Batteries are toxic if improperly stored or used. Long-term battery storage requires specific considerations to ensure that the battery does not leak, ignite, or destroy other batteries.
There are things you can do to prolong the life of commonly used batteries.
This simple guide discusses how to store batteries and how to care for them while they’re in use.
It explains how to store and dispose of batteries safely. Some other factors which might be unfamiliar to you will also be explained in further detail.
The History of Batteries in the US
Batteries have been around for a long time. In 1938, the Director of the Baghdad Museum found what is now known as the “Baghdad Battery” in the museum’s basement. Analysis dated it at around 250 B.C. and attributed it to Mesopotamia.
This earliest example of a battery is the subject of controversy, but suggested uses include electroplating, pain relief, and religious trance.
Benjamin Franklin, an American scientist, and inventor coined the term “battery” in 1749 while performing experiments with electricity using a set of linked capacitors.
Alessandro Volta invented the first true battery, which is made up of stacks of copper (Cu) and zinc (Zn) separated by cloth soaked in salty water.
Wires connected to either end of the stack produce a steady output. Each cell (a set of Cu and Zn discs and the brine) produces 0.76 Volts (V). A multiple of this value is obtained by stacking a number of such cells.
A lead-acid battery, which is still widely used to start internal combustion engine cars today, was invented in 1859. It is one of the earliest examples of rechargeable batteries.
Today, batteries come in many different sizes, from large megawatt batteries that store the power from solar farms or substations to guarantee stable supply in entire villages or islands, to tiny batteries used in electronic watches.
Batteries are based on different chemistries, which generate basic cell voltages typically in the 1.0 to 3.6 V range. The stacking of the cells in series increases the voltage, while their connection in parallel enhances the supply of current. This principle is used to add up to the required voltages and currents, all the way to the megawatt sizes.
Types of Batteries
Nickel Cadmium Batteries
In the charged state, a rechargeable NiCd battery contains nickel hydroxide (NiOOH) in the positive electrode and cadmium (Cd) in the negative electrode. The electrolyte is usually potassium hydroxide (KOH). Because NiCd batteries have extremely low internal resistance and excellent current conductivity, they can supply extremely high currents and recharge rapidly. These cells are capable of sustaining temperatures down to -20°C. The selection of the separator (nylon or polypropylene) and the electrolyte (KOH, LiOH, NaOH) influence the voltage conditions in the case of a high current discharge, the service life, and the overcharging capability. A very high pressure may quickly arise from misuse, thus for this reason NiCd cells require a safety valve. NiCd cells are normally long-lasting, thereby ensuring a high degree of efficiency.
Nickel Metal Hydride Batteries
In the charged state, a NiMH battery contains nickel hydroxide (NiOOH) in the positive electrode and a hydrogen storage alloy (MH) in the negative electrode, as well as a potassium hydroxide (KOH) electrolyte. NiMH batteries have a higher energy density per volume and weight than NiCd batteries.
Lithium ion batteries are rechargeable batteries where the negative electrode (anode) and positive electrode (cathode) materials serve as hosts for the lithium ion (Li+). The lithium ions move from the anode to the cathode during discharge and are intercalated within (inserted into) holes in the cathode crystal structure during charging. The ions reverse direction during discharge. Lithium is intercalated into host materials while charging or discharging a lithium-ion cell, so there is no free lithium metal within. Its anode and cathode are separated by a thin, porous film (separator). An electrolyte composed of an organic solvent and dissolved lithium salt provides the media for lithium ion transport. For most commercial lithium ion cells, the voltage range is approximately 3.0 V (discharged, or 0 % state-of-charge, SOC) to 4.2 V (fully charged, or 100% SOC).
Small Sealed Lead Acid batteries
The small sealed lead acid (SSLA) batteries known as valve regulated lead acid (VRLA) batteries do not require regular addition of water to the cells. These batteries produce less gas than wet (flooded) lead acid batteries. These batteries are sometimes referred to as “maintenance free.” The reduced ventilation is an advantage since they can be used in confined spaces with poor ventilation.
