back to article Remember those stupid hoverboards? 500,000+ recalled in the US after they started exploding

Half a million hoverboard users should hotfoot it to the hardware's makers and get a replacement, lest they go up in flames. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission issued recall notices against 10 manufacturers and retailers for 501,300 self-balancing scooters aka hoverboards. The lithium-ion batteries powering the gizmos …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If unattended, does a hoverboard catch fire in a forest?

    Very bloody likely.

  2. Jon Etkins

    Great idea, let's pour water on a device with a ruptured LITHIUM battery.

    1. foo_bar_baz
      Boffin

      That was my initial reaction too

      Further reading suggests it's the right way to deal with Li-ion battery fires.

      1. Baldy50

        Re: That was my initial reaction too

        Treat it like a grenade with the pin pulled?

        Up vote for the info!

      2. Trigonoceps occipitalis

        Re: That was my initial reaction too

        The link suggests "powdered graphite" as a suppressant. I had no idea that powdered graphite could be used to fight a fire, get it dispersed in the room and a small fire could become a big bang?

        Just goes to show that you learn something every day. (And El Reg has a good track record in this.)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: That was my initial reaction too

          The link suggests "powdered graphite" as a suppressant. I had no idea that powdered graphite could be used to fight a fire

          Magnesium dust works even better.

    2. AndyS

      Water is absolutely the correct thing to use to fight a li-ion battery fire.

      The cells currently burning cannot feasibly be stopped. However cells are usually in blocks of many cells. Cooling them down will prevent fire/failure from spreading to the neighbouring cells.

      A li-ion battery fire is not an electrical fire, for which water will do nothing, or an oil fire, which water will spread. Cooling it down with water is 100% the correct course of action.

      I put an axe through a fairly large li-ion pack at the weekend. One cell immediately went up. Within 3 minutes or so, every cell in the pack had gone. Nothing can stop that initial cell, but water would have prevented the (much larger, and much longer) fire from occurring.

      1. kain preacher Silver badge

        Um metal fire. never ever ever ever every put water on metal fire. pour water on li ion fire will make it burner faster.

        1. stizzleswick
          Boffin

          @kain preacher

          These are Li-ion cells, i.e., salts of Lithium in solution. There is no metallic Lithium anywhere in or near those batteries. While the other chemicals involved are pretty volatile, what you get in a battery fire is not a "metal fire" but a pretty much self-sustaining, rapid exothermic reaction of the components of the battery. Since it is self-sustaining (i.e., does not need external oxidisers), pouring water onto the ongoing mess will not add significantly to the reaction. As noted by others already, it will cool down the mess and thereby reduce the total amount of damage.

      2. glen waverley
        Mushroom

        bored much?

        AndyS "I put an axe through a fairly large li-ion pack at the weekend."

        Bet that broke the monotony of a boring weekend...

  3. redpawn Silver badge

    It's low self esteem that causes them to self immolate.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge
      Devil

      Is that built in or does it get it from it's rider? Enquiring minds and all that......

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        It's sort of built in because deep down inside every board knows it's both a phony (not really hovering, is it) and an overpriced crappy novelty without any real world use. Most of them somehow manage to cope with that and function. But if they have that type of rider ... well, you see what happens.

  4. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
    Angel

    Swagway

    Yeah, right, totally not meant to sound like Segway.

    1. bluesxman

      Re: Swagway

      Also "Swegway" is a thing. Difficult to decide who's riffing off whom.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Swagway

        A lot of them appear to be Smegway.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There's also the small problem that, in the UK at least, there's almost nowhere you can legally use them. They are officially considered as motorised transport, so can't be used on the pavement (pedestrian sidewalk for the USians) but don't have any of the required lights etc. which would allow them to be used on a public road. That pretty much restricts them to your garden/driveway.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Another problem is that riding one if you are older than 12 gives a lot of other people the inexplicable urge to punch you in the face. Or is that just me?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Another problem...

        I think it's probably just you people want to punch. :)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Doesn't stop cockwombles and chavs using them on the pavement in less salubrious parts of London.

  6. Tuesday Is Soylent Green Day

    Blatant misuse of the word "hover"

    The only time these things hover is when one is about to be smashed over the head of the user.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Blatant misuse of the word "hover"

      Yeah, WTF? A true hoverboard would not have wheels.

      May I suggest.... retardoboard

  7. Baldy50

    Burns to arms and neck?

    Legs yes, no mention of feet!

    Haven't all rechargeable batteries had over temp cut outs/fuses in them for decades?

    Definitely anyone buying one in the UK is for sure a CHAV.

    Is that really a term started in eighties from the London MET police, being short for 'Council House And Violent'?

    1. AndyS

      Re: Burns to arms and neck?

      A temperature cut-out, even if it is fitted, won't do much for an internal failure, damage caused from outside, or a short circuit. It would be like fitting a fire detector inside a bonfire. "Yup, it's on fire."

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Burns to arms and neck?

      I dont think so, I was informed Chav originated in the Medway Towns and was originally derived (possibly) from a Romany term for a child - so gypsy/pikey kid. But then the Met Police like acronyms and may have re-purposed the term

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Sideways-Motorised-Rollerskate!"

