Do batteries last longer if you keep them in the fridge?

1: Buy Rechargeable

Rechargeable batteries can be used in most electronics. HowStuffWorks.com

Painfully, painfully obvious. But a good place to start. Buy rechargeable batteries for obvious reasons. Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) are better than rechargeable alkaline batteries. NiMHs can be charged thousands of times before they need to be disposed of or recycled (try Call2Recycle which has thousands of drop-off locations in the U.S. and Canada). If you are not going to recharge, then buy alkaline batteries. They maintain their power longer than NiMH batteries. NiMH’s are terrible if you don’t plan on recharging them.

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How Long Will It Take Food To Spoil If Your Fridge Loses Power?

According to the FDA, a fridge can remain cold for up to 4 hours (as long as the door remains unopened!). A freezer can hold its temperature for up to 48 hours, as long as it is stocked full of items and the door remains closed. A crisis can be averted if you have a generator on hand that is at least able to keep your fridge/freezer cold.

Much of this depends on room temperature and the types of foods or beverages contained within your fridge, but you may be surprised at how quickly items can begin to spoil, even if your power is out for only a few hours.

The worst-case scenario is when a midsummer thunderstorm knocks out your power. If this has ever happened to you, then you are well aware of how rapidly the interior of your home warms up to a stifling temperature.

Should alkaline batteries be stored in the refrigerator?

There’s No Need to Refrigerate Voniko Alkaline Batteries As long as you keep them in a cool, dry place free from water or condensation, you shouldn’t have any problem keeping bulk batteries on hand to power all of your electronics, kid’s toys, and power tools.

Final Answer:

600 watt hours from Battery / 50.59 watts per hour by Fridge = 11.86 hours when running 20 minutes per hour until 100% discharge. It would be wise to only run it for 5-hourly cycles of 20-minutes each to still have a prayer at starting your car.

What Can we Learn from This?

As you can see from the above results, it’s possible but not the best idea to run your fridge from your car’s battery.  Batteries run about $100+ and you’ll be flirting with shortening its lifespan and not being able to start your car if the need arises.

Not to mention you will want to make sure that you have a pure sine wave inverter so that you don’t risk ruining your fridge’s compressor.  Replacing your fridge will probably be more expensive than the food that you’re worried about spoiling.

A pure sine wave inverter that is large enough to do the task will probably put you out about $150 to $200. The risk of ruining your battery and needing a replacement would be $100.

To sum it all up: Your car battery is not a heavy magic box that will reliably power your large appliances in a pinch. In fact, 50AH from a car battery has the same potential as about 1/2 of a quart of gasoline in a small generator (15 ounces).

If you’re going to go through with it anyway, keep the car battery in the car with the vehicle running and use as short of an extension cord as possible to power your fridge. That way the alternator is essentially acting as your generator.

How do you hook a car battery up to a fridge when removed from the car?

Simply hook the pure sine wave inverter to the battery (black clamp on negative, red clamp on positive), turn the inverter on, plug an extension cord into the inverter, and plug the fridge into the extension cord.

Manufacturer contradictions

Contradictory advice now abounds, even from the most respectable of sources.

A clear example is Energizer. Their Non-rechargeable batteries: Frequently Asked Questions document specifically states that “storage in a refrigerator or freezer is not required or recommended for batteries produced today” but their Carbon-Zinc application manual provides data proving that their own range of carbon based batteries benefit from reduced self discharge and states “The storage of carbon zinc batteries at temperatures below 21°C will increase their service maintenance” before going on to demonstrate that “storage at 5 to 10°C is effective“.

You would be forgiven for thinking that if a company like Energizer has mixed messages … who really knows?

Is it Worth it to Power a Fridge with a Car Battery?

If you’re going to do it, you will want to power your fridge when your battery is still hooked up to your car.  The other way will just be a headache as you have to remove the battery from the vehicle, carry it inside, set it up, and you’re only going to get about 5 hours of use before you likely won’t get the car started again (far fewer hours if you factor in an older battery or one that hasn’t been maintained properly).

Also, when you consider the price of a pure sine wave inverter, which will ensure you don’t burn out your refrigerator’s compressor, you’re looking at around at least $150 – $200.

