Hoverboards can be fun to gift and ride, but they’re not without inherent dangers. Specifically, this modern twist on the Back to the Future hoverboard Marty McFly rode has a fiery history that’s directly linked to the commonly used lithium-ion battery that powers most of our rechargeable tech devices like tablets, laptops, and smartphones. While the battery is considered the go-to choice for providing consistent power, under the right conditions it can be a volatile and dangerous power source. Although industry standards now exist to reduce the risk of hoverboard battery explosions, there are a few things that consumers should also do to ensure safety.

Why Hoverboards Can Explode

Most people give little thought to the batteries that power their tech devices. For most of us with smartphones, smartwatches, tablets, and laptops, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are a standard power source. These battery packs provide reliable power without taking up too much space — which allows for our technology to get smaller and more compact.

The Unseen Danger of Lithium-ion Batteries

But lithium-ion batteries are also incredibly volatile because they contain electrocyte, a key component that helps to generate power. Electrolytes are flammable and generate an immense amount of heat while the batteries are powering devices. Most tech gear that relies on lithium-ion batteries has enhanced ventilation to ensure that the batteries don’t overheat and malfunction. But hoverboards usually lack this design feature.

Poor Quality Contributes to Fire Hazards

Along with operational overheating, lithium-ion batteries can also explode if the casing is punctured or damaged. And sometimes this can happen even without external force — such as a rough battery surface puncturing the cells during operation or charging. This issue is most commonly found in poorer quality batteries sourced from factories with inconsistent manufacturing protocols.

How Can You Prevent a Hoverboard Explosion?

Since 2017, there haven’t been any reported hoverboard explosions in the United States. Experts agree this is because Underwriter Laboratories (UL) created a standard guideline known as UL2272 that hoverboard brands had to follow. This guideline was adopted by consumer goods governing bodies in the U. S., Canada, the European Union, and several other nations. But there are still things you can do to safeguard yourself and your property.

Quality Counts

Only buy UL-certified hoverboards. Creating that standardized system meant that manufacturers could no longer source lower-quality lithium-ion batteries that were unstable and more likely to combust. Along the same lines, you should avoid buying the cheapest hoverboard you can find. Hoverboards are available in a wide price range. But usually lower quality hoverboards are more likely to overheat and malfunction.

Be Mindful of Charging

Don’t charge your hoverboard overnight. Most of the popular hoverboards are designed to fully recharge to 100% within two to three hours. Because heat is generated during the recharging process, leaving it plugged in beyond the recommended time frame can make the lithium-ion battery overheat, and potentially cause it to explode.

Likewise, fully charged hoverboards shouldn’t be left idle for long periods. It might seem weird to hear this but it can’t be stressed enough that lithium-ion batteries can be volatile. When fully charged, they can be incredibly unstable and pose a higher risk of overheating or bursting. Experts agree that you should try to ride the hoverboard so that the charge drops to around 90%.

Smart Storage

When not in use, keep your hoverboard in a cool space and away from carpeting. Leaving your hoverboard in a garage that isn’t climate controlled or on your carpeted bedroom floor can lead to dangerous results. Keep your hoverboard away from direct sunlight and flammable surfaces.

Sources:

https://www.electrochem.org/exploding-hoverboards-explained

https://www.cpsc.gov/Safety-Education/Safety-Education-Centers/hoverboards

https://www.ul.com/services/personal-e-mobility-testing-and-certification

https://money.cnn.com/2015/12/10/news/companies/overstock-hover-boards/

https://www.iata.org/en/programs/cargo/dgr/dgr-guidance/

https://www.iata.org/contentassets/6fea26dd84d24b26a7a1fd5788561d6e/small-lithium-battery-powered-vehicles.pdf

How to Prevent Your Hoverboard from Exploding FAQ

Do hoverboards explode?

Not every hoverboard will explode but there is a risk that this might happen if the lithium-ion battery that powers it overheats.

How can I avoid exploding hoverboards?

One of the best things you can do is avoid charging your hoverboard overnight as it can cause excessive heat buildup which can contribute to battery malfunctions. Also, avoid leaving it idle for too long when fully charged.

How many hoverboards have exploded?

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), more than 250 hoverboard-related incidents were reported since 2015. This includes reports of hoverboards overheating or explosions that resulted in fires.

Dorian Smith-Garcia

Dorian Smith-Garcia is a bridal and beauty expert/influencer and the creative director behind The Anti Bridezilla. She is a diverse writer across beauty, fashion, travel, consumer goods, and tech. She also writes for Inverse, Glowsly, and The Drive along with a variety of other publications. When Dorian's not writing she's collecting stamps in her passport, learning new languages, or spending time with her husband and daughter.

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