Product with rechargeable lithium batteries

I’ve just about finished my product that is rechargeable with an internal 18650 lithium 3000mAh battery. Now as I’m just about to ship, I realize I’m going to have a problem shipping them., Does anyone have experience shipping products with internal Lithium batteries.

The design does have the appropriate protection/safety circuitry

well, if you are in the u.s.a then shipment is limited to ground, mostly. if installed in a device there are some other options. . you must place the approved battery enclosed sticker as well as the generic notification sticker and you must declared it to the carrier. you should expect a hazmat like fee premium to ship charge. if the battery is installed in a device i think usps has better [albeit more expensive] ship options like in recent past being able to use priority. that may have changed but i have sold cellphones and as long as the labels were proper it was accepted at normal fees for priority.

The 18650 Lithium ion battery is inside of a solid enclosure that’s 4"x3"x1.5" and held into a battery clip. The safety/charging circuitry has overcharge protection, rapid discharge (short) protection which will shut off the power on the event.

I have had some “incidents” when I didn’t have the proper protection and nearly started a fire, but I’ve been using these for over 1 year now without incident or failure even after 4’ drop test.

I did just ask the vendor for UN/DOT 38.3 documentation on the batteries themselves.

My big goal was to create and sell 10 of these IR beam-break, WiFi race timer systems for dog agility EVER, so this is a lot of hassle I wasn’t expecting.

Any chance you could ship the device without battery, have the battery mailed to the customer separately and have them insert it into the device themselves? Considering it’s a rechargeable battery, I assume it was already designed for the customer to insert/remove anyway?

This is the plan I have for my own devices as well.

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This is non-authoritative, I do not claim to know this for sure, but just as guidance for doing your own research:

I understood that there are three categories of battery shipments:

  • batteries alone
  • batteries shipped with equipment
  • batteries shipped in equipment

The first category is the most restrictive, while the third (seemingly) is the least. Please continue your research and let us know what you find.

Is this assuming the product has met certain certification standards? I’m assuming a home-built hobbyist device without certification will be treated differently than let’s say, Samsung’s latest phone.

I don’t recall.

I strongly recommend you consult with a local certification lab like NEMKO to fully ensure that you meet all applicable regulatory requirements for commercial sale of your product. Their feedback should provide you with the definitive answer on what is required.

However here are some “general notes” that should hopefully help point you in the general direction but to reiterate the final word should come from an expert who works in the certification field:

  • Individual cell requires a level of certification - something like UL1642 and IEC61960 (which the 18650 cell likely already has).
  • Battery packs also require a level of certification - for Li-ion it is UN83.3 for transportation and IEC62133 for safety
  • Commercial products typically require certification and this depends on the application. For IT category type equipment, UL/EN 60950 is used. I believe that there is more wiggle room on this system level certification for markets like the US, but in the EU, a CE mark is required (which requires the UL/EN safety certification). Hence the Cert Lab should be able to guide you on the proper requirements.

As a second note, I would highlight that there are commercially available battery packs from Battery Pack vendors that already have the requisite certifications (UN83.3 and IEC62133), and this approach might be more practical given the high cost for battery pack certifications.