Follow Up : New DOT / TSA Lithium Battery Restriction – A Potential Option For Flying With "Non-Spares"

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01/01/08 – Follow Up : New DOT / TSA Lithium Battery Restriction – A Potential Option For Flying With “Non-Spares”

With the U.S. Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) clarifying the restrictions for flying with lithium batteries in checked baggage only in the last day, many photographers have been trying to sort out how to carry more lithium batteries in their carry-on baggage.

I received an e-mail this morning from David Hobby who runs The Strobist, www.strobist.com , asking if batteries installed in their chargers would be exempt from the new US Department of Transportation’s restrictions on flying with lithium batteries (if you haven’t read The Strobist you really should)

The restrictions on spare batteries from the DOT states, in part, the following
– 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.

After standing in my kitchen holding a Canon CG-580 charger and Canon BP511A battery in my hands for a few minutes I pondered this question. Best I could find, a variety of camera manufactures do use the term “install” when referring to placing a battery into the cradle of a charger (for those than use cradle chargers). While this wording is often interchanged with other terminology, it seems to me that if you place your Lithium battery in it’s OEM charger you have properly installed the battery into the device. Using the DOT’s wording this battery is no longer a loose or spare battery.

The one problem with this is a turn of the words stating the battery must be in a device it powers, while the charger actually powers the battery. It could be noted that the charger will not work without the battery………then again the second line of this exemption reads “When batteries are installed in a device, they are not considered spare batteries,” so we have the ability to claim the batteries are installed in a device.

Two of the commonly affected batteries are the Nikon EN-EL3, which can compactly be carried installed in the Nikon MH-18a charger and the Canon BP500 series batteries and the Canon CG-580 battery charger.

I do not think the Canon LP-E4 battery can be effectively locked into the LC-E4 battery charger, same goes for the Nikon EN-EL4 and the MH-21 charger.

Below is a photo of the Canon BP511A battery with the CG-580 charger and a photo of the battery installed in the charger.

Happy Flying!

–Click On The Image To Enlarge It–

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