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UPDATE: Lithium Batteries in Checked Luggage
Posted Jan 2,2008

Battery_pack_lpe4 It was just a couple days ago that we were warned via a Department of Transportation (DOT) press release that loose lithium batteries would no longer be allowed in checked airline baggage.

According to a DOT spokesman, that wording was a little ambiguous. It seems the checked baggage ban is directed only at large lithium batteries, those in the 8-25 gram equivalent range.

After doing the math you will find even high-end digital SLRs, like the Nikon D3 and Canon 1Ds MKlll, use lithium-ion batteries that are below 2.5 gram equivalent.

The DOT is currently working on a new press release that clarifies what they meant to say in the first release; that release should be out tomorrow.

So what happens when TSA screeners see loose AA lithium batteries in your checked baggage? Nothing. According to TSA spokesman Christopher White, “We are focused on security issues, and this is not a security issue.”

So pack your bags and feel free to take along your extra digital camera batteries, but keep in mind that all batteries are a potential fire hazard. SafeTravel.dot.gov has more information on how to travel safely with spare batteries.

— Ken Geiger

Posted by Ken Geiger | Comments (3)


Michael Oryl
Jan 2, 2008 5PM #

Hey Ken, you seem to have your math messed up a bit. Perhaps you mean ounces instead of grams. 1oz is equal to a bit over 28g. The battery in my Canon EOS 20d weighs 79g.

Michael Oryl
Jan 2, 2008 5PM #

Bah, nevermind. After reading one of the D.O.T. sites, I see that the gram figures you quote are for the amount of lithium in the batteries, not the total weight of the batteries.

You might want to make that a bit more clear in your post.

Ken Geiger
Jan 2, 2008 5PM #

Michael thanks for your comments.

According to the DOT, they are calculating the equivalent lithium content based on the watt-hours rating of the battery. Not all photo batteries have the needed information printed on them, use the calculation below to determine watt-hours.

Watt-hours (Wh) = Amp-hours (Ah) * Volts (V)

Amp-hours (Ah) = mAh / 1000 (most small batteries are rated in milliamp-hours, mHa)

Based on what they have posted at http://safetravel.dot.gov/whats_new_batteries.html, 1-gram lithium equivalent is equal to about 12 watt-hours. (300 Wh / 25 grams) = 12 Wh per gram

The photo of the lithium-ion Canon battery above is rated at 2300 mAh at 11.1 V, which is equal to about 2.12 grams equivalent lithium content.

(2.3 Ah * 11.1 V) = 25.53 Wh

25.53 Wh / 12 (Wh per gram) = 2.12 gram equivalent

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