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How Hoverboards Work

Posted on November 16, 2015

Important Things Every Hoverboard User Should Know

Self-balancing devices detect when you’re tipping forward or backward. When there’s a change in angle, the motor(s) accelerate toward the direction of the change. (The vehicle accelerates forward when it’s tipping forward.) The acceleration corrects the angle change. That’s how a hoverboard stays balanced, and it’s also how you can make it move by shifting your weight between your toes and heels. Since this is similar to the way we walk and run, riding a self-balancing vehicle feels natural and enjoyable. But while we can feel whether our legs are tired and we know how fast we can move them, we can’t intuitively tell how close a hoverboard is to its maximum power while we’re riding it. If your hoverboard isn’t very powerful, you could be constantly on the verge of falling down and not know it. Here are some technical details that could help you stay safe.

Motor

·         You don’t need much power to move at a constant speed on flat ground.

·         Normal electric scooters with wheels in the front and back only need around 200W of power—that’s how much a hoverboard uses while cruising at steady speed on a smooth level surface.

·         But a hoverboard will need a huge surge of power when you hit a bump in the ground, when you accelerate or try to stop quickly, or when a beginner doesn’t have good control of the vehicle (among other situations). In those cases you may need as much as 1000W in order to continue balancing.

·         So the more motor power a balancing scooter has, the safer it is.

·         For instance, Hovertrax has 1000W of power (500W on each side); of the counterfeits we’ve tested so far, we haven’t found any that have that much power. Most only have around 250W on each side.

·         When you’re choosing a hoverboard, try to find out how much power it has—the more the better.

Battery

·         All hoverboard batteries are lithium ion batteries, but there are different types within that category. Some are better-suited than others for self-balancing vehicles.

·         A hoverboard’s battery must supply enough current to handle surge power when required by the motor.

·         In other words, even if a motor is capable of 1000W, it won’t do any good if the battery doesn’t reliably provide enough power at those crucial moments.

·         Among the counterfeits we’ve tested, most used name brand batteries, but chose a low-current option for a lower cost. Those batteries don’t have enough surge power capability.

·         A lightweight rider (under 120lbs) can get away with using a low-powered board. Everyone else should exercise more caution.

·         When riding a low-powered unit, you probably feel just fine most of the time, but you are in fact more likely to have an accident.

Fires

·         There have been several reports of hoverboards catching fire or even exploding.

·         This mostly seems to happen while charging, but there has been at least one incident where it happened during riding.

·         In some cases this has caused house fires and injuries.

·         The fires may be caused by certain types of batteries that are easily flammable. They may also be caused by faulty charging adapters.

·         Unfortunately it can be hard to tell for sure whether your unit and/or its charger can start a fire.

·         If you’re not sure, then don’t leave your hoverboard unattended while it’s charging (that includes charging it overnight while you sleep!). You also shouldn’t charge it in a part of the room that’s very close to you, such as under a desk you’re sitting at.