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There have been stories in the news recently about fires that are believed to be caused by the lithium-ion batteries inside hoverboards.

If you had one of these devices and didn't mind taking the hoverboard apart to get at the battery, could you actually test to see if its battery is safe/up to spec/liable to cause a fire? If so, how?

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    \$\begingroup\$ As an aside, you may find taking it apart is the worst thing you can do as it will render the battery much less safe. \$\endgroup\$ – Rory Alsop Dec 14 '15 at 18:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RoryAlsop I was referring to taking the hoverboard apart, not the battery, but thanks for the warning :) \$\endgroup\$ – ff524 Dec 14 '15 at 18:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ SOunds like a much better idea - have an upvote :-) \$\endgroup\$ – Rory Alsop Dec 14 '15 at 18:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ Basically, it is now a foregone conclusion that the battery and / or charging system are not as safe as they should be. Regardless of the result of any test you would do, you can never conclude that the battery is safe. If there were an easy way to identify the unsafe batteries, this would not have happened in the first place. \$\endgroup\$ – mkeith Dec 14 '15 at 20:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ Asides from the destructive tests, any visual or physical "puffiness" would indicate a failing cell \$\endgroup\$ – user2813274 Dec 14 '15 at 20:37
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There is no non-destructive black-box test you can do on a battery to see whether it has any dangerous failure modes. You can test it for voltage, for capacity, for internal impedance, for in/out charge or energy efficiency, but you cannot test it for what it takes to blow it up without blowing it up.

Amongst some hobbyists whose forums I follow, the advice for getting the most performance out of power switching devices is to turn up the power until it blows up, then back off a bit! The same would go for batteries. Though you would need a supply of batteries to a) get any meaningful statistical results and b) still have a working one left to actually use.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Is there any test that is destructive to the battery, but not dangerous to me? \$\endgroup\$ – ff524 Dec 14 '15 at 19:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ff524: no. destroying the bat means always damaging the dielectrics and membranes. This in most cases leads to rapid discharge, overheating and sometimes to fire. Hence it is always dangerous. Furthermore, a destructive disassembly won't probably yield something valuable about the battery, because of the "destructiveness of destruction". \$\endgroup\$ – Ariser Dec 14 '15 at 20:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would suggest finding the exact type of cells used, and see if there are replacements which are safer. (Some lithium cell chemistries are more dangerous than others.) \$\endgroup\$ – rdtsc Dec 16 '15 at 15:19

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