Did you know that the temperature outside can dramatically affect battery performance? If you’ve ever had a car battery die on a cold morning, you probably can’t forget it. Most battery performance is measured at 77 degrees Fahrenheit—but how often is the outdoor temperature around 77 degrees? If you store your batteries in hot Texas heat or outside in a cold snap, expect that their performance will be altered. Read on to learn about the effect of temperature on battery life.
How does temperature affect batteries?
Batteries use an electrochemical reaction to enable storage of electricity.
Most fluids move slower when cold—you know this from watching ice form. The further a battery drops below 70 degrees Fahrenheit, the slower its performance will be. (That’s why it’s always advisable to park your car and boat in a garage whenever possible. It might still be cold in there, but it won’t be as cold as it is outside.) In fact, your battery can freeze when it get particularly icy.
As a battery discharges, the sulfuric acid separates from the water and soaks into the plates. The process is slower in colder weather because the liquid is more viscous. Viscosity is how thick a liquid is: if it’s viscous, it’s thick. If the viscosity is low, it’s thinner and free-flowing.
Charging a battery pushes the sulfuric acid back out into the liquid and also is affected by temperature. (Do not attempt to charge a frozen battery!)
Temperature and battery ratings
You may have noticed that many batteries come with temperature ratings—but what do they mean?
Battery performance ratings must take temperature into account. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) issues battery performance ratings, based on the cold cranking amperage (CCA). The standard is zero degrees. This has been the general standard for many years. Basically, the performance test brings the battery to the weakest environment possible, then measures its performance.
Later, other rating scales were developed, to rate batteries at a warmer temperature. As you might imagine, the warmer temperature enhanced the numerical rating. One of those ratings is called cranking amperage (CA). CA rating is based on a temperature of 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
To avoid confusion, a battery industry group, Battery Council International (BCI) recommended that manufacturers who are using the CA rating must also display the CCA rating. This council is made up of battery manufacturers around the world. It’s a smart move: it lets consumers know the effect of temperature on battery life.
Get the best performance from your battery
Now that you know how ambient temperature can affect battery life, you’ll be better equipped to read battery performance ratings next time you’re in the shop.
When you’re ready to get the best batteries for your boat, vehicle or other device, make sure you’re consulting with an expert who can help you make a smart choice. The team at Texford Battery Co. is happy to help you find the right battery for your needs—call us today or stop by to get help.
Categorised in: Battery Service
This post was written by Writer