Hoverboards being motorized 2-wheeled scooters that don’t actually hover wasn’t the only reason it blew up in 2015. By July 2016, reports of hoverboard bursting in flames had reached a total of 60 cases, amounting to over $12 million in property damages.
Yes, your hoverboard will blow up under various circumstances you have to watch out for. Hoverboards have Lithium-ion batteries like your laptop or smartphone. These batteries pack a lot of energy inside an enclosed little space, making the board at risk of explosion.
It could be how the batteries were made or how they are handled that causes the hoverboards to catch on fire. There are also more red flags you should be aware of to prevent your hoverboard from exploding. Read on to find out everything you need to know about hoverboard blow-ups.
Do Hoverboards Still Explode?
It’s been over five years since hoverboards were first released and reported to be causing serious fire injuries and damages. Since then, the government has performed actions to reevaluate reported hoverboard brands and implement preventative measures for the consumers who use them.
Despite those efforts, hoverboards still explode in 2019 and undoubtedly until the nearing 2020. For example, in August 2019, a fire crew responded to a house with significant smoke and found out that a young boy’s borrowed hoverboard had exploded. The boy’s father managed to put out the fire early so that they only had a burned spot on their carpet.
It’s no surprise that these severe accidents still occur even after years since the earliest reports of hoverboard explosions. Amazon still had listings of banned lithium-batteries (18650 batteries) at the beginning of 2019. Many hoverboard users were mistakenly buying them without knowing the hazards and prohibition in the first place, and there’s a high chance they still do.
How Many Hoverboards Have Exploded?
You’re probably wondering about the scale of this hoverboard explosion issue. It’s hard not to think of the number of hoverboards that have burst into flames over the years, given how sensitive these devices are.
There were already 501,000 hoverboards being recalled by their manufacturers under the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s orders in 2016. This half a million number of discarded, fire-risk hoverboards is staggering.
These hoverboards are from different notable brands and are popular models many people, especially kids or teens, are into. With dangerous, prohibited lithium-ion batteries still listed on Amazon, it’s likely that a few of the half a million recalled hoverboards are even snuck in on other online shops or physical stores as well.
Why Do Hoverboards Explode?
These self-balancing scooters are a technological marvel that happens to be designed in a compact structure despite the amount of energy they consume. That obviously comes with significant repercussions, such as the common explosion.
It all begins in the science behind the lithium-ion batteries that are blamed for the hoverboard fires. These batteries are highly flammable. When the super-thin sheet of plastic that parts the positive and negative sides of the battery is pierced, it can cause the liquid electrolyte to heat the battery so much until it explodes.
Lithium-ion batteryYou’re probably wondering how on earth you could even puncture the battery like that without opening the board. That’s why many hoverboard batteries are banned — defective ones come with small sharp metal bits that can damage the separator all on its own.
Do Hoverboards Explode When Overcharged?
Rechargeable batteries are susceptible regardless if they are high-quality ones. That’s why there are even reports of the smallest devices like smartphones exploding during charging. You have to be careful about how you charge your hoverboards.
Overcharging the lithium-ion battery of the hoverboard can produce excess heat and lead to disastrous failure like an explosion, although it’s not always the result. Extreme discharging of the battery or leaving the hoverboard at 0% charge for a long time can cause the same malfunction as well.
Charging problems that are triggered by defective chargers also cause lithium-ion explosions. Make sure to get high-quality or reliable chargers that can adequately protect the cells of the battery. That way, you prevent the cells from being overcharged and catching on fire.
Can You Leave a Hoverboard Charging Overnight?
Since I’ve compared the batteries of hoverboards to smartphones, you probably think you can charge these self-balancing scooters overnight like we usually do with our phones. Well, that isn’t the case for hoverboards.
It only takes 2 to 4 hours for hoverboards to fully charge, which means you’ll be overcharging them if you leave them plugged overnight. Smart hoverboard chargers stop providing power from the outlet once they’re fully charged, but it’s still not worth the risk of getting your house on fire.
The best way to charge your hoverboard is to do it in an area where there’s enough room and where you can keep an eye on it. The US government even advises that you buy a fire extinguisher with your hoverboard for extra caution. You never really know how the charging will go in the long run.
What Happens If Your Hoverboard Gets Wet?
Water and electronic gadgets have never had a friendly history together. So if you’re thinking of riding your hoverboard in the rain, please remember that your self-balancing scooter is just as sensitive as your smartphone or laptop when it comes to water.
If your hoverboard gets wet, you risk the water getting into the sensors under the footpads. You can only imagine the kinds of impairment you’ll have to deal with when that happens. Water can easily break your motherboard and batteries, or explode later when you use them after they’ve been soaked.
Avoid keeping your hoverboards close to any liquid and never take it outside in the rain. If you’re planning on cleaning your gadget, just wipe it with a slightly damp cloth instead of pouring water over it like washing the car.
How Dangerous Are Hoverboards?
Hoverboards are not dangerous by themselves. It’s mostly about how you take care of the batteries that determine the gadget’s level of risk. Also, it’s how you cautiously use the self-balancing scooter. Here are some injury statistics to give you the picture.
