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How to Safely Store Lithium Batteries?

2023-06-09

The world of technology is often powered by lithium batteries, from our smartphones and laptops to electric vehicles and various home appliances. Known for their high energy density and long life cycles, lithium batteries have become a staple in our daily lives. However, these powerful energy sources require specific care to ensure their longevity and safety.

 

To ensure you store your lithium-ion batteries safely and correctly, we explain the storage steps you need to take in detail below.

 

Factors to Consider to Store Lithium Batteries

 

Lithium Ion batteries require a bit of extra care when it comes to storage techniques. These are often the most sought-after batteries for solar battery charging because they are rechargeable, but they can be expensive, so storing them properly is in the best interest in terms of cost and longevity.

 

Temperature

 

The environment in which lithium batteries are stored plays a significant role in their safety and lifespan. These batteries prefer cool, dry spaces away from direct sunlight and sources of heat. Extreme temperatures, whether too hot or too cold, can degrade the battery's performance and potentially make it unsafe.

 

The optimum storage temperature for lithium-ion batteries is 10C (50F). The higher the temperature at which your lithium-ion battery is stored, the more quickly it will self-discharge.

 

In most instances, temperatures below freezing won’t significantly damage lithium-ion batteries as they don’t contain water. Still, you shouldn’t store them at sub-zero temperatures regardless. If you’re storing your lithium-ion batteries long-term make sure the conditions are optimal.

 

Humidity

 

Humidity can also affect lithium batteries. Moisture can cause corrosion on the battery contacts and, in some cases, can lead to the battery shorting out. Therefore, it's essential to store these batteries in an area with low humidity.

 

The optimum storage humidity for lithium-ion batteries is 50%. When the air is too humid, condensation can accumulate between the terminals, which can cause a short in the batteries.

 

In the worst-case scenario, a short can cause the battery to overheat and it may even catch fire. It’s for this reason that you should provide each terminal with a separate cover and do everything you can to prevent humidity from damaging the lithium-ion cells.

 

Charge

 

Lithium batteries should be kept in a non-conductive and fire-resistant storage container when not in use. This measure further reduces the risk of any unintended reactions that could compromise safety.

 

Every battery self-discharges when it is stored in the long term. Typically, most lithium-ion batteries will self-discharge at around 5% in the first 24 hours of being charged. Thereafter, each battery will discharge at a rate of 1-2% per month. If your lithium-ion battery comes with a safety circuit, this alone will contribute to a self-discharge rate of around 3%.  

 

It’s best to store your lithium-ion batteries at around a 40-50% state of charge if you plan to use them immediately. You should also be mindful that lithium-ion batteries can suffer damage if you overcharge them for too long.

 

Prevent Battery Terminals from Coming into Contact

 

Arguably the most vital aspect of storing lithium batteries safely is ensuring the battery terminals don't touch any metals or other battery terminals. Lithium batteries and devices containing them should be stored in a secure compartment, cabinet, or shelf that's protected from potential bumps or disturbances. This prevents any displacement of the batteries and keeps the terminals from contacting.

 

To increase safety, consider utilizing battery terminal covers, or store them in their original packaging if it's feasible. Importantly, batteries should be kept separate as much as possible, similar to how you would prevent squabbling kids in the backseat of a car from bothering each other during a long drive. If space constraints necessitate stacking batteries, take care to position them so they won't be disturbed, and avoid placing additional items on top of them.

 

Organize Batteries by Type and Age

 

For safety's sake, you might need to engage in a bit of organization. Separating batteries by type is logical and prevents a haphazard, chaotic assortment of cells that can be overwhelming. Plus, it simplifies the task of keeping the terminals from touching. It's also advisable to categorize batteries based on their age, which may not seem obvious but is a crucial safety step. Typically, the weakest battery can limit a device's performance. If one battery is weak, your remote control may not transmit a signal effectively, or your emergency flashlight might glow less brightly.

 

More alarmingly, mixing old and new batteries can pose dangers. The constant voltage output from the chemical reaction in a battery depends on the battery's internal resistance, which increases as the battery is used. This resistance can cause the battery to heat up when a newer battery forces energy through the older one, potentially causing the older battery to overheat or leak. Additionally, the newer battery loses energy much quicker, which is inefficient. By keeping track of your batteries' age, you can safely get maximum use from them. Consider labeling your batteries with the purchase date or store receipts with your batteries to help remember when you bought them.

