Even though they don't actually hover and they're prone to fires, hoverboards are still as popular as ever. But good luck heading out to buy them; retailers are dropping them left and right over safety concerns -- I'm sure you've heard of at least one of the many reports of boards catching fire or exploding.
While you can still find cheap models online, Amazon, Toys R Us and Target pulled self-balancing scooter boards (their more accurate name) from shelves. And because of an import ban that's stopping many models from arriving in the US, they're even harder to come by.
A note about safety
Many companies making these boards are now working with the US Consumer Product Safety Commission to ensure they're safe. The biggest concerns are with the batteries used in these scooters, which are prone to overheat and catch fire. Underwriters Laboratories, the independent testing and safety organization, announced that it's accepting hoverboards for inspections and safety certification.
Getting UL certification means a scooter's battery and other parts are safe. No models have been certified yet, but several manufacturers have submitted their models. Hopefully that means we'll soon know for sure which boards to buy and which ones to steer clear of. Until then, there's no definitive way to know.
If you're adamant about getting a self-balancing scooter right now (and we don't advise you do until future notice), there are a few legitimate places still selling them.
Stick with manufacturer's websites
The big names in hoverboards, PhunkeeDuck, IOHawk, Swagway and Monorover, are still selling their scooter boards directly from their websites. Until they're certified, there's no guarantee these boards are safe, but these companies offer warranties in case of disasters.
- Phunkeeduck sells one model for $1,499 and it comes in eight colors. The company claims its batteries and chargers are UL certified, but they did not respond when asked about whether the board was submitted for UL certification.
- IO Hawk offers several scooter boards, starting at $1,299. They did not respond when asked about UL certification.
- Swagway's X1 model starts at $399 and the company ensures that its boards meet current safety standards.
- Monorover is selling its R2 model for $499 and says it's submitted its board to the UL for inspection. The company's batteries and chargers are also UL-certified.
Steer clear of eBay
Though it's tempting to pick up a cheap board from eBay, it's not smart to buy a no-name board from a seller on the site. Many of the boards you'll find there don't come with warranties and there's no way to know if the board's batteries are safe to use, despite whatever claims sellers make (and no, a Samsung battery label isn't a guarantee of safety for hoverboards).
Self-balancing scooters can and have caused fires and injuries. Saving some cash on a cheaper version is not worth the risk. For more information about self-balancing scooters, check out CNET's guide to buying a hoverboard.