a laptop battery shortage after a March 3 fire knocked out a major supplier of the batteries.

Besides Dell and HP, the fire that gutted a plant owned by South Korea's second-largest battery maker, LG Chem, is also affecting Asus, maker of the popular Eee PC laptop.

"We sell battery packs. The prices of those battery packs for people ordering extra batteries have gone up," Dell spokesman Jess Blackburn told Reuters. "The industry is experiencing battery supply constraints because of these problems, therefore pricing is being impacted by current availability. But we are working with our partners throughout our supply chain to reduce the impact on our customers."

It will take two to three months for the LG Chem plant to get back up to speed, which may be good news for competing battery manufacturers, such as Samsung and Sony.

After last year's long string of laptop battery recalls, this may be a first--batteries catching fire before they're actually in your laptop.