Beat The Heat: 5 Ways Geography Affects Your Batteries

15 January 2015
 Categories: , Blog

Where you live--the specific state and/or region--determines many things: the rate of property tax you pay, for instance, or the average price for gas.  Those are obvious variables that everyone acknowledges.  Your geography is also an important determinant of less apparent factors--like, for instance, the life and state of your rechargeable batteries.  You may be wondering, "Huh?  Batteries?"  Yes: if, for example, you live in New York as opposed to Colorado or Arizona, you're likely to have a vastly different experience with your VRLA, AGM, or lithium-ion batteries.  For small appliances such as cameras, it may not be that noticeable; for motorbikes, ATVs, riding mowers, and even cars, however, where you live can amount to a huge difference in battery life and value.  Why?  Temperature.  Here's four crucial ways that temperature affects your batteries:

  1. State-of-charge Measurement:  It's important to know how much energy is stored in your batteries.  Usually, of course, this is measured in volts.  However, heat can raise the battery's open-circuit voltage, giving an inaccurate assessment.  Also, batteries are often manufactured with calcium, lithium, and phosphate ions--all of which tend to become over-excited by higher ambient temperatures, thereby producing a false measurement of the battery's actual voltage.
  2. Discharge Rate:  Hotter ambient temperatures increase the rate at which your battery uses energy, making it run out of juice faster.  With time and many extra recharges, this can also diminish the battery's overall lifespan. 
  3. Recharging:  The rate at which a battery recharges decreases as the temperature increases.  Conversely, a battery's overall storage capacity is lessened by cooler temperatures. 
  4. Overall longevity:  Most manufacturers base their product research (and, consequently, their warranties) on studies done at room temperature, or 77o F.  With some degree of variation, a battery's average lifespan is expected to be reduced by half for every 10-15F that the temperature average is increased.
  5. Unwanted Reactions:  Heat can fuel all kinds of chemical reactions.  A battery operates on the basis of some of these electrochemical processes--but corrosion and sulfuration can also get a boost from higher temperatures.

Generally speaking, heat is the enemy of your batteries--hotter climates will usually be more detrimental to them.  So, where you live can determine a lot of things, including your battery's life and performance.  Though you may not be able to control your geography, there are ways to counter the effects of temperature.  Finding the correct battery to meet your needs exactly--no more or less power than necessary--and caring for it properly are the best ways you can beat the heat. 

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