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New Rules May Raise Cost of Buying Gadgets Online 171

ericatcw writes "Buying your next laptop or smartphone online could suddenly get a lot more expensive if a little-known US Department of Transportation proposal to tighten rules around the shipment of small, Lithium-Ion battery-powered devices by air goes through, says an industry group opposing the move. The changes, designed primarily to reduce the risk from Lithium-Ion batteries, would also forbid air travelers from carrying spare alkaline or NiMH batteries in their checked-in luggage, according to the head of the Portable Rechargeable Battery Association. The proposal is under review until March 12. It can be viewed and commented upon by members of the public."
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New Rules May Raise Cost of Buying Gadgets Online

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 06, 2010 @07:21AM (#31044654)


  • by Hadlock ( 143607 ) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @07:49AM (#31044762) Homepage Journal

    Income taxes are a fairly recent invention here in the US. We used to pay for the entirety of the Federal Government's budget (including the military!) solely on import/export taxes. Chew on that for a bit.

  • by Diddlbiker ( 1022703 ) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @09:55AM (#31045206)
    This was discussed ad nauseum at photography forums last year. Key is to read the actual proposal and not depend on the warmongerings of a journalist trying to attract more traffic to his site:
    Cartridges packed with equipment to be packed in intermediate packagings together with the equipment they are capable of powering.
    The fuel cell cartridges and the equipment must be packaged with cushioning material or dividers or inner packaging so that the fuel cell cartridges are protected against damage that may be caused by the shifting or placement of the equipment and the cartridges within the outer packaging.

    All the rule is basically doing is requiring that batteries are transported in such a way that they cannot short out. Either by putting them in the device they are made for (so your gameboy is safe) or by putting them in a special container (the big Li-Ion batteries for SLR's come like that in the box anyway).

    After the Great Battery Scare last year with all those laptops combusting spontaneously their was little choice but to start with at least some regulation regarding the combustable nature of these batteries. The requirements are minimal and reasonable and quite frankly I have yet to see anything shipped commercially that doesn't meet those standards.
  • by BoogieChile ( 517082 ) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @10:59AM (#31045530)
    Or some bright spark could, I don't know, go and look up this "Special Provision A101" of which they speak?

    Tell you what, I'll save you the trouble, shall I?

    A101 A primary lithium battery or cell packed with or contained in equipment is forbidden for transport aboard a passenger carrying aircraft unless the equipment and the battery conform to the following provisions and the package contains no more than the number of lithium batteries or cells necessary to power the intended piece of equipment:
    (1) The lithium content of each cell, when fully charged, is not more than 5 grams.
    (2) The aggregate lithium content of the anode of each battery, when fully charged, is not more than 25 grams.
    (3) The net weight of lithium batteries does not exceed 5 kg (11 pounds). []

    So, unless you've got one of those weird mutant Nintendo DSes with the REALLY big battery back, that's the end of our little panic fit, OK?

  • Re:pain profit (Score:3, Informative)

    by Registered Coward v2 ( 447531 ) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @11:28AM (#31045702)

    Not sure about alkaline and NiMHs, but the cabin crew is not going to be able to put out a lithium battery that's on fire. They self oxidize. And what would you think they could do? Pour water over it?

    From TSA: Primary lithium batteries cannot be extinguished with firefighting agents normally carried on aircraft, whereas lithium-ion batteries are easily extinguished by most common extinguishing agents, including those carried on board commercial aircraft.

    Primary lithium cells are non-rechargeable cells (what devices use them?); most cells carried on board would be lithium ion. Given that a fire from one could be extinguished it seems that since it would be more easily discovered early in the cabin vs in cargo a cargo ban seems reasonable. I fly a lot and can carry all my battery needs in carry on luggage; in fact I never check luggage unless absolutely necessary.

    As for cargo flights, where significant amounts of batteries would be carried, figuring out how to safely do it seems reasonable. Given the lack of problems so far it would seem that significant changes would not be needed; but one can never be sure of what a change in regulation will cause. Perhaps fire suppression systems in containers carrying batteries? Then again, that will take space away from goods and result in higher per item transportation costs.

  • Re:Makes sense (Score:3, Informative)

    by sjames ( 1099 ) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @01:27PM (#31046472) Homepage Journal

    Li-Ion batteries are available in standard sizes as well, some are AAA sized. They run $3 - $6 online. Many of those special batteries are, in fact, just aaa or aa sized LiIon batteries sealed into a proprietary carrier and marked up a few thousand percent (since the new "battery" is oh-so-special). The only thing that's "special" about the chargers for those is that they are designed to fit that proprietary carrier (and ONLY that carrier) and so they get marked up as well.

    Looking at the battery for the SD600, a pair of standard CR10440 LiIon batteries would be smaller and last a bit longer (CR10440 is aaa sized).

    LiIon also come in a AA size and others. I have yet to see a "special" battery that couldn't have been be replaced by mass manufactured off the shelf batteries. Either the engineers are all stone cold stupid (seems unlikely) or it's a scam. Probably some pretentious "designer" who doesn't care at all about usability thinks that putting a round battery in would make the product seem "common" or "cheap".

    If that was a common thing, you could easily get replacement batteries for your laptop at the drug or grocery store. You could interchange batteries between your still camera, video camera, laptop, flashlight, etc. etc. A charger that works on all of them would be $10-$15.

    Before you say they do it to protect the device from the wrong type of batteries (since a "aaa" LiIon is 3.7V rather than 1.5 or 1.2), the device already has to gracefully handle undervoltage.

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