Lithium-Ion Batteries and Winter -How to Keep Working in the Cold
Posted by Mark Hunter - January 27, 2017
A massive issue for most users of cordless power tools in winter is the batteries packing up or refusing to take a charge.
In this quick guide, we'll look at why this happens and what you can do to make sure your batteries still power you through the day, even in freezing temperatures.
Lithium-Ion Batteries and the Cold: Why Do They Die
Batteries serve two basic purposes:
- store energy
- release energy
So, we charge 'em up and we slot them into our tools, and we expect them to release the stored energy to power the tool's motor. However, temperature plays a massive role in how well the battery is able to fulfill its purpose.
If the temperature within the battery gets too high, the lithium-ion cells get damaged, don't hold as much charge and basically naff you off.
However, as many of you may be experiencing during the cold snap, the batteries either don't charge properly, or simply don't work, when exposed to very cold temperatures! This is an issue particularly with alkaline batteries, but the cold also takes it's toll on lithium-ion packs.
For example, you may find that when you've been working with your lithium-ion powered tools on a freezing cold day, you struggle to get them to charge, and the charger may even refuse to charge them!
What steps should you be taking to keeping your lithium-ion batteries working in tip-top condition during winter?
Lithium-Ion Batteries and the Cold: 5 Tips to Keep Them Working
#1 - Batteries generate heat internally when they're put to use. So, one quick and easy tip to make sure the battery is warm enough to accept a charge is to pop it in your drill and spin the chuck. A little bit of use will generate heat within the battery, taking it to within the safe charging threshold.
#2 - Keep them in your pockets. When you're working outside in the cold, slip the battery off the tool and pop it into your back pocket between applications. Your body heat will help keep the cells warm enough, preventing the colder air temperature from putting them to sleep.
#3 - Don't leave them in the van overnight. Invest in an inexpensive tote bag and load your batteries into it at the end of the day. Bring the tote into your home overnight, preventing the packs from experiencing a chilly night in the van!
#4 - Use gel hand warmers. These are really inexpensive, so buy a load of them and drop one in each tool case (activating the gel first) when you get in the van. The warmth from the hand warmer will keep the inside of the tool case nice on toasty when you're working on freezing cold jobsites. Simply "recharge" the hand warmers at night, and repeat the following day.
#5 - Use the right batteries. Yes, there are loads of "knock-off" imitation lithium-ion batteries for each manufacturer. But it's always a good idea to use original batteries with your cordless tools. And stock up! The more batteries you have, the less the cold weather will be an issue for you, just follow the steps above the make sure all your batteries are ready to use on a cold day.
As a side note, we found this anecdote about Bosch's CoolPack batteries very interesting, check it out on YouTube here.
How do you keep both yourself and your batteries working in cold weather? Share your tips with us in the comments section or on Facebook!
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