We need batteries for all kinds of daily tasks, some of which we barely notice. They power our smoke detectors, remotes, flashlights and countless other devices. To ensure that our batteries will be there for us when we need them , it’s important to store them properly.
Do: Store Your Batteries at Room Temperature
When it comes to temperature, battery storage is actually pretty easy. The ideal temperature for alkaline batteries is about 60°F, while the preferred range for lithium batteries is between 68°F and 77°F. That being said, all batteries will keep just fine as long as they’re within the general range of what would be considered room temperature.
It’s only when you start to get into extreme heat (above 100°F) or below freezing that you start to run into problems. Too hot or too cold, and you may see a reduction in your batteries’ lifespan, capacity and overall performance.
This debunks the common myth that batteries should be stored in the freezer. Sub-freezing temperatures can prematurely drain batteries and reduce their effectiveness. That being said, it’s okay to refrigerate them to protect them from extreme heat; just make sure they have time to return to room temperature before you use them.
Don’t: Mix New and Old Batteries Together
If you’ve ever replaced the batteries in your device only to discover that the “new” batteries are actually old, used-up batteries, then you know why it’s a good idea to keep new and old batteries separate. Avoiding this frustration is worth its weight in gold.
When you take half-used batteries out of seasonal devices like holiday lights or camping gear, store them in a way that keeps them separate from unused batteries to avoid confusion. It also helps if new batteries are left in their original packaging. Speaking of which…
Do: Store Batteries in Their Original Packaging
This is not to say that you absolutely have to store batteries in their original packaging; just that there’s nothing wrong with it. If there is a downside, it’s that the packaging that batteries come in isn’t always shaped in such a way that storage is convenient.
Leaving batteries in their packaging allows you to identify different types and brands of batteries easily, and eliminates any possibility of mixing up new and used batteries. It also ensures that the ends of loose batteries don’t contact each other.
Don’t: Expose Batteries to Moisture
You probably don’t need us to tell you that exposing batteries to water isn’t ideal, but protecting them from moisture can be tricky. Even prolonged storage in a humid environment can cause corrosion and damage, which is why it’s so important to keep batteries in a cool, dry place.
If your batteries get wet or are exposed to water, it’s not cause for panic. As long as the exposure was brief and there is no visible rust, corrosion or other damage on the battery, it’s okay to dry them thoroughly and return them to storage. But if batteries are visibly damaged, it’s better to throw away or recycle them.
Do: Cover the Contacts of 9 Volt Batteries
The positive and negative posts of a 9 volt battery are side-by-side rather than being on opposite ends like most other batteries. That creates a hazard of short-circuiting if two 9 volt batteries come into contact with each other in storage, or if a 9 volt battery comes into contact with another metal object like a paper clip or tin foil.
You may have seen videos about how you can start fires with a 9V battery in a survival situation. That’s a cool trick, but not something you want happening in your house while your batteries are in storage!
If you have loose 9V batteries not in their packaging, store them sitting upright to avoid accidents. It’s also a good idea to get some plastic 9V battery protectors which cover the posts and prevent accidental contact. Another option is to cover the posts with electrical tape while in storage.
Don’t: Store Loose Batteries Together
As easy as it may be to have a dedicated “battery drawer” or to store loose batteries in a plastic zipper bag together, it’s not a great idea. Batteries can easily come into contact with each other, which can cause a short circuit, or at the very least cause them to discharge and become drained.
This is especially likely if a mixture of different sized and shaped batteries are stored in the same bag, with coin batteries easily becoming stacked or sandwiched between the poles of other batteries by mistake. The best option for loose batteries is to store them in a way that allows them to lay side-by-side.
Do: Keep Out of Reach of Children
Batteries are a choking hazard, especially coin cells and other small batteries. They should always be stored in a place that is out of the reach of toddlers and small children. Good options include a locking case, or a shelf or cabinet that is out of sight and out of reach.
Don’t: Forget About Your Batteries
When stored properly, batteries will last a long time, but not forever. Over the course of many years, batteries will start to lose their charge, even if you store them perfectly. As a general rule, batteries are considered to have a shelf life of about 10 years, but it varies between different types of batteries, and can be impacted by various external factors.
Shelf life is partially determined by batteries’ self-discharge rate, which is the rate at which they lose power when not in use. Most alkaline batteries have a self-discharge rate of 2 to 3 percent per year. Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries typically self-discharge at a rate of around 5 percent per month.