Twenty-six thousand eight hundred fifty-four (26,854) children have been brought to the emergency department for hoverboard injuries between 2015 and 2016, the first year of hoverboards on the market. 40% of the injuries are fractures, 17% bruises, and 13% sprains or strains.
The numbers are truly alarming, but there were 22% more skateboard injuries recorded in the same period. That doesn’t discount the risk of riding a hoverboard, but it still shows that accidents are far more avoidable with these electronic wheeled boards.
Which Hoverboards Are the Safest?
The Land Transport Authority announced in 2018 that they are implementing a new safety standard for Personal Mobility Devices, including the hoverboard UL2272 certification. The bill, however, only turned into an official law on January 2, 2019.
That makes UL2272 certified hoverboards the safest ones. These self-balancing scooters have been tested for electrical and mechanical components, environmental factors influencing electrical safety, reaction to extreme temperatures, impact, water, etc.
These conditions usually cause short-circuiting and defective charging that indicate fire risk. The UL2272 certification ensures the safety of the hoverboard’s electric drivetrain system, electrical shock hazards, and battery-charger integrations. So you know your hoverboards are not at risk of exploding.
What Are Safe Hoverboard Brands?
First of all, guaranteed hoverboard brand safety is not about ride safety. As the UL2272 certification indicates, it’s an approval of non-fire-risk hoverboards. The way to spot a safe or UL2272 certified hoverboard is by checking for a holographic product label with the UL Enhanced Mark.
The first brand to receive this label was Ninebot for its hoverboard model, N3M320, back in 2016 upon the first compliance to the UL certification. Here are the other brands that have passed the UL2272 standards and are safe from any explosion risk:
- Swagtron T1
- RayeeBoard Hoverboard
- App-Enabled SWAGTRON T580
- Jetson V6 Hoverzon XLS
- EPIKGO Sport
- GOTRAX Hoverfly ECO Hoverboard
- Razor Hovertrax 2.0 Hoverboard
These brands are all listed on Amazon and are the only hoverboard brands allowed to be sold in shops. Make sure to only pick among these brands when buying your hoverboard.
What Are Hoverboard Brands Being Recalled over Fire Risk?
The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission has recalled hoverboards since 2016, where they had already recollected over half a million products. Since then, until 2017, they have continued to make efforts to ensure no more explosive hoverboard brand is out on the market.
About eight hoverboard brands were recalled over fire risk during this period. Here are as follows:
- Sonic Smart Wheels
- Tech Drift
- Go Wheels
- Drone Nerds
- LayZ Board
- Smart Balance Wheel
The typical defect shared by these brands is their poor lithium-ion batteries. CPSC was quick to pull these hoverboards from the market upon learning that they had batteries that could easily catch fire after only a few operations.
What Should You Check to Confirm Your Hoverboard Won’t Explode?
There are a few things in the product package you can check to verify your hoverboard’s safety. If you suspect that you’re buying a hoverboard below the average price, you should definitely check the following:
- Search for non-compliant plugs like a cloverleaf plug without a fuse, as that is one strong indicator of an unsafe hoverboard right there.
- Check if the package comes with a fake plug with wrong markings and counterfeit fuse.
- Don’t buy hoverboards that do not have any manufacturer’s details or branding on the packaging or product itself.
- Most hoverboards that are likely to explode have misspellings or errors in the instructions and labels on the packaging or product itself.
- Make sure that the charger in the package has the manufacturer’s details.
- Do not ever think of buying a hoverboard with poor CE marking or UL markings. The product must be UL2272 certified, and as stated above, it has to have a holographic product label with the UL Enhanced Mark.
These are huge red flags you should watch out when purchasing a hoverboard. Many people still don’t know about the implemented standards for this product, and it would be great if you keep them in mind and share it with others, too.
What Are the Questions to Ask to Make Sure the Hoverboard You’re Buying Doesn’t Blow Up?
Sometimes, we make impulse purchases out of the excitement to have an item we’ve been eyeing for a while. This is when poor quality, explosive products might victimize hoverboard consumers.
It doesn’t have to be that way. You can avoid the electrical risks that come with a hoverboard by asking the following questions to the retailer when you’re making your purchase:
- Does the hoverboard come with patented battery protection?
- What do online reviews say about the device?
- Are there real users on YouTube who are testifying about the board’s safety and quality?
Patented battery protection ensures that short circuits in the battery’s terminals won’t severely damage your cells or the device. Online reviews and testimonials from real users also give you an exact idea of how the hoverboard works or feels rather than just setting expectations based on brand advertisements.
Hoverboards are still electric gadgets we should take care of accordingly. They may be used outdoors and act almost as smaller vehicles, but their mechanism is not as resistant as actual cars when it comes to various exterior conditions.
It’s what all hoverboard users or those planning to buy one for the first time should keep in mind. These self-balancing scooters are simply sensitive devices that need rigorous care and follow specific maintenance and charging guidelines. Make sure to check your product manual for those.The bottom line here is that you should make efforts to learn about your hoverboard’s specific care rules so that it won’t catch on fire. Always remember that UL2272 certification as well.
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