By Molly Hammond, Storage.com

We live in an increasingly electronic world, and while many of our devices rely on car chargers and power cords, many things are still battery-operated. While you may not give much thought to batteries until your smoke detector is beeping or your remote runs out of juice, storing batteries (or items powered by them) in a self storage unit requires extra consideration, especially during the cold months of winter.

With the right preparation, protecting batteries in self storage is an easy task.

Keep Batteries in the Right Environment

Kelvin Belle, Director of Product Development at Energizer, says batteries of all kinds “should be stored in a cool, dry place at normal room temperature.” This makes climate-controlled storage a must for batteries, particularly in regions prone to extreme temperatures drops during the winter.

Keeping Batteries in Self StorageIn a unit without climate control, all of your items are at the mercy of outside temperatures and moisture. “Elevated temperatures can accelerate power loss, leakage, or rupture,” says Belle, adding that colder temperatures are just as bad for battery storage—no matter what myths you’ve heard about keeping them in the refrigerator.

Belle also suggests storing batteries in their original packages when possible “rather than loose in a container or drawer.” Keeping batteries in packaging designed for them prevents leakage and ruptures, which preserves battery life and keeps containers clean.

Replacing a couple of alkaline batteries (ones used for everyday use) is one thing, but replacing a drawer or handbag is another. “Beware of carrying [or storing] loose batteries in a [cardboard box] or purse where there could be metal objects…If those items touch the battery, they could short-circuit the battery, leading to high heat or leakage,” Belle says.

We’ve all opened the battery hatch of an old toy only to find the tell-tale gunk and crystals of an exploded battery. That leakage renders batteries unusable and can permanently corrode elements inside whatever item they were powering. “I definitely recommend removing any batteries from toys, electronics, or other devices before they’re placed in storage [to prevent leakage],” says Belle.

Special Batteries Need Special Attention

Not all batteries are created equal. You can’t just pluck the battery from under the hood of your car, place it in a box, and expect it to stay in good shape. Whether you’re in the process of restoring a classic car, looking to store auto parts, or boarding your bike while you’re away, make sure you take care of the battery.

Gale Kimbrough (a.k.a. Mr. Battery), Technical Services Manager of Interstate Batteries, gives these easy-to-follow steps for car battery storage:

  • Fully charge the battery prior to storage.
  • Disconnect the battery (negative cable) or completely remove the battery from the vehicle.
  • Store battery in a cool, dry facility (between 40-70°F is the best for climate control).
  • Test the battery’s voltage level at least once per month.
  • Recharge the battery if and/or when the battery’s voltage falls to or below 12.50 volts, or connect a small maintenance charger to maintain but not overcharge the battery while in storage.

Storing a Car BatteryYou should always consult your automobile’s manual before storing a car, but the manual is likely to echo Mr. Battery’s instructions. Certain storage facilities offer in-unit electrical outlets for recharging or the maintenance charger that Mr. Battery suggests—simply ask facility managers if this is an amenity they have available.

Units with electrical outlets also come in handy for storing other rechargeable batteries. “Rechargeable batteries deliver long-lasting power for your power-hungry devices like digital cameras, handheld GPS, MP3 players, and electronic games,” Belle explains, adding that Energizer rechargeable batteries hold their charge for up to a year in storage.

Mr. Battery suggests keeping these kinds of batteries on their designated chargers since “many of the rechargeable batteries can self-discharge within weeks to months if not maintained on the correct charger.” Plus, it’s an easy way to keep them organized in your storage unit.

Batteries probably aren’t the first thing you think about when renting a self storage unit. But failing to think about them is a mistake, particularly when winter comes along. Be mindful of where and how you’re keeping batteries in your storage unit, and they should stay in great working order.

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Molly Hammond is a member of the content team at Storage.com. An equal opportunity storage enthusiast, Molly writes about everything, from where to store your extra boat to turning your storage unit into a custom cosplay workshop. When she’s not learning about the evils of plastic bags for clothing storage, she’s eating french fries, watching HBO, and wishing for snow.