Electricians may need a D endorsement if carrying batteries for solar power systems due to the weight of the batteries exceeding the limit under tools of the trade. More and more electricians are servicing and installing solar panels on houses. Lithium-ion batteries are used to store the power. Lithium batteries are UN3480 – this is a dangerous goods classification used throughout the world to denote the type of product on packaging and documentation.
Some dangerous goods can be carried as tools of trade, for example a person mowing lawns can carry petrol to refill the mower. However, there’s a limit of 50kg or 50 litres.
There are other rules around DGLQs (dangerous goods in limited quantities), and excepted quantities. However, lithium-ion batteries don’t fall into these categories.
A typical job for solar panel installation could mean as much as 250kg of batteries; a Tesla Powerwall battery is over 120kg. So, one battery would exceed the minimum of 50kg.
This means that electricians who carry these batteries must hold a D endorsement on their licence if they are transporting those goods on the road, even though the vast majority of the D endorsement course is not relevant for them. It’s an unfortunate fishhook in NZ transport legislation.
You can do a D endorsement online course (see the course link in this article); this is the most convenient and best-priced method of getting a D endorsement. Or, you can do a D endorsement classroom course.
So, the answer to the question is that an electrician can carry up to 50kg or Li-ion batteries without a D endorsement, and more than 50kg with a D endorsement. The knowledge gained on a D endorsement course will enable the driver to react to emergency situations the correct way, and have the right documentation in the vehicle. Drivers caught without a D endorsement can expect to be fined.
The vehicle must be placarded with the appropriate dangerous goods sign for class 9.