Hoverboards, also known as self-balancing scooters, have been much hyped in the lead-up to Christmas. But they’ve been blamed for numerous fires overseas and internet retailer Amazon recently pulled several models from its website over safety concerns.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) identified two safety concerns with hoverboards: the fire risk due to faulty batteries and chargers, and the risk of user injuries through falls.

It said the fires reported overseas most likely related to products that would not comply with Australian electrical requirements, or to the use of a charger meant for another device. The ACCC said overcharging non-compliant devices may cause overheating and increase the fire risk.

WorkSafe New Zealand, the electrical safety regulatory agency, said it’s unaware of any incidents in New Zealand involving hoverboards.

There are also questions about where they can be used. The New Zealand Transport Authority said that many hoverboards are not legal to use on footpaths or roads, since they usually have a power output greater than 600 watts, but do not meet the requirements for a motor vehicle or mobility device.

Our advice

  • If you’re buying a hoverboard, make sure it has the Regulatory Compliance Mark (RCM). This shows it meets electrical safety standards.
  • Only buy models that have overcharge protection, meaning they automatically stop charging when the battery is full. This means they’re safe to leave plugged in for extended periods.

More information here.