[Infographic] What is the Safest Hoverboard Battery? A History of Lithium-Ion vs Lead Acid vs LiFePO4

Ever since Benjamin Franklin first coined the term battery, people have demanded more. –

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More power. More charge. More compact and, most importantly, more safe. At the same time, scientists and engineers continue to work to improve the technology in everything from car and laptop batteries to smartphone aka cell phone batteries to batteries in general. And yes, even hoverboard batteries. 

So let’s talk about hoverboard batteries—how they started, where battery technology is now, and Swagtron’s continued commitment to being the industry leader.

But first . . .

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A BRIEF(ISH) HISTORY OF HOVERBOARD BATTERY TECHNOLOGY

You are here to learn about hoverboard batteries, and in good faith Swagtron (that’s us) will provide information based on our experience in making hoverboards since 2015.

Lithium ion battery with hoverboard and lead acid battery on city scape background.

This is intended to be an informational share whether you purchase from us or not. Please do use it as a reference — hang the infographic on your family refrigerator as you research, but research other sources for your own independent verification. In all emerging technology there is a risk, no matter how well it is safeguarded, especially when not used as intended. As a leader, SWAGTRON’s goal is to be the first to reduce that risk whenever possible: Safety Is Swag™.

Lithium-Ion Battery: Small Size, Big Energy

The first batteries for hoverboards were lithium-ion, mostly because it had high energy density and efficiency within a small(er) sized housing. Looking at it in food terms, think small, calorie-packed snack foods like almonds. Didn’t take long for lithium-ion to become the go-to for extremely power-hungry devices driven by a matching global consumer demand.

Everything electric one might use daily has a pretty good chance of being lithium-ion powered from smart phones to laptops to electric cars to electric toothbrushes to the rechargeable AA batteries in video game controllers. And, yes, even hoverboards.

History of the hoverboard battery - lithium ion

Lithium-Ion hoverboard batteries became less expensive and suddenly very commonplace. Like any new technology there were pitfalls and major battery safety issues arose quick. Devastating industry issues revolved around charging safety which has been well documented.

Overall hoverboard safety needed to be addressed head-on by companies and the industry as a whole. This included the creation of UL 2271 and UL 2272 certification and basic safety compliance guidelines from Underwriters Laboratories.

Swag-NOTE

UNDERWRITERS LABORATORIES (UL) & WHY IT MATTERS

UL is an independent, not-for-profit company who sets the global standard for testing electric and electronic products for safety. UL offers electrical and fire-safety testing and certification under UL 2271 and UL 2272 for hoverboard and battery related safety. If it’s electric and in your home, there’s a very high chance it has passed through UL’s labs.

 

At SWAGTRON, Safety Is Swag.

We were the first to offer UL 2272-certified hoverboards with the—SWAGTRON exclusive—SentryShield® advanced battery management system (BMS) to provide additional piece-of-mind to wary consumers. Another swag industry first.

Lithium-ion hoverboard batteries are now generally recognized less prone to failure than previous versions due to the new safety components such as battery management systems when used as intended. But, it’s better to not need any of that at all.

And, demand for something better continued. So . . . what’s next?

LITHIUM-FREE (LEAD ACID): REVIVING TRUSTED 150+ YEAR-OLD TECHNOLOGY

Next came a revival of trusted and true to form lithium-free batteries, otherwise known as lead acid. Lead acid batteries cost even less to produce and are a matured technology.

Picture your car battery that you know and love. Lead acid are considered safer than lithium-ion batteries, when it comes to combustion, partially because its electrolyte is water and less prone to ignite.

You might be thinking: “That name is kind of scary.” Typically, its bark is louder than its bite. A well-made lead acid battery will have proper venting that releases the hydrogen and oxygen to avoid buildup. In a newer, sealed lead acid battery, like inside a hoverboard, oxygen is reduced to water limiting the generation of hydrogen.

