Are batteries affected by temperature?
Nominal battery performance is usually specified for working temperatures somewhere between 20°C and 30°C. The performance and indeed life of a battery can be seriously affected by the onset of extreme temperatures and, despite many consumer beliefs, heat is as big a cause of battery failure as is cold.
Cold batteries discharge faster than warmer batteries, so if you're using a cold battery, keep a warm one in reserve. Some types of batteries are adversely affected by high temperatures. A runaway effect can occur, potentially leading to a fire or explosion.
- Since the reactions are slowed, less energy is produced and the power output is lowered; with a lower output, the battery cannot keep up with the demand and can go dead, producing no current. (Fun fact: battery drain caused by leakage, on the other hand, occurs more slowly at cooler temperatures than at warmer ones).
- But if a car battery is discharged because of damage to cells, poor connections or a charging system that isn't doing its job, the battery could start freezing at the same temperature as water at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. "A 100 percent fully charged battery will not freeze until approximately minus 76 degrees Fahrenheit.
- When the active material in the plates can no longer sustain a discharge current, a battery "dies". Normally a car (or starting) battery "ages" as the active positive plate material sheds (or flakes off) due to the normal expansion and contraction that occurs during the discharge and charge cycles.
Batteries are a function of chemical reactions. In cold weather the chemicals can not react as fast as in warm. In fact keeping a battery cold will extend the life of the battery, by slowing the chemical discharge. A cold battery may still be good but will not have the same the power as a warm one.
- “When most motorists think of dead batteries that cause starting failure, they think of severe winter weather, but summer heat is the real culprit,” says Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council. “Many battery problems start long before the temperatures drop. Heat, more than cold, shortens battery life.”
- 6 Symptoms of a Failing Alternator
- The indicator light. It's quite likely that your vehicle is equipped with a warning indicator light in the dashboard titled "ALT" or "GEN."
- Headlights are dim or flickering.
- Other electrical failures.
- Strange noises.
- Car stalls or has difficulty starting.
- Battery dies.
- Yes, an automobile can run without a battery, if the alternator is large enough to support all of the electrical needs. However, supercaps tend to have a high charge leakage rate, so you'll need to run the car at least once a day. Or, have a hand-crank generator to charge up the supercap to start the engine as needed.
Updated: 3rd October 2019