Personal e-transportation devices in general, and hoverboards in particular have been receiving lots of negative attention thanks to various instances of hoverboards exploding or catching fire . While e-transportation systems such as the hoverboard is exciting, it calls for stricter safety evaluations to ensure that these advanced mobility devices are safe to use and operate while facing the many rigors of real life use. Since personal e-transportation devices have unique safety challenges it is only fair that they need to be addressed in a new and unique way. This is where UL certification comes in. UL has been responsible for monitoring all e-mobility products which are released by retailers and manufacturers in the market. The unique certification means that a e-mobility device has been tested and approved for use. UL’s public safety mission has always been to provide users of e-mobility devices including hoverboards with peace of mind when using e-mobility products.
The UL 2272 certification for e-transportation devices was first introduced in 2016. Soon after, manufacturers of e-transportation devices began to submit their respective mobility products, including hoverboards for review and certification. The UL 2272 certification which is carried out through a transparent and independent safety evaluation reinforces the safety of consumers at a global scale, making UL 2272 certification indispensable when it comes to e-transportation devices such as hoverboards. As these cutting-edge personal mobility products are introduced in the market, consumers need to look for the UL 2272 certification hologram mark along with the UL promotional mark on the packaging of a hoverboard which are placed by manufacturers.
What is UL 2272 Certification?
The UL standard technical panel approved the UL 2272 certification, which was published in 2016. The certification basically extends the scope of UL 2272, which now covers all kinds of personal e-transportation devices such as non-roadworthy, hoverboards, single rider, and non-pedal devices. The new UL 2272 certification supports products that are intended for personal mobility, such as single rider hoverboards that feature a rechargeable electric drive train which balances the rider while pushing them forward. The UL 2272 certification also covers those e-mobility devices that feature a handle for grasping while riding. The devices which have been included in the UL 2272 certification do not need to be self-balancing, which is one of the reasons why its name has been changed from “electrical systems for self balancing scooters” to “electrical systems for personal e-mobility devices.”
The UL 2272 certification has become the accredited national standard for e-mobility devices in the US by the ANSI, and the accredited national standard in Canada by the SCC, which basically makes it bi-annual. Certifying to a single standard ensures that the electrical safety system requirements fall under the current safety standards that have been set in the US and Canada.
UL also supports retailers by offering them fire and electrical safety certification, which also falls under the UL 2272 certification standard. Under this standard, the safety of the battery, drive train and the charger of e-mobility devices such as hoverboards and other 1,2 or x-wheel devices are examined evaluated and certified. On the other hand, the UL 2272 certification cannot be issued on other factors such as performance, reliability or rider safety of the e-mobility devices. This is why UL has released a list of safety precautions which are to be taken by users of e-mobility devices.
Those precautions are as under:
- Use a charger that is packaged with the e-mobility device.
- Make sure that the e-mobility device is UL certified.
- Look for the UL mark on the packaging of the e-mobility device and the UL holographic certification label with the Enhanced Mark on the bottom of the packaging.
- Keep the e-mobility device away from all flammable materials while it is charging.
- If an incident occurs, call 911 immediately.
- Do no use the fire extinguisher in case the device catches fire.
- Never overcharge the e-mobility device.
- Always wear the recommended personal protective gear.
UL battery and energy storage technology services have been put in place to reduce the many complexities which emerge when it comes to designing energy storage devices. UL works closely with manufacturers to ensure the safety of the e-mobility device by carrying out various tests on the power supply, and the materials that have been used during the manufacturing process. What sets UL apart is that they have the best battery experts who have extensive knowledge when it comes to the testing of all kinds of batteries from the past 30 years.
UL 2272 Certification- Behind the Scenes
Now, that we know exactly what the UL 2272 certification is, we can take a look at what goes on behind the scenes when it comes to evaluating various e-mobility products.
UL performs an array of laboratory tests on e-mobility devices such as hoverboards, which helps enhance the safety of the end user. Since there has been a growing interest in hoverboards in the past few years, with the hoverboard being called the most cutting edge new devices of the 21st century. But, along with all the excitement of the cutting edge technology being used in the manufacturing of the hoverboards, there have also been instances of hazardous conditions that has been caused by the battery packs which are more often than not, left untested. Answering the concerns of the consumers, the US consumer product safety commission investigated around sixty new hoverboard fires in over 20 tests, while the UL introduced their new safety criteria for hoverboards with the UL 2272 certification, which is part of the safety of electrical systems for self-balancing scooters. This evaluation helps consumers know that the hoverboard they are purchasing has been put through the strictest tests to ensure their safety.
