New FAA lithium ion battery rules: Jan. 1, 2008.

batt.gifThe FAA has published new rules for transporting your camcorder & other batteries both as carry-on and as checked baggage. If you’re going to be carrying your own batteries on a flight in 2008 and beyond, it behooves you to read the new guidelines and, if necessary, call the manufacturer— because more than 25 grams of lithium content can get your battery confiscated.

i.e. They may take your $500 160 WH Battery and keep it…

In their new rules (when they actually published these new rules they don’t say- the announcement has no publication date) there are some key specifics:

  • You may not pack a spare lithium battery in your checked baggage.
    Spare batteries are the batteries you carry separately from the devices they power. When batteries are installed in a device, they are not considered spare batteries.
  • You can also bring up to two spare batteries with an aggregate [add up to] equivalent lithium content from 8 up to 25 grams.
    The limits are expressed in grams of “equivalent lithium content.” 8 grams of equivalent lithium content is approximately 100 watt-hours. 25 grams is approximately 300 watt-hours.

This would mean that two of the above linked 160 WH batteries may exceed the FAA limits. The TSA could confiscate everything after one “spare” battery and they could keep it. Three batteries is definitely a no-go.

You are NOT able to take a big, spare lithium ion battery in checked baggage.

bp-l40.gifSmall batteries, like those in digital still cameras and cell phones, fall under the 8 gram limit, but are still NOT able to be taken as checked baggage.

The ironic exception to the checked baggage rule is if the batteries are physically connected to or “installed” in a device. So if you check a camcorder with the battery attached, and the total grams of lithium is under 25 grams, you can check that baggage. However, the FAA recommends:

Although you may carry some devices and installed batteries in checked baggage, carrying them in carry-on baggage, when practicable, is preferred. Whether in checked or carry-on baggage, ensure that devices remain switched off, either by built-in switch/trigger locks, by taping the activation switch in the “off” postion, [sic] or by other appropriate measures.

This certainly puts a cramp on you carrying a lot of battery power with you on a flight.

The problem I have with it is, in the belly of the plane, there’s cargo containers that are filled by shipping companies. There’s no regulation that says you couldn’t send 10 of those 160 WH batteries in one box with a cargo carrier- who then puts it on the same damm plane you sit in. Report. Report. Report.

Despite the FAA’s own test results from two years before those news reports that demonstrated that:

Halon extinguishing agent has no effect on fire intensity. Lithium batteries may represent the ultimate hazardous material, especially when shipped in bulk as cargo, with the potential to breach all defenses should they catch fire.

It’s either safe or it’s not.

Carry-on or cargo really makes no difference once a lithium-ion battery starts a compromised chain reaction. No matter what starts it— when lithium-ion batteries go, they burn very hot and push every cell in the same battery to a violent end.

So check your upcoming travel schedule, packing plans, and call the manufacturer if necessary to find out if there has been a recall on your lithium ion batteries, and how many grams of lithium you are carrying in your batteries.

21 thoughts on “New FAA lithium ion battery rules: Jan. 1, 2008.

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  1. AK, thanks for the link, but no, it does not address my main supposition- that lithium-ion batteries you or I send with a commercial carrier, in a paper box, with paper packing for shock isolation, could very well end up in the same cargo hold of the same plane I am now forbidden from having my batteries flown as checked baggage.

    The page you cite (I had to track it down manually) says:
    “As a result of this research, the FAA no longer allows large, palletized shipments of these batteries to be transported as cargo on passenger aircraft.”

    Okay. Great. Those large, palletized shipments aren’t there any more. But those _were_ checked and under very specific FAA guidelines and restrictions. What I’m worried about is the FAA letting _unchecked_ boxed from authorized common freight carriers to sit on the same plane as me.

    So that TSA note has no bearing on my rant.

  2. “Under the new DOT rule, lithium batteries ARE allowed in checked baggage under one of the following conditions:

    The batteries must be in their original containers.
    The battery terminals must not exposed (for example placing tape over the ends of the batteries).
    The batteries are installed in a device.
    The batteries are enclosed by themselves in a plastic bag. ”

    It doesn’t seem to mention any limits on how many(or how many grams) you can check however.

  3. The TSA page is referencing the FAA guidelines as the source.
    The TSA is the enforcement arm. The FAA made these new rules.
    So please go back and reference the FAA page I cite.

    Under 8 grams… there’s no specific number.

