Traveling with Batteries
There’s been a crackdown on transporting batteries either as carry-on or checked baggage, as well as shipping packages using FedEx, UPS, or by other carriers. If not properly protected or stored, batteries have the potential to generate a tremendous amount of heat and can potentially catch fire.
So which batteries are allowed as carry-on vs. checked bags? Which batteries are most likely to have transporting restrictions? Hopefully after reading this article and you won’t have any problems shipping or flying with your batteries.
Traveling with Ni-Cad & Alkaline Batteries
Ni-Cad and Alkaline batteries are allowed as either carry-on or checked bags provided they are protected from short circuits.
You can protect your batteries from short circuits by placing each them in separate plastic bags or by taping over the terminals.*
Traveling Lithium Metal & Lithium Ion Batteries
The Lithium Metal are those that are non-rechargeable and come in various sizes which, include AA, AAA, 123, CR123A, CR1, CR2, CRV3, CR22, 2CR5, etc., as well as the flat, round, lithium button batteries.
The Lithium-Ion (Li-ion) are rechargeable and sizes range from AA, AAA, cell phone, PDA, still camera or video camera, tablet, standard laptop computer, and power tool batteries. Also known as “secondary lithium batteries” this includes a category of lithium polymer (Li-Po) batteries as well.
Both Lithium Metal, and Lithium ION have some restrictions.
The following table outlines where and what you can travel with.
CALCULATE THE SIZE OF YOUR BATTERY
To determine the (Wh) Watt Hour Rating, of your battery simply multiply the amp hour (Ah) by the Volts. Wh=Ah x Volts
This battery has 12.8 volts and a capacity of 12 Ah.
Using Equation (Wh = Ah x volts) Wh = 12Ah x 12.8v, this battery is 153.6 Wh. So it may be transported as carry-on or checked provided it is attached to the equipment. You can also bring a couple of spare batteries with you on carry-on. You can NOT however check your spares with your baggage. Do check with your airline as they may have further restrictions for this size of battery.
For this battery mAh and V, use (Wh = (mAh / 1,000) x Volts) to determine the equivalent watt-hour. In this case, Wh = (3400 / 1,000) x 7.2 equal to 24.48 Wh. In this case the battery may be transported as carry-on or checked provided it is attached to the equipment, and you can bring an unlimited number spare batteries with you on carry-on. You can NOT however check your spares with your baggage.
TSA and Airline Requirements for travelling with batteries
Airlines within the US allow passengers to carry-on and check batteries with exceptions.
Passengers may carry all consumer-sized lithium ion batteries (up to 100 watt hours per battery).
Passengers can also bring two (2) larger lithium ion batteries (100-160 watt hours per battery) in their carry-on.
Lithium metal batteries (a.k.a.: non-rechargeable lithium, primary lithium).
These batteries are often used with cameras and other small personal electronics. Consumer-sized batteries (up to 2 grams of lithium per battery) may be carried. This includes all the typical non-rechargeable lithium batteries used in cameras (AA, AAA, 123, CR123A, CR1, CR2, CRV3, CR22, 2CR5, etc.) as well as the flat round lithium button cells.
Except for spare (uninstalled) lithium metal and lithium-ion batteries, all the batteries allowed in carry-on baggage are also allowed in checked baggage. The batteries must be protected from damage and short circuit or installed in a device.
Spare lithium metal and lithium ion/polymer batteries are prohibited in checked baggage—this includes external chargers.
There’s no limit on the number of most consumer-size batteries or battery-powered devices that a passenger can carry for personal use, yet the larger lithium ion batteries are limited to two (2) batteries per passenger.
In general, use common sense when packing for travel. Be aware that lithium batteries can pack a tremendous amount of power and can short-out if not properly stored or packaged. Know the capacity and specifications of your battery and which rules govern its transport. Some manufacturers of batteries provide documentation that can be printed or saved.
*To prevent short circuits, keep spare batteries in their original packaging, a battery case, or a separate pouch or pocket. Make sure loose batteries can’t move around. Placing tape over the terminals of unpackaged batteries also helps to insulate them from short circuit.
Overall traveling with your smaller every day batteries aren’t a problem. But do check those power packs and large capacity batteries before you check in on your next flight. Remember, you can rent batteries at most major cities. For a detailed explanation of batteries check out Doug’s articles at ProGear Chicago.