Dell has begun a large-scale recall of the batteries used in its Inspiron notebook computers, some of which could overheat and may cause computers to catch fire.

From today the direct seller will be contacting customers who bought its Inspiron 5000 and Inspiron 5000(e) notebooks with batteries manufactured by Panasonic.

Dell has made an official announcement about the recall, and a UK spokesman told PC Advisor that the firm would be "voluntarily recalling" 284,000 machines.

Customers will be contacted so that battery replacements can be sent out to them, the source said. A source close to Dell couldn't confirm a media report that at least one notebook computer had actually caught fire.

In October last year Dell recalled 27,000 batteries manufactured by Sanyo. These batteries were used in various Latitude models as well as the Inspiron 3700 and 3800 series notebooks.

Rupert Collins-White contributed to this report