There are two types of VRLA batteries:
Absorbed glass mat (AGM) battery
An absorbed glass mat battery has the electrolyte absorbed in a fiber-glass mat separator.
Gel battery (“gel cell”)
A gel cell has the electrolyte mixed with silica dust to form an immobilized gel.
SSLA batteries include a safety pressure relief valve. As opposed to flooded batteries, a SSLA battery is designed not to spill its electrolyte if it is inverted.
How Batteries Are Measured
Batteries can be measured in different ways:
This is straightforward; how big are the batteries? The majority of batteries are smaller than C-cells. Coin cells are no bigger than quarters. There are also standard sizes, such as AA and 9V, which may be desirable.
Weight and power density
A higher-quality (and more expensive) battery will have a higher power density. If weight is an essential part of your project, you should go with a lighter, high-density battery. This is often expressed in watt-hours per kilogram.
The price depends on power-density (you pay more for higher density) and power capacity (you pay more for more considerable power), so the more fuel you get in a smaller, lighter package, the more you pay.
Based on the battery’s composition, the voltage of the cell is 1.5 or 2 volts for alkalines, 2.0 for lead-acids, and 3 for lithium. There are multiple cells in a lead-acid battery, so for example, you’ll rarely see a 2V lead-acid. Usually, the cells are connected inside to make a 6V, 12V, or 24V battery. The same goes for many electronic devices, which rely on several alkaline batteries to generate the voltage they require to run.
It’s essential to note voltage is a “nominal” measurement; a “1.5V” AA battery actually starts at 1.6V and quickly drops to 1.5 and then slowly drops to 1.0V, at which point the battery is considered “dead.”
Some batteries are rechargeable; these can be typically recharged hundreds of times.
How to Properly Store Batteries
Batteries are unsung heroes that we turn to every day to power everything (from flashlights to remote controls to cars), we only notice them when they need to be replaced.
If you have batteries that you don’t use, you should have a good storage location and you should also make sure that they’re in good condition.
To store your batteries correctly, you should keep them in their original packaging or place them in a plastic container. Never leave batteries inside your equipment. The best place to store batteries is in a cool, dry place with low humidity. If possible, cover batteries with plastic caps to prevent corrosion. Lastly, it is best to keep your old batteries separate from new batteries.
How to Store Batteries the Safe Way
No matter what kind of battery you wish to store, the following guidelines will help you keep them in good condition for as long as possible. However, keep in mind that every battery type has different shelf lives, even under the best conditions.
How Long Does an Unused Battery Last?
Most unused alkaline batteries will last between five and ten years, while Ni-MH batteries have a shelf life of three to five years. Lithium-ion batteries, which power devices like cell phones, have a low self-discharge rate and could keep a partial charge for up to four years before getting depleted.
Manufacturers typically guarantee that a battery will hold on to its full charge until its expiration date. Most expiration dates are conservative, so it is most likely that expired batteries will still retain a good amount of capacity if they are correctly stored.
Environment plays a vital role in keeping batteries in good condition while in storage. High humidity may cause condensation; extreme temperatures and direct sunlight will also reduce the battery’s longevity.
To maintain charge levels and prevent corroding, take these precautions when storing batteries:
1. Remove Batteries from Equipment.
Any battery-operated item you’re placing in self-storage won’t likely be used for a while. Your batteries stand a better chance of lasting longer if you take them out of devices or their charger and store them separately. It will also prevent damage to your devices if the batteries leak or corrode.
2. Keep the Temperature Down.
“Batteries are like milk—they go bad,” says Leslie Ellis, site manager for Ellis Battery in Fredericktown, MO.
If you want your batteries to last longer, avoid extreme heat. If you are storing them in a climate-controlled facility, choose one with low temperatures.
Although you may have heard that batteries are best stored in the refrigerator or freezer, that is not really the case. Not only can the moisture in the refrigerator damage batteries, but prolonged exposure to extreme cold can reduce battery life, according to battery manufacturer Duracell.