The good news is that the UL 2272 evaluation process for hoverboards have been extremely thorough in testing all parts of the hoverboards from its construction and electrical system to the mechanical parts and battery pack. These new safety concepts first began by evaluating not only the design and construction but also the battery pack and the many other electronic parts of the hoverboard. To get an idea of the vigorous testing and evaluation that all e-mobility and hoverboards go through, the following is a list of some of the tests that are part of the UL2272 certification process.
This test is carried out by evaluating the various stressors from banging to vibrating the device. The test is used to find out whether any parts can loosen or break easily. A drop test is also used during this process to find out the various ways in which extreme force can be applied to the hoverboard, causing it to break or shatter. If the outside shell of the e-mobility device does sustain injury as a result to being dropped, it may lead to the internal components becoming visible and leading to potential injury.
Material and Component Testing
The material and components test includes evaluating the device for flame resistance and testing the motor to find out if there is a potential for the motor to overheat during operation. A locked rotor test is performed on the hoverboard to determine the motor’s ability to withstand situations where it is prevented from moving forward or during adverse conditions.
The environmental testing is the evaluation of how the device reacts towards the exposure to water and other liquids. The test includes splashing water or immersing the e-mobility device in water to see if the electrical system short circuits. The test is also used to find out whether or not a device is properly sealed and safe from any fire hazards of shock due to exposure to water.
Instruction Manual Testing
UL also tests the user manual of the e-mobility device to ensure that it contains all of the necessary information that is required by the user. Important information such as the instructions for using the device and how to charge the device must be included in all manuals along with the manufacturer’s name, model number, electrical ratings and the manufacturing date of the device.
How does UL test batteries?
When it comes to hoverboards, fires and explosions usually occur in the battery pack, which is why UL adopted a new was of carrying out its safety checks on hoverboard batteries. Li-ion batteries are one of the most important technologies known to man mainly because of the amount of power they possess. Even with a extremely narrow failure rate of 1 in 10 billion, testing the power packs of hoverboards is still considered to be the most important evaluation for hoverboards. The first test that is carried out by UL is the blunt nail test, where the battery is checked to see if all cells are working, or if a cell would fail due to a short circuit. When both the positive and negative chemistries of the battery are separated, the chemical paste within the battery could heat up fast enough for the battery to explode or catch fire. Batteries that have been manufactured under the safety standards use internal protection that separates the cell from the rest of the battery. So, even if a single cell within the battery catches fire, if it is a 24-cell battery pack, the entire battery would not catch fire or experience what is called a thermal runaway, when a domino effect transfers the heat from a single cell to the 23 other cells within the battery causing all of them to catch fire.
Once this test has been completed the evaluator moves on to the projectile test. This test is used to evaluate the cell’s ability to withstand tremendous heat, either while the device is in operation or while the battery is in charging mode. During the projectile test, if the cell fails to maintain its normal temperature and starts to heat up the cell should be able to contain the heat reaction. To carry out this test, a battery is first placed inside a wire screen and then heated with the help of a bunsen burner. Once the battery starts to reach in response to the heat, it is unable to penetrate through the wire screen to pass the test.
What Devices Have Been Certified?
Since UL’s mission is to promote the safety of consumers who use e-mobility devices, UL supports various manufacturers and retailers of e-mobility devices including hoverboards by offering them with their safety testing and UL 2272 certification, under the electronic systems for self-balancing scooters. With this standard in place, hoverboard and other e-mobility devices are able to find out whether their devices adhere to the quality standards that have been set by the US government.
Since the introduction of the UL 2272 certification, the e-mobility devices of various companies have been certified. Until now, the most common hoverboard to get ul 2272 certification is the two-wheel auto Hoverboard, where the user is able to stand and even turn 360 degrees in a spot.
Things to Know
The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a letter on 18th Feb, 2016 to manufacturers, importers and retailers of hoverboards in the US, urging them to make sure that their hoverboards comply with the latest safety standards that have been included in the UL 2272 certification.