No doubt that among the hottest gifts this Christmas are hoverboards. These battery-powered high-tech versions of skateboards are topping many kids’ Christmas lists, but there’s a big and dangerous problem with them.
Some of them are basically blowing up. The batteries are overheating and causing serious fires. The chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission said they are investigating reports of fires in at least 10 States.
“Every consumer who is riding a hoverboard, who purchased one to give as a gift during the holidays, or who is thinking about buying one deserves to know if there is a safety defect.”
The culprit is believed to be cheap Chinese-made batteries that can’t handle the amount of power required to run the device.
A co-worker who had ordered one for her daughter for Christmas received this notice from Amazon:
“We’re contacting you about your for Outtop Two Wheels Self Balancing Mini Smart Electric Scooter Unicycle Hover Board.
There have been recent news reports of safety issues involving products like the one you purchased that contain rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. As a precaution, we want to share some additional information about lithium-ion batteries and safety tips for using products that contain them. Please follow the link below for the information and safety tips.”
Amazon UK went so far as to tell customers to immediately dispose of their batteries. The Post Office will not ship them on planes for fear of mid-air fires.
The issue seems to be related with people not wanting to spend between $500 and $1000 for a hoverboard and instead going for less expensive generic models from Chinese factories that can cost less thatn $300. These models also use much cheaper batteries which can explode while being recharged.