A hoverboard is a type of self-balancing two-wheeled scooter that is used for transportation. Hoverboards are powered by rechargeable batteries, mainly lithium-ion batteries (Li-ion). They consist of two wheels which are aligned side by side with two small platforms between the wheels for the rider to stand on. The rider controls the board using the feet with the help of gyroscopic sensors which are contained in the pads.
Over the recent past, there has been concern over the rise in the number of hoverboards that are catching fire and exploding. This has seen the use of hoverboards banned in some counties in the United States of America and some parts of Europe. The big question remains, why are hoverboards catching fire? The reasons why hoverboards are catching fire includes;
1. The battery
Hoverboards uses lithium ion battery for their power. These batteries contain a liquid flowing inside them, which is highly flammable. If there is a short circuit in the battery, for example, the thin sheet separating the positive and the negative battery sides is punctured, the electrolyte quickly heat up leading to an explosion. Other defects in the battery may include low quality Li-ion batteries made from poor quality materials.
2. Defective charger and overcharging
A number of cases reported indicates that there is a substantial evidence linking the explosion of hoverboards while connected for charging. This explosion can be caused by several factors example, defective charger, faulty charging system, overcharging and others. Unlike mobile phones or other gadgets, most hoverboards don’t have an automatic self-closing mechanism to stop the flow of charges once the battery is full. This leads to severe overcharge of the cells, hence causing them to fail. This may lead to an explosion or in better cases, the gas may find its way and diffuse out without causing any major harm. A defective charger may lead to overcharging or in extreme cases overheating of the battery. For this reason, only approved chargers which have met the set standards should be used to charge the hoverboards.
3. Lack of safety standards
Electronic gadgets produced earlier like the mobile phones have set standards which they have to undergo before they are released into the market. Hoverboards are new in the market, hence no specific safety standards have been set for them. The standards in which they may fit in contains of non-electronic mobility devices which poses low or near-zero explosion probabilities. Therefore, there is a need to set safety standards for this devices to avoid explosions and other accidents in the future.
4. Production of low quality products
Hoverboards demands have been increasing over the past few months since their invention in 2014 especially in the United States and Europe. This sharp increase in demand has led to a need for more supplies and hence created a market for counterfeit products. Companies have come up in China producing counterfeit hoverboards with low standards and hence lowering their quality. This increases the risk of the user and the chances of explosion. Also rise in demand caused rise in supply, hence more hoverboards were needed over a short period of time. This hurried production led to the production of low quality products
5. Human error
Another cause of explosions is the human error where some people are careless and may interfere with the hoverboard especially the electric system. If for example, water gets into the system, it might cause an electro-circuit hence an explosion.
In brief, hoverboards are good means of transport, but should be handled with care to avoid accidents especially catching fire. Also, manufacturing standards should be set to ensure the safety of the users.