Top Banner - Don't Let Your Batteries Go Boom The Ultimate Guide On Battery Basics & How To Store Batteries Safely

Don't Let Your Batteries Go Boom: The Ultimate Guide On Battery Basics
& How To Store Batteries Safely

From smartphones to smoke alarms, batteries are essential for countless devices in our daily lives. But did you know improper storage can shorten their lifespan and even become a safety hazard? In the UK where the weather can be a bit unpredictable, keeping your batteries safe is even more important. Unstable temperatures and damp conditions can wreak havoc on your electronics if their power source isn’t properly looked after. Fear not! This guide will unlock the secrets on how to store batteries safely for a long period of time.

We’ll cover everything from finding the ideal temperature to responsible disposal methods, ensuring your batteries stay reliable and ready to power your world. So, keep reading and discover how to get the most out of your batteries!

Table of Contents

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What Are The Different Types of Batteries?

The world of batteries isn’t one-size-fits-all! Before deciding on which storage solution is the best fit, it’s crucial to understand how many types of batteries there are.

While may vary by size, voltage, and rechargeable ability; our devices rely on three main battery types: Alkaline Batteries, NiMH Batteries and Lithium Ion Batteries.

Each has its own blend of metals and electrolytes, resulting in unique strengths and weaknesses, making them suitable for different situations.

Alkaline Batteries

How To Store Batteries - Alkaline Batteries

Alkaline Batteries are the cheapest and most popular type of disposable, single-use battery. They guarantee dependable performance for your devices by providing a reliable and consistent power discharge throughout their lifetime.

However, since they are not rechargeable, they are not the most eco-friendly option. Consider opting for rechargeable alternatives when possible.

Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) Batteries

How To Store Batteries - Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) Batteries 2

NiMH Batteries were the first rechargeable option to hit the market, a true innovation back in the day! This reusability gives them a clear edge in terms of both efficiency and saving money over disposable batteries. 

NiMH batteries can take a long time to be fully charged. Unlike Alkaline, with each recharge cycle, NiMH batteries may gradually lose some of their power holding capacity. In other words, the higher the number of recharges, the less power they produce.

Lithium Ion Batteries

How To Store Batteries - Lithium Ion Batteries

Lithium Ion Batteries, found in modern-day essential devices such as smartphones, laptops, cameras, and electric vehicles (EVs), are a newer development in rechargeable batteries.

While they may have a higher price tag upfront compared to NiHM Batteries, they are more cost-effective in the long run thanks to their impressive lifespan, faster charging times and consistent power output.

Which Type Of Battery Is The Most Dangerous?

Ostrava, Czech Republic (2024) - Firefighters put out an electric scooter fire in the city centre

Ostrava, Czech Republic (2024) – Firefighters put out an electric scooter fire in the city centre

Alkaline Batteries

While generally considered the safest of the three, Alkaline Batteries can leak or rupture if damaged. They pose a low fire and explosion risk, but improper disposal such as throwing them into a fire can cause them to burst.

Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) Batteries

Similar to Alkaline Batteries, NiMH Batteries rarely catch fire or explode under normal use. While not flammable, overheating can cause them to vent and release harmful gases.

Lithium Ion Batteries

Notorious for spontaneous combustion, Lithium Ion Batteries can cause fire and explosion if they become damaged or overheated.

As soon as it happens, Lithium Ion Batteries enter an uncontrollable, self-sufficient state which continues to burn without access to additional oxygen, resulting in extremely hard to extinguish and deadly dangerous fires. Lithium fires are difficult to extinguish with water.

The society is becoming more and more aware of its risks and hazards due to increasing incidents such as e-bikes and e-scooter fires.

According to Steve Kerber, vice president and executive director of Underwriters Laboratory’s (UL) Fire Safety Research Institute (FSRI), “Lithium batteries are generally safe and unlikely to fail, but only so long as there are no defects and the batteries are not damaged or mistreated.”

Thermal-Runaway-v2-2023-WEB-Firechief

Causes of Thermal Runaway – Source: Firechief Global

How To Store Batteries Safely To Prevent Accidents

Now that you’ve mastered the battery basics, let’s unlock the secrets of how to store batteries correctly.

How To Store Batteries Safely

1. Finding the Perfect Storage Spot

Room Temperature is Key. Aim for a cool, dry place with consistent temperatures between 10°C and 20°C. Avoid lofts, garages, or sheds that experience extreme heat or cold. Keep them away from direct sunlight as well. Avoid freezing as it can damage the internal components.

At Cube Self Storage, we offer secure climate controlled storage for electronic devices. Before packing electronics for Cube Self Storage, remove the batteries. Store the batteries separately in a clear, labelled container. This way, you can easily find them when you need them, and avoid potential damage from leaking batteries in your storage unit.

2. Organisation and Protection

Original Packaging is the best. Whenever possible, keep batteries in their original packaging. This protects the terminals and prevents shorts.

Designated Container. If original packaging is unavailable, use a plastic battery organiser or a sealed plastic box.

Separate New from Old. Don’t mix old and new batteries. Used batteries can drain newer ones.

Terminal Protection. If storing loose batteries, cover the terminals with non-conductive tape to prevent shorts.

3. Safety Rules

No Metal Allowed. Never store batteries with metal objects like coins, keys, or steel wool. This can cause a short circuit.

Safe Disposal is Crucial. When batteries are dead, dispose of them responsibly according to UK regulations. Check your local council website for specific guidelines in your area. Never throw batteries in the trash unless your council advises it (currently only applicable to certain non-hazardous batteries). Many supermarkets and shops offer battery recycling points that you can drop off most household batteries.

Remove Unused Batteries. If storing electronics that use batteries, take them out if they won’t be used for extended periods. This prevents them from draining.

Batteries Being Disposed Of In Recycling Centre

4. Maximising Battery Life

Store at Half Charge (Optional). As NiMH Batteries slowly lose charge over time, recharge them every 1-2 months during storage to prevent them from going completely flat. Meanwhile, Lithium Ion Batteries boast a low self-discharge rate, making occasional charging during storage less crucial compared to NiMH.

For long-term storage (over a year), some recommend storing rechargeable batteries (NiMH and Lithium Ion) at around 50% charge.

Whether you’re a tech enthusiast or just want to ensure your smoke detector is always prepped, by following these how to store batteries techniques, you can extend the lifespan of your batteries and ensure they’re ready to power your devices when needed. This not only saves you money on replacements, but also minimises waste. Remember, most communities have recycling programs for used batteries, allowing you to dispose of them safely and responsibly. With a little knowledge and care, you can get the most out of your batteries and contribute to a greener future.

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