For under $400 you could pick up a nice inverter generator that would power your fridge, or certainly a conventional generator at that price (or even cheaper).

I think the price of this inverter generator (which delivers pure sine wave current) is a great deal on Amazon.  Inverter generators are super quiet and they sip gasoline slowly!

So if you’re looking to not make a lot of noise and get the best bang for your buck with gasoline efficiency, that’s the route you want to take.  This won’t power your central air, or well pump, but it should be able to handle most other things — just not at the same time.

For more on powering your fridge from a generator, you can check out my article here.

Basic Battery Care

It’s important to care for batteries when they aren’t in storage. Batteries that are currently in use are subject to improper handling and can leak, become corroded or otherwise become defective if you’re not careful.

Keep the following warnings in mind when using or disposing of batteries:

  • Keep batteries away from children. Coin-shaped lithium batteries are especially hazardous because they are a choking hazard.
  • Keep all batteries away from warm or hot temperatures. For instance, avoid leaving devices like laptops inside your car for an extended period. The heat can cause the battery to explode, leak, or become damaged. Heat exposure can also shorten a battery’s lifespan.
  • Dispose of used batteries immediately after they stop working. Keeping depleted batteries inside a device can lead to unwanted damage.
  • Remove batteries from any device that you are putting into storage and won’t be using for an extended period of time, including remote controls, kids’ toys, etc.
  • Remove all batteries once a device stops working. Avoid mixing and matching batteries with different manufacture dates inside a device.
  • Never try to recharge a battery unless it is labeled ‘rechargeable.’ Also, only recharge batteries on their designated chargers. There are different types of rechargeable batteries. These batteries are not compatible with all chargers, even if they fit.
  • When traveling with batteries, keep spares in your carry-on. If there is an issue with the battery, crew members will be able to address it much faster in the cabin than if you stash the battery in checked luggage.

Cold storage issues

This was coupled with the fact that a battery will drain faster if you take it straight out of a cold environment and start using it. In the case of zinc-carbon, all those self-discharge savings are quickly lost if the battery is used straight from the chiller!

On top of this, many people experienced batteries which rusted faster and then leaked due to the condensation caused by cooling and/or warming of the batteries too quickly. This was also caused by using them straight away where the heat the battery generated caused the condensation.

This all then lead to the general advice that fridge or freezer storage of batteries was a bad idea and there was nothing to be gained from it.

They can be dangerous too

Batteries can explode. Yes, they can and it’s a hazard risk that should be reckoned with. A normal lead-acid starter battery for your car produces hydrogen gas when charged… And hydrogen is highly explosive. 

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3: Use the Right Battery for the Job

Not all gadgets are equal when it comes to battery selection. iStockphoto.com/Nicole Waring

A digital camera will drain the life out of an alkaline battery faster than Dracula on a peasant. Make sure to buy alkalines that are specially designed for high-drain applications. Maplin batteries, for example.

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When your room’s temperature isn’t “room temperature”

While refrigeration is a no-no, temperature still has a big impact on a battery’s shelf life. 

When battery makers recommend “room temperature,” they generally mean between 68-78°F. Depending on your location, though, your house may get a lot warmer than that.  And the hotter it gets, the faster your batteries lose their charge. Stored in a hot garage or closet, those batteries could drain themselves out two- to four-times faster.   

But now it’s getting too complicated

Courtesy of Bcrowell. The first battery in the wor
Courtesy of Bcrowell. The first battery in the world – The Voltaic Pile.

And that’s why we can’t say that the batteries’ life increases if you keep them cold. Generally speaking, it is true, but there are so many different factors to take into consideration, that the cold completely loses its importance. The battery-manufacturers suggest dry and cool normal room temperature for storing batteries. Here are some more tips:

  • Alkaline and non-rechargeable lithium batteries can be stored for 10 years with moderate loss capacity.
  • Remove the battery from the equipment and store it in a dry and cool place.
  • Avoid freezing. Batteries suffer damage more easily if they are kept in freezing temperatures while discharged.
  • Nickel-based batteries can be stored completely discharged. 
  • Lithium-ion must be stored in a charged state. If it’s left completely discharged for more than a week it has to be disposed of.

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