The strange but practical reason why lithium-ion batteries you order might be packaged and shipped in individual flashlights

No, you’re not imagining things. Those batteries you ordered did come in individual flashlights on purpose.

Researching about flashlights and, I came across an unusual Reddit post by someone who ordered some lithium-ion cells from a Chinese flashlight and battery company.

When they received their package, they found that each individual cell was shipped in its own flashlight.

Check out what I mean below.

This guy ordered 12 individual cells and got 12 flashlights to match.

So I ordered 12 batteries from Sofirn and got them inside 12 zoomable lights.
by u/tonfx in flashlight

And, here’s one more.

Sofirn ships batteries in weird protective cases
by u/JarpHabib in flashlight

It’s quite simple, really. If lithium-ion battery makers want to sell batteries to U.S. customers, they must follow USPS international shipping protocols and, according to section 622.5 of the Mailable Hazardous Materials part of Publication 52 that dictates Hazardous, Restricted, and Perishable Mail.

Only lithium batteries under 622.51 and 622.52 that are properly installed in the equipment they operate may be sent internationally or to, from, or between APO, FPO, or DPO locations (subject to the conditions prescribed by the U.S. Department of Defense listed in Overseas Military/Diplomatic Mail in the Postal Bulletin).”

Lithium ion cells must come in the equipment they’re supposedly being used for.

622.5 goes over the specific restrictions but, generally, they must be installed in equipment, the equipment be cushioned and then contained in a rigid, outer packaging to prevent from being crushed during the mailing process.


The regulations don’t give a reason why, exactly, but presumably this is done to mitigate the risks involved with shipping lithium-ion batteries.

While a good deal of lithium ion battery accidents that lead to fire are caused by improper charging and use, physical damage, like punctures, can lead to fire, too.

Just one battery catching fire is all it takes to take burn down a whole pallet of packages, not to mention pose a risk to whatever vehicle is used to transport it.

Shipping this way isn’t too burdensome for lithium-ion battery makers as, a quick search on Alibaba reveals that these types of zoomable flashlights are often less than $1 USD, cheaper still if you buy in bulk.

This one’s only .84 before shipping.

Think of each flashlight as a relatively pricey bit of packaging baked into the cost of shipping.

That’s not to say you can’t ship individual cells, ever, as, according to 349.221 Miscellaneous Hazardous Materials (Hazard Class 9) part of Publication 52, there are instructions on how to mail individual cells without equipment.

Like international mailing, the cells must be packaged once, and then packaged/wrapped again to prevent jostling and damage. Then, there are special DOT markings on the package that specify surface mail only (not air.)

But, with the majority of lithium-ion batteries made in China, if you buy individual cells from overseas, more than likely, you’ll get a matching flashlight, too.

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