Navigating IEC 62133 for Batteries

Which Version is Right for You?

03 July 2018

IEC-62133 is one of the most important standards for exporting lithium-ion batteries, including those used in consumer products, IT equipment, tools, laboratory, household and medical equipment. There are currently two different versions of standard, IEC 62133 2nd Edition and IEC 62133-2 1st Edition.  While these names certainly look to the be same, the standards are different. U.S and Canadian standards are harmonized to IEC 62133 2nd Edition, whereas the EU has adopted 62133-2 1st edition, with an effective date of March 14, 2020. After this date, all new battery systems will be certified according to IEC 62133-2, 1st Edition. Existing batteries will not need to be re-certified unless there is a design change. What is the difference between the two standards and how can you determine which is best for you?

Some (but not all) of the changes in IEC 62133-2 1st Edition include:

  • Separate nickel (IEC 62133-1) and lithium (IEC 62133-2) chemistries
  • Inclusion of coin cells, if internal AC impedance is <3.0 Ohm
  • Inclusion of single fault conditions
  • Changes to cell level requirements
    • External short circuit now performed at +55C ambient
    • Thermal abuse hold times have been changed
    • The crush test 10% deformation condition has been removed
    • End conditions changed for forced discharge so they are not only time-based.
  • Adjustments to battery level requirements
    • External short circuit should be performed with single fault condition
    • Different overcharge charge conditions than before
    • Vibration and mechanical shock tests have been added back to standard
  • Incorporation of vibration and mechanical shock testing, based on UN 38.3, with UN 38.3 tests moved to reference Annex E.

Regarding the inclusion of single fault conditions, the concept of should vs shall must be taken into consideration.  Under the standard, external short circuit should be performed with single fault condition; however, batteries are typically components of larger systems, not standalone devices, meaning redundancy may be implemented at a system level. This does not mean you can ignore this requirement, but you do not need to comply exactly as written.

While it is anticipated that the US and Canada will adopt IEC 62133-2 1st Edition within the next two years, without a firm deadline, it can be difficult to determine which standard to use today. Ultimately, you must consider the market you choose to enter and the end product. The end product's requirements will determine component requirements, which includes the battery.  This is true regardless of existing certifications. As such, the end product may prescribe additional requirements or specific versions of battery standards. When in doubt, consult with experts who can help you determine your best path forward.

Get more insights into the IEC 62133 battery requirements and which is right for you by downloading our complimentary webinar recording.

Rich Byczek is the global technical lead for electric vehicle and energy storage at Intertek. He has more than 20 years of experience in product development and validation testing, and is an expert in the areas of energy storage, audio equipment and EMC. Rich sits on several SAE, IEC, UL and ANSI standards panels.