How do you spot a safe self-balancing 2 wheel scooter or hoverboard from a dangerous one? By safe, we mean authentic hoverboards that are made with quality components, adhere to good manufacturing practices, and come with genuine battery packs (of cells made by Samsung, LG, or any top-tier battery producer). By dangerous, we mean those fake self-balancing electric scooters that are manufactured by fly-by-night factories in China, shipped by importers or brands that know nothing about UL (Underwriters Laboratories) certifications, and come with cheap, low quality battery packs (that have fake Samsung or LG trademarks). Unfortunately, most 2 wheel scooter models that flood the market and catch fire fall under the second definition.
Port inspectors and customs authorities are hardly to be blamed for the influx of cheap, dangerous hoverboards because this type of mobility device is outside the checklist of items to be inspected. What’s more, there is no global standards for hoverboard manufacturing. Importers even claim they are following local, not global, safety standards. Authorities rely on the importers and manufacturers to test the self-balancing 2 wheel scooter models themselves and show certification papers. But shady importers can dupe the authorities with fake certifications, just as some manufacturers fool consumers by putting Samsung trademarks on substandard lithium-ion batteries.
Given that, we cannot just rely on the higher-ups with regards to the safety or authenticity of hoverboards. We, the customers, are responsible for our own safety, something which we should ponder upon before deciding on what self-balancing 2 wheel scooter brand to buy.
Think it is hard to identify which hoverboard is safe and which one is not? Not so, though there is work involved. But hey, it is for your own safety. Don’t you care for your family and home?
Open up your hoverboard
To make sure your self-balancing 2 wheel scooter is hazard-proof, you will need to open it up to manually inspect for potential hazards within the components. Remove all screws to remove the shell.
- See to it that the components are properly organized, and the lithium-ion batter pack and the motherboard are on opposite sides. This is not only to promote balance, but also safety since the motherboards and the battery pack generate the most heat, so you would not keep them close to each other.
- The wires and wire connectors are insulated and properly soldered to the circuit boards.
- There are three circuit boards in all: A motherboard and two smaller boards next to each wheel. The circuit boards should either be green or blue. Fake self-balancing 2 wheel scooter units use yellow circuit boards.
- Authentic 2 wheel scooter units use 36V battery packs produced by Samsung, LG, or any top-tier battery producer. The battery pack is made of 20 18650 lithium-ion battery cells, which should be put together correctly. It should come with a good battery management system (BMS). The battery pack should be in good shape, not showing any signs of swelling or spilling out. The wires should not show any signs of damage or dent.
- Look at the labeling of the battery pack. It should bear UL (UL 1642 certified) and CE marks, and international standard labels such as UN/DOT 38.3 (or IEC 62133) and ISO 9001.
Look for certification marks
Self-balancing 2 wheel scooter units should have complete warning signs and certification marks on the hoverboards and their packaging. However, thou shall not just judge a hoverboard by its packaging. Counterfeiters are smart. Given that, any appearance of warning signs and certification marks on the units and their packaging should not be an indication to customers of the hoverboard’s safety. Any such mark can be misleading, and the self-balancing 2 wheel scooter unit may be a counterfeit product, especially if the marking is poor or non-compliant.
Though the appearance of a UL or CE mark does not rule out fakes, their absence means the hoverboard manufacturer and/or importer does not prioritize your safety. Moreover, a UL-certified battery pack and charger do not certify the entire 2 wheel scooter unit. UL evaluates hoverboards as a system. They look at the battery pack, the electric motors, the circuit boards, the charging system, the plastic material – everything that comprises as a complete self-balancing 2 wheel scooter unit.
The UL offers testing and certification under the UL 2272, the standard for electrical systems for self-balancing electric scooters. The UL 2272 evaluates the safety of electrical drive train and battery and charger systems combinations. The standard is first awarded to the miniPRO, a hands-free self-balancing 2 wheel scooter by Segway and Ninebot.
When choosing a 2 wheel scooter, look for the UL holographic label with the enhanced mark on the bottom of the unit and the UL label for self-balancing scooters on the packaging.
The user’s manual
A hoverboard should come with a user’s manual, one that is free from misspelling and grammatical errors, and gives out complete and detailed information and instruction, along with graphic illustrations, on the use of the 2 wheel scooter. If a misspelling is evident on the cover of the manual, you get the idea that the English is poor and there are lots of errors in it. By the way, you should also check for such errors on the packaging and labeling, especially on the battery and charger.
A good manual should contain proper charging instructions, warranty information, and details regarding certification by UL and/or other third-party testing agency, for the benefit of consumers.
Other than warning signs (age limit, weight requirement, etc) and certification marks, self-balancing 2 wheel scooter models should include on their packaging the registered business name, address and contact details of the hoverboard manufacturer or importer, trademark, and product specifications (model, weight, battery capacity, etc). If these labels are absent, your 2 wheel scooter is likely to be fake or substandard. Labels on packaging are essential to ensure traceability.
- Charger – The charger for your self-balancing 2 wheel scooter should be high quality and UL-certified (UL 60950-1). The labeling should include trademark, manufacturer details, model, model, input range, output, signal word “CAUTION” with accompanying text, and warning labels and certification marks, aside from UL and CE. Make sure to use the charger that comes with your hoverboard.
- Plug – Any self-balancing 2 wheel scooter that comes with a cloverleaf plug is a fake. Cloverleaf plugs are non-compliant plugs, and they do not have a fuse, which can cause overheating, explosion, or fire risk, or else have counterfeit fuse. Cloverleaf plugs also have incorrect markings. Check the plug before you purchase a self-balancing electric scooter.
- Price – Price is not a safe indicator of a safe hoverboard. Even the branded, most expensive self-balancing electric scooters still lack certification from UL or any credible third-party testing agency. If it’s too cheap, it’s too good to be true, and you would want to stay away from such brands.
- Retailer – Make sure you buy your self-balancing 2 wheel scooter from a reputable retailer. That way, if something goes wrong with your unit, you can contact them for customer service and enjoy their warranty or money-back guarantee. You can also purchase directly from the manufacturers, which should have their own website or online store by now. Avoid buying from a market stall, and don’t deal with unknown sellers on social media.
While you decide on a self-balancing 2 wheel scooter to buy, take the opportunity to inspect and test drive certain brands in the presence of retailers. Do not hesitate to ask questions. Should you ask them to show proof of certification or authenticity of their wares, do so in a respectful manner. If ever you happen to spot fake hoverboards for sale, do inform the concerned authorities immediately. In such a way, you help prevent hoverboard disasters and uphold consumer safety.