    Not so 'COOL' now is it kids?

    1. AndyS

      Re: "Sideways-Motorised-Rollerskate!"

      Surely you mean "sideways-motorised-skateboard"? I'm with you though - not really sure what niche they fill, and without a catchy (and blatantly lying) name, I'm not sure they would have caught on to the extent they have. Which fortunately isn't very much.

      1. Jos V

        Re: "Sideways-Motorised-Rollerskate!"

        To be fair to Swagway, they label it themselves as "smart balancing electric skateboard". The hoverboard term is only used by media.

        Now, the guy in the video. Seems to me that the motor drives are engaging, but not with the result of making the wheels spin, which probably starts overheating the coils in the drives, resulting in fire which eventually might have triggered overheating batteries. Seems like a situation the electronics have no safeguard for, which is bad design.

        Also, apparently, you have to calibrate the board before use. Did he do this?

        The vid seems like a mix of very bad design, and incompetent use.

        As for needing lights for public use as stated in this forum, apparently it has left and right indicators...

        I'm in no way a fan of these things, but when stupidity results in in the thing burning up, the onus is on the manufacturer and a very crap design/QA department.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Sideways-Motorised-Rollerskate!"

      just, hot hot hot!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    stupid hoverboards

    I would say it's stupid buyers, but then, while it's perfectly polite to call a hoverboard "stupid", it's a no-no to apply this term to humans. O tempora...

  10. Little Mouse
    WTF?

    Huh?

    "42 cases of overheating batteries that caused burns to necks, legs, and arms, or severe property damage to 16 customers"

    16 people suffered 42 incidents of injury and/or damage?

    Are we talking about the sort of person who just cant take a hint, despite having hoverboards explode under them twice already?

    1. AndyS

      Re: Huh?

      What?

      42 cases of burns etc.

      16 cases of severe property damage.

      Somewhere between 42 and 58 total incidents.

      That wasn't too hard to work out, was it?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Huh?

        I read it as 16 caused injury or property damage, while the remaining 26 were mostly an annoyance.

      2. Cuddles Silver badge

        Re: Huh?

        "42 cases of burns etc.

        16 cases of severe property damage.

        Somewhere between 42 and 58 total incidents.

        That wasn't too hard to work out, was it?"

        Evidently it was. What it actually says is that there were 42 reported incidents of overheating, 16 of which caused either burns or severe property damage.

        @ledswinger

        "From 500k devices? Sounds pretty good odds to me."

        From 267k devices; that was just the incidents for Swagway .There were 99 in total between all manufacturers, although Swagway appear to be the only ones that have actually injured anyone.

        1. Little Mouse

          Re: Huh?

          Cheers, Cuddles. That makes more sense.

          "It must be a Thursday..."

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Huh?

      suffered 42 incidents of injury and/or damage

      From 500k devices? Sounds pretty good odds to me. And far better odds than a Hotpoint tumble dryer, where about a million faulty devices (under varying brands) have caused something around 2,000 fires in the UK.

      Mind you, I'd imagine that the hoverboard figures would be dramatically worse if they included the hospital attendances from people falling off them.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sent mine back.

    Told them to keep it. I have a Pitbull now.

    1. AndyS

      Re: Sent mine back.

      Ah yes, the other Chav marker. Should have got a Staffy though, aren't they the popular way to look hard (and accidentally kill the occasional toddler) these days?

      1. Lord Raa

        Re: Sent mine back.

        It's a reference to Back to the Future: Part 2

        1. AndyS

          Re: Sent mine back.

          Ah yes. I suppose that Whoosh noise was the sort of sound a burning electric skateboard thing would make as it trundles gently over my head.

  12. razorfishsl

    Not likely....

    Most suppliers in China will have 'gone out of business', changed names etc, the loss is on the consumer.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Vid

    I challenge anyone to read the comments on Youtube for this video and tell me the world is not doomed.

  14. calmeilles

    Exploding hoverboards? Self correcting problem.

  15. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Going cheap

    With the proper electronics, Li chemistry batteries are not a problem. Then we travel to China, land of the quick buck where every penny is precious and every corner is cut. As an engineer, I can't tell if some of this stuff is compromised to save a little bit of change or if it's just gross incompetence. I've worked with plenty of people (management types) that know just enough tech to be dangerous, yet insist on being part of the design group.

    Anytime some form of power, whether it's petrol, hydrogen or electricity, is concentrated, the design of the system needs to be focused on safety. I found a supplier of Li battery monitoring/charging circuits that sells them at £3ea for small quantities and they are in China. They even sent me a schematic to review and I find that they used a valid approach to the design. I've never had a Li battery fail catastrophically with the proper electronics.

    With the price they charge for these toys, another £1 (in quantity) to ensure they don't burn down a house isn't going to tip the profitability balance.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. Going cheaFOON!!!

    Having had one of these emit flames during a routine test, even a well designed pack with dodgy crimps/bad wire routing/etc so there is a sharp edge anywhere near a cell can fail badly.

  17. Esme
    Coat

    So, does this mean

    -that they'll be recalling all the guns in America, 'cause they've caused a LOT more injuries than that, in normal use, as well, so clearly they aren't safe either!

    Mine's the one with the Kevlar lining...

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