If hoverboard recalls have sparked your curiosity, you’ve come to the right place. In a world where hoverboards have witnessed nearly a million recalls since 2016 due to heightened risk of fire and injury, comprehensive awareness is pivotal.
I have researched the history of hoverboard recalls, including the brands that have had to issue recalls, the underlying reasons behind them, and whether hoverboards are safe now.
Knowing this information is crucial before making a new hoverboard purchase or stepping back on your existing hoverboard. There may be a chance it’s been recalled, and knowing this vital information can ensure your safety.
Hoverboard Recalls From 2016 to 2023
There have been over 900,000 hoverboard recalls since 2016. This includes:
- Hoverboard LLC Powerboard: 70,000 units recalled due to fire risk.
- Keenford iMotor: 84,000 units recalled due to fire risk.
- Swagway LLC Swagway X1: 267,000 units recalled due to fire risk.
- iLive select models: 8,700 units recalled.
- Jetson Rogue Hoverboard: 53,000 units recalled.
History of Hoverboard Recalls
Hoverboards, or self-balancing scooters, as we know them today, became available to the public in 2013. But they had a bit of a rocky — or shall we say, unbalanced — start.
They didn’t become massively popular until about 2015, but soon after, disaster struck. It soon became clear that hoverboards posed a significant fire hazard due to their lithium-ion batteries.
By 2017, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) had reports of over $4 million in property damages (1). There were 250 cases of hoverboards overheating and causing fires between 2015 and 2017, leading to injuries, smoke inhalation, and even deaths.
In 2016, half a million hoverboards were recalled (2). This included brands such as Sonic Smart Wheels, LayZ Board, and iHoverspeed.
In fact, Amazon even offered full refunds to anybody who bought a hoverboard (3).
While this did happen in the early days of hoverboard popularity, and hoverboards are safer today, there are still rare cases where hoverboards are a risk. According to a lawsuit, in April 2022, a Jetson hoverboard fire claimed two lives (4). This led to a recall of over 53,000 hoverboards not too long ago.
When buying a hoverboard, always check that it is UL-certified. Most hoverboards still use lithium-ion batteries, but you can find brands that use an alternative kind, such as a LiFePo battery, which is less likely to combust.
Why Do Hoverboards Explode?
Hoverboards have been linked to the cause of many fires. While exploding can happen, hoverboards are more likely to catch fire through an overheating battery. Here are the four main reasons hoverboards pose a fire hazard:
- Short-circuiting and torn wires within the unit.
- Poor wiring.
- Overheating batteries.
- Overcharging batteries, which causes an explosion.
Hoverboards can explode while you’re charging them or even while riding. When a hoverboard uses a lithium-ion battery, this suggests the liquid inside is highly flammable. When the battery short-circuits or overheats, the liquid inside can heat up rapidly, causing an explosion.
Overall, cheap lithium-ion batteries are the problem. This issue has led to fatal explosions.
Are Hoverboards Safe Now?
It depends on what safety precautions the user puts in place. While all hoverboards now should be UL-2272 certified, this does not mean fires and combustion are 100 percent impossible.
At least 19 people were killed by hoverboard fires in 2022; 20 others visited the emergency room, and the CPSC received over 208 reports of electric micro-mobility vehicles catching fire (5).
When charging your hoverboard, you should do so in a ventilated space and not leave the unit unattended. For example, charge it up while you’re watching a movie or working from home. That way, if it overheats or causes a fire, you can extinguish it or call emergency services.
In addition to fire risks, hoverboards still pose a risk of injury. Like riding any vehicle, such as a bike or scooter, you can fall off your hoverboard and hurt yourself. That’s why wearing a skateboard helmet, knee and elbow pads, and wrist guards is crucial.
The bottom line is hoverboards are still risky, but you can minimize these risks when you stay near the charging unit and wear protective gear when riding.
UL Hoverboard Certifications
Each hoverboard should have a UL certification. Don’t buy, use, or charge a unit that does not have a UL 2272 certificate.
