Batteries are unsung heroes. While we turn to them to power everything from flashlights to remote controls to cars, we think about them only when they need to be replaced.
If you have batteries that you’re not using, you want to make sure that you know where they are and that they’re in good working condition once you need them.
In order to store your batteries correctly, you should keep them in their original packaging, or place them in a plastic container – NEVER store batteries inside equipment. Keep batteries in a cool location with low humidity and make sure they are aligned in the same direction. If possible, use plastic caps to prevent corrosion. Lastly, be sure to separate old and new batteries from each other.
Different Types of Batteries
Generally speaking the rules for storing any particular type of battery applies to most other batteries, but it is still useful to know a little bit about each kind. While storage conditions are similar, it is recommended to keep batteries of different types in separate containers to avoid chemical interactions and make them easier to locate when you need them.
- Alkaline batteries: These are the most common type of household batteries used to power electronics. They are non-rechargeable and disposable. Duracell and Energizer are leading brands, but AmazonBasics brand batteries perform well for the price.
- Nickel-cadmium batteries: Abbreviated Ni-Cd, these are a common type of rechargeable battery that come in standard sizes for consumer products. They perform well at low temperatures and deliver at full-capacity before losing their charge.
- Nickel metal hydride batteries: Abbreviated NiMH have recently become more common than nickel-cadmium batteries. They are cheaper, have a higher charging capacity, and are less toxic to the environment. They have a higher self-discharge rate, especially at room temperature, and may need to be recharged more frequently. We recommend Eneloop rechargeable batteries by Panasonic. They run six hours on a single charge, can be recharged more than 2,000 times, and last up to 10 years when stored properly.
- Lithium-ion batteries: These batteries, also known as Li-ion batteries, are rechargeable and typically used for portable electronic devices, like cell phones. They have a low self-discharge rate compared to other rechargeables.
- Button cell batteries: These small batteries provide power to small devices like watches, hearing aids and calculators. There are a bunch of different types, including alkaline, silver, mercury and zinc-air.
- Lead-acid batteries: This is the oldest type of rechargeable battery and is capable of producing strong currents. They are most often used as car batteries.
How to Store Batteries
Whatever kind of batteries you need to store, the following guidelines should help you keep them in good condition for as long as possible. However keep in mind all battery types have different shelf lives, even when kept under the best conditions.
Most unused alkaline batteries will last between five and 10 years, while Ni-MH batteries have a shelf life of three to five years of non-use.
The greatest threat to keeping batteries in good condition while in storage are environmental factors. High humidity increases the risk of condensation, and direct sunlight can also drain batteries.
To maintain charge levels and keep batteries from corroding, take the following precautions when storing:
1. Remove Batteries From Equipment.
Any battery-operated item you’re placing in self-storage likely won’t be used for a while. Your batteries stand a better chance of lasting longer if you take them out and store them separately. It will also prevent damage to your devices in the event that the batteries leak or corrode.
2. Keep the Temperature Down.
“Batteries are like milk—they go bad,” says Leslie Ellis, website manager for Ellis Battery, based in Fredericktown, MO.
If you want a long life for your batteries, avoid extreme heat. If putting in a store unit, opt for a climate-controlled facility.
However, while you may have heard that the best place to store batteries is in the refrigerator or freezer, that’s actually not the case. Not only can condensation from the refrigerator damage batteries, but prolonged exposure to extreme cold also can reduce battery life, according to battery manufacturer Duracell.
Your best bet is to keep batteries in a cool, dark, and dry place.
3. Make Sure Batteries Are Contained.
To avoid leaking or rupturing, be sure your batteries don’t come into contact with metal objects. One of the best ways to prevent that from happening is to store them in the original packaging “so they’re buffered and protected,” said Brett Brenner, president of the Electrical Safety Foundation International, which promotes electrical safety in homes and workplaces.
Or if you prefer, keep them in a battery storage box. They are available in a wide-variety of sizes. Try to choose a vapor-proof container, which will keep moisture from damaging your batteries.
4. Tie Up Loose Batteries.
If you don’t have the original packaging, bunch together your batteries with a rubber band and place them in a plastic bag.
However, pay attention to the cathodes and anodes, which are the positive and negative sides at each end of the battery. When keeping loose batteries together, make sure all of the positive ends are going in the same direction.
5. Separate Old and New Batteries.
If you mix old and new batteries in a device, you could end up with battery leakage or device damage, Duracell warns. To avoid this, store old and new batteries separately. It is also good to know which batteries have a full charge and which ones don’t, so you don’t lose power unexpectedly. A battery tester can help you sort through good and bad batteries quickly in case they get mixed up.
6. Know the Rules for Rechargeable Batteries.
There are two types of batteries: those you use once and throw away, and those you can recharge. Rechargeable batteries should be stored at a 40 percent charge, allowing the battery to gradually “discharge.”
7. Take Valuables Into Account.
Some batteries can harm other items you’re storing. For example, car batteries can leak acid, possibly damaging your grandma’s old rocking chair or your high school letter jacket, according to Ellis. For that reason, make sure batteries are kept away from valuables, especially if you plan on storing your batteries for an extended period of time.