How to Properly Store a Sealed Lead Acid Battery

Wondering how to properly store lead acid batteries? Here's my top tips from 20 years of experience.

Harold Thompson


Harold Thompson


Mar 13, 2024

How to Properly Store a Sealed Lead Acid Battery

How to Maximize the Life of Your Sealed Lead-Acid Battery

As someone who's worked with all sorts of batteries for over two decades, I've learned a thing or two about proper storage techniques for sealed lead-acid batteries. These affordable and reliable batteries are found in everything from your car to your lower end backup systems (the higher end ones typically run on lithium).

And let me tell you, they do require some "TLC" (tender love and car, for those non-oldies out there) to reach their full potential. And by full potential, I'm talking about a lifespan of up to two years in storage.

Below, I'll walk you through how I prep these batteries for storage, choose an appropriate environment to store them, maintain safety throughout the process, and monitor the health of these batteries over the course of their life.

I'll even share some hard-learned lessons on dealing with expired or damaged batteries! 

Properly Prepping Your Battery

Before tucking a battery away in storage, I always take the time to fully charge it using a compatible charger. But that's not all - those terminals need some attention too. Dirt and corrosion buildup can impact performance, so I carefully clean them with a soft brush.

A thorough visual inspection is also key. There's some troubling signs to look out for, such as cracks, bulging, or leakage. These bad news bears tell me the battery needs to be safely disposed of rather than stored. Trust me, you don't want to discover a faulty battery ONLY when you really need it!

Selecting an Ideal Storage Space

In my experience, sealed lead-acid batteries are "happiest" (cute, I know) in a particular environment. That ideal environment you're looking for includes cool, dry conditions that are between 50 to 77°F (or 10-25°C) with good ventilation (this is critical!) Avoid storing your lead acid batteries in spots with wild temperature swings, any signs (or potential to experience) dampness, or storage in direct sunlight.

I promised you a horror story, and here it is: One time, oh maybe five years back in 2019, I stored some batteries in an uninsulated shed in my backyard. 2019 was a real hot summer, though the summers last year would scoff at that statement today. But at the time, the 2019 heat took a real toll on my battery's lifespan. When I needed the batteries come November, they were practically useless. Lesson learned - it's worth your investment in a climate-controlled storage space to maintain the optimal lifespan of your batteries.

Safety and Damage Prevention

Storing batteries safely involves using the right setup. I prefer non-conductive materials like plastic bins or wooden racks - nothing that could cause an accidental discharge. Spacing is also crucial, both to allow airflow and prevent terminals from touching and sparking.

And let me emphasize that batteries and anything flammable or sparky are a dangerous combination. I keep my storage area free of hazards like fuel, open flames, and metal tools after seeing the consequences of a careless coworker's mistakes.

Keeping Tabs on Stored Batteries

Batteries in storage still need occasional check-ins. I've got reminders set to pull them out for charging every 3-4 months to ward off sulfation. Each time, I inspect them again for any hint of damage or leakage that would warrant disposal.

The storage environment needs monitoring too - a quick temp check and a sniff test for adequate ventilation are part of my regular rotation. Catching an issue early has saved me from ruined batteries more than once.

When Good Batteries... Go Bad

Look, no battery is rechargeable forever, and all batteries eventually reach the end of their precious life. If one of your batteries that hasn't been used shows any signs of cracking, swelling, leaking or inability to hold a charge when you plug it in, it's time to say goodbye.

Now, as much as we'd like to just chuck 'em, you can't toss batteries into the regular trash. In fact, disposing of batteries the right way is critical for the health of our planet and the safety of our men and women who work in sanitation. It might be an extra step, but most areas have convenient recycling programs that collect dead batteries out of landfills. I like to call these facilities "the electric dump."

I don't know where you live, but a quick online search for "battery safe recycling center" or similar keywords can point you to local drop-off sites, and how to present your batteries at the time of collection. For example, my local Glendale SAFE center asks you to declare what hazardous material you're dropping off, and place it in your trunk for the crews to collect. All you do is drive through the facility, pop the trunk, and you're done. Congratulations on successfully completing a civic duty! (Now when do we start getting tax write-offs for this good behavior?)

The Payoff of Proper Battery Storage

Investing some effort into storing your sealed lead-acid batteries correctly pays big dividends. By following these guidelines learned over my decades of hands-on experience, you can expect your batteries to stay in top shape and be ready when you need them.

In sum, here's my key takeaways: choose a cool, dry, stable environment, use proper safety precautions, charge routinely, watch for red flags, and dispose of spent batteries responsibly. With those steps, you'll maximize the lifespan and reliability of these handy power sources.

Related Posts