If you’re confused as to why airlines sometimes confiscate power banks from unsuspecting travelers, and want to make sure this will never happen to you, we’ve put together a complete guide for travelling with your power bank.
Can I take my power bank on a plane?
Yes, most power banks can be taken on a plane. Power banks are considered to be spare batteries by Aviation Authorities, meaning that they are typically safe to be taken as carry-on, but they must never be put in your checked-in luggage. Power banks of 100Wh or less are usually permitted, while power banks up to 160Wh can also often be taken, with the prior approval from your airline.
Before flying it is recommended to check your specific airline’s rules, such as Air New Zealand’s limits for Lithium batteries’.
How many power banks can I take with me?
According to an International Air Transport Association article, an upper limit for spare batteries was put into force in January 2018 meaning that a passanger can carry up to a maximum 20 spare batteries that are rated under 100Wh.
This upper limit may vary between airlines, and more spare batteries can possibly be taken with prior approval from your airline.
But what does Wh mean?
Wh stands for Watt-hours, which is a measure for how much energy a battery can store and is relative to the amount of Lithium in the battery. You are most likely used to seeing mAh (milliamp-hours) used for measuring the battery size for a mobile device, but because this measure is not directly related to the amount of Lithium, it must be converted to Wh.
How can I calculate the Wh of my power bank?
Watt hours can be calculated by multiplying a batteries milli-Amp hours (mAh) with its Voltage (V) and dividing by 1,000:
Wh = (mAh x V) / 1,000
For example, our SunSaver power banks have the following Wh ratings:
SunSaver 10K (10,000mAh and 3.7V):
Wh = (10,000 x 3.7) / 1,000 = 37Wh
SunSaver Classic (16,000mAh and 3.7V):
Wh = (16,000 x 3.7) / 1,000 = 59.2Wh
SunSaver 24K (24,000mAh and 3.7V):
Wh = (24,000 x 3.7) / 1,000 = 88.8Wh
Because these ratings are below 100Wh, SunSaver power banks are permitted as carry-on for most flights.
If you don’t trust your math skills, simply let this online calculator do the work for you.
What is a Lithium Battery and why are they so restricted?
A lithium battery consists of an Anode (negative electrode) and Cathode (positive electrode) separated by an electrolyte. The battery generates charge by positively charged Lithium ions moving from the Anode to the Cathode, providing electrons to an external electrical circuit in the process.
The electrolyte material plays an important role in regulating the flow of Lithium ions between the electrodes. Because if the Anode and Cathode were to ever touch, the flow of lithium ions would be so rapid, that the amount of electrons being discharged at once could have enough power to start a fire!, hence the restrictions.
If you want to find out more about Lithium Batteries’, you can read this article by batteryuniversity.com.
Why can’t power banks be put in my checked in luggage?
Because in the unlikely event that a lithium battery does catch fire, it is much easier for the crew to deal with the fire if it is in the cabin rather than the cargo hold.