How to Safely Store Camera Batteries

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How to Safely Store Camera Batteries

Many cameras come with their brand- and model-specific batteries. To be safe and sure, read the user's manual and follow the camera or battery manufacturer's instructions for proper handling and storage of batteries.

Basic Tips on Storing Camera Batteries

A few simple storage and handling measures apply to camera batteries in general. The ideal storage temperature for the majority of batteries is 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit). On either extremes of the temperature range, levels lower than minus 40 degrees Celsius or higher than 50 degrees Celsius should be avoided to prevent degradation of the battery.
Spare batteries that are to be kept in reserve should not be removed from their original packaging. Some batteries such as the 9-volt ones may come with plastic caps; remove them only when it is time to use them. Do not mix new with used batteries in storage. Arrange batteries in such a way that their terminals do not get in direct contact with each other. Otherwise, cover the terminal contacts with insulated tape to avoid short circuits. The same principle explains why coins, keys, and other metal objects should be kept apart from batteries.
Store batteries in a cool, clean, and dry place. Hide them out of sight and out of reach of pets and children. Avoid keeping batteries in draughty, damp, dusty, hot, or humid environments. As much as possible, prevent subjecting batteries to sudden fluctuations in climate and humidity levels. Elevated temperatures speed up the normal self-discharging process of batteries.

Camera Battery Storage Solutions

If some circumstances are unavoidable, provide suitable storage solutions. For example, turn on a dehumidifier to help bring down the humidity level. Alternatively, pack the batteries with desiccant packets to absorb moisture and inhibit the growth of mould, mildew, or fungus. If the camera will not be used for over a month, remove the batteries from the device to avoid leakage, particularly in high-temperature areas. One downside of taking out the batteries is reprogramming lost settings, such as date and time.

It is recommended that batteries be kept in storage cases that are specially designed to protect them. Some chargers come with storage space as well. Usually, two to four batteries can fit into the storage compartments. Camera batteries and storage cases are available at camera shops, retailers carrying camera accessories, and online stores.

Charging Rechargeable Batteries for Storage

The majority of camera manufacturers produce batteries under their brand that are intended for use with specific camera models. Cameras are usually sold as bundles with rechargeable batteries and charging units. This ensures compatibility between the batteries and chargers.
To maximise their expected battery life, rechargeable batteries require periodic charging that may range from three to nine months, depending on the battery type. It is normal for batteries to gradually lose power or self-discharge even when they are kept idle or in storage. Ensure that batteries are recharged a day before the camera will be used. Be careful not to charge beyond the safe level recommended by the manufacturer for a particular battery type. To avoid overcharging, promptly remove the battery from the charging unit. Excessive charging, along with high temperature conditions, can permanently damage rechargeable batteries.

Lead Acid Batteries

Before storing a lead acid battery, charge it fully and ensure that it remains charged while in storage. Its voltage and specific gravity should be monitored from time to time and recharged as necessary. A voltage of 2.10 V/cell and specific gravity of 1.225 are approaching near-critical levels, so boost the battery when the readings fall below these thresholds.

Nickel-Based and Lithium-Ion Batteries

For storage purposes, a 40 per cent state of charge (SoC) is recommended for lithium-ion batteries . The SoC is the optimum charge level that maintains the battery in functioning condition and reduces capacity loss while letting it self-discharge. Self-discharge is the capacity loss incurred when a battery is not in use or in storage. Remember that the ambient temperature and humidity levels also influence the discharge rate.

For average users, measuring the SoC levels of rechargeable batteries is not an exact science. The easiest way to obtain a rough estimate of a lithium-ion battery's charge is by taking a voltage reading. A lithium-ion battery's SoC is approximately equivalent to 50 per cent at 3.80 V/cell and 40 per cent at 3.75 V/cell. After charging or discharging a lithium-ion battery, let it rest for an hour and a half to restore its equilibrium, then conduct the voltage test.

Gauging the charge level of nickel-based batteries is more challenging due to fluctuations caused by a number of factors. Anyway, it is not necessary to obtain a precise measurement for this battery type since its SoC at storage is not that critical. The trick is to check the battery periodically and put some charge into it when it is empty.

Battery Life in Storage

Elevated temperatures and prolonged overcharging reduce a battery's expected lifespan. Store batteries at normal room temperature. Avoid full charge voltage for lithium-ion batteries when they will not be in use for an extended time; just recharge them before use.

Refer to the table below for the storage life and tips to extend the lifespan of common battery types.

Battery Type

Storage Life

Features

Recommendations

Lithium-ion

2-3 years

Needs to be kept in a charged state of 40 per cent

During storage, maintain 40 per cent SoC (or the percentage recommended by the manufacturer) so that even with self-discharge, the voltage threshold does not drop below 2.50 V/cell.
Should the voltage remain under 2.00 V/cell after 7 days, discard the battery.

Lead acid

2 years

When sealed, reaches maximum shelf life
Critical level is 70 per cent SoC

Regularly check its voltage and specific gravity; recharge when readings are nearing critical levels.
Refer to the manufacturer's instructions for the recommended recharging levels.

Nickel-metal-hydride

3 years

Rapid charging

Prime to partially restore capacity loss incurred in storage.

Nickel- cadmium

5 years

Even at zero terminal voltage, can still operate after priming

Priming cycle is needed when voltage reading falls below 1V/cell.

Primary alkaline and lithium

10 years

Minimal capacity loss

Follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Estimated Recoverable Capacities of Batteries

It is normal for batteries to age or lose capacity in storage. Ideal conditions retard the effects of capacity loss. Low temperatures, low humidity and the recommended state of charge specific to a battery type maximise a battery's recoverable capacity. Recoverable capacity is defined as a battery's discharge capacity that can be restored after it declines. Recovered capacity refers to the power available in a battery when it is retrieved from storage and fully charged.
The following table gives the estimated recoverable capacity of lead acid battery at full charge under various temperatures.

Lead Acid Battery

Per cent charge

Temperature in Celsius

Percentage Recoverable capacity

Period

Full charge

0

97

1 year

 

25

90

1 year

 

40

62

1 year

 

60

38

after 6 months

The tables below list the estimated recoverable capacities of nickel-based and lithium-ion batteries over one year (unless otherwise stated) under different temperatures and charge levels.

Nickel-based Battery

Per cent Charge

Temperature in Celsius

Per Cent Recoverable capacity
 

Stored at any charge

0

99

 

25

97

 

40

95

 

60

70

Lithium-ion Battery

Temperature in Celsius

Per cent Recoverable capacity at 40 per cent SoC

Per cent Recoverable capacity at 100 per cent SoC

0

98

94

25

96

80

40

85

65

60

75

60 (after 3 months)

Find Camera Batteries and Storage Cases on eBay

For a quick search of camera batteries available on eBay, type those keywords in the search box on the homepage. On the left pane of the results page, navigate to Camera & Photo Accessories and click on Batteries. Narrow the search by brand, compatible brand, condition, etc. The Charger Included subcategory gives browsers the choice of charger and battery bundles as well. To find battery storage cases, enter those keywords on the eBay search field. Alternatively, select the subcategory Battery Grips under the Camera & Photo Accessories category and check the compatible brand.

Conclusion

For the most part, exercise common sense in handling and storing batteries, such as not leaving batteries exposed to the elements, direct sunlight, near a radiator or inside a hot vehicle. Following the manufacturer's storage instructions ensures safety and extends the battery's lifespan. Remember to dispose of used batteries carefully and responsibly.

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