Remember hoverboards? Half a million are being recalled as fire hazards

Hoverboards! The must-have trash gadget of the holidays, now gathering dust in a million closets and garages nationwide, is being recalled in even larger numbers than before due to “a risk of the products smoking, catching fire and/or exploding.” Someone warn Justin Bieber!

If you have any kind of hoverboard, AKA a “self-balancing scooter,” as the Consumer Product Safety Commission refers to them, you should probably take a look at this list. If you have a Hover-Way, Powerboard, Hype Roam, iMoto, Airwalk, Hovertrax, Wheeli, 2Wheelz, Hover Shark, X Glider, X Rider, Orbit, or any hoverboard sold by, it’s being recalled.

Do you have one of the popular Swagway X1s? Grab a fire extinguisher. It’s amazing you haven’t been burned already: there have been 42 reports of that brand alone burning up, and more than a quarter million are being recalled.

That these things are unsafe was kind of part of the appeal, but people were expecting twisted ankles, not house fires. Enough have exploded that this widespread recall was initiated.

Reports of burning hoverboards have made fabulous TV news fodder for months, and videos showing them blowing up have millions of views on YouTube. Some are almost certainly fake, of course, since they hawk hoverboards in the descriptions — superior models, naturally.

Why do they explode? Because they’re all cheap knockoffs ordered by the hundred thousand from factories in China that (unlike plenty of other factories in China, I hasten to add) don’t care about producing a high-quality device. You’re getting bargain-bin mainboards, sloppy solder, and cast-off batteries wired together to meet power requirements.

When a Furby-like holiday rush occurs, there’s gold in them thar clueless consumers, and these factories pump them out by the millions. Smart importers snatch up thousands of the things for a hundred bucks each, slap a sticker on them and mark them up 500 percent and sell them on the boardwalk.

There are better ones out there, with calibrated drive software and high-quality batteries, but generally unless you crack the suckers open you won’t be able to tell which is which (unless it’s already on fire, in which case it’s probably a knockoff).

Hoverboards have already been banned from various establishments, airlines, and other locations owing to their tendency to, if not explode, at least produce chaos.

If you have an affected hoverboard, check whether you can get a refund or whether you’ll have to send it in for repairs or credit towards a new one.