Are you aware of the UN38.8 Lithium battery certification?

We are all familiar with Lithium batteries and their increasingly popular application in electrical devices. For designers they are the go-to power supply and are used in their millions in a number of configurations. However, their use comes with a cautionary note, and this can be summarised in the old saying of “buyer beware”. These batteries have the potential to be a hazard. The battery must be safe and reliable for its intended use.

One of the questions you should ask of the vendor is, “does the battery meet the UN38.8 standard, set by the United Nations?”

Why is this question so important?

A UN38.8 certified lithium battery will have undergone a series of rigorous tests to show they withstand the physical and environmental hazards expected during intended use. It goes without saying that any product using a certified battery will not only be safer, but likely last longer too.

The responsibility to ensure that Lithium batteries meets standards falls upon the seller, but many buyers and sellers of electronic products across the globe are unaware that international regulatory bodies require this certification prior to shipping these goods. This opens up the possibility of uncertified batteries being offered for sale, usually at a bargain price.

There are 8 tests in the certification process, and each one must be passed in order to receive certification. This testing helps to provide an important safeguard for product developers, product sellers and lastly consumers. These tests are to ensure that a battery will not rupture, leak, disassemble or combust during transportation or during the products intended use.

The 8 tests are:

  1. Altitude simulation.
  2. Thermal testing.
  3. Vibration testing.
  4. Shock testing.
  5. External short circuit.
  6. Impact and crush.
  7. Overcharge.
  8. Forced discharge.

If a product is going to have a Lithium battery incorporated, then we would recommend only using batteries which have the appropriate UN38.8 certification. This will help to protect against using poor quality or faulty batteries which could ultimately provide customers with greater satisfaction and safety.