Your best bet is to keep batteries at room temperature in a dark and dry place.
3. Make Sure Batteries Are Contained.
Be sure your batteries don’t come into contact with any metal objects to avoid leaking or rupturing. According to Brett Brenner (president of the Electrical Safety Foundation International who promotes electrical safety in homes and workplaces), the best way to prevent this is by keeping them in the original packaging “so that they’re buffered and protected,” he said.
Please keep them in a battery storage box. Battery storage boxes come in a variety of sizes. Try to use a vapor-proof container that will prevent moisture from ruining your batteries.
4. Tie Up Loose Batteries.
If you don’t have the original packaging, bundle your batteries together with a rubber band and place them in a plastic bag.
Be sure to pay attention to the cathodes and anodes, which are the positive and negative ends of the battery. When keeping loose batteries together, make sure all of the positive sides face the same way.
5. Separate Old and New Batteries.
When you mix old and new batteries in a device, you could end up with battery leakage or device damage, Duracell states. Store old and new batteries separately. It is also recommended to determine which batteries are fully charged and which ones are not, so you do not lose power unexpectedly. A battery tester can help you sort through good and bad batteries quickly.
6. Know the Rules for Rechargeable Batteries.
Batteries come in two forms: those you use once and throw away and those you can recharge. Rechargeable batteries should be kept at a capacity of 40 percent, which allows the battery to gradually ”discharge.”
7. Take Valuables into Account.
Batteries can damage other items you’re storing. For example, car batteries can leak acid, damaging something like your grandma’s old rocking chair or your high school letter jacket, Ellis says. This is why batteries should be kept away from valuables. This is particularly important if you plan on storing your batteries for an extended period.
How to Store Batteries
Store batteries in a dry environment (at room temperature or slightly cooler). Avoid storing batteries in extreme temperatures that range from hot to below freezing.
Storing batteries in cooler temperatures might lengthen the life of some batteries, but this isn’t necessary for many household batteries.
To prevent leakage or premature power loss, follow these storage tips for different types of batteries.
For household batteries:
- If possible, store one-time-use batteries in their original packaging, so they are not in contact with other batteries.
- If the original packaging is missing, line up like-batteries in a container with all the positive ends facing in the same direction.
- Do not store batteries with the opposing ends touching one another.
- Avoid storing household batteries with other metal objects, like desk staples or loose change.
- Contact with metal can cause the battery to short-circuit, which could then cause the battery to leak.
- Keep batteries of the same type and age stored together. Avoid mixing different types of batteries with varying levels of power. The older batteries can drain energy from the newer batteries.
- Do not remove the plastic caps from 9V batteries until they are in use.
- Make sure the batteries won’t be punctured or crushed while they are in storage. Keep them inside a container that cannot be smashed or otherwise damaged. This tip is especially important when traveling with batteries.
For rechargeable batteries:
- Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are used in dozens of devices – from cell phones to power tools. To keep these batteries in good condition, store them at 40% capacity. Avoid depleting the battery entirely before storage.
- Charge the battery to 100% capacity before use.
- Remove a fully charged battery from a charger as soon as possible. Do not leave your cellphones, laptops, or other devices plugged in indefinitely as this can shorten the lifespan of the battery.
For vehicle and car batteries:
- The best way to preserve a car battery is to use it. When storing a car temporarily, take the car for a spin every few weeks to charge the battery. If you’re storing a car you can’t drive for more than a couple months, consider removing the battery completely.
- To remove a car battery, turn off the vehicle. Next, disconnect the battery by first removing the black cable then the red cable.
- Clean the car battery to remove any corrosion and then store the car battery in a cool, dry location (but will not reach freezing temperatures).
- Consider hooking up the car battery to a trickle charger to preserve the life of the battery while it’s in storage.
- Read the battery manual for more specific instructions.
