TRAV­EL­ING LIGHT

Scuba Diving - - SCUBALAB -

Fly­ing with lithium-ion ( Li-ion) bat­ter­ies re­quires pre­cau­tions — the main one be­ing that loose bat­ter­ies can­not be packed in checked lug­gage. Here are safety con­sid­er­a­tions gov­erned by fed­eral reg­u­la­tions, air­line rules and com­mon sense.

Carry-on or checked?

FAA reg­u­la­tions al­low “per­sonal” de­vices with Li-ions in­stalled to be packed in carry-on or checked bags — if the de­vice is “pro­tected against ac­ci­den­tal ac­ti­va­tion.” If the light doesn’t have a se­cure switch lock, you might be able to tape the switch in place, or cover the bat­ter­ies’ ter­mi­nals with tape be­fore in­stalling them.

Pro­tected from short cir­cuit

For loose Li-ion bat­ter­ies taken in your carry-on, you must take pre­cau­tions to make sure their ter­mi­nals can’t be shorted by con­tact with other con­tents such as keys, coins or other bat­ter­ies. Pack them in their orig­i­nal pack­ag­ing, in­di­vid­ual plas­tic bags, or cover ter­mi­nals with

heavy tape (duct tape works great), and make sure they can’t shift around.

How many, how big?

The FAA doesn't limit the num­ber of “con­sumer­size” Li-ion bat­ter­ies in your carry-on. Con­sumer-size is de­fined as a rat­ing of less than 100 watt hours ( Wh). The big­gest bat­tery in our test was rated at 57 Wh; the com­mon 18650 Li-ion bat­tery is 12.5 Wh. ( The FAA al­lows Li-ions up to 160 Wh in carry-ons — if your air­line ap­proves.)

What is my bat­tery’s rat­ing?

Newer Li-ions should be marked with a Wh rat­ing. For older ones that list volt­age ( V) and am­pere hours (Ah), mul­ti­ply volts by amp hours for watt hours.

The fi­nal word

The rules are writ­ten with com­mon con­sumer elec­tron­ics (not dive gear) in mind; the fi­nal de­ci­sion rests with the air­port se­cu­rity of­fi­cer.

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