Why do hoverboards explode? Easy tips to avoid fire hazards!

Many hoverboard owners are concerned about hoverboard safety. The biggest issue is hoverboards exploding. Most of us have heard about these accidents with hoverboards and are scared of explosions because of battery defects. This article will explain to you how hoverboard fire starts and what you can do to prevent it.

Why do hoverboards explode? 5+ easy tips to avoid fire risks

Why do hoverboards explode?

First, there is a question for you: what do hoverboards and mobile phones have in common? The right answer is lithium-ion batteries. And many of us have read about explosions of smartphone batteries. Well, let´s see the basics of lithium-ion battery explosions.

There are two main reasons for lithium-ion batteries to go boom: poor quality and bad treatment.

  • Speaking of the first, we must admit that many entry-level self-balancing scooters have cheap batteries, so you should pay proper attention to the hoverboard model, you are going to buy. Read reviews on the internet and try to choose a reliable brand.
  • Speaking of poor treatment or maintenance, one of the main factors is temperature. Using a board that is not suited for extremely hot regions (like many southern states) can kill a self-balancing scooter battery (probably with fire). You can check the instructional manual, but most hoverboards are good for about 32 ºF to 104 ºF (0 ºC to 40 ºC).

If it´s hotter outside but you want to ride anyway, it´s better not to operate your board for long periods of time. And it´s prohibited to leave hoverboards under direct sunlight. Be sure not to over-heat the wheel motors and battery, as it can cause a fire.

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How can I be sure about hoverboard batteries?

Sadly, there’s no way to know about the quality of a battery pack other than by using it. However, there is one good way to assure you that your hoverboard is safe. It’s UL certification.

Back in the time when hoverboards were more dangerous (in terms of fire hazards, among others), Land Transport Authority decided on stricter regulation of the self-balancing scooter market.

One of the primary measures was the introduction of the said UL 2272 certificate in 2016. Underwriters Laboratories (UL) test hoverboards (and other personal mobility devices) and approve or not a certain model. The sign of this certification is a quality mark for self-balancing scooters sold in the US.

What are the main hazards for the batteries?

As we stated earlier, most hoverboards use lithium-ion batteries (just like many other electronic devices). So the rules should be well-known to you:

  • don’t expose the battery to extreme temperatures
  • prevent it from contact with moisture
  • don’t use alcohol-containing liquids for battery maintenance
  • and, of course, charge it properly

What are the red flags for hoverboards?

Many problems related to hoverboard quality can’t be seen with a naked eye. However, there are some things that SCREAM about the low quality of a board you are going to buy. Here are the most obvious:

  • poor quality of assembling in general (gaps between parts, not good lights, etc.)
  • writing manufacturer’s name with mistakes
  • manufacturer’s guides full of mistakes (both factual and grammar)
  • lack of charger in original package. If you see more than one issue related to a scooter you are going to buy, you should give it up, forget about it and try to find a more safe board. This hoverboard is very low-quality (if not outright counterfeit). Of course, this board won´t be UL certified. Safety is first, and cutting costs by buying something below safety standards is not the smartest move.
  • Another danger sign is finding the battery of a hoverboard on the black list that you can see on the internet. There are nearly 20.000 banned Li-ion battery models. So, always check if the device has the UL safety standard before buying the device. A good solution is buying the hoverboard in the in-house shop (many big hoverboard brands have ones) or checking other retailers with a good reputation.
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How should I charge the battery pack?

Proper hoverboard charging isn’t tricky, but every owner should remember some basic rules.

  • First, you should never leave your hoverboard charging overnight. Overcharging leads to system overloading and overheating, which, in turn, leads to short circuits, fire, and the possibility of a battery explosion.
  • Second, you should always use a proper charger for the battery of your hoverboard (original or, at least, approved by the manufacturer). There is plenty of lifehacks describing charging self-balancing scooters in alternative ways (the most common is using the laptop charger), but we strongly discourage you from doing this.

Using a charger that is not proper for hoverboard batteries may not kill it instantly, but it will definitely harm the battery and shorten its lifespan. The only reason for using such a charger is an emergency charge.

  • You should never drain your battery completely. Remember that every full drainage is stressful for the Li-ion batteries, so it will inevitably damage your hoverboard battery, shorten its lifespan and increase the risk that the battery explodes. Instead of this, check the battery level and charge your hoverboard regularly.
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What are the other threats to hoverboard fire safety?

One of the biggest threats is low-quality wiring. Poor-quality wires are prone to short-circuiting, so there’s a big chance of fire.

Another problem is poor assembling quality. For example, some recalled hoverboards had metal shavings able to tear the wires or damage batteries. These damages may make hoverboards catch fire.

What are the other rules of hoverboard use?

Outside of charging, there are a lot of risks of poor treatment. Weather and temperature are the biggest ones. For example, leaving a hoverboard in the sun is very hazardous for the whole system (especially the batteries).

