It’s common for photographers and videographers to travel with their camera equipment, and those in the industry know that traveling with their gear can be a little inconvenient.
However, owning an LED ring light (or a selfie light) is fairly standard these days, so the question remains: are ring lights permitted on planes?
Ring lights are allowed on planes, and the TSA permits passengers to bring them as carry-on or pack them in checked bags. It’s always better to carry your light as hand luggage to avoid any unfortunate accidents.
Once your bag has been checked, there’s no guarantee that the FRAGILE sticker you’ve slapped on it will make any difference. The best way to keep your gear intact is to have it with you.
Because a ring light is an electronic device, the TSA will occasionally take it aside for additional screening. It’s probably wise to give yourself extra time at security when bringing your ring light on a plane.
How Do I Pack a Ring Light?
A ring light is one of the most fragile pieces of camera equipment, and it’s important to pack it properly so it doesn’t get damaged.
There are a few ways to pack your light, but the best is to use a carrying case designed for this type of equipment.
If your ring light came with a case, use it. If it didn’t, and you can’t get one, place your light in your bag with soft items (preferably clothing, including socks and underwear).
Your clothes act as a protective cover for the light, shielding it from any bumps that might cause damage.
Avoid packing your ring light with liquids or hard objects.
If you also plan on bringing the stand, place it at the bottom of the suitcase.
Importantly, pack your bag so that the light is snug and doesn’t move around too much. You also have to be careful not to pack it too tightly – otherwise, you could accidentally crack it.
Yes, it’s a delicate balance, but getting it right saves you a lot of trouble at the airport and during your flight.
Can You Put a Ring Light in Checked Luggage?
You can put your ring light in your checked luggage, but unless you have to, you probably shouldn’t.
Placing your light in checked luggage raises the likelihood of it being lost or delayed, and you also run the risk of finding your equipment in slightly worse condition than before.
You should only place your light in checked luggage if you’re carrying a lot of gear or are over the allowed carry-on size and/or weight limit for the airline.
Ultimately, traveling light is easiest, so before you pack your bag, ask yourself if you really need every piece of equipment you’ve got.
Can You Put Ring Light Batteries in Checked Luggage?
Ring lights can come with lithium batteries, and airplanes and batteries are not a great combination.
Lithium batteries can heat up quickly and can cause fires in rare situations.
As a general rule, the TSA advises you to bring all electronic devices in your carry-on. If you decide to put any devices in your checked bag, you must turn them off.
Spare batteries are prohibited in checked luggage and must be with you in the cabin.
Unlike a phone, a ring light doesn’t require batteries in it at all times, so taking them out and keeping them with you is the best thing to do.
Some lights come with built-in batteries, and though you can still bring yours along, it’s even more crucial to put your ring light in your carry-on.
It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the TSA guidelines for lithium batteries.
The TSA limits lithium batteries to a rating of 100 watt-hours (Wh) per battery.
(You likely don’t have to worry, as ring light batteries don’t come close to that.)
That said, TSA agents reserve the right to refuse any piece of equipment that doesn’t follow their safety protocols, so make sure your batteries are intact, and you’re following the rules.
Is My Ring Light Subject to Further Screening?
Most photography and videography equipment are subject to further screening, but it’s unlikely if you’re only carrying a ring light.
Security might ask you to take it out, but that’s usually it.
The same happens with electronic devices (like laptops) as they block other items in the bag.
If your equipment triggers the alarm, it’s undoubtedly subject to additional screening.
The same is true if the security officer feels the need to inspect your gear further.
To prevent unnecessary issues, carry regular, everyday equipment.
For example, don’t carry a stand that resembles a weapon or has a suspicious shape.
Ring lights are rarely an issue with the TSA, and the same goes for most camera equipment.
Specific airlines have certain rules you need to adhere to, but you’ll be fine if you comply.
The rest falls on you, as bringing electronics on a plane is sometimes challenging.
Packing your ring light the right way (and decreasing the amount of gear you plan on bringing) reduces stress and alleviates any issues with the TSA.
You also have to be mindful of the size and weight restrictions for your luggage, so make sure your carry-on is within the set limits, and you’re good to go.