Should You Put Batteries in the Freezer? Temperature Effects on Stored Batteries

Rechargeable batteries then and now

Rechargeable batteries are likely the main reason so many people store batteries in the refrigerator. Up until a decade ago, the customer experience was pretty terrible and refrigerators were a stopgap measure. 

NiCd (nickel-cadmium) and NiMH (nickel-metal hydride) – the most commonly used rechargeable batteries – could lose as much as 20%-30% of their capacity per month. A few months on the shelves and they were effectively dead and in need of a full recharge. 

At that time, storing these types of rechargeable batteries in the refrigerator, or even the freezer, was recommended by some as a way of slowing such a rapid loss.  

Fortunately, there have been significant improvements in rechargeable batteries. Reviewed’s current top recommendation for rechargeable batteries, Panasonic Eneloop Pro, can maintain 85% of their full charge for up to a year at a time – no fridge required.   

6. Freeze water bottles in Summer

If you have kids, you may well have discovered this freezer hack already.

A cold drink really is like a dream come true on a hot Summer’s day, especially after PE.

A great way to keep drinks cooler for longer if you don’t have a fridge is to freeze the bottles. Take them out in the morning and pop them in your bag. They’ll defrost slowly during the day, leaving you with an ice-cold beverage to sip on.

Video

10. A freezer hack for those leftover herbs

We love cooking delicious, flavoursome meals here at Expert Home Tips, but one thing we don’t love, is food waste.

If your recipe calls for lots of fresh herbs you know you might not use in the days to come, you can freeze them for later.

Use an ice cube tray and put some cut herbs into each section. Top with water, and freeze. They’re great for throwing into soups, stews and other dishes to add a burst of authentic flavour.

What About Other Battery Types?

It’s worth noting that the experiment could be repeated with different types of batteries. For example:

  • Nickel-based batteries: Batteries like nickel-cadmium or nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) are usually rechargeable, so the experiment could test how long they hold a charge under different scenarios.
  • Lithium-ion batteries: Also known as Li-ion batteries, these are also rechargeable batteries. The same thought process could be applied to estimate how long the batteries would last without a charger.
  • Deep cycle batteries: These batteries have a higher voltage and are used in vehicles. They are built to discharge deeply, using most of their capacity like most cycle batteries.
  • Alkaline batteries: Would the temperature fluctuation change the chemical reactions in alkaline batteries that give them so much power? Is there a difference between non-rechargeable batteries and chargeable batteries?

If you test them, let me know!

Some tips to prolong your batteries

If you don’t want to replace your lithium-ion battery too quickly, there are specific ways to prolong its life and delay the time of replacement:

Avoid charging all the way to 100%

It might seem efficient to charge the battery to 100% before you disconnect it. However, the reality is quite the opposite. Instead, it would be best to reduce the float voltage to increase the battery’s overall service life and cycle life. Of course, doing this will reduce the battery capacity, but it will increase the overall life of your battery up to five times!

Avoid deep discharges

Do not go below 2 to 2.5 Volts because deep discharges permanently and very quickly damage lithium-ion batteries. It can cause a short circuit inside the battery, making it unsafe and unusable. Many lithium-ion batteries usually have protective circuitry inside the battery packs. They open the connection if the voltage goes any lower than 2.5 volts or over 4.3 volts. So even if the current goes higher than a preset threshold when discharging or charging, the lithium-ion battery is protected.

Monitor your battery’s temperature

A battery’s temperature plays an essential role in its overall life. If it reaches the extremes, there is a higher chance that your battery will give up on you sooner than expected. When the heat exceeds the threshold, the battery becomes unsafe and unstable to use. It promotes plating, which leads to internal short circuits. Hence, prohibit battery temperatures from going below zero degrees Celsius.

Specific tips for specific device battery

If you are concerned about your specific device battery, check these infographics out for more details:

An essential device for most students. Knowing how
An essential device for most students. Knowing how to prolong a laptop battery life can save you a lot of money in the future!
Replacing a phone battery can be a hassle these da
Replacing a phone battery can be a hassle these days. Knowing these tips will undoubtedly alleviate a lot of problems for you!
If you know how to handle a power tool, you probab
If you know how to handle a power tool, you probably already knew to take care of its battery! Still, it doesn’t hurt to learn a new thing or two along the way.

Does Putting Dead Phone Batteries In The Freezer Revive The Batteries?

Dead batteries should not be placed in the trash right away. There are ways to revive a dead battery. You can still restore the cells in two different ways or method. Find which one will suit you best.

Method 1: Freezing the batteries

1. Remove the battery from the phone. 2. Place the battery in a sealed plastic before placing it inside a plastic container. Avoid using paper bags or foils because water can easily sip in. 3. Place the sealed battery inside your freezer. Leave it on your freezer overnight or at least 12 straight hours. 4. Remove the battery from the freezer. Let it warm down to room temperature. Avoid using the battery while it is frozen. 5. Remove moisture from the battery. 6. Return the array in your gadget but don’t turn it on yet. Charge your phone using its charger. Allow the battery at least 48 hours of charging time. 7. After loading your phone for at least 48 hours, you have to check the battery power level. You will notice that it can hold its charge again.

