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What is battery self-discharge? And how do you counter it?

With batteries, you can store and transport energy easily. However, during storage, some of that stored energy may ‘escape’ from the battery. How can you prevent such battery ‘self-discharge’? Read on to find out.

Battery self-discharge: perfectly normal

Batteries generate electricity due to a chemical reaction inside the cell. Ideally, this happens when it is connected to a device that needs power. However, the reaction could also happen at a smaller scale, when the battery’s electrodes are not connected. That means that the battery’s charge gradually reduces over time. This phenomenon is called self-discharge.

Batter self-discharge cannot be completely avoided. However, it greatly depends on the battery type and its contents. Regular eneloop batteries retain up to 70% of their energy after 10 years, eneloop lite retains 70% after 5 years and eneloop pro holds 85% after one year. That way, you can store your batteries without too much worry.

How to reduce self-discharge

As with many chemical reactions, the rate and intensity at which it happens is influenced by the environment. Colder temperatures are generally better, since the cold slows down the chemical reaction, thereby reducing any unwanted battery self-discharge. So the most logical thing to do may seem to put the batteries in your refrigerator, right? On the contrary: you should avoid storing batteries in your refrigerator at all times. The moist air inside refrigerators induces discharge too. Especially when you take your batteries out, condensation could damage them - making them no longer fit to use.

The best thing to do is to store your batteries in cool but dry areas, preferable between 10 and 25°C. For other tips related to storage, read our previous blog. A few simple measures will keep unwanted battery self-discharge to a minimum. If you’re not sure about the batteries’ energy lev-el, you can always recharge them. That way, you’re sure your batteries are up for the task - and you can get the most out of your batteries day in day out.