Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson| News Corp Australia Network | DECEMBER 3, 201512:32PMClick here to read this on news.com.au
AUSTRALIAN consumer watchdog Choice has issued a warning to ‘hoverboard’ buyers this Christmas: they can catch fire.
The recreational vehicles, also known as motorised or self-balancing skateboards, are poised to be a hot ticket item this festive season, available to Australian shoppers online and in retail chains including JB Hi-Fi and Harvey Norman.
But the hoverboard-like devices run on powerful lithium-ion batteries that charge quickly and, if charged too long, can overheat and catch fire.
Choice spokesman Tom Godfrey said the “fire risk from overcharging the units is very real” after reports of house fires in other countries.
“We are aware of a number of overseas reports of hoverboards catching fire while charging, with incidents being reported in Hong Kong, England and United States,” Mr Godfrey said.
“Although some hoverboards carry warnings about overcharging in their manuals, it’s important to ensure you charge the device as directed.
“Don’t put it on to charge and forget about it. It is important to unplug the device from the wall socket when fully charged.”
The battery-powered skateboards caused a fire in the kitchen of an English house last month, where the resident said it exploded “like a firework” resulting in more than $50,000 of damage.
Kaiser Baas founder Evan Kourambas said the Melbourne company invested in high-quality Samsung batteries when designing its motorised skateboard, the Revo Glider, in addition to a charging cord made to Australian standards.
Motorised skateboard transport ... Tony Tran, director of Australasian Innovations, rides his skateboard through the Melbourne CBD. Picture: Tim Carrafa
Motorised skateboard transport ... Tony Tran, director of Australasian Innovations, rides his skateboard through the Melbourne CBD. Picture: Tim CarrafaSource:News Corp Australia
In the skateboard’s manual, it warns users not to leave the board “unattended or overcharge the battery for more than three hours”.
“Every man and his dog has been making these boards because the barrier to entry has been very low,” he said.
“We’ve gone to a big effort to make sure we’re compliant, and the biggest thing is the battery. If the motor fails, you won’t spin around too long. If the battery fails, it might burn your house down.”
Mr Kourambas said ‘hoverboards’ made to Australian standards were often more expensive — starting at $800 rather than $400 — but the cheaper units often had more volatile batteries and fragile components.
In addition to making sure not to overcharge the boards, Mr Godfrey said consumers should check the motorised skateboards they buy come with an easy-to-read manual, short charging time, long distance claim, and safety warning features when nearing full speed.