Basic Battery Care
It’s important to care for batteries when they aren’t in storage. Batteries that are currently in use are subject to improper handling and can leak, become corroded, or become defective if you’re not careful.
Battery Do’s and Dont’s
Does storing a battery in the refrigerator help extend its life? Learn some helpful tips on the best way to store, handle, and care for your batteries, whether at home or on the road.
- DO keep batteries, especially small and coin lithium batteries and the devices that use them, out of reach of children. If swallowed, coin lithium battery batteries can get stuck in a child’s esophagus which can cause serious injury in less than two hours. Visit Coin Lithium Battery Safety page to learn more.
- DO help Energizer in promoting awareness of the risks associated with ingesting 20-millimeter, coin lithium batteries. Visit our Coin Lithium Battery Safety page or call Energizer Customer Support (1-800-383-7323) to learn more.
- DO read the instructions on your device before installing batteries. Only use the size and type of battery specified in the instructions.
- DO insert the batteries properly. Follow the symbols showing the correct way to position the positive (+) and negative (-) ends of the batteries.
- DO keep battery contact surfaces clean by gently rubbing with a clean pencil eraser or cloth.
- DO immediately remove exhausted batteries from your device and dispose of them properly.
- DO remove all batteries from the device at the same time and replace them with new batteries of the same size and type.
- DO preserve battery life by switching off a device and removing the batteries when it’s not being used or if it’s not expected to be used for extended periods of time.
- DO practice proper battery storage by keeping batteries in a cool, dry place at normal room temperature. It’s not necessary to store batteries in a refrigerator.
- DON’T dispose of batteries in a fire — they may leak or rupture.
- DON’T disassemble, crush, puncture, or deliberately damage batteries. This can result in leakage or rupture.
- DON’T carry loose batteries in a pocket or purse with metal objects like coins, paper clips, etc. This can short-circuit the battery, leading to high heat or leakage.
- DON’T recharge a battery unless it is specifically marked “rechargeable.” Attempting to recharge a non-rechargeable (primary) battery could result in leakage or rupture. Don’t use rechargeable alkaline batteries in nickel metal hydride battery chargers.
- DON’T store batteries or battery-powered devices in hot places — elevated temperatures can lead to capacity loss, leakage, or rupture.
- DON’T mix old and new batteries, or mix different types or makes of batteries. This can cause leakage or rupture, resulting in personal injury or property damage.
- DON’T give batteries to young children.
Power Capacity and Power Capability
Power capacity is the amount of energy stored in the battery. This power is often expressed in watt-hours (the symbol Wh). A watt-hour is the voltage (V) that the battery provides multiplied by how much current (Amps) the battery can provide for some amount of time (generally in hours). Voltage * Amps * hours = Wh. Since voltage is pretty much fixed for a battery type due to its internal chemistry (alkaline, lithium, lead acid, etc.), often only the Amps*hour measurement is printed on the side, expressed in Ah or mAh (1000mAh = 1Ah). To get Wh, multiply the Ah by the nominal voltage. For example, let’s say we have a 3V nominal battery with 1 Amp-hour capacity, therefore it has 3 Wh of capacity. 1 Ah means that in theory we can draw 1 Amp of current for one hour, or 0.1A for 10 hours, or 0.01A (also known as 10 mA) for 100 hours.
However, the amount of current we can really draw (the power capability) from a battery is often limited. For example, a coin cell that is rated for 1 Ah can’t actually provide 1 Amp of current for an hour, in fact it can’t even provide 0.1 Amp without overextending itself. It’s like saying a human has the capability to travel up to 30 miles; of course, running 30 miles is a lot different than walking! Likewise, a 1 Ah coin cell has no problem providing a 1mA for 1000 hours but if you try to draw 100 mA from it, it’ll last a lot less than ten hours.
