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New (to me) lithium battery limits from the TSA

New (to me) lithium battery limits from the TSA

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Old Dec 28, 07, 1:23 pm
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New (to me) lithium battery limits from the TSA

I just read about the TSA's effective-Jan-1 rules on lithium batteries via BoingBoing. As the rules will start in the middle of one trip, I should check I understand them. Also, have other countries implemented similar limits?
New TSA rules on lithium batteries

Essentially they're saying no lithium batteries at all in checked-in luggage. Theoretically you could, but they have to be installed within the device, and you're not supposed to have valuables--camera, cellphone, laptop--into checked luggage. Correct?

They're flat out forbidding any battery with more than 2 grams lithium, but you can have a battery with up to 25 lithium-grams-equivalents. Since they tell you to contact the manufacturer if *you* are unsure how much lithium is in it, then how will *they* possibly know? Should one get a note from the manufacturer / print out the webpage?

Mr. FlyingAway carries an extra battery to power a CPAP machine--a medical device. I see no discussion on the page about medical exceptions, and the battery is made by "an obscure Chinese manufacturer." That lithium battery does not look like a laptop battery, but is about the same size as one. Will the TSA have discretion to assume that similar size = similar lithium? Neither we nor any nearby passengers would want that battery taken away: no CPAP = snoring.

We could carry a spare set of 8 D-cells in a holder, although that (the plastic holder) got him weird stares in the past.

All of my and Mr. FlyingAway's spare camera batteries will have to be in our carry-on luggage, right? We do this anyways, so that's not a worry to us. Finding out how much lithium is in his CPAP battery within the next few days is a worry.

(It also seems--though it doesn't apply to me--that Audio/Visual professionals are in trouble, here, because they couldn't possibly carry-on all of their battery-using equipment.)
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Old Dec 28, 07, 1:57 pm
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Read the rules carefully. Forbidden are lithium METAL batteries (non-rechargeable) with over two grams Li. The rules you are concerned with are those for Li ION batteries (rechargeable).

You need to check the watt-hours of your battery. Often a battery will express milliampere-hours - I believe if you multiply this by the voltage and divide by 1000 you will have watt hours.

The reason for the new rules is that Li batteries are a very concentrated source of energy. Shorting of the terminals turns them into at best an incendiary device and at worst a bomb. That is why different rules apply for batteries in a device - that provides protection against shorting.
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Old Dec 28, 07, 1:59 pm
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As usual, we're on the honor system.

Simply remove any incriminating labels regarding lithium and you should be good to go. This is especially true for a carried-on battery that exceeds 2g Li+. However, you'd probably have to look pretty hard to find such a battery.
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Old Dec 28, 07, 2:01 pm
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Hmmm...I hope this isn't going to be a replay of the liquids fiasco...the frontline isn't given clear directions, TSA likes to keep us guessing anyway, so when in doubt, confiscate...
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Old Dec 28, 07, 2:05 pm
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Confirmed equation

OK, I removed the battery from my Dell D610 laptop and confirmed that I still remember the relationship between current, voltage and power from my high school physics book.

My battery is rated at 2200 mAh (milli ampere hours) at 14.8 V. It also says (but most batteries do not) that it has a capacity of 32 W-H (watt-hours).

As I proposed above, by multiplying 2200 mAh times 14.8V we get 32,120 milliwatt hours. Simply moving the decimal point 3 spots to the left gives us 32 Watt hours.

Even if your husband's battery does not state watt hours, you can calculate it from the mAh and voltage using this approach.

Last edited by gardener; Dec 28, 07 at 2:06 pm Reason: typo
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Old Dec 28, 07, 2:39 pm
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Originally Posted by Spiff View Post
As usual, we're on the honor system.

Simply remove any incriminating labels regarding lithium and you should be good to go. This is especially true for a carried-on battery that exceeds 2g Li+. However, you'd probably have to look pretty hard to find such a battery.
Thanks. Per Gardener's comment and yours, I think we're logically safe on the battery used for the CPAP--it is rechargeable and therefore not a lithium-metal battery.

That said, because it is
1. not part of the CPAP machine per se (it plugs in but can run on 12v), and
2. a generic non-laptop battery, I still wonder if we're actually safe on it. We know it's rechargeable. Will they know that?

It is our critical li-ion battery: he can't sleep without the CPAP, and neither could anyone nearby. We're in United Eplus for most flights, so no plugs. Guess we'll also bring the D-cell holder, even though it looks odd--like parts from Radio Shack, which it is.

I'll have to do the math later: it will run Mr. FA's CPAP machine (and/or laptop if we're not sleeping) for about 10 hours per charge iirc.

I'm increasingly glad we avoided any UK airports for our next trip to Europe: I cannot imagine us getting just our cameras, electronics and supporting equipment into UK-restricted carry-ons. We'd have to be wearing, not carrying, our 1st-day change of clothes.
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Old Dec 28, 07, 2:47 pm
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Originally Posted by Spiff View Post
Simply remove any incriminating labels regarding lithium and you should be good to go.
Of course, you could run into the same problem we've heard about w/r/t unlabeled toiletry bottles. Thusly,

Originally Posted by chollie View Post
[W]hen in doubt, confiscate...
And that's no joke.

Originally Posted by gardener View Post
As I proposed above, by multiplying 2200 mAh times 14.8V we get 32,120 milliwatt hours. Simply moving the decimal point 3 spots to the left gives us 32 Watt hours.
Thank you, Mr. Science!
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Old Dec 28, 07, 2:54 pm
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Yep, it's on TSA's front page now. How exactly will this affect us, tho?
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Old Dec 28, 07, 3:31 pm
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Simple - if you used to take any spare batteries with any lithium at all you can't take them in your checked luggage.

