Batteries are a staple in any modern-day home.
Whether you’ve stocked up on batteries for disaster preparedness or just to avoid inconvenience, you want to be reassured that they’ll be in good condition when you need them. There are a few things you should know about storing your batteries to avoid safety hazards and preserve their longevity.
Keep reading to learn more about how long batteries will last in storage and how to best preserve them for later use!
What’s the Best Way to Store Batteries?
Here are some of the most helpful tips for storing batteries long-term. Simply combine all of these tips below and you’ll never run out of batteries again!
Okay, maybe not…
But it does sound cool in theory!
Keep Unused Batteries In Their Original Container.
The best way to store batteries is in their original packaging.
It’s best to keep batteries in their original packaging to prevent leaks and to keep opposing ends from touching one another. When a battery is stored with its positive end touching another battery’s negative end, it will create a circuit. If the circuit persists over time, the battery’s charge will drain and the battery may leak.
Battery leakage occurs when batteries are used for too long. The chemicals that make batteries work release hydrogen gas as they are used up, which causes pressure to form within the battery.
Eventually, hydrogen leaks through the battery seals, also releasing potassium hydroxide with it. This is what causes the white, powdery buildup on old, overused batteries. Potassium hydroxide is a dangerous chemical that can cause irritation and damage if exposed to one’s skin, eyes, or mouth. This is why it is important to take all steps possible to prevent a battery leak.
If the original packaging for the batteries you keep is missing, line your batteries up so that all the positive ends are aligned and store them in an airtight container. To preserve battery lifespan, you should never store batteries in a device long-term, even if that device is never used.
Keep Batteries Away From Exposed Metal Objects.
The container you choose to store your batteries in should not be made of any metal as an additional measure to avoid a short circuit. Generally speaking, the batteries should be stored alone in their container, without any other loose metal objects, such as loose change, stored with them.
Don’t Mix Older Batteries With New Ones.
It’s important to avoid storing batteries of different ages and usage together. The electrical capacity of an older, used battery is less than that of a new one, even if the old battery has only been used once or twice. Because of this, if older batteries are stored with new ones, they could drain the voltage energy of the newer batteries.
Store Them Where Temperature and Humidity Can Be Controlled.
Batteries should be stored in a cool, dry place.
According to some studies, the perfect temperature to store batteries at is 15° Celsius or 59° Fahrenheit. Temperature is one of the most significant factors that contribute to reduced battery life. The internal discharge of batteries increases as temperature increases, meaning the hotter the storage environment is, the more the lifespan of a battery decreases.
Knowing this, many people have begun to store their batteries in their refrigerators. While this will not harm your battery’s lifespan, it probably will not help your battery keep for any longer than it would at room temperature. In fact, it may even harm your battery, as the more extreme temperature and possible humidity can cause condensation to build up.
Humidity control is important when storing batteries because, over time, water vapor from the air can get inside the battery’s seal and interact with the chemicals within. If your batteries are stored in an airtight container, the humidity will not be an issue. However, if you keep your batteries loose within a spare drawer, their lifespan may be affected by humidity.
Extra Tips for Rechargeable Batteries.
Rechargeable batteries are becoming more and more common with the increase of devices that require longer operating times, and therefore a more continuous discharge of power. While alkaline batteries should be thrown away after they no longer work, rechargeable batteries can be connected to another power source to obtain more charge and be used again.
To keep your rechargeable batteries in optimal condition, make sure your battery is 40% charged before storing it away. This allows the battery to slowly self-discharge its power over time in storage and reduces the possibility of lowering the amount of power it can hold at full capacity (100% charged).
When you go to use the rechargeable battery after it has been in storage, charge it to 100% before you use it, even if it still has some charge left on it beforehand.
How Long Do Batteries Last In Storage?
There are two primary types of batteries that you will find in the store – alkaline and lithium.
All batteries are comprised of an anode (found on the side of the battery marked as negative), a cathode (found on the positive side), and the electrolyte that separates them. Alkaline batteries require zinc and manganese oxide for their main source of power, while lithium batteries rely on lithium metal to generate power.
All batteries are comprised of an anode (found on the side of the battery marked as negative), a cathode (found on the positive side), and the electrolyte that separates them.
Alkaline batteries are the more common batteries used to power everyday objects like remotes or children’s toys. Lithium batteries are the small, circular batteries that are required for devices like watches or calculators.
Alkaline batteries are great for daily use because they are affordable and reliable. Lithium batteries are typically higher voltage and can store more energy than alkaline batteries.
They can last up to four times longer than alkaline batteries, but they are more expensive and their significant energy can be too powerful for some devices and cause issues within the circuitry. Alkaline batteries both have their pros and cons, but which one has better lasting power in storage?
Alkaline batteries typically last up to 5-10 years in storage. Some brands claim their products last even longer if stored in their original packaging – for example, Energizer offers Ecoadvanced batteries that supposedly last up to 12 years in storage. Lithium batteries, on the other hand, can last up to 20 years in storage!
Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries work a little differently. With the right care, rechargeable battery life should range from about 2-7 years. The length of time they can last charged in storage will depend on how much charge the battery can hold and the brand quality.
What Kind of Batteries Should I Keep On Hand?
It can be helpful to keep a few different types of batteries stored in your house for emergencies. While different devices require different sizes of batteries, you should typically be well-covered if you keep at least one package each of AA, AAA, D (used for powering heavy-duty flashlights), and 9-volt (used in smoke detectors) batteries.
It’s a good rule of thumb to check your stockpile of batteries twice a year. A helpful way to remember to do this is to remember to check how many your supply each daylight saving time event!
What Should You Do With Dead Batteries?
If you find that some of your batteries have lost their power while in storage, what should you do with them?
You should throw away dead batteries immediately, and be mindful not to store them with new batteries. Nowadays, most alkaline batteries have been deemed non-hazardous, so you can throw them away with your normal trash! If you’re looking for a more eco-friendly option, you can call your local solid waste district to find out if your community has a collection program.
Rechargeable batteries should never be thrown away in your trash at home, as they contain heavy metals that are harmful to the environment. It may even be illegal in your state to do so. Instead, you can recycle them at no cost at an office store near you that has a battery collection dropbox. Office Depot is a great example, as all of their locations across the U.S. and Canada now accept rechargeable lithium-ion batteries to be recycled.
Now that you know how to properly store your batteries, you can look forward to your batteries having a longer life! Proper battery storage is not only crucial for safety, but also a great way to save money, reduce potential waste, and not be caught unprepared next time you need a new battery!