If you're an electric scooter enthusiast who keeps up with the news, you may have heard about instances of electric scooters catching fire. This usually happens when electric scooter batteries overheat, leading to a fire or even an explosion. However, is this a common risk for all electric scooter owners? The answer is no. Cases of electric scooters catching fire are rare, affecting only a small fraction of owners. Nevertheless, this doesn't imply that you should disregard the care and maintenance of your scooter.
In this blog we’re going to dive into the truth behind electric scooter fires, why they occur, how likely they are, and how they can be prevented.
Understanding E-Scooter Batteries:
At the heart of every electric scooter is its battery, a marvel of modern technology that powers our rides. As the late Ben Parker always says, with great power comes great responsibility. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) offers insight into the safety aspects of electronic transportation, including e-scooters. Their research highlights the importance of proper usage and maintenance in preventing accidents and ensuring battery longevity.
The battery powering your electric scooter is likely a Lithium Ion Battery. These batteries are used in a variety of devices, from phones and laptops to electric cars, due to their light weight, high energy density, and quick charging times.
The operation of these batteries is fairly straightforward. When the battery is in use, the anode sends lithium ions to the cathode, creating a current. During charging, the process reverses, with lithium ions moving from the cathode back to the anode.
Most electric scooter fires occur when the batteries are charging. Lithium-ion batteries, which contain a flammable liquid and store a large amount of energy, are particularly problematic. If a battery generates more heat than it can dispel, it can rapidly release all of its stored heat energy. This phenomenon, known as 'thermal runaway' can lead to a fire or explosion.
Safety Incidents and Concerns:
Despite their convenience, e-scooter batteries are not without their risks. CBC News reported on an incident in Toronto involving an e-scooter battery causing a fire, raising concerns about their safety. Similarly, Global News covered a story about an e-bike fire in a TTC subway, highlighting the potential hazards associated with these batteries.
Myths vs. Facts:
Let's discuss the issue of electric scooters potentially catching fire. Is it possible for your electric scooter to catch fire? Yes, it is, although the chances are quite slim. As previously mentioned, electric scooter fires are typically caused by the battery overheating, which usually results from overcharging the battery and inadequate care of your electric scooter.
Despite some internet trolls disputing the fact, electric scooters can indeed "overcharge". Most scooters are equipped with sensors that stop the current flow once the scooter is fully or optimally charged. However, if the scooter remains plugged in after the charge cycle is complete, current can still "trickle" into the battery, potentially causing overheating.
The trickle of current to your electric scooter's battery is outlined in Segway’s User Manual. Overcharging your electric scooter's battery is the most likely cause of overheating, but it's not the only one. In the next section, we'll explore some common causes and how to avoid them.
How to Avoid Overcharging your Scooter:
Avoiding overheating is straightforward. Most electric scooter user manuals outline how long it should take to charge your scooter, typically around 4-6 hours from a drained battery to full charge. We recommend following any care and charging instructions in your user manual. Here are some additional tips to prevent your electric scooter from catching fire:
- Unplug your scooter once it is fully charged: Most electric scooters display a green light when fully charged. When you see this, remove the charger from the outlet and the scooter's charging port.
- Avoid charging your scooter overnight: Many e-scooter owners plug in their scooters overnight for a fully charged morning ride. However, leaving the scooter plugged in for extended periods can cause it to overheat and potentially catch fire. To avoid overcharging, consider using an auto power cutoff socket, also known as a smart plug or timer.
- Avoid storing or charging your scooter in wet or damp areas: Like other electric devices, electric scooters and moisture don't mix well. Always charge your scooter in a dry, warm environment.
Battery Maintenance and Care:
Regular maintenance is essential for the safety and longevity of your e-scooter's battery. For expert advice, refer to our guide on how to maintain your electric scooter’s battery. By avoiding extreme temperatures and charging regularly, you can prevent accidents and extend your battery's lifespan.
Additionally, it's important to handle your electric scooter's battery with care during operation. Avoid hitting, scraping, or puncturing the battery. Any damage can greatly increase the risk of a fire upon charging. After riding, and prior to charging, do a quick inspection of the scooter to ensure all wires and components are intact. If you notice any damage, contact an expert or specialist immediately to prevent further harm to your scooter, yourself, or your home.
It's recommended not to use third-party or aftermarket chargers. The charger included with your electric scooter is specifically designed for that model or brand. Aftermarket chargers may lack the same components or safety measures. Even though aftermarket models are usually cheaper, safety should be your primary concern. You can typically find the charger specific to your scooter on the manufacturers' websites.
Other Things You Can Do to Avoid Electric Scooter Fires:
In addition to regular maintenance, proper care, and avoiding overcharging, you can take several steps to protect your electric scooter and prevent potential fires:
Avoid riding your scooter if the charging port cover is broken: The charging port cover shields your scooter from water and debris. If it's broken, these elements could enter the charging port and potentially cause a fire. If the charging port cover is broken, have it repaired by an expert before riding.
Avoid riding your scooter in the rain: Electric scooters are not waterproof, as outlined in Our Blog. Riding in the rain can cause various types of damage to your scooter, including the battery.
The Role of Manufacturers and Regulations:
The responsibility for battery safety doesn't solely rest on users. Manufacturers play a crucial role in ensuring their products meet safety standards. Regulations and standards for electric scooter batteries are continually evolving, aiming to enhance safety and reliability. If you have questions or concerns about your electric scooter, the battery, or overcharging its best to consult with the manufacturer of your scooter.
The Future of E-Scooter Battery Technology:
The future of e-scooter batteries appears bright. Ongoing advancements in battery technology are consistently enhancing safety, efficiency, and environmental sustainability. Innovations, such as solid-state batteries, may drastically change our perception of electric scooter power. Issues like electric scooters overheating and catching fire could become obsolete with the introduction of new models and innovations. Only time will tell as these advancements continue to emerge year after year.
Electric scooter batteries do have certain risks, but they can be managed effectively with proper care, maintenance, and adherence to safety guidelines. Both manufacturers and regulatory bodies play a crucial role in ensuring the safety of these batteries. As technology progresses, we can anticipate even safer and more efficient batteries, enhancing our rides and contributing to a greener environment.
If you have any questions or concerns about your electric scooter, feel free to leave a comment below for expert assistance!