The answer is “Yes” but you can prevent it easily.
The year 2015 saw the wave of hoverboards hitting the scene as every kid wanted to jump onto these two-wheeled toys. However, many parents and authorities quickly got concerned about the safety of these self-balancing holiday gifts.
Shortly after the first release, some unscrupulous sellers started bringing into the market low-quality hoverboards that posed safety threats.
Authorities had to rush against time to recall most of these toys due to increased fire incidences from their use. So, why do hoverboards catch fire & still explode? How can we prevent fires related to these toys? We will answer all your concerns in this article.
Why Do Hoverboards Catch Fire?
There is a simple science behind hoverboard fires. Just like your phone, laptop, and tablet, hoverboards get their power from a lithium battery. These batteries have highly inflammable liquid electrolyte swimming inside them.
If in any case the thin plastic sheet separating the positive and the negative parts of the cells get punctured, the liquid will heat up so fast, leading to an explosion. Puncturing may occur due to the hoverboard smashing into objects at high speed, getting abused, or banging into staff.
Although stabbing the battery can cause fire, small sharp metal particles inside a defective battery may lead to the puncturing all on its own. When this occurs, especially when charging the batteries, it produces a lot of heat inside the cells, causing the electrolyte to boil up. Consequently, the cell casing gets ruptured quickly, leading to an explosion.
If the volatility of lithium batteries is so high, why are they still in use? The typical argument is that lithium-ion has significantly higher energy density than less inflammable batteries. They can last longer, are lighter and smaller than the other batteries.
Furthermore, safety standards in the consumer electronics industry have improved to the level where most people don’t worry about leaving their phone charging unmonitored.
The manufacturing companies came together to set up a safety standard. It helped phase out battery scares of the 2000s and contributed to the relatively safe phones and laptops that we have currently.
Most lithium-ion batteries used in today’s gadgets incorporate all types of safety measures, like emergency vents, and the gadgets have to pass a barrage of electrical stress tests, crush tests, and drop tests before going to the market.
So then, Why Do hoverboards Still Explode?
The reason is that they are still brand new products that don’t have safety measures put in place. While motorized toys and scooters have existing standards, hoverboard fails to fit into these categories of products, and thus the safety standards that can apply to them are not yet known.
Currently, Amazon, Target and other reputable retailers are ensuring the sellers have certified the chargers, batteries and other components of every hoverboard. Amazon asks its hoverboard sellers to show proof that these items specifically comply with UL 60950-1, UL 1642, and UN 38.3.
However, it is still too early to declare hoverboards safe since certifying the components individually doesn’t mean that the items have been wholly certified for safety. Retailers and manufacturers are simply trying to meet the legal measures. So until the components are tested as a whole, we have a long way to go.
While many manufacturers claim that Underwaterwriters Laboratories (UL) and other independent firms have fully tested their items, it is pretty hard to find a hoverboard that has been genuinely certified.
Some popular brands like Swagway claim that their chargers and batteries are UL-certified just to lure retailers. A fire-related to a Swagway hoverboard is now haunting the manufacturer with a lawsuit.
Furthermore, certifying components like batteries and chargers instead of the whole hoverboard presents another issue- you cannot easily tell the kind of battery or component that is inside the hoverboard. Most of the time, these components turn out to be counterfeited.
Statistics of Hoverboards fires and explosions
After answering the question of why does a hoverboard explode, we can look into some of the statistics. It is common to come across news about hoverboards bursting into flames, leading to the Consumer Product Safety Commission declaring them as among the most dangerous toys to avoid.
Due to the probability of a hoverboard fire risk in 2020, the consumer watchdog has blacklisted most of these holiday gift items. They’ve caught fire and exploded in shopping malls, while being charged in homes, and while people are riding them, leading to loss of property worth millions of dollars.
By December 2019, the consumer watchdog had logged more than 99 incidences of these toys producing smoke, sparks, or catching fire and more than 500,000 hoverboards from various manufacturers were recalled.
In the spring of the year 2016, an exploding hoverboard caused a house fire that killed two children in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The home was engulfed in flames after the hoverboard charging on the first floor exploded and caught fire.
In April 2017, another charging hoverboard caused a house fire in Washington. Fortunately, some teen babysitters rescued eight children inside the house but the property got razed down. The CPSC also got reports of hoverboards burning 13 people, causing small inhalation problems to 3 people, and damaging property worth more than $4 million dollars.
How to prevent Hoverboards from Catching Fire and Exploding
We can prevent fires and explosion from hoverboard by adhering to the following instructions:
- Do not charge a hoverboard immediately after playing with it. Always cool it down first.
- Do not use a charger that is not compatible with the hoverboard. Avoid using cheap knock-off chargers.
- Always charge the hoverboard as recommended by the manufacturer.
- Always be alert when charging the hoverboard. Avoid leaving your hoverboard charging overnight.
- When charging, do not use more than one plug per socket.
- Try to choose the best hoverboards in the market.
Do hoverboards still catch on fire and explode? It is a question that has continued to raise concern among parents and authorities. As we have learned, hoverboards use lithium-ion battery, which contains highly inflammable materials.
The safety standard measures for hoverboard have not been clearly set in place because of the ambiguity in classifying these fairly new items. Additionally, some unscrupulous manufacturers and retailers do not actually comply with the safety provisions of UL and other independent firms.
Although most of these toys have been recalled, you still need to be very careful when purchasing, using and charging them. We hope manufacturers and retailers will come together and put in place robust safety measures to ensure children enjoy this adventurous toy without risking their lives and loss of property.
- Do hoverboards explode when charged?
A hoverboard is likely to explode if the battery, charger, or the whole item is of low quality or counterfeit. Additionally, failure to follow the set usage recommendations may lead to an explosion.
- Can I leave my hoverboard plugged in overnight?
Do not leave your hoverboard charging overnight because it can get overcharged and explode into flames. Always keep an eye on the charging toy to ensure nothing wrong happens.
- What happens when you charge your hoverboard for too long?
The hoverboard gets overcharged, leading to the boiling of the electrolytic fluid inside the cells. Consequently, the separator between the cathode and the anode parts gets ruptured. Thus, short-circuiting follows, leading to explosion and possible fires.