Do Unused Batteries Go Bad? (How Long They Last and Storage Tips)

Do Batteries Expire?
  • Do Unused Batteries Go Bad?
    • What Does It Mean for a Battery to Go Bad?
    • What Causes Batteries to Go Bad?
  • How Long Do Batteries Last?
  • Storage Tips to Maximize the Life of Batteries
    • Keep Batteries Out of Appliances
    • Control Storage Temperatures
    • Keep Them in Packages
    • Don’t Mix Old Batteries with New Ones
    • Know a Little Bit About the Battery
    • Know How to Take Care of Rechargeable Batteries
    • Protect the Batteries
    • Protect Your Valuables
  • Conclusion
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    However, even though the battery will eventually lose all its charge as it is sitting idle, it has not lost all its charge by the expiration date. On average, batteries will only have lost about 20% of their charge by this time. This means that just because a battery happens to be past its expiration date, it does not mean you cannot use it. You will likely still be able to get a great deal of use out of it unless you have waited so long that it has completely self-discharged.

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    • Run time is how long a battery is going to last in a single usage. This will depend on the device since each device will consume a different amount of energy per unit of time (this parameter is referred to as a watt-hour). Also, devices sometimes consume more energy when they are older. This does not apply to a battery that is in storage.
    • The cycle life is how many complete charges and discharges can be done on a rechargeable battery before it is no longer working. Even though a battery is rechargeable, it will only have a finite number of cycles.
    • Shelf life is how long batteries will hold their charge while on the shelf, remaining unused. As you already know, the expiration date of a non-rechargeable battery is the date at which it is expected to have 80% of its original charge. From here, the battery is going to continue to self-discharge until it has no charge left. At this point, it has reached the end of its shelf life.

    The definition of shelf life differs somewhat for rechargeable batteries; in this case, the shelf life is how long the battery pack can go unused without losing its charge before you have to recharge it completely.

    The shelf life of a battery is affected by the temperature and humidity in the surroundings. Typically, the warmer and more humid the environment, the shorter the shelf life will be. Higher-quality batteries will have longer shelf lives as well.

    Non-Rechargeable Batteries

    Many different types of chemistry make up non-rechargeable batteries. This can have a significant effect on the shelf life of the battery.

    Alkaline Batteries

    This is the most common type of non-rechargeable battery. Typically, the shelf life of an alkaline battery is five to ten years at room temperature. Some people may attempt to charge an alkaline battery, but this is considered very unsafe, and most professionals would not recommend it.

    Lithium Batteries

    Most of the time, the shelf life of a lithium battery will be 10 to 12 years. However, the shelf life can vary widely based on different factors, such as chemical composition and the specific manufacturing process; sometimes, one of these batteries can last up to 20 years. It is recommended that you store these batteries at 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Carbon-Zinc Batteries

    Generally, carbon-zinc batteries are cheaper than alkaline batteries. However, they also have shorter shelf lives. Fairly recently, they were at a higher risk of leakage because of their thin walls. The shelf life of a carbon-zinc battery is typically three to five years.

    Rechargeable Batteries

    There are also many types of rechargeable batteries, and they can vary in shelf life and cycle life.

    Nickel-Cadmium Batteries

    These rechargeable batteries are one of the oldest types out there. They come with many advantages, including longer shelf life and cycle life in other rechargeable batteries. They are also more able to retain performance quality in more extreme temperatures. However, they have less energy density and are more toxic to the environment than newer technologies.

    The shelf life for a nickel-cadmium battery is typically between 18 and 36 months, and they can handle at least 1,000 charge-discharge cycles.

    Nickel Metal Hydride Batteries

    These batteries have a longer shelf life than nickel-cadmium batteries, but they have shorter cycle lives. The higher energy density of these batteries still gives them an advantage, because you don’t have to charge them as often. Usually, they will last for about 700 to 1,000 cycles, and they will have a shelf life of three to five years.

    Lithium Rechargeable Batteries

    There are many different types of lithium rechargeable batteries, with various chemical compounds that include lithium. Because of the different compounds that can make them up, the shelf life can vary significantly within this category. In general, these batteries will provide you with between 600 and 1,000 life cycles. They usually have a shelf life of about two years.

    Lead-Acid Batteries

    There are multiple types of lead-acid batteries. They can vary widely in performance, shelf life, and cycle life. However, the average shelf life is about six months. These batteries can typically last for about 200 cycles.

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