On that note, what is a UL-certified hoverboard, and what does the test involve?
Underwriters Laboratories began testing hoverboards in 2016 after many cases of fires. The UL 2272 tests focus on a hoverboard’s mechanical and electric aspects rather than the overall safety. They check the batteries to ensure they are secure and won’t short-circuit.
The tests involve dropping the hoverboards from one-meter heights, jamming the wheels, puncturing the batteries, and running the unit for seven consecutive hours. These tests help determine if the device will overheat under intense conditions.
Hoverboards that blow up, overheat, or catch fire will fail these tests and not become UL-certified. And if a hoverboard doesn’t receive a UL 2272 certificate, the CPSC will deem the device dangerous and defective.
Many companies falsify their UL certification (6). A genuine UL certificate features the UL letters staggered inside a circle with a unique four-character number assigned by UL. It should also feature the word ‘LISTED’ and the product identity.
What Hoverboards Were Recalled?
As mentioned, about 500,000 hoverboards were recalled in 2016. Below is a table with the CPSC’s reports of hoverboard recalls from July 2016 onwards (7).
|Hoverboard LLC||July 6, 2016||Powerboard hoverboards||Risk of fire||70,000|
|Yuka Clothing||July 6, 2016||Wheeli, 2 Wheelz, Back to the Future, Mobile Tech, Hover Shark, NWS, X Glider, and X Rider self-balancing scooters||Risk of fire||800|
|Hype Wireless||July 6, 2016||Hype Roam hoverboards||Risk of fire||25,000|
|Boscov||July 6, 2016||Orbit hoverboard||Risk of fire||1,300|
|Razor||July 6, 2016||Hovertrax hoverboards||Risk of fire||28,000|
|Digital Gadgets||July 6, 2016||Hover-Way hoverboard||Risk of fire||16,000|
|PTX Performance Products||July 6, 2016||Airwalk hoverboard||Risk of fire||4,900|
|Keenford||July 6, 2016||iMoto hoverboard||Risk of fire||84,000|
|Swagway LLC||July 6, 2016||Swagway X1||Risk of fire||267,000|
|Overstock.com||July 6, 2016||Various products||Risk of fire||4,300|
|World Trading||December 13, 2016||Orbit hoverboards||Risk of fire||1,900|
|iRover||July 24, 2017||iRover model 87645 and 87644||Risk of fire||2,800|
|Go Wheels||November 14, 2017||All Go Wheels hoverboards||Risk of fire||1,800|
|Sonic Smart||November 14, 2017||Sonic Smart model number S-01 or SBW666SL||Risk of fire||1,000|
|Tech Drift||November 14, 2017||Tech Draft hoverboards||Risk of fire||100|
|Drone Nerds||November 14, 2017||Some Drone Nerds hoverboards||Risk of fire||700|
|iLive||November 14, 2017||iLive models GSB56BC, GSB56RC, GSB65BUC, GSB56WC and GSB56GDC||Risk of fire||8,700|
|iHoverspeed||November 14, 2017||All iHoverspeed||Risk of fire||900|
|Smart Balance||November 14, 2017||Smart Balance Wheel hoverboards||Risk of fire||700|
|Razor USA||August 25, 2021||Removable GLW battery packs in Hovertrax 2.0||Risk of fire||237,000|
|DGL Group||May 19, 2022||Hover-1 Superfly model H1-SPFY||Risk of fall and injury||93,000|
|Jetson||March 20, 2023||42-volt Jetson Rogue Hoverboard||Risk of fire||53,000|
If you’re unsure whether your hoverboard is safe, you can look it up on the CPSC recall list. Head to this website and type in the brand of your hoverboard followed by the word “hoverboard”. For example, type in “iHoverspeed hoverboard”.
If there are any safety concerns about the brand, it will show up on this list. Note that just because a brand has made recalls doesn’t mean that it includes all models. Scroll down to the “Description” heading to see which models were recalled.