 

Maintain Batteries in a Moderate and Dry Climate

 

Here, the term "climate" implies an optimal environment for batteries. They should be kept in mild conditions, away from sunlight, heat, and humidity. The storage area should be well-ventilated and dry, with a fairly consistent temperature. The best temperature for storing batteries is around 59℉, but typical room temperatures are usually adequate. That is, unless your living conditions fall outside the range of –40°F to 122°F, which suggests you reside in extreme environments like an igloo or a volcano, and it would be inadvisable to store batteries in your home.

 

For a better understanding of how to store lithium batteries safely, here are some things to avoid:

 

  1. Avoid charging the battery near fire or extreme heat. If the battery leaks or releases an unusual odor, immediately remove it from an open flame.

 

  1. Stop using the battery immediately if it swells or leaks.

 

  1. Keep the battery away from water and dampness.

 

  1. Never throw the battery into a fire or heat it.

 

  1. Never directly connect the battery to a wall outlet or car cigarette lighter.

 

  1. Do not short-circuit the battery's positive and negative poles with wires or other metal objects. Avoid transporting or storing the battery with metallic objects like necklaces or hairpins.

 

  1. Avoid mishandling the battery by knocking, stepping on, or modifying it. Do not expose it to sunlight or place it in a microwave or high-voltage environment.

 

  1. Always use a proper lithium battery charger. Never use inferior chargers or chargers for other types of batteries.

 

  1. Do not mix the battery with metal objects as they could touch the battery's positive and negative terminals, leading to a short circuit, damaging the battery, or causing hazards.

 

  1. Do not use the battery with primary batteries or batteries of different capacities, models, and types.

 

  1. If the battery emits an unusual odor, overheats, deforms, discolors, or shows any other abnormalities, it should be immediately removed from the device or charger and cease use.

 

  1. During transport, protect the battery from moisture and avoid squeezing or colliding, which could damage the battery.

 

  1. Never use or store the battery in high-temperature environments (such as in the hot sun or a very hot car), as this can cause the battery to overheat, ignite, malfunction, and shorten its life.

 

  1. Avoid storage in places with strong static electricity or magnetic fields as it can damage the battery's safety protection device, leading to potential risks.

 

  1. If the battery shows any signs of unusual odor, overheating, discoloration, deformation, or other abnormalities during use, storage, or charging, remove the battery from the device or charger immediately and discontinue use.

 

In Conclusion

 

The advancements in lithium battery technology have brought unprecedented convenience and efficiency into our daily lives. From powering our smartphones and laptops to electric cars and countless other devices, their utility is undeniable. However, along with the immense benefits, they also come with specific safety concerns. Proper handling and storage of lithium batteries are not only crucial for maximizing their lifespan but, more importantly, for preventing potentially hazardous situations.

 

The significance of correct lithium battery storage practices cannot be overstated. It's essential to understand these safety measures and put them into practice. Only then can we continue to benefit from the technological miracles that these tiny powerhouses provide while ensuring our safety. As consumers and beneficiaries of this technology, it's our responsibility to be informed and vigilant. By doing so, we contribute to a safer and more efficient energy future.

 

FAQs about lithium battery storage 

 

In what temperature range should the lithium battery be used?

 

Lithium-ion batteries can be used in a temperature range of -20°C to +55°C.However, charging can usually only take place at temperatures of +0°C to +45°C.

 

How long is the battery life?

 

Lithium-ion batteries can be charged up to 1,000 times (depending on capacity). However, these values can only be achieved under optimal conditions. Depending on the handling and maintenance of the battery, the number of cycles may be reduced. During the service life, the capacity will decrease. Generally speaking, when the nominal capacity of the battery is less than 70%, it is called worn-out.

 

What is the memory effect (using NiCd technology) and/or the lazy battery effect?

 

The battery keeps track of its intensity of use. If the battery is not fully discharged before charging, small crystals will form on the electrodes and they will be less likely to accept an electrical charge. Thus, if the battery is not fully discharged one at a time, the operating time of the battery becomes shorter and shorter. 

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