Rain is another threat to your hoverboard. Exposure to both these hazards may end with your scooter catching fire. Speaking generally, you should never use your hoverboard during rain for many safety reasons (besides fire safety, wet road means less grip for tires).

The terrain is another factor in the safety of a hoverboard (and its battery, too). Riding off-road can be very difficult for your hoverboard and its batteries.

Many high-performance all-terrain boards have their batteries covered and secured, but most mass-market models don´t have such protection. Exposure to the road (like hitting on the bumps) may lead to physical damage to the battery of your hoverboard. And it can be pretty dangerous: lithium-ion batteries have a highly flammable liquid electrolyte, so having a leak inside the board gives a good chance for fire and explosion.

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Of course, there are models specifically designed for all-terrain use, but they are not very common and rather expensive.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are hoverboard brands that are being recalled for fire risk?

Hoverboard recalls due to fire hazards were sadly common a few years ago (the number of recalled hoverboards is HALF A MILLION, by now). Here is the list of the best-known recalls by far (according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission):

  • Sonic Smart Wheels
  • Drone Nerds
  • Tech Drift
  • iLive
  • Smart Balance Wheel
  • iHoverspeed
  • GoWheels
  • Vecaro Lifestyle
  • PTX Performance
  • Razor (yes, even this one was to recall their boards)

Speaking generally, recalls have both positive and negative sides. The con is that manufacturer is prone to making mistakes during the development and production of the self-balancing scooters.

On the other hand, device recall means that the manufacturer is willing to admit their mistakes and help the owners with them. And, speaking of recalls, many expensive vehicles (like electric cars or cars with diesel engines) are frequently recalled, too. So you shouldn’t be scared. It’s for your own good.

Are hoverboards safe in 2022?

After introducing UL certification, safety standards increased significantly. There were only few hoverboard recalls since 2018. It’s definitely good news.

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Are hoverboards still exploding?

Sadly, hoverboard explosions still happen. As we stated before, most hoverboard fires and explosions happen because of the poor manufacturing process (using low-quality or unsuitable batteries or wirings) or poor treatment or maintenance of the hoverboards (like using in extreme conditions or neglectful storage).

Does the battery explode when overcharged?

One accidental overcharging won’t kill your battery. Constant long overcharging, however, will damage it and increase the risk of fire and explosion significantly.

Don´t store a fully charged hoverboard for a long time. It´s better to give it a ride to get it down to at least 90%.

Store your hoverboard in a cool area, as the heat is one of the most common fire risks for lithium-ion batteries.

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Can you leave a hoverboard charging overnight?

No. Long overcharging of the lithium-ion batteries leads to their overheating, which, in turn, leads to short circuits and fire. The loss of a hoverboard will be not the biggest loss in case of a house fire. Usually, it takes from 2 to 4 hours to charge the vehicle, after that unplug it and leave it in a cool area. There are smart chargers that stop power flow as soon as it´s fully charged, but there´s still a risk of overheating and fire.

Tell me the safest hoverboard brand.

Well, there’s no chart so we can’t name the one and only hoverboard brand. However, there are some big and well-known hoverboard manufacturers that guarantee the high quality and performance of sold products. Among the safest hoverboard brands:

  • Segway
  • Swagtron
  • FutureSaw
  • GOTRAX
  • Razor

How dangerous are hoverboards?

Speaking of safety, hoverboards are relatively safe in terms of fire hazards. Road safety, on the other hand, is a way bigger issue. According to US statistics, injuries associated with so-called “micromobility devices” rose 70%, with the most common injuries being bone fractures (40%), muscular injuries (like sprains), and heavy bruises.

So, it´s crucial that your child wear protective gear while riding a hoverboard and follow the rules.

How can I protect my hoverboard from fire hazards?

There are a few simple rules which won´t let your self-balancing scooter catch on fire.

  • First, you should never overcharge your scooter.
  • Second, you should keep it in a warm, dry, and dark place (to prevent exposure to direct sunbeams, water, and other hazardous factors).
  • Third, you should be careful when riding your board (it is an electronic device, so physical damage to the battery will put it at serious risk).

What happens if your hoverboard gets wet?

Exposure to water and moisture is one of the biggest fire safety threads for hoverboards. As you know, water is the biggest hazard to electrical and electronic systems (since water is a conductor). An extra conductor in the system will lead to a short circuit and the board can catch fire. In other words, it’s outright dangerous.

Besides that, riding a hoverboard in the rain is dangerous because of the bad grip between the road and wheels, so the ride may end in an accident and an injury.

How many hoverboards have exploded?

By the end of 2021, there were more than 300 incidents related to hoverboards exploding (according to CPSC statistics). That´s why the Consumer Product Safety Commission came up with some safety rules that every hoverboard owner must read.

Tell me the best way to make sure my hoverboard won’t explode.

The best way of not letting your hoverboard catch fire is proper care. Proper care means proper and regular charging, careful riding, and preventing the gadget from fire hazards. This will guarantee fire safety for you and your hoverboard.

Have you heard about hoverboards exploding recently? Share in the comments below!

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