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How To Store Batteries

how to store batteries

As you try to change the station with the remote, you find out that the batteries are dead! You may be in luck because you saw some laying around just the other day. Looking in your “utility drawer”, the drawer that most honest people call “junk drawers”, you try to find some aa batteries. There they are amongst the loose change and paper clips! You brush the crumbs off and throw those babies in and ….NOTHING!

If only they would have been stored properly, they probably would have worked.

Benefits of Proper Battery Storage

Proper battery storage can be very beneficial indeed. Here are just a few benefits:

  • When you need a battery, you’ll know where to look. No more searching and guessing!
  • By properly storing batteries you extend their useful life.
  • This prevents a leaking battery from ruining nearby items of value.
  • Long-term storage in devices can destroy electrical equipment if the battery should leak.

Battery Storage Tips

So here is a practical guide that explains how to store and dispose of batteries safely.

At least you’ll have one less item in that “junk drawer” to worry about.

1) Remove Batteries from Infrequently Used Battery Operated Devices

Take the batteries out of the infrequently used devices and store them properly.

This way the batteries will last longer and it saves your devices from leaking battery damage.

keep batteries in original packaging or place in sealed plastic bag

keep batteries in original packaging or place in sealed plastic bag

2) Keep New Batteries in their original packaging

Do not take batteries out of their original packages until they are needed. There are several good reasons for doing this. The original packaging will prevent the opposite poles of the battery from making contact which will drain them during storage. The original packing will also control the environment around the battery protecting them from high humidity which will shorten storage life. This will also help you to not confuse old batteries and new ones. The original packaging will keep the batteries separate from paper clips, coins, and other metal objects preventing a short-circuit. With 9-volt batteries, never remove the plastic cap until you use them.

3) Store Used Batteries in a Storage Container

To reap some of the benefits that were mentioned above, store your used batteries in their own storage container. There are specially designed battery storage boxes that you can buy or if you find a box to use make sure that it has these features and that you use these storage practices:

  • Do not use metal boxes that create connections and drain batteries
  • Use a covered glass, plastic, or wood box to keep humidity out providing a dry place for storage
  • Run battery poles the same way preventing discharge when negative poles (anode) touch positive ends (cathode)
  • Use plastic caps, masking tape, or painter’s tape on terminals if bad connections are unavoidable. This will prevent self-discharge.
  • Tape button battery terminals before long-term storage.
  • Rubberband like batteries keeping the pole alignment (negative by negative pole and positive by positive)
  • Rubberbanding them will also prevent loose batteries to shifting and shorting out.
  • For extra protection place them in a plastic bag.

Having a good storage box prolongs battery life, helps to keep them safely away from children and pets, and makes it much easier to replace a dead battery when the time comes.

4) Why you should separate old and new batteries

New batteries and used batteries that still have some life left should always be kept separate. You should always try to use batteries in devices that are near the same charge capacity. So, try not to mix up your new and used batteries. If you have doubts use a good battery tester to keep things straight.

Use separate containers for old and new batteries. If you use only one and the same container, place them in separate plastic bags to keep them apart and easily identifiable.

5)  Do not store batteries near valuables

Even if you take the safest measures when storing your batteries, there is always the possibility that the storage box may tip and open after a battery ruptures from corrosion causing leakage. That is why you should never store batteries for an extended period near valuables.

6) Battery Storage Environmental Conditions

Place your battery storage container in a dry, well-ventilated place, that is constantly at room temperature. Keep them away from direct sunlight, nearby heat sources, and ovens. Never store smaller coin batteries in pillboxes or near medication and never in the fridge.

battery life

battery life

7)  Important note about rechargeable batteries

Never store a rechargeable battery when it is fully discharged. This can cause permanent damage to the battery. Rechargeable batteries should be stored at a 40% charge level.

An exception is a lead-acid battery which should be stored at a full charge which helps avoid battery sulfation.

Be sure to recharge the battery to full capacity before use.

After charging, never store the battery in the charger itself but remove it as soon as the charging is complete.

8)  Store batteries where children cannot reach them

Place the storage box out of the sight of children and in a high, safe place where they cannot reach. Coin and other small batteries that are being used in a device should be secured and screwed in if possible to prevent being swallowed by a child.

IF A CHILD HAS POSSIBLY SWALLOWED A COIN LITHIUM BATTERY, TAKE THEM TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM IMMEDIATELY!

Do not allow eating or drinking until a doctor approves. If you can, provide the ID number on the battery’s package to the emergency staff.

Call 800-498-8666 for helpful guidance if a battery has been swallowed.

It is possible to poop out a button battery but there remains the possibility that it could get lodged and stuck along the way.

If it gets stuck it is likely to cause permanent tissue damage if left untreated.

Visit the National Capital Poison Center on what to do if a button battery is swallowed.

In Summary

1)  Do not leave batteries stored in electrical devices that may not be used for an extended period of time.

2)  Keep new batteries in their original packaging until needed.

3)  Find, make or purchase a safe battery storage container that won’t leak if a battery should rupture and that will keep electrical capacity robbing moisture and humidity out. Also one not made of metal, that could form a circuit and drain your batteries.

4)  Use batteries of similar capacities. Old ones with old and new ones with new.

5)  Even the best storage box can open and tip over. So, do not store batteries by valuables.

6)  Here are the best battery storage environmental conditions:

  • Low humidity
  • Well-ventilated
  • Room temperature avoiding extreme temperatures
  • No direct sunlight
  • Away from heat sources like ovens
  • Don’t store coin batteries near medication or in pillboxes

7)  Rechargeable battery tips

  • Do not store them long-term in a fully discharged state
  • Store them with about a 40% charge
  • Do not store rechargeable batteries in battery chargers
  • The exception is a lead-acid battery which should be stored at 100%

8)  Ensure that stored batteries are out of the reach of children and also out of their sight.

If a battery has been swallowed, Call 800-498-8666 for helpful guidance.

In Conclusion

By properly storing batteries you reduce the safety risk they potentially can cause to small children and pets. A good vapor-proof container will increase the life of your batteries and will help you to be better organized when one has to be replaced.

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs

It depends on where you live. In some places in California battery recycling is required. It is recommended that you contact your local municipality or check their website to see what resources they point you to and what they require. You can also visit https://www.call2recycle.org/ for battery drop-off locations and also how to ship your batteries to be recycled.

It is not safe to store batteries in refrigerators or freezers because the moisture will cause condensation which damages them, and the extreme cold will reduce the battery’s life as well. Batteries are best stored at room temperature, in low humidity, away from direct sunlight and any heat sources.

These expiry dates are very conservative estimates that were set by the manufacturers so their useful life should go on for a while past this date. Their capacity will start to diminish around that time to the extent depending on how well they have been stored. It is good to test batteries that have passed their expiry date to see the extent of the possible loss of electrical capacity.

Alkaline single-use batteries can last in storage for around 5 years. It can be more than this if the humidity is low and the temperature remains constant between 65 and 75 degrees.