For example, in this image, a coin cell can drive a 3.9K ohm resistor and provide 230 mAh (which is what it is rated for) before dropping to 2V, but if it’s a 1K ohm resistor, it will only provide 125 mAh (image from http://biz.maxell.com/en/product_primary/?pci=9&pn=pb0002)
The way the power capability is measured is in C’s. A C is the Amp-hour capacity divided by one hour. So the C of a 2 Ah battery is 2A. The amount of current a battery ‘likes’ to have drawn from it is measured in C. The higher the C, the more current you can draw from the battery without exhausting it prematurely. Lead acid batteries can have very high C values (10C or higher), and lithium coin cells have very low ones (0.01C).
Pros and Cons of the following Batteries
Lead Acid Batteries
It is the workhorse battery of many industries, because it is rechargeable, easy to find, and cheap. Lead acid batteries are used in machinery, UPSs (uninterruptible power supply), robotics, and other systems where a lot of power is required but weight isn’t as important. A two-volt cell is the most common for lead acid batteries, which can have voltages of 2, 6, 12, and 24 volts.
Pros: Cheap, powerful, easily rechargeable, high power output capability.
Cons: Very heavy, batteries tend to be very large bricks because power density is very low.
Prices: A 12V lead acid battery with 7 Ah of charge costs around $25.
Power Density: 7 Wh/kg.
Alkaline batteries are the most common batteries that you will encounter. They are found in every store, making them great for projects that require user serviceability. They have a higher power density than NiCads and slightly more than NiMH. However, they are one-time use batteries only. Cells are 1.5V and available in sizes ranging from coin to AAAA to D cell. When it comes to having multiple sizes with a standard voltage, it’s nice to be able to specify the next size when the need arises. You’ll get the published capacity rate if they are discharged at about 0.1C. 6V lantern batteries (image above) are very large alkalines made of a couple large cells. They’re quite convenient because they’re available in many stores, have massive capacity and capability, plus you can clip/solder onto their tabs pretty easily. 9V batteries are a strange case: they’re actually made of six very small 1.5V batteries, pretty much the size of coin cells. As a result, they have very low capacity and capability and are very expensive. If you are drawing more than 20 mA then they are probably not a good idea to use.
Pros: Popular, well known, safe, long shelf life
Cons: Non-rechargeable, low-capabilityPrices: AA size battery costs about $1 and has up to 3000 mAh of charge capacity.
Power density: 100 Wh/kg
Ni-Cad Batteries (Nickel Cadmium)
These are the older rechargeables that were popular for a long time. They come in “standard small” battery sizes like AA, AAA, C, as well as rectangular shapes that make them easier to embed in an enclosure. They are not used as much these days because NiMH batteries have much higher power density. However, they are cheaper and are still used in many cordless phones, solar lights, and RC cars where performance is not as important as price. Another nice thing is they discharge more slowly than NiMHs (that is, if left alone, they will retain their charge longer.) Battery cells are 1.2V and often bundled in “packs” of 3 to make 3.6V.
Pros: Inexpensive, rugged, come in “standard” sizes, easy to recharge.
Cons: Lower power density, requires “full discharge/recharge” cycles once in a while to reduce ‘memory effect’ (the growth of crystals on the battery plates), contains toxic metal.
Prices: AA size battery costs around $1 and has up to 1000mAh of charge capacity.
Power Density: 60 Wh/kg
Ni-MH Batteries (Nickel Metal Hydride)
These are more popular rechargeables, they also come in “standard” sizes. This type is a good replacement for standard alkaline batteries in many cases. The battery cell voltage is 1.25V per cell, that’s less than the 1.5V of alkalines but more than the 1.2V of NiCads. The most annoying thing about them is their high self-discharge although battery technology has improved and there are a few low-self-discharge batteries on the market. They like to be charged at about 0.1C but can be discharged at 0.2C.
Pros: Good alternative to Alkalines in most situations, high power density, “standard” size, better capability than alkalines, pretty easy to recharge but not as rugged.
Cons: More expensive than Ni-Cads, service life isn’t as long, self-discharges quickly.
Prices: AA size battery costs around $2 and has up to 2500 mAh of charge capacity.
