The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has deemed hoverboards unsafe and says that manufacturers of the self-balancing scooters should get UL certification before selling them.
UL certification involves an assessment of the compliance of products to recognized safety requirements, including electrical safety, fire risks, and other product hazards focused on making products safer to use, as deemed by global independent safety science company UL.
One of this season’s most popular holiday gifts, a two-wheeled, handle-bar-less motorized scooter known as a hoverboard or “self-balancing scooter,” has turned out to be a major safety hazard, something retailers hardly needed in a year of iffy sales and huge discounts.
There’s some dispute about who or what company invented and manufactured the first product, but the scooters were available from several companies ranging in price from about $500 to $1,800. Amazon, Overstock, and other retailers ceased hoverboard sales after reports of major fire risk mounted during the holiday season.
All versions appear to be unsafe, and experts believe that the hazard comes from the way the vehicle’s lithium ion batteries are lodged near its motor. Fires have occurred during a charge and while the hoverboard is being used.
A dearth of regulation around the items and the various designs have made it difficult for officials to discern which ones are hazardous or to make any recommendations about their use to ensure safety. The hoverboards are all made in China, so officials have said they hope to work with the Chinese government to solve the problems.
But the safety commission’s letter will make any further sales more difficult, at least in the U.S., until manufacturers can come up with a version without the fire and safety risks.