    Over eight and under 25 grams, per battery, there IS a specific limit on the number of batteries.

    So you may be able to bring numerous cell phone batteries, maybe even several laptop batteries, but there is a clear and distinct limit on the big lithium-ion camcorder batteries.


  4. hi

    I guess its time for us to create a new product which is designed to just attach batteries to it and not do any thing specific, say an MP3 player which has 4 or 6 or 10 slots for various batteries of all sizes….

  5. UPDATE:

    Anton Bauer and other battery manufacturers have started to update their sites with new information about their batteries and the recent FAA travel regulations:

    Dionic 90 weighs only 1.7 lbs (770 grams) and is the highest capacity lithium ion battery which can be legally transported without restriction under the IATA and DOT safety regulations. Dionic 160 contains an exclusive cell configuration unlike any other video battery…

    As with all lithium and lithium ion batteries, Dionic 160 must be transported in accordance with IATA, IACO and 49CFR regulations regarding classification of lithium and lithium ion transportation. Equivalent lithium content of Dionic 160 is greater than 8 grams and must be transported as Class 9 Hazardous Goods. Information regarding transportation of lithium ion batteries is available from Anton/Bauer Customer Support…

    Visit your manufacturer’s web site or contact them directly for more information.

  6. So, It seems there is a need for a website detailing each manufacturer’s battery types and lithium content, because all this is as clear as a #9 black Promist…..that would be a great service and would get a lot of hits… to help get the ball rolling: the (large) 5400 mah Li batteries for my Panasonic HVX200 have 3.24 grams of lithium according to Panasonic.

  7. My question is from what I have read so far, is the following true –
    a. One can carry not more that 25 gm of lithium in a plane in a carry on bag. That includes 3 battery packs (one being installed on the NB). Is this true please confirm ?
    b. Next, is it true that 8 gm of lithium is = 100 Wh, so 25gm of lithium = 300 Wh. My question is how many cell battery is equal to 8 gm lithium (100 Wh), Is is a 6 cell or 9 cell Lit Ion Battery ?


  8. The density of each battery varies by manufacturer and by design. You need to browse the manufacturer’s web site to find out the lithium specifications for your batteries. If you travel, it would also be wise to print that page out and carry it with you in case the TSA has any question.

    Many companies are addressing these concerns with FAA-specific information pages. For instance, IDX offers a page listing batteries and specific lithium content:

    ELITE Lithium-Ion Battery pack 5.76g (PC-14 Cartridge) x 2
    E-10 Lithium-Ion Battery pack 7.92g
    E-10S Lithium-Ion Battery pack 7.92g
    E-80 Lithium-Ion Battery pack 6.84g
    E-80S Lithium-Ion Battery pack 6.84g
    E-7 Lithium-Ion Battery pack 5.76g
    E-7S Lithium-Ion Battery pack 5.76g
    E-50 Lithium-Ion Battery pack 4.56g
    E-50S Lithium-Ion Battery pack 4.56g
    NP-L7 Lithium-Ion Battery pack 5.76g
    NP-L7S Lithium-Ion Battery pack 5.76g
    NP-L50 Lithium-Ion Battery pack 4.56g
    NP-L50S Lithium-Ion Battery pack 4.56g

    I hope this helps.


  9. Hi,
    Relating to Lithium Ioon batteries I have a Mobility Scooter that I need to get around as I can only walk short distances. The Motor is 250watt so the batteries must be a conservative percentage higher than that and are locked into the Scooter when using, but detached in transit when the folding scooter and battery are packed in a canvas bag.
    Can you tell me if this is allowed in the hold.
    I do know that a person has already carried one of these on a flight but do not know if he had any problems.
    Barry G,

  10. I hope level of literacy have risen since 2008. FAA link to New Rules referenced by the OP says about TWO lithium ion batteries up to 300 WH each. Note that FAA rules circa 2008 have NOT changed, It was TWO batteries back then, and it is TWO batteries now.

  11. I want to take a 36 V lithium ion powered optibike on a plane. The bikes total weight is less than 50 pounds and the batteries are built inside the waterproof aircraft aluminum frame up the bicycle.
    Is the 36 V lithium-ion battery too big? Is it the weight of the battery or the lithium-ion inside the battery?
    if I check the bicycle, will they ask me if it has a battery?
    do they x-ray checked baggage to look for such items, and if so do they confiscate, and if so who confiscates is it the airline or the FAA, and finally will I get it back?

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