Power Density: 100 Wh/kg
Li-Ion (Lithium-Ion) and LiPoly (Lithium Polymer)
These are the latest types in rechargeable battery technology, and are quickly becoming the most common batteries for consumer electronics like camcorders, cell phones, laptops, etc. They are very lightweight, don’t mind high discharge rates, and have very high power density. However, they are very delicate and require special circuitry to keep them from exploding! This means that raw li-ion cells are very rare and very dangerous. Most li-ion batteries come with protection circuitry that keeps the battery operating safely. If you want to use li-ion batteries, your best bet is to use camcorder or cell phone batteries and use the charger that matches up with it. Li-ion cells are around 3.6V so 3.6V and 7.2V are the most common battery voltages you’ll see. They can easily provide up to 1C of current, some can go up to 10C!
Pros: Ultra-light, high power, high capability, high cell voltage.
Cons: Expensive, delicate, can explode if misused!
Prices: replacement “cell phone” batteries cost around $10 and have ~750mAh charge capacity.
Power Density: 126 Wh/kg for lithium ion, 185 Wh/kg for lithium polymer
Lithium Batteries & Coin Cells
You will typically see lithium batteries in coin/button cell form. Coin cells are small discs (see above), often lithium batteries are used (3V), but alkaline, zinc-air, and manganese are also employed (1.5V).
They are very small and very light and are thus great for small, low-power devices. They are also fairly safe, have a long shelf life, and also relatively cheap. However, since they are not rechargeable and have high internal resistance (which makes them safe when only one or two are in use), they cannot provide a lot of continuous current: 0.005C is about as high as you can go before the capacity degrades. They can provide higher current as long as it is “pulsed” (usually 10%).
The CR2032, which measures 20 mm in diameter and 3 mm thick, provides 220 mAh at 3V. Lithium coin cells are as large as the CR2477 (24 mm x 8 mm) with a capacity of 1000 mAh for $3.50.
The only other lithium cell you’ll see around is the CR123, which is a 3V cell that’s a bit thicker than an AA and a bit shorter as well.
Pros: Light, high-density, small, inexpensive, high cell voltage, easy to stack for higher voltages, long shelf-life.
Cons: Non-reusable, low current draw capability, needs a special holder.
Prices: CR2032 are around $0.35 (220mAh) while CR123’s are $1.50 (1300Ah).
Power density: 270 Wh/kg
How to Pick the Right Battery for Your Project
Now, you have a project you want to run using a battery, how do you pick the right setup?
The two easy cases are the extremes:
What about the power your project uses? Projectors, large sound systems, and motorized projects all use a lot of power! This means you may want to use lantern cells (one-time use) or lead acid batteries (rechargeable ones). If you intend to be somewhat “abusive” to the battery (frequent use, running it down all the way), you may want to consider ”marine deep cycle” batteries.
How small is your project? You’re going to have to use a lithium coin cell (one-time use) or tiny lithium-polymer cells like they use for little RC planes.
Here are other very popular cases:
Do you need to make a lot of these things? Go with inexpensive alkaline batteries in popular sizes.
Need to be user-serviceable? 9V or AA size batteries are universal!
5V input necessary? Three Alkaline (4.5V) or four NiMH cells (4.8V) will get you pretty close – check your circuit to see if it’ll run at these slightly lower voltages.
Making a rechargeable battery pack? Use a battery holder from your local hobby/electronics/repair shop and stick with NiMH batteries, then recharge them with high quality chargers.
Want to replace alkalines with rechargeables? Test to make sure that the lower voltage won’t make the device unhappy.
Need to stack batteries? Remember to stack batteries only if they have matching C and Ah capability, if you stack a 9V and an AA to make 10.5V, the 9V will drain in 1/10th of the time – leaving you with 1.5V.
Want your rechargeable batteries to last for a long time? Use a high-quality charger that has sensors to maintain proper charging and trickle charging. A cheap charger will kill off your cells.
