Hoverboard Battery Sparking When Plugged In: Is It Normal?
Did you just get a new hoverboard battery and encounter a spark when plugging it in? Are you aware that there is a "good spark" and a "bad spark?" I'm here to teach you what the difference between these two sparks are, when you shouldn't be concerned, and when you should be concerned.
All hoverboard batteries (at the time this was written into 2021) use a universal XT60 banana connector. The battery's male banana connector plugs directly into a female connector that leads to the motherboard. Sometimes connecting the two together will cause a spark.
Good Spark (Normal)
A "good spark" is one that is small and happens on the inside of the female side of the XT60 connector when you plug the male side in. This is usually very quick and doesn't really make any noise. It goes away as fast as it came and it is not something that I would describe as "scary" by any means.
What Causes a Good Spark?
Good sparks are a positive sign and a signal that plugging the battery in has created a pathway for the electricity to flow through the circuitry (we call the circuits PCB or printed circuit boards).
Hoverboard circuits have some large capacitors that need to be filled/charged when the battery is connected. With the battery plugged in and a good spark present, you can be almost certain that the battery you've just plugged in is in good working condition.
So, in conclusion, a good spark is normal when plugging a battery into a motherboard that has been depleted of its energy in the capacitors. The first time you plug a battery in it will spark. However, if you then disconnect the battery and reconnect it, there will not be a spark. This is because the capacitors are now already filled. If you want to get the spark again, disconnect the battery, press and hold the power button on the hoverboard, and reconnect the battery. You'll get a spark.
Bad Spark (Abnormal)
You'll know a bad spark when you encounter one. I've personally repaired thousands of hoverboards from all brands, models, shapes, and sizes. Out of these I've only encountered a bad spark about 5 or 6 times.
What does a bad spark look like? A bad spark is characterized by A LOT of spark. Plugging the male XT60 connector of the hoverboard battery into the female XT60 connector causes a bright, scary spark. This is a bad spark.
Why Does a Bad Spark Happen?
Contrary to popular belief, a bad spark is NOT the fault of the hoverboard battery. In fact, the mere presence of a bad spark tells you that the battery is probably in excellent working condition. A spark of any kind signals that the battery is holding and discharging energy as it was built to do.
What Causes a Bad Spark?
The cause is simple, but the reason why we it happens is usually unknown. Bad sparks are instead caused by other faulty parts inside of a hoverboard.
The power semiconductors (diodes, MOSFETS) that are inside are components which can short-circuit, but their failure may be due to failure of something else (such as a shorted motor coil, stalled motor, excessive ESR of a capacitor, or ....).
In my experience, however, faulty circuit boards were responsible for 100% of bad sparks I've encountered.
Circuit boards inside of a hoverboard operate on a circuit. The circuits have lines of wires that connect every part of the board together, making the hoverboard work properly. In order to power a hoverboard, that circuit must run through a battery on a closed circuit. The power button on the hoverboard dictates whether that circuit is "open" or "closed."
What is an open circuit?
An open circuit means that the circuit is incomplete. Think of this as being similar to an open road. You can only drive down an open road until you get to the end of it and it has to stop. Open circuits are safe to plug batteries into.
What is a closed circuit?
A closed circuit means that circuit is complete. These are also known as short circuits when a device is not supposed to be closed, but is. Think of this as a race car track that goes in a circle and cars can continue to drive around it forever. Closed/short circuits are not safe to plug batteries into and will cause the bad spark if the battery has energy in it.
How Can I Fix This?
If you've encountered a bad spark you may want to invest in a replacement circuit board kit and throw out the old one. We have these available for sale in our hoverboard circuit board store. Find one that closely resembles the circuit boards that you're replacing and it should fix the hoverboard with a sparking battery problem.
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