The world’s top consumer safety product tester demonstrated Tuesday how quickly a hoverboard battery cell can burst in to flames.
Underwriters Laboratories (UL) performed heating tests on lithium ion batteries typically found in hoverboards. The tests were in a confined area and overseen by professionals.
Within seconds, two individual battery cells ignited in two different tests.
The blunt nail test is designed to cause a short circuit. The second test heats up a battery cell from underneath in order to test for exploding projectiles.
UL consumer safety director John Drengenberg said hoverboard battery fires can be caused by overcharging or by chargers that are not matched to the batteries.
“The batteries are probably cheaper versions of lithium ion batteries and they don't have the proper venting and they might not have the proper circuitry that can protect them,” Drengenberg said.
Other UL demonstrations included a drop test, in which a hoverboard is dropped from a height of one meter. If it cracks and a finger probe can touch the inside wires, the hoverboard will not be certified.
UL said it has yet to certify a single hoverboard.
UL said counterfeiters often use fake UL marks to dupe customers.
“If you see labels that have misspelled words, that have punctuation errors or maybe no manufacturer's name, that should be a red flag to you that somebody is after the money. They don't care about your safety,” Drengenberg said.
UL urges consumers not to overcharge the batteries and not to charge hoverboards at night. Drengenberg said it is also important to remove hoverboards from combustible materials and not to store them under beds or in closets.