If you live in an especially cold winter climate, you’ll know the stress of keeping your batteries charged, the worry of your car not turning on after a particularly cold night or your 12V gear not working on a winter camping trip. In the summer, your batteries don’t have to work all that hard but when the temperatures start to drop your 12V batteries become prone to failure. We’ve put together a few tips to keep your batteries going through the winter months.
Why don’t batteries like the cold?
A typical lead acid battery works by submerging lead plates in electrolyte liquid which creates an electro-chemical reaction and gives a charge to the battery terminals. Batteries tend to become slow in winter because as heat accelerates this chemical reaction, the cold slows it down. In colder temperatures, the battery struggles to provide enough power to start your car or run your 12v accessories.
Another issue some batteries can face in winter is the water inside freezing, this causes it to expand and critically damage the battery cells. It’s important to play close attention to your batteries in the cold and notice when they are struggling to start your vehicle. This is a warning sign that shouldn’t be ignored, and a sign that your battery might be suffering.
Parking your car out of the weather
A simple way to protect your batteries from the cold is to keep them inside. Whether it’s in the garage or a shed, keeping them directly out of wind, rain and snow offers more protection than parking in the open. If this isn’t an option, parking the front of the car out of the direction of the wind provides some level of protection. An inexpensive battery blanket is another way to keep your batteries warm. Just plug it in and wrap it around your battery.
Wait before turning on your accessories
This is another simple tip but does mean you’ll have to be uncomfortable for a little while when you first get in your vehicle. When you get in the car, wait a few minutes after turning it on before you turn on the heat, lights, and radio. This waiting lets the alternator put some charge back into the battery for a bit before placing any more stress on it. The same can be done with your auxiliary battery. Driving for a bit before running any 12V accessories allows the DC to DC charger to put some power back into the secondary battery. It also pays to turn all your in-car and 12V accessories off before you turn your vehicle off to avoid putting too much pressure on your batteries when starting the vehicle up the next time.
Keeping your battery free of dirt and grime is critical for maintaining them during the colder months. The colder temperatures increase electrical resistance which makes the battery work harder, having dirty, rusty battery terminals adds to this resistance. Keeping them clean isn’t too hard though, all you need to do is mix up a paste of water and baking soda then scrub at the terminals and clamps with a toothbrush.
Keeping your batteries healthy over winter is critical if you want them to last as long as possible. We hope you take some of these tips and put them to use to get the most out of your batteries this winter. For more information on keeping your secondary batteries charged on the road check out the BCDC In-Vehicle Battery Charger.