Method 2: Jumpstarting the batteries

1. Ready everything you will need in jumpstarting your cells. For this, you will need a : ● 9V battery ● Electrical tape ● Electrical wire (You may choose the red and black wire). 2. Connect the positive and negative terminal of your phone battery to the electrical wires. You can quickly determine these through the + and – signs. Phone terminals usually have more than one battery terminals. Better use the ones that are far from each other. Never used the central terminals. 3. Use electrical tape to cover the connections. Be careful with the contacts so as not to interchange it. 4. Connect the wire of the positive terminal to the positive terminal of your phone. Do the same thing with the negative end. 5. Secure the connections by using electrical tape. Store it at cold temperature and away from water and heat. 6. Let it sit for about a minute or until the battery gets a little warmer. Make sure to monitor the charging time and be on the lookout every time. 7. Disconnect when you feel that the battery is already warm to touch. 8. Place back the battery in your phone and check if it powers on. 9. See the battery level when you put it on. When the charge is not yet done, put it back and wait until the battery becomes fully charged.

Batteries Need to Be Kept Dry

Moisture is another environmental factor that can have a huge effect on batteries. If you look closely at the labels on your batteries, you’ll see that you need to store them in a dry place. Why? Because excessive humidity can build up inside a battery and permanently damage how the battery functions. Moreover, if rust builds up within the terminals, it will be difficult for the battery to maintain good connections.

Remember that old saying: “Electricity and water don’t mix?” Well, it’s never been more true than when it comes to batteries, and it’s yet another reason to avoid storing them in the freezer. 

Flashlight Batteries: To Refrigerate or Not to Refrigerate

I had a childhood friend that, when he needed flashlight batteries, got them from his mother who stored them in the refrigerator. Later, when I mentioned this to a college roommate, I was informed that HIS grandmother went a step further. She used the freezer for battery storage.

As preppers, we should probably all know the answer to this question — can we extend the shelf life of a flashlight by storing batteries in the refrigerator or freezer? What do you think?

One thing is certain. If you freeze or refrigerate batteries, you must let them thaw for a couple of days and come up to room temperature before using them. Your car battery, for example, might crank on your hard-starting car for 15 minutes in the summer before dying but only two or three minutes in the winter. Cold saps battery life dramatically.

But that’s in use. In storage, cold will slow electrical activity (leakage, in the case of batteries) and, in theory, stop the battery from running down. Or slow the battery from running down. Nothing will stop it completely. “All energy systems run downhill,” as they say.

As a child, comparing the performance of my flashlight to my friend’s flashlight (equipped with refrigerated batteries), I never saw much of a difference. But what if I conducted a controlled experiment? Would refrigeration make a measurable difference?

The Experiment

So, a while back I went to the store and bought six “D” batteries. They were neither dollar-store cheapies nor expensive alkaline batteries. They were Eveready-brand carbon-zinc batteries. I marked the date on the packages and put two in the freezer, two in the refrigerator, and two in the cupboard over the kitchen stove. Because of cooking heat, the last two were slightly above room temperature, both summer and winter, for the duration.

After two years, eight months, and three days, I decided it was testing time. So I laid all the batteries on the dining room table for two days to thaw out and equalize in temperature. In regards to the batteries stored above the kitchen stove, I really thought that they would die after just a couple of hours.

I tested them all simultaneously, side by side. I used three Rayovac-brand flashlights, all purchased at the same time, all equipped with standard bulbs (not LED, not Krypton). The flashlights were carefully labeled as to which batteries they contained.

The first thing that impressed me — amazed me, really — was how long the batteries lasted. At first, they all appeared to give off the same amount of light; they were of equivalent brightness. After six hours they had all dimmed and needed replacement. Six hours of continuous burning after 2.5 years of storage! I had expected two or three hours tops.

At the end of six hours, they were all burning with equivalent brightness but were a lot dimmer. I would have been somewhat reluctant to go to the mailbox or even out to the barn with any of them.

At the end of eight hours, they were all down to glowworm status. At this point, the room-temperature batteries gave only a pinpoint of light whereas the refrigerated/frozen batteries, a brighter glow.

But, they all reached the end of their useful life at the same time (six hours) at which point they had equivalent brightness. You could have switched the labels around on the flashlights and no one would have been the wiser.

I concluded that attempting to extend battery shelf-life by refrigeration was, and is, a waste of time. And that’s worth knowing, is it not? This was not, and is not armchair theory. This was a real test with real batteries. If you repeat the test, you can expect the same results. Call it the “scientific method” in action.

How to Protect and Keep Your Batteries Functioning in Cold Temperatures

If you anticipate needing to use your batteries in cold temperatures, that is another situation. One thing is for certain: lithium batteries work WAY better in cold temperatures than lead-acid.

However, even lithium batteries perform best when above freezing temperatures. In fact, our internal BMS has a charging cut-off that prevents the battery from charging and damaging itself at these low temperatures.

By keeping your batteries warm in colder temperatures you can avoid charging difficulties. This can be accomplished by using an external heating pad or by keeping your lithium batteries in an insulated or heated compartment. (Reminder: lead-acid batteries cannot be installed in a non-vented compartment, but our lithium batteries can!)

However, to make the process even easier, we’ve installed heat-enablers in our lithium batteries. The technology incorporates an internal heating system, allowing for charging and discharging in colder climates and expanding the temperature restrictions for the Battery Management System (BMS). The heating element is easy to use and can be enabled and disabled with a switch to prevent accidental usage. They are also very easily prepared for long-term storage.

Learn more about our Heated Batteries in the video below!

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