Following IATA guidelines two threshold limits are indicated: 20Wh for cells and 100Wh for multi-cell batteries.

Question: Should I apply 20Wh limit also for cells in multi-cell batteries?

Example: Equipment contain 2-cell battery 45Wh each cell. Should it be labelled as RLI or ELI ?

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My battery manufacturer suggested replacing the actual 60W 3-cell battery with a 2-cell one. I’m not sure that this will be a compliance to regulations.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this question is about shipping regulations, not about electronics design. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 13:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Question related to battery and our reality. Answer should be interesting for real engineers. \$\endgroup\$
    – kimstik
    Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 13:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Contact IATA... \$\endgroup\$
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 13:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ It is already not so clear. afraid to have much more questions after contacting ;) \$\endgroup\$
    – kimstik
    Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 13:19
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I checked the text of the detailed packing instructions themselves, and it's not a lot clearer. They state that each cell or battery must be within the limits, but it doesn't quite explicitly state whether cells included in batteries should be within the limit or if only the battery limit counts if there are two or more cells in the battery. You should probably err on the side of caution. \$\endgroup\$
    – jcaron
    Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 14:37

1 Answer 1


Cell means a single encased electrochemical unit (one positive and one negative electrode) which exhibits a voltage differential across its two terminals

Battery means two or more cells or batteries which are electrically connected together and fitted with devices necessary for use, for example, case, terminals, marking and protective devices.

Cell maximum is 20 Wh. Battery maximum is 100 Wh.
Thus battery with maximum of 5 cells of 20 Wh.

As also explained further on.

For the purposes of this guidance document and the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations, power banks are to be classified as batteries and must be assigned to UN 3480, lithium ion batteries, or UN 3090, lithium metal batteries, as applicable.

Even though a powerbank might fit: "a single encased electrochemical unit one positive and one negative electrode".

You could probably throw loads of money on this debating over the meaning of the law in court. But safety will most likely win.

  • \$\begingroup\$ That exactly what i get after first read. Please re-read it again. Equipment cannot contain more than 4 cells or 2 batteries.. Mean it 80Wh limit for batteries?? \$\endgroup\$
    – kimstik
    Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 13:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ safety is must. no discussions... \$\endgroup\$
    – kimstik
    Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 13:49

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