Sometimes, this does include all models. In each case, the CSPC will advise customers on what to do, whether that is to repair or replace the hoverboard. In many cases, customers can receive a full refund.
How To Use a Hoverboard Safely
Hoverboards pose many dangers, and understandably, many parents avoid buying them in the first place. But if you have your heart set on a hoverboard, here are 10 crucial steps to ensure your safety when using these futuristic gadgets:
- Store it correctly: Store your hoverboard in a well-ventilated spot, whether you’re charging it or not. This allows it to cool down after use, preventing the risk of explosion.
- Supervise kids: An adult should always supervise kids riding a hoverboard. The adult should not be distracted: stay alert and off your phone.
- Wear safety gear: All riders must wear safety gear while riding a hoverboard. This isn’t law (yet), but it’s highly advised. This includes a skateboard helmet, knee and elbow pads, closed-toe shoes, and wrist guards. If you fall, this equipment can prevent injury.
- Don’t leave the hoverboard unattended while charging: When charging your hoverboard, stay nearby. If the hoverboard overheats and catches fire, you can extinguish the fire and/or call emergency services. So don’t leave it on charge while you grab dinner or take a nap.
- Check local laws: Each state and sometimes city has different hoverboard laws. Check your local regulations to see where you can ride and what rights you have. In many places, you cannot ride the hoverboard in public areas, such as a park, mall, or airport.
- Choose a high-quality hoverboard: Avoid off-brand hoverboards, as these aren’t as well-made. Instead, choose a branded model, such as Epikgo or Swagtron.
- Avoid bumpy roads: Try and ride your hoverboard on smooth and even roads. When you ride over a crack, bump, or rocky area, you risk stumbling over these obstacles and falling off your hoverboard. Smooth streets or indoor flooring is a good place to ride.
- Check for a UL 2272 Certificate: Sadly, hoverboards can fail the UL test and still go on the market. They are deemed unsafe, but you can still buy them. Avoid these, and choose ones that have passed the UL 2272 test, as these are much safer.
- Take time to learn: Don’t expect to master your hoverboard within a few minutes. Understand that it takes time to learn how to ride a hoverboard. Don’t head out for a long, speedy ride until you’re confident in your riding ability.
- Avoid dark and busy places: Avoid riding your hoverboard on busy roads and sidewalks (yes, it’s legal in some places!), as this can cause injury to yourself and others. Also, avoid riding in the dark. Even if you have lights, riding at night increases the chance of injuring yourself or others.
Other Hoverboard Safety Concerns
Despite the risks of fire, hoverboards also pose injury risks. I briefly mentioned this, but it’s important to be aware of the risks.
Between 2017 and 2021, the CPSC reported over 77,200 injuries related to hoverboards, e-bikes, and e-scooters (8). Not only that but there were 48 deaths. While most of these were attributed to e-scooters, hoverboards were still responsible for some deaths.
The most likely injuries from hoverboards include sprains, bruises, and fractures. Both children and adults are at risk of injury, but adults are three times more likely to receive a facial fracture than kids.
It’s also important to note that in many states, it’s legal to ride your hoverboard on roads. I think it’s crazy that this is still legal, but keep in mind that if you choose to do this, you put yourself at a much higher risk of being involved in a vehicle accident.
Recapping the Recalls
There have been over 900,000 hoverboard recalls in the US since 2016. Three hundred eighty-three thousand of those have been since 2021. Most of these have been due to the risk of fire, but 93,000 of these recalls were due to injury risk.
Hoverboards pose a fire risk due to the lithium-ion batteries, which can overheat. But since 2016, UL has been testing hoverboard batteries to ensure they are much safer for consumers. Overall, hoverboards are safer than when they first came out, but there are still hoverboard-related fires, injuries, and deaths every year.
So, it’s up to the individual consumer whether to invest in a hoverboard. What choice will you make?