We’ve all heard the myth that storing batteries in a refrigerator prolongs their life, but is this really true?
The short answer is that we recommend not doing it.
The best way to store your batteries to get the maximum shelf life is in a clean, dry, room-temperature (68°F to 78°F or 20°C to 25°C) environment. Temperature has an impact on a battery’s shelf life and the hotter it gets, the faster your batteries lose their charge. Storing primary batteries (D, C, AA, AAA, 9 volt) in a cooler environment slows down this rate of discharge that all batteries experience even when not in use, hence a longer shelf life. However, very cold temperature storage can be harmful to batteries if condensation results in corroded contacts or seal damage due to extreme temperature storage. The condensation and humidity in your fridge can negatively impact or even ruin your batteries so it’s very important that they are stored in a dry place.
When a battery is not being used, the electrons inside can flow out of the battery which will drain their capacity through a process called self-discharge. The higher the temperature, the more the free flow of ions or self-discharge from the battery. When stored properly, the discharge rate of a single-use alkaline & lithium batteries is only about 1%-3% per year. Lithium-ion batteries which are found in cell phones, laptops, and some power tools only have a self discharge rate of about 5% per month when new. However, several years ago rechargeable batteries like NiCd (nickel-cadmium) and NiMH (nickel-metal hydride) could lose as much as 20%-30% of their capacity per month. At that time, storing these types of rechargeable batteries in the refrigerator seemed like a great idea to slow down this process. Within the past 10 years there have been significant improvements in rechargeable batteries and the discharge rate is only about 15% per year now. Instead of storing them in the fridge, it’s recommended to just recharge them.
By storing your batteries in the refrigerator you can potentially ruin your batteries just to squeeze a very small amount of life out of them. Purchase a battery organizer and keep it in a clean, dry, room temperature environment and not in the fridge or freezer.