What you need to know about car batteries
When it comes to your car’s battery and electrical system, knowledge is power. It’s your ride’s heart and soul, and the last thing you want is to get stranded on the road due to a dead battery. If you take the time to know more about your battery and electrical system, the less likely you’ll get stuck.
A car battery usually lasts for three to five years, but your driving habits and exposure to extreme elements can shorten its life. A free battery checkup is included with every visit to Firestone Complete Auto Care. It’s a quick diagnostic test to figure out what temperature your battery will fail in. This will give you an idea of how much battery life you still have. One small test can tell you if your battery is good to go.
Car Battery Testing & Voltage
It’s critical to test your battery and electrical system regularly, not just when it’s showing signs of weakness. Trying the battery twice a year (or having your mechanic do it) will help reduce your chances of a failure. Most retailers offer a simple five-minute battery test for free. For free battery testing, find a retailer near you by using our Find a Retailer service.
When Fully Charged, How Many Volts Should A Car Battery Have?
When fully charged, automotive batteries should measure 12.6 volts or above. When the engine is running, this measurement should be 13.7 to 14.7 volts. If you don’t have a multimeter, you can test your electrical system by starting the car and turning on the headlights. If the lights are dim, that indicates the lights are running off the battery and the alternator produces little or no power. The lights will get brighter as the engine revs, meaning it is making some current at idle, but not enough to keep the battery adequately charged. As long as the lights have average brightness and don’t change intensity with engine revs, your charging system is probably working correctly. In case your battery system has been malfunctioning and you run the headlight test without any problems, check whether your battery is holding a charge or if something on your vehicle is discharging it.
How Do You Perform A Load Test?
During a load test, the battery must maintain 9.6 volts at 15 seconds when tested at half its CCA rating and 70°F (or above). A real load (carbon pile) should be used, not one of the hand-held testers that operate on a conductance basis. It is important to run the test with the battery at a high state of charge. Please read and follow all safety and handling instructions on the battery, this website, and your battery tester. If you would like your battery tested, use our Find a Retailer tool.
How exactly does a car battery work?
In your car, the car battery provides the electricity necessary to power all of the electrical components. What a huge responsibility! Without a car battery, your car won’t even start.
Let’s take a look at this powerful little box:
A chemical reaction puts your car in action: Your battery converts chemical energy into electrical energy necessary to power your vehicle, delivering voltage to the starter motor.
Keep the electric current steady: Your battery doesn’t just supply energy to start your car; it also regulates the voltage (that’s the technical term for energy supply) to keep the engine running. A lot depends on the battery. It’s the “little box that can.’
The car battery may appear small, but the power it provides is enormous. Check your battery now using our Virtual Battery Tester.
Find the correct Interstate Battery for your specific vehicle at the right price — right now.
How do Interstate batteries compare to other car battery brands?
We stock these quality brand batteries — and we install them too.
Johnson Controls manufactures them: the world leader in battery quality with 80 years of innovation behind them.
Interstate Batteries are the #1 automotive replacement battery in America with 15 million batteries sold every year – the quality and reliability are shown in the numbers.
Symptoms & Procedures
Are there any warning signs that may indicate my battery is on the fritz?
We’ve all felt that way. Fortunately, there are several signs that your battery may need replacing.
- Slow engine crank: When you attempt to start the vehicle, the engine cranks sluggishly and takes longer to start. You’d describe it as the “rur rur rur” noise that you hear.
- The check engine light sometimes appears when your battery power is weak. Strange lights – such as the check engine and low coolant lights–could mean there’s a problem with your battery. It could also just mean you need more coolant.
- Low battery fluid level: Many car batteries have a part of the translucent casing, so you can always check your battery’s liquid level. You can also check it by removing the red and black caps if they are not sealed (most modern car batteries permanently make these parts sealed). If the fluid level is below the lead plates (energy conductor) inside, it’s time to have the battery and charging system tested. When fluid levels are low, it’s usually caused by overcharging (heat).
