HOW TO STORE BATTERIES
Batteries store electricity, providing energy to our portable devices, toys, tools, vehicles and many more things.
With rapid technological advancements in every field, we are able to use batteries to store energy on a much larger scale than previously imaginable. Huge buildings and towers are powered by wind installations and solar panels.
However, with most of us needing energy for more prosaic uses, we mostly purchase batteries with the intention of using them as long as possible. This demands that care and proper safe storage are used to maintain their lifespan.
The important question is where and how to store batteries, including rechargeables. Let’s take a look.
Nickel Metal Hydride Batteries
Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries can be stored for 3–5 years. It is important to remember that the capacity of the battery drops during the storage tenure.
However, this reduction in capacity can be reversed with priming i.e. a conditioning cycle, either enhancing battery performance during its usage restoring capacity after prolonged storage.
While NiMH batteries can be stored at any state of charge (fully charged or discharged) the storage temperature should be between -20 and +35 C, along with approximate 50% humidity level.
In order to store NiMH batteries for extended periods, recharging them at least once a year is highly recommended to prolong their lifespan.
Sealed Lead Acid Batteries
Sealed Lead Acid (SLA) rechargeable batteries can be stored for up to two years. As mentioned above, most batteries steadily self-discharge over time, so a voltage and specific gravity check are recommended before storage.
An SLA battery is designed to prevent electrolytes leaking from its cells. However, sometimes the seals can rupture and cause permanent damage.
Moreover, it is also recommended to fully recharge the batteries prior to storage.
Batteries must be removed from equipment and stored at room temperature or lower. The recommended temperature for storing SLA batteries must is between –40°C and 50°C.
Whilst in storage, recharge the SLA batteries every six months. If you plan to store the batteries for a long period of time it is essential to use proper float voltages to eliminate the risk of corrosion and sulfation.
Alkaline batteries are disposables and require replacement once they are discharged, commonly after around 3 to 4 months of use.
They are the most commonly used batteries and are easy to store. For the best results, keep the alkaline batteries at a cool room temperature with a relative humidity of around 50%.
The freezing of alkaline batteries is not recommended as it could change their molecular structure.
If properly stored, alkaline batteries can last for 3 to 15 years, depending on their type (carbon zinc, lithium etc)
How to store batteries – Hints and Tips
1 Remove Batteries from Equipment
It may seem obvious but it is essential to remove batteries from equipment while storing them for long periods. This enhances the battery life. Moreover, if the battery leaks, it won’t damage expensive equipment.
Store batteries at normal room temperature. Generally, the recommended temperature to store batteries for a long period of time is around 15°C.
Batteries must be kept out of direct sunlight and stored in a dry place – batteries lose charging capacity in extreme temperatures.
Moreover, batteries self-discharge when from out of their equipment. However, rechargeable batteries normally keep 70% of their charge even after prolonged (8 to 10 years) storage.
Many people on the internet argue that the refrigerator and freezer are the best places to store batteries for long periods.
This is practically not a good idea, as it can change the molecular structure of the batteries. Also, condensation from the refrigerator can damage batteries and reduce their lifespan.
It is recommended the batteries are stored in their original packaging or plastic boxes if you are not using them for a long period. Make sure that batteries are not in contact with any metal.
Use caps or plastic tape to cover the terminals as, if the positive and negative terminals come in contact, the battery can start conducting electricity.
Moreover, it is important to keep old and new batteries separate to avoid leakage and damage to the batteries.
4 Rechargeable Batteries
Some batteries can be discarded after use and some can be recharged for future use; it is important that rechargeable batteries be stored with at least 40% charge which allows them to gradually discharge.
While storing batteries for a long period of time, it is important to pay attention to humidity; too much humidity is considered harmful to the batteries reduces their lifespan.
To keep the batteries away from high humidity, you might consider investing in a vapor-proof container; 35% to 65% humidity level is recommended to store batteries.
How to store batteries – the Verdict
When and how we use batteries depends on our specific needs, and we may not necessarily be using them on a regular basis.
The safe storage and protection of lesser used batteries are very important, and the suitability of storage methods depends on their types and chemistry.
As we have seen, those different types of batteries require specific measures to store them according to their types, and it is up to the user to ensure they make the correct decisions to ensure they will always get the most out of their batteries.
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