Yes, a puncture or damage could lead to danger similar to the lithium-ion, but the risk for combustion is much much lower with lithium free. Enclosing the battery in an aluminum alloy casing, like SentryShield® adds further safety features exclusive to Swagtron.

Lithium free allows the safety level to move up and the risk level down. However, these lead acid safety considerations came with some drawbacks:

  • Heavier Battery
    • Back to our food example, three to four lead acid almonds would carry, relatively, the same energy as just one lithium-ion almond.
  • Less Efficient
    • Lead acid uses less of the available stored energy than its li-ion counterpart and has more frequent charges.
  • Longer Charge Times
    • Consequence of the efficiency issue is that lead acid batteries take longer to charge up.
  • Shorter Lifespan
    • More frequent charging leads to quicker battery degradation over time, compared to li-ion batteries.

We were first-to-market introducing lithium-free hoverboard options — despite these performance drawbacks.

Why? Because we believe Safety is Swag and consumers deserve informed safety options when it comes to their swag.

Though, clearly what was needed was to continue research and find an even better option. One with the energy dense power and efficiency of lithium-ion batteries but considered as safe as—or safer than—the time-tested lithium-free lead acid.

ENTER LIFEPO4 (LITHIUM PHOSPHATE):HIGHER POWER, LOWER RISK

LiFePO4 is a very stable battery technology that arrived in the late 90s. It’s made from lithium iron phosphate cells. It has a more constant discharge rate while in use. In other words, as your hoverboard’s battery charge percentage lowers, the performance power stays consistent.

LiFePO4 has a lot of advantages over the other two battery types while combining both of their strengths and avoiding their typical weaknesses. So it is hard to argue that it’s the safest and most chemically stable battery currently on the hoverboard market. 

Advantages of LiFePO4 batteries for hoverboards

LiFePO4 typically has been more expensive, but SWAGTRON has spared no expense to again lead the market in providing affordable hoverboards with advanced LiFePo battery safety technology and our trademark SentryShield® battery management system. Safety Is Swag!

Advantages of LiFePO4 Batteries

  • Longer Life & More Durable
    • LiFePO4 batteries have 30x more charging cycles than Li-Ion. This means a longer lifespan. But more importantly, though, it’s a longer lifespan without decreasing performance.
  • Improved Battery Safeguards
    • The durability also means that, LiFePO4 batteries won’t combust, explode or burn up while riding or charging or from puncture or damage during use as intended. (This is what makes LiFePO4 batteries so good for hoverboards!)
        Batteries get hot, that’s what all batteries do. But LiFePO4 batteries can handle extremely high temperatures. This means more than just being able to ride on sweltering summer days. It means being able to stave off thermal runaway.
      Thermal runaway (fast loop of excess energy turning into high heat over and over) can lead to combustion and fires in some batteries. But with LiFePO4’s chemical structure, thermal runaway leading to combustion is very nearly a chemical impossibility. This is due to the strong covalent bond of oxygen atoms that won’t break apart and the typical battery decomposition temperature being less than ignition temperature.
  • No Active Maintenance Required
    • LiFePO4 batteries can be stored for longer periods of time and still be just as efficient as when you first stored them.
  • High Energy Density & Efficiency
    • LifeP04 provides twice the battery capacity in the same amount of space, making it 60% lighter on average than lead acid batteries. Its efficiency also delivers faster charging than lead acid. Li-ion still wins out overall in the category of energy density. Still, you can understand and appreciate the trade-off.

SAFETY IS SWAG!

We keeping saying it, because we believe it.

At SWAGTRON, we continue our commitment to bringing the safest hoverboard battery technology to the market. And we have consistently shown, we are the leader in hoverboard battery safety. So it makes sense that we would champion and advance this newer technology that’s proving to be the safer bet when it comes to hoverboard batteries.

Our customers deserve the best. And we know you’ll love that good, warm and fuzzy Safety Is Swag feeling.

Will there be something different, better next year?

You’ll be the first to know!

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