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NiMH batteries & cold weather

What happens when you use batteries in cold conditions? And what about storage? Is it a good idea to store batteries in the refrigerator. Read on to find more about NiMH batteries & cold weather!

Use warm, store cool

Inserting a battery to a device creates a connection. The external circuit - a wire, for example - allows electrons to flow from one battery terminal to another, while providing energy for a device in between.

This chemical reaction can be influenced with temperature. Cold will slow it down, meaning the battery produces less current. As a battery has two purposes (storing energy and releasing it when required), cold can affect your experience in two ways:

  • either you’re storing the battery in cooler environments, causing it to (self-)discharge more slowly and thus helping it maintain its charge better when on the shelf;
  • or you’re using the battery in the (extreme) cold, meaning the amount of current may no longer meet the demands of the appliance - causing it to malfunction.

So, in short: use warm, store cool. You don’t need to store batteries in the refrigerator, however. Even though the lower temperature may indeed slow down self-discharge, any moisture and condensation could be detrimental to the battery’s lifespan. 

NiMH batteries & cold weather may not necessarily be an unfavourable combination, but some common sense is always best. Merely storing it in a cupboard away from heat sources will work well enough in most situations.

Using batteries in the cold

But what if you’re using your batteries and can’t manipulate the temperature? Say you’re out doing a photoshoot in cold weather. You could keep a spare set of batteries in your pocket to stay warm, 

Improved battery chemistry and composition allows the battery to maintain a long runtime with a steady voltage throughout. Unlike alkaline batteries, eneloop’s voltage will only drop significantly when nearing complete discharge - which is something you should avoid with rechargeable batteries altogether. 

eneloop batteries will still perform excellently in colder temperatures - even as low as - 20 °C Runtimes may be shorter depending on how cold it is, but you will still enjoy a steady discharge until the end. Just remember: eneloop NiMH batteries & cold weather are perfect companions!