Storing lithium batteries for a long time requires some precautions to ensure they remain safe and functional when you eventually use them. Here are some guidelines to follow:
1. Charge to Optimal Voltage: Before storing lithium-ion batteries (like those in most modern electronics), ensure they are charged to around 50%. This level helps prevent the battery from becoming too depleted while in storage.
2. Cool, Dry Location: Store lithium batteries in a cool, dry place. Extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, can harm the battery. Ideally, the storage temperature should be between 20°C to 25°C (68°F to 77°F).
3. Avoid Extreme Temperatures: Extreme heat can cause lithium batteries to degrade more rapidly, while extreme cold can reduce their capacity temporarily. Do not expose them to temperatures above 60°C (140°F) or below -20°C (-4°F).
4. Use Original Packaging: If possible, keep batteries in their original packaging or a case specifically designed for batteries. This helps protect them from physical damage or short circuits caused by contact with metal objects.
5. Check Charge Level Periodically: It’s a good practice to check the charge level of stored lithium batteries every 3-6 months and recharge them to around 50% if they’ve dropped significantly. Batteries naturally self-discharge over time.
6. Avoid Overcharging: If you’re storing lithium batteries in a device (like a laptop or smartphone), ensure the device is turned off or in sleep mode to prevent continuous charging. Modern devices usually manage this themselves, but it’s still worth checking.
7. Separate from Combustibles: Store lithium batteries away from flammable materials, as they can pose a fire risk if damaged or short-circuited.
8. Label and Date: If you have multiple lithium batteries, label them with their date of purchase or first use. This helps you keep track of their age, as lithium batteries have a limited lifespan.
9. Use a Full Charge Cycle Before Use: When you’re ready to use a lithium battery that has been in storage for a long time, give it a full charge cycle (from 0% to 100%) before normal use. This helps recalibrate the battery’s capacity indicators.
10. Dispose of Damaged Batteries: If you notice any signs of physical damage, leakage, or unusual behavior (such as excessive heat during charging), dispose of the battery properly. Damaged lithium batteries can be hazardous.
Remember that lithium batteries degrade over time, regardless of whether they are in use or in storage. Their capacity diminishes with age, so even with proper storage, they may not perform as well as when they were new. It’s essential to replace them when they no longer hold a charge or provide adequate power for your devices.