Whether you own a motorcycle shop or are simply a parts enthusiast, understanding battery shelf life will help you ensure that you get the most out of your battery. In this guide, we’ll cover how battery power becomes depleted over time and even outline some simple tricks to extend the shelf life of your battery when it’s not in use.
What Does Battery Shelf Life Mean?
Battery shelf life can refer to the battery expiration date—which is the latest date that manufacturers can guarantee the best performance from the product. Many types of batteries can continue to function perfectly fine after the expiration date has passed. However, even though batteries have a long shelf life, they won’t maintain the same effectiveness if they’ve been sitting around for too long.
The charging power of a battery will become depleted over time, even if it’s not in use. Additionally, sealed lead acid batteries can also succumb to sulfation—which happens when the electrolyte begins to break down and stick to the lead plates to become sulfuric crystals. Once sulfation occurs, salvaging the battery can be difficult or impossible, so it’s best to use batteries well within their recommended timespan.
What is a Self Discharge Rate?
Many people assume that batteries retain their full strength until used, but batteries do lose charge while sitting idle. The speed at which power is depleted while not in active use called “self discharge rate.” There are many factors that can impact self discharge rate, but one of the biggest variables is simply the battery brand. The higher quality battery, the slower the discharge rate.
How to Extend Battery Shelf Life
Although time is eventually the enemy of most batteries, there are a couple of tricks you can use to extend the shelf life of your batteries. The first (and simplest) method you can try is to store your batteries at a cool temperature. By storing your batteries at 50 degrees Fahrenheit or less, you can slow the aging process.
Another way to extend battery shelf life is to use a battery maintainer to keep the power level as consistent as possible. These products are specifically designed to maximize battery life and some can even prevent sulfation through a process of active desulfation.
So, How Long is the Shelf Life of a Battery?
If properly stored and maintained, most sealed lead acid batteries can sit on a shelf for about three years and should be expected to perform adequately for about another three years after they’re put into use. In order to ensure the best performance from your battery, pay attention to the date printed on the outside of the battery by the manufacturer.