- The swelling, bloating battery case: If your battery casing looks like it ate a substantial meal, this could indicate a bad battery. You can blame excessive heat for making your battery swell, decreasing battery life.
- Eww, there’s a stinky, rotten egg smell: You may smell a pungent, awful egg smell (sulfur odor) around the battery. The cause: battery leaks. Leaking leads to corrosion around the posts (where the + and – cables are connected). Clean the posts to prevent your car from going dad.
- Three years + battery age is considered an old-timer: Your battery can last well beyond three years but, at the very least, you should have its current condition inspected every year when it reaches the three-year mark. Battery life cycles range from three to five years, depending on the battery. However, driving habits, weather, and frequent short trips (under 20 minutes) can drastically shorten your car battery’s actual life.
How do I determine if my battery is too old?
Check your battery case’s cover for the 4- or 5-digit date code. Look for the letter and digit. A letter is assigned to each month — for example, A for January, B for February, etc. The number that follows hints at the year, as in 9 for 2009 and 1 for 2011. This code indicates when the battery was shipped from the manufacturer to our local Interstate Battery wholesale distributor. The additional digits tell where the batteries were made. On average, car batteries last for three to five years. Mind you; there are also weak battery signs to watch for, like a slow engine crank of low fluid level. If your battery case is swollen or bloated, there’s a smelly rotten egg scent coming from the battery, or your check engine light appears, trouble may be beyond the bend. And if it’s over three years old? Consider it time for close monitoring. That’s what we’re here for.
Can a bad battery harm the charging system or starter?
You bet. If you have a weak ankle, you tend to overcompensate and put more weight and stress on the healthy ankle — the same concept with a weak battery. When you have a weak battery, your car ends up putting additional pressure on the healthy parts. The charging system, starter motor, or starter solenoid can be affected.
These parts can malfunction because they’re drawing excessive voltage to compensate for the lack of battery power. Leave this problem unresolved, and you could wind up replacing expensive electrical parts – typically without warning.
Quick tip: Our Electrical System Check makes sure all the necessary parts are drawing the correct voltage. We’ll know right away if any weak details may need immediate replacement. Please don’t leave your car’s power to change; you may end up paying for it later.
How do you know if your alternator isn’t giving your battery enough electricity?
Let’s start with the obvious symptoms:
The electrical system is possessed. Strange flickering lights or warning lights, such as “Check Engine” flicker, disappear and reappear again. All these malfunctions usually start occurring when the car battery is nearly drained and struggling to provide power. If the alternator is faulty, your battery will no longer receive a charge and is moments away from being kaput.
The Slow Crank. You’re starting your car, and it keeps turning and turning, eventually starting – or not. This could mean your alternator isn’t charging your battery correctly. If you start experiencing the possessed electrical system, please stop at the nearest service facility. Your car could be moments away from a dead battery and alternator.
Let’s review: All the above happens when the battery is not receiving a charge (due to a faulty alternator). Your battery will continue to drain. When it drains completely…well, we all know what happens next: a curbed car. Neither of us wants you to go through that.
Quick tip: The sooner we can inspect your vehicle, the less likely you’ll face every drivers’ biggest fear – a car that won’t start. Drive with peace of mind.
You Need A Jolt for Your Ride
Powering your ride is a complicated affair. Here’s the simple truth: you need a working battery to start it up. Without battery power, your car won’t start. Your car battery supplies the electric zap to put electrical components into action. It also converts chemical energy into electrical energy that powers your car and provides voltage to its starter. Furthermore, it stabilizes the voltage (energy supply) that keeps your engine running.
Come in for a complete electrical inspection.
Batteries play numerous important roles in everyday life, from providing the initial power needed to start the engines of cars to acting as a backup source of electricity in telecommunications, public transportation, and medical procedures. Batteries also have the potential to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by efficiently storing electricity generated from both conventional and renewable energy sources and as a source of power for electric vehicles. Therefore, we must always make sure that our batteries are properly stored, used, recycled, and disposed of. Please be a responsible battery user.