Now, of course, I'm sure this will be misinterpreted by the line droids and your $150 spare laptop battery in your briefcase will end up being thrown out.
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Old Dec 28, 07, 3:34 pm
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Originally Posted by JakiChan View Post
Now, of course, I'm sure this will be misinterpreted by the line droids and your $150 spare laptop battery in your briefcase will end up being thrown out.
I'm guessing we'll see posts complaining about having to fight to keep their batteries when passing through a checkpoint in the first few weeks in January. Since the TSA can't keep track of it's already voluminous regulations why would we expect them to be able to keep track of yet another something that requires a table?
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Old Dec 28, 07, 3:53 pm
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For the average laptop/cell phone user, you'll be well within the limits. If you're a professional videographer that typically carries a lot of batteries, there is cause for concern.
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Old Dec 28, 07, 4:32 pm
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Made a double post I am so livid
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Old Dec 28, 07, 4:35 pm
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I am sick of this. I am angry therefore my post will likely not be 100% rational but I AM SICK OF THIS!!!!

They have already made any kind of movement a huge bother and downright uncomfortable. Because of their stupid rules I have lost a lot of money when things were stolen out of my checked bag because I couldn't carry them on.
Now I won't be able to feel safe about carrying spares as some moron TSA goon (simmer down TSA lovers not all are like this...but MANY are) will confiscate them because like often he won't understand the rules and then I will lose more money and possibly be without and item I need/or not fly today.

I already avoid the pathetic excuse for an air transport "system" as much as I can but I haven't figured out a way to drive across the oceans yet...if somebody knows please share the tip.

I already have to deal with several (again not all but many to most) horribly rude and unreasonable people from the airport staff to 'security' to flight crews to passengers who have no respect for others in the same tiny space and do things like kick your seat the whole flight because you recline half way to give your back a "bit" of relief on a 12 hour flight or spread themselves half into your seat and act like they are doing nothing wrong.

This is bigger than 'flying' I know...it is humanity...and humanity sucks in large.

I work hard for my money and pay my own travel expenses so I can't afford to fly FC especially internationally but it sounds like even the FC experience is dwindling these days and it only would address part of the problem as FC passengers have to deal with 80% of the same nonsense.

I normally just put my head down and push through the horrible experience that is air travel these days but I have had it. If you can't beat em join em...I am going to do whatever it takes to make my flights more comfortable and cause irritation to the system at every turn when I can...to the bureaucrats and those FFers of you who ply your little tricks at the expense of others like shoving a magazine into the seat so it wont go down...game on.

If I didn't rant enough..."I HATE THIS!!!!!!!"

Last edited by vesicle; Dec 28, 07 at 4:41 pm
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Old Dec 28, 07, 5:03 pm
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Originally Posted by Arthurrs View Post
For the average laptop/cell phone user, you'll be well within the limits. If you're a professional videographer that typically carries a lot of batteries, there is cause for concern.
We're not professional videographers, just two people in technology who like photography when traveling.

When we travel we carry:
* at least one laptop (two if both on business travel) to hold the 2000+ pictures/week we take (backups both on the HD and burning CDs, also to do preliminary sorting and quality checks),
* 3 cameras (one pro/consumer level SLR w/ several lenses) with at least 4 extra batteries (2 spares per person in case we can't recharge during a full-day's site-seeing),
* two cell phones (sometimes also a PDA), and
* the important li-ion battery that runs the CPAP on the airplane and/or the laptop if we're off the grid.

This is as efficient as we can be: we know how long the camera batteries last--not a full day--and we've seen what can go wrong if you don't review your pics each day on a computer screen.

I'm not worried going strictly by the TSA's math. But I do worry that they'll spend an extra minute or two counting out the batteries for us and other techies in line.

As for the non-branded battery for the CPAP device: I'll hope for the best, but I cannot find specs online.
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Old Dec 28, 07, 5:32 pm
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Am i reading all this right from the FAA that there basing this new rule because of Two incidents that werent on any commercial flights but cargo carriers (fedex) and the other was on the ramp inbetween flights due to rough handling? Is this also being based off the bad batch of lithium cells from sanyo used in laptop batteries that caused a laptop to catch fire in japan and caused a recall of several million batteries because of a fluke?

So based off this now i cant carry a extra battery for my laptop or camera because of some remote risk, oh come on this is getting to the point of lunacy. Plus i think if you short out any battery in alcohol and/or fire it will cause a fire or explode from the materials inside expanding just like the testing that was done as part of the testing in the new rules.

This is going to effect alot of people who take extra batteries for there laptops and cameras so they can get through a long flight/trip because laptops dont exactly sip on the batteries when at idle or viewing a DVD or to get through a trip without buy batteries at the destination for a premium. What the FAA didnt think about is that most batteries come in a case that isolates to prevent accidental shorts see link its the first three items on the list, so this prevents this. There are also similar cases for other rechargable sizes as well including CRV3 which is a rechargeable battery that most consumer point and shoot cameras use, Then the batteries for professional cameras have plastic covers for the contacts as well.

Of course TSA is going to drop the ball on this like normal, and i can see Li-Ion batteries and others being confused with other types of batteries and being confiscated. I can see/here it now "NiCd, Nimh, Alkaline, Li-Primary, Li-ion there all a like and not allowed" Dont laugh because its gonna happen because The Stupidity Association dont have the abilty to think, use common sense, instead they makes the rules up on the fly as normal. Another example of how money is being sucked out of the economy.

Oh BTW if they start confiscating batteries how are they going to deal with them because if TSA does like they normally do and throw it away the EPA will take action because thats illegal as this is hazardous waste and has to be disposed of properly.

Last edited by Scubatooth; Dec 28, 07 at 5:55 pm Reason: typo
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