How-To

What’s the Best Way to Store a Lithium-Ion Battery?

Using your laptop as a desktop replacement? Leaving the battery in while it’s plugged in can reduce its life. Here’s how to maximize laptop battery life.

Some of us use our laptops as desktop replacements, so it doesn’t make much sense to keep the battery inside your laptop full-time. That ends up decreasing its power storage capacity. Here’s the best way to store it.

Storing a Lithium-Ion Battery

But will my laptop work without the battery while it’s plugged in?

The answer is yes, while plugged into AC, your laptop will work just fine even if the battery isn’t inside it, as detailed in this article. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s see what the best way to store a laptop battery is.

Today, Lithium-Ion batteries are the battery type found in pretty much 99% of all laptop PC and devices sold over that past five years. Now although most Lithium-Ion batteries will perform well for 2-3 years, if you want to extend the life of your battery, you can following a few tips.

Store Laptop Battery

First, before storing your battery, make sure it’s not empty. Over time, batteries will leak power so if it’s stored at no charge in it, there’s a chance it won’t accept a charge again. Since this defeats our goal of extending the life of a battery… don’t do that!

In order to lose the smallest amount of power while in storage, change your battery to 40% then unplug it and store it in a temperature controlled location. The below graph (data comes from here) outlines the ideal charge point and temperature for battery storage.

Storage TemperatureCharged to 40% – capacity loss after a year Charged to 100% – capacity loss after a year
0 °C (32 °F)2%6%
25 °C (77 °F)4%20%
40 °C (104 °F)15%35%
60 °C (140 °F)25%40%

As you can see, 0 degrees centigrade (which translates to 32 degrees Fahrenheit) and 40% battery charge loses the least amount of power. Just 2%. The reason is that constant temperature is your best friend. Now the good news is most refrigerators hover between 34-38 degrees Fahrenheit which is almost perfect. It also provides the battery a constant temperature that rarely changes.

Charge my battery to 40% then stick it in the fridge. Got it. Anything else?

The problem with a refrigerator is that it’s a damp environment, which could cause parts of the battery to rust. So, before you put the battery in the refrigerator, make sure you put it in a Ziploc bag. If you want to take extra precautions, I also suggest putting a desiccant in the Ziploc bag, along with the battery. Getting one shouldn’t be too difficult – almost anything you buy these days will be packed with one. If you can’t find one, however, just grab some off Amazon.

Desiccant

It’s also a good idea to remove the battery from your fridge every month and perform a full recharge-discharge cycle before putting it back in. Before you put it back in the laptop, though, make sure that you let the Ziploc bag containing it reaches room temperature. If you don’t, there’s a serious risk of damaging the battery. If you follow the instructions above, your Lithium-Ion battery will be in great shape next time you need it.


8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Allen  

    Constant temperature is your friend but you say to store it in the fridge and removed it every month to discharge/recharge. How is storing it in the fridge a better choice? Since there’s a large temp difference between fridge temp and its fully discharged temp opposed to just storing it in a closet where the fully discharged temp is much closer to the closet stored temp?

    Thanks!

    • Looking at the chart, only a 2% delta in power loss between 32F and 77F so yeah – save the hassle and just store it in the closet.

      That way you also won’t need to worry about moisture or take up space in your fridge. ;)

      -S

      • Anton Dubkov  

        If you store it in the fridge you can charge to 100% and use immediately when needed, whereas if you charge at 40% and then need the battery without having time to charge — you are semi-screwed. So for those people who want to have an available 100% charged battery, without worrying about it’s premature degradation — best way seems to be to store in the fridge

        • Rudi  

          No, if you store it in the fridge fully charged, you’ll loose 6% capacity a year.
          Besides that, you need to let it come to room temp, which will take at least an hour.

          The greatest disadvantage of a fridge is, the batteries will take up space which you can’t use for food. And if by accident the cells get damaged, the can explode and ruin your fridge.
          So I’d say, save them at 40% in your cellar of other cool place that isn’t used a lot and check the capacity once a year.

          • Anton Dubkov  

            The greatest issue with storing at 40% capacity is that if you suddenly need your battery – it’s only at 40%, whereas if you store it in the fridge it’s at 100% always — full capacity. Yes, it loses 6% per year in the fridge, but at 40% capacity and room temp it loses 4% — not a big difference. I guess it’s a matter of preference — 2% and fridge space vs always having a fully charged battery available. I’d pick the latter.

          • Anton Dubkov  

            But, in reality I keep my battery installed in the laptop (too much hassle with the fridge and the 40% thing), and when it loses too much capacity i’ll just buy a new one.

  2. Batryman  

    If something goes wrong with the battery and it explodes or catches fire I’d rather have it in the fridge than in some closet or drawer. Which one you reckon would be more expensive, ruined fridge or burnt down house…

    • Excellent point. Some of the newer Lithium-ion batteries will actually discharge themselves to prevent the battery from swelling due to overcharging. That said, it never hurts to be safe.

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