Including batteries among your survival stockpile is a must. After all, you’re going to need functioning devices during a crisis situation, including flashlights and other tools, not to mention entertainment items.
But as with food, water and other essential items, batteries can go bad if they’re not stored properly. It’s crucial to keep your batteries in the best possible shape. You want to get the longest life out of them as possible, and how you store them greatly factors into their life expectancy.
The Deep Freeze
It’s probable you’ve heard the old wives’ tale about extending battery life by storing them in your freezer, and perhaps you are already doing just that. This is a topic that battery experts, as well as survivalist experts, have spent time testing.
The majority has determined that storing batteries in a freezer does not extend the life, and in fact might make them less effective.
What you need to know is that you should always keep batteries safe from water and extreme heat. It’s also wise to check into what the makers of your batteries suggest. We researched recommendations from two top brands:
Energizer officials state that storage in a refrigerator or freezer is not required or recommended for batteries produced today. Cold temperature storage can harm batteries if condensation results in corroded contacts or label or seal damage due to extreme temperature storage. To maximize performance and shelf life, store batteries at normal room temperatures (68° to 78°F or 20° to 25°C) with moderated humidity levels (35 to 65% RH).
When stored at room temperature (i.e. 70°F/21°C), cylindrical alkaline batteries have a shelf life of five to 10 years and cylindrical carbon zinc three to five years. Lithium cylindrical types can be stored from 10 to 15 years. Prolonged storage at elevated temperatures will shorten storage life.
Duracell officials recommend storing batteries in original packaging, in a dry place at normal room temperature until ready to use. Do not place batteries in a refrigerator. This will not recharge batteries, increase storage life or increase power. Don’t store batteries or battery-powered devices in very warm places. Extreme temperatures reduce battery performance and may also lead to leakage.
They also ask that you don’t mix old and new batteries, or batteries of different brands or types (for example heavy-duty zinc chloride batteries and alkaline batteries) in the same device as this may cause the batteries to leak.
Our recommendation is to store batteries in a temperature-controlled environment, making sure they aren’t stored near heat or subject to condensation that a refrigerator and/or freezer can produce. Battery experts agree that elevated temperatures hasten permanent capacity loss.
Loss expectancy varies on battery type. While we don’t recommend batteries be stored in a refrigerator or freezer, we know that in some instances of warm climate living there’s not a better option.
In that case, we highly recommend purchasing additional storage packaging to give batteries an extra layer of protection against potential condensation damage.
It’s important to note that many battery types perform poorly when cold. Due to this, you’ll need to let batteries warm back up after pulling them out of the refrigerator or freezer. Otherwise you’ll not be able to use them to their best capacity. Give them a few hours to thaw in order to be safe.
Aim for Long-term Storage
No matter what type of climate you live in, making a suitable place to store your batteries long term is time and space well spent. When planning long-term battery storage, alkaline and primary lithium batteries can be stored for 10 years with moderate loss capacity, making them ideal for disaster storage preparation.
Also, if you haven’t checked on the expiration dates on batteries in your emergency supplies, now’s the time to do so. You may want to keep note of all battery expiration dates in a log along with your other emergency supply items that expire.
If you have expired batteries in your disaster supplies, be sure to dispose of them correctly. After all, as we’ve learned, not all batteries are created equally.