Can batteries be left in the cold?
One of the common laws of chemistry is that reactions generally speed up when they get warm and slow down when they get cold. Such is the life of a battery. The problem is not with storing batteries in the cold, but rather trying to use them when they are cold.
In general, alkaline batteries perform very poorly in cold weather. As alkaline batteries are engineered with a water-based electrolyte, cold near-freezing point temperatures can lead to reduced ion mobility which slows down the chemical reactions that provide electrical battery power.
- Rechargeable, Lithium Ion batteries can be recycled, but only at specified locations. When you discard them, they must be disposed of at a household hazardous waste collection point (check with your local landfill) or battery recycling drop off location, NOT placed in the trash.
- Customers can drop off rechargeable batteries at any U.S. and Puerto Rico Best Buy stores. Best Buy does not accept alkaline batteries for disposal. Customers should call 1-800-RECYCLING or visit www.1800recycling.com to find alkaline battery recycling centers in their neighborhoods.
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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.
- 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.
- However, if those batteries are not fully-charged, they can freeze at warmer temperatures. If your car has sat in very cold temperatures for an extended period of time and won't even turn on dashboard lights, your battery may be frozen. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO JUMP-START OR CHARGE A BATTERY THAT MAY BE FROZEN!
- Defective alternator diode. A car alternator recharges the battery and powers certain electrical systems. If your alternator has a bad diode, your battery can drain. The bad diode can cause the circuit to charge even when the engine is shut off, and you end up in the morning with a car that won't start.
Be aware that freezing temperatures can do a number on your car battery. During cold temperatures starting an engine can take up to twice as much current as needed under normal conditions. It is advisable to have your battery tested, as well as your starting and charging systems prior to the deep cold of winter.
- A battery warmer/blanket can keep your battery insulated and warm throughout the cold winter months. Typically, the warmer can be plugged into any standard outlet and can be easily wrapped around your car battery. Having a jump starter kit can help to get you out of a bind when your car won't start in the morning.
- A cold start is an attempt to start a vehicle's engine when it is cold, relative to its normal operating temperature, often due to normal cold weather.
- The cold start injector, also referred to as the cold start valve, is an engine management component found on many road going vehicles. It's purpose is to supply the engine with additional fuel to enrich the fuel mixture in cold temperatures where air density is increased and additional fuel is required.
Updated: 3rd October 2019