Self-balancing Hoverboards: Is this the end?

These electric hoverboards got every Marty McFly supporters dancing in victory – but not for long. Hoverboards or the self-balancing two-wheeled boards have caught the attention of many, including the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission or CPSC.

Apparently, this Back to the Future –inspired ride has been so hot it exploded – figuratively and literally, just when it was released in 2015.  Many have reported problems after hoverboards have exploded and caused damage to homes and automobiles.

Investigations had been carried out which prompted the CPSP to put the makers, distributors, retailers and importers of hoverboards on notice. Furthermore, the CPSC has also issued a new set of safety standards that manufacturers and relations should implement.  

Failure to comply with the standards may eventually lead to both criminal and civil penalties. Products can also be automatically recalled or confiscated.

What does CPSC have to say about safety concerns on Hoverboards?

In a letter issued by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to the manufacturers, retailers, and importers of self-balancing hoverboards,   the federal agency stated the hoverboards in question do not meet the safety standards and that they pose risks of fire to users. The letter also emphasized that the use of the said hoverboards had already been linked to damages amounting to $2 Million which includes the burning of two houses and a car.  The letter also mentioned that there is now an existing a number of incidents which may all be linked to  the use of hoverboards. Had the voluntary standards been observed, the agency reiterated that the said problems could have been avoided. Note that these problems may even cause death if not addressed well.

The federal agency n also wrote the possibility of these items being confiscated or recalled if the importers and manufacturers remain non-compliant with safety standards.  Several of the fire incidents mentioned in the letter started while the hoverboards were being charged, while others happened while it was being used.  Aside from the fire incidents that took place in the US, there have also been issues reported in  Hongkong and the US.  During the holiday season of 2015, Hoverboards were reported to be among the top present ideas requested by young individuals.  These electric scotters remained as a top choice for many despite the initial reports that problems involving the defective parts or battery could  pose major risks.

What could be the problem?

It is crucial to note that the safety issues brought about by the agency do not only target specific manufacturers.  Regardless of the price, model, or the brand itself – all hoverboards should pass the safety standards specified by the CPSC. To be able to be classified as ‘safe’ again, the manufacturers must secure a certification for safety from the Independent Certification Authority  UL.  Prior to obtaining the certificate, shops selling hoverboards that are deemed unsafe may have to cease to operate until they will be declared as safe againIn short, without the safety certification, the shop may not be able to do business. This is a particular policy in the US. However,  those who buy hoverboards on-line may still check if the product of their choice is UL-compliant.

The social media have also been plagued with several news stories showing hoverboards-related accidents or fires.  While there is no specific brand being mentioned by the CPSC,   hoverboards’ main problem has been associated with poor electrical circuitry.  Investigations had also ruled out that several  Chinese manufacturers failed to include safety components that would  control the power supply from the source once the battery has been charged to the fullest.  The absence of this safety component results in overheating of batteries leading to explosions or fires. The question now is whether the hoverboard will remain to be insanely popular among people.  Improvement in the circuitry, as well as safety measures, could possibly make the hoverboard a top choice for this year as well.

What  does the UL Certification entail?

The UL Certification is basically a measure that supports the public safety goal of UL. UL is a safety science organization that has been recognized worldwide. It has a century-long history of expertise when it comes to innovating safety-centered solutions involving electricity adoption up to the breakthroughs in renewable energy, nanotechnology, and sustainability. UL fundamental role is to help consumers and safeguard them by facilitating trade and implementing measures  that would promote environments that are safe for both living and working. The safety certification is issued by UL once its group finds the product safe for everyday use via testing.

UL 2272 refers to the safety certification provided for the electrical systems in self-balancing hoverboards.  The certificate can be obtained either by the manufacturers or the retailers.  The standard is focused mainly on the electrical system equipped in every hoverboard sold in the US but does not  evaluate the performance or the reliability of the said product. As part of the test, UL highly recommends users to find the UL certification label that has an enhances mark typically placed at the bottom of the hoverboard for safety precaution. UL also suggests that then hoverboard must be charged away from any material that is flammable.  Overcharging or not following the recommended manner of charging must also address by the owner.  Moreover, only the charger that came with the product must be used.

Who are UL certified hoverboard manufacturers?

Hoverboards have truly mushroomed in the last 24 months and selecting the UL certified ones may be a tad challenging. To help you check the hoverboard of your choice, you may stick with the following brands:  Product from Hangzhou Intelligent Technology Co Ltd, Wuyi Chuangxin Metal  Tools Co Ltd, Razor USA, Shenzen Global E-Commerce Co Ltd, and Ninebot by Segway mini Pro.  These are the manufacturers that have successfully secured the UL certificate up to May 2016. The list of companies also grows by the day. If you would like to check the company that manufactured your item. you may go directly on –line.  Moreover, you can also specify your search by including the specific model  of electric scotters you would like to check.

What makes UL certification reliable?

So you may be wondering – why has the US federal government chosen UL to provide the certification? The answer is simple – expertise!  UL’s  expertise in the Battery and Energy Storage Technology makes it the most reliable group to conduct and guarantee safe manufacturing,  utilizing, and  handling of latest technologies that are used to test energy storage platforms. This means stationary or portable batteries such as those used in hoverboards can be tested. UL also has the top battery experts and has been involved in several  studies concerning battery technologies for more than three three decades. The group has a website that details the projects and the missions they have in carrying out their duty to safeguard consumers.  Reports and other links can be accessed via UL’s website.

Final pointers for self-balancing hoverboards future users

Regardless of the problems encountered by previous users or buyers of hoverboards, it is still safe to say that may still continue to aspire to cruise like McFly.  In order to ensure that you are purchasing the real deal and not a knock-off,  try purchasing them on legitimate websites such as Amazon. Re-sellers are verified and quality standards are checked thoroughly.  Although these products no longer exist at this point (or until further notice)  at the website, you can still purchase directly via the manufacturing websites. You may also confirm with the seller or re-seller about the UL certification of the product.  Note, non UL-certified electric scotters cannot be sold on the market. Another tip is to avoid hoverboard without any brand or those that cost less than $300.  These are likely to be counterfeit and are not certified safe to use.  Above all, reading reviews and on-line news on hoverboard update is highly recommended.

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