How the Hoverboard Industry Could Have Dodged a Product Safety Crisis

Hoverboard-FireOnce, the hoverboard was the hot new toy.  Now, all too often, it is too thermally hot – catching on fire and destroying homes and property.  According to a recent CPSC tweet, there are 28 fire investigations in 19 states attributed to hoverboards.

Like your laptop, tablet or phone, hoverboards use lithium ion batteries as their power source.  These types of batteries are highly volatile, and can explode or start a fire if there is a short circuit.

So why does your phone not catch fire while your hoverboard might?  Because smart phones have been advance engineered over a number of years, and are subject to safety testing and certification by MET Laboratories or another Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL).

Hoverboards have been rapidly engineered due to their sudden popularity, and because they are a new product, there is no safety standard designed for it.  And because hoverboards are not generally utilized in the workplace, there is no U.S. requirement for them to be safety certified; OSHA only requires safety certification for workplace products.

Retailers, on the other hand, may have much stiffer requirements than OSHA.  Amazon stripped most hoverboards from its website, only allowing a few that had demonstrated some level of safety to remain.

There are a couple strategies that a hoverboard manufacturer could take to reassure consumers and retailers that their toys are safe.

One approach is to safety test and certify components (batteries, power supplies, etc.) of the hoverboards but not the assembly.  Note: This does not count as a full product safety certification, but it is better than nothing.  Here are some safety standards that would be relevant for hoverboard components:

  • UN/DOT 38.3 Transportation Testing for Lithium Batteries
  • UL 1012 Standard for Power Units Other Than Class 2
  • UL 1310 Standard for Class 2 Power Units
  • UL 1642 Standard for Lithium Batteries
  • UL 2271 Light Electric Vehicle Batteries

A second approach is to safety test and certify the hoverboard assembly to a similar product category standard.  Here are some safety standards that are relevant for this approach:

  • UL 73 Standard for Motor-Operated Appliances
  • UL 2595 General Requirements for Battery-Powered Appliances
  • UL 60950-1 Information Technology Equipment – Safety – General Requirements

Want to demonstrate the safety of your hoverboard or other electrical product?  MET is accredited to NRTL safety certify products in over 180 product categories and to perform many types of battery safety or performance testingContact us to get your questions answered or for a free quotation.

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