According to the Aon Benfield Global Climate and Catastrophe site, there were 31 separate billion-dollar disasters globally in 2017. In addition to considerable economic losses, natural disasters often lead to short- or long-term power outages. Hurricanes, blizzards, earthquakes, even a strong gust of wind can all disrupt connections to the power grid in communities. Having a generator at the ready has always been a go-to solution for disaster preparedness, but is it the only – or best – option?
Portable power packs provide an ideal, renewable energy alternative to generators – especially for indoor use because of their convenience to “power up” when off the grid. These packs contain outputs that enable small electronics and appliances to be plugged in with an electrical cord.
Given these benefits, portable power packs are experiencing increasing demand from consumers and industry alike. According to a study from Markets and Markets, the global portable power pack market is estimated to reach $17.8 billion by 2020, driven by the increase in the number of smart devices, the high-capacity demand for electronic devices, and the evolution of battery technology with greater density.
But like any device powered by lithium-ion batteries, they come with risks. The potential for electric shock from AC outputs and potential for fire and explosive hazards from the use of lithium-ion batteries are very real hazards that are addressed by certification to UL 2743. Additionally, as batteries became more prevalent in all types of products, regulators and the public have become more aware of new incidents and hazards associated with the improper use of battery-operated products.
In its FY 2017 operating plan, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) outlined a project to address the emerging and ongoing hazards associated with high-energy density batteries, including lithium-ion batteries in portable power packs.
To address these market concerns and potential product hazards, UL developed UL 2743 Standard for Portable Power Packs, which, in October 2016, became the nationally accredited standard for portable power packs in the U.S. The safety standard helps to ensure the safe commercialization of these products intended for the following applications:
- Devices that consist of one or more lead-acid or lithium-ion batteries housed within an enclosure and intended to be used as a portable power source for use where normal grid power is not available or in emergency situations.
- The devices are charged from an external supply source, but independently supply power to outputs on the device when used.
- Outputs may consist of one or more of the following: receptacles, jump starter cable/clips, USB connections from a limited power source, DC output jacks and vehicle sockets.
“Portable power packs are one-stop shopping for on-the-go electrical energy. They are in higher demand given today’s increasing reliance on electronics among consumers,” says Ibrahim Jilani, global business development leader for Energy Systems & e-Mobility at UL.
In today’s stay-on-the-go culture, when even disruption from a natural disaster is no longer tolerable, consumers can now power up – whenever and wherever – with peace of mind.
UL 2743 does not cover cellphone or tablet power banks or backup chargers. For more specific information on backup chargers, go to UL 2056 – Power Banks or Assessing Wearable Battery Safety.
For more information on this topic, visit the on-demand webinar, “Personal E-Transportation: Hoverboards, Drones, Electric Bicycles, & Beyond," to review updated safety standards for e-Transportation technologies.
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