Military households about to embark on a permanent change-of-station (PCS) move can only pack certain lithium batteries in their move shipments starting May 15, 2023.
Only certain sizes of lithium batteries will be allowed in the shipments, and none will be allowed in long-term storage.
Here's what's allowed and what's expected:
PCS Lithium Battery Types and Size Limits
Many household electronics such as tools, cleaning devices, medical equipment and kids' toys run on either lithium metal or lithium ion batteries. In its recent guidance to families and movers, U.S. Transportation Command set limits on the sizes of batteries its contracted movers will be required to pack and label. You may need to do some math to figure out whether your batteries fall at or below the limits.
- Lithium metal: These batteries are generally single use and may be shaped like a button or a coin. Size limit: No more than 2 grams of lithium content per battery; or no more than 1 gram of lithium content per internal cell within a multi-cell battery. Calculate: Multiply the ampere-hours by .3 -- a battery needs about .3 grams of lithium metal to produce 1 ampere of power (if needed, divide milliampere-hours by 1,000 to get ampere-hours).
- Lithium ion: These are generally rechargeable and may be deep inside your devices such as computers or appliances. Size limit: No more than 100 watt-hours per battery; or no more than 20 watt-hours per internal cell within a multi-cell battery. Calculate: Multiply watts by ampere-hours (if needed, divide milliampere-hours by 1,000 to get ampere-hours).
If You Don't Know the Battery Size
If you can't get to the battery, such as in a rechargeable device, to try to figure out the lithium content or watt-hours, you'll need to look in your owner's manual or search on the internet to get the specs.
If you've looked everywhere and still can't figure out the size, you won't be allowed to ship it with your household goods.
How Many Lithium Batteries You Can Ship
The rules don't set a limit on how many lithium batteries you can ship in your personal property as long as individually, they don't exceed the 2 gram (1 gram per cell) or 100 watt-hour (20 watt-hours per cell) limits.
What You Have to Do
Military households are expected to gather up all their lithium batteries and devices containing lithium batteries and set them aside for the movers to label and pack.
Batteries must be undamaged and removed from the device if they're accessible.
What the Movers Have to Do
The movers will have to check that your batteries don't exceed the 2 gram (1 gram per cell) or 100 watt-hour (20 watt-hours per cell) limits. They'll then package and label the batteries; and mark them as such on your inventory.
No Reimbursement for Alternative Shipping
When asked whether households could ship their over-the-limit lithium batteries by other means, U.S. Transportation Command told Military.com:
"The Services concurred that if lithium batteries needed to be shipped due to being beyond the limits of the requirements in the policy, the customer would not be reimbursed to ship those items separately or as a [personally procured move]."
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