More than 15,000 self-balancing scooters – more popularly known as hoverboards – have been seized by U.K. officials due to safety concerns.
According to the U.K.’s National Trading Standards board, officials found many concerns surrounding the plugs, cabling, chargers, batteries, or the cut-off switch within the boards, which sometimes fails.
Officials said many of the hoverboards that were sent for testing were found to have noncompliant plugs without fuses, which increases the risk of the device overheating, exploding or catching fire.
The boards appear to be cheap knockoffs coming from overseas in anticipation of the holiday season. The so-called hoverboards are expected to be one of the most popular gifts this season, thanks to companies like “Uuboard” which have popularized them over the last few months.
“We suspect that most of these products are being imported for onward sale domestically as Christmas approaches – we urge consumers to be on their guard when purchasing these products,” said chair of the National Trading Standards board Toby Harris.
The warnings come after multiple reports of the electric scooters “exploding” and catching fire. In one case, a Louisiana-area woman has alleged a hoverboard was to blame for a fire that destroyed her home.
READ MORE: Why lithium-ion smartphone batteries keep exploding
Hoverboards aren’t the first gadgets to cause fire concerns. Over the years, there have been many reports of smartphone batteries catching fire.
When it comes to tech gadgets, in the majority of cases the device’s battery is to blame for any sort of fire, explosion, or melting.
Most smartphones use lithium-ion batteries – the same batteries are found in laptops, cars and even commercial airplanes.
Lithium-ion batteries are widely used by tech manufactures because it’s the least dense metallic element; which means it packs a good amount of power in a lightweight package. But these batteries are also known to explode or produce flames.
The batteries are prone to a process known as thermal runaway; when energetic positive feedback causes the temperature to rise and causes a “violent reaction” (or explosion).
In the case of the hoverboards, no brand names have been mentioned in the reports, so it’s unclear what type of battery the devices are using. However, knockoff products are infamous for having cheap batteries.
However, brand name hoverboards – such as the Sologear K3 hoverboard – due use lithium-ion batteries.
But that’s not to say all devices that use lithium-ion batteries pose a fire risk. As the National Trading Standards Board points out, stick to brand name options when purchasing devices like this. While the price of a knockoff can be attractive, it may not be worth the risk.