How Does Extreme Heat Affect Batteries

June 30, 2023 4:54 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

How Does Extreme Heat Affect Batteries

Batteries are all around us. We use them to power our phones, laptops, and cars every day, but they tend to be one of the most overlooked and misunderstood parts of electronics we use. One of the common misconceptions is that batteries are heat-resistant and can endure extreme temperatures. Contrary to popular opinion, batteries are sensitive to temperature changes, leading to questions about their safety during heatwaves. In this blog post, we examine the effect of extreme heat on batteries.

Battery Basics

Before we concern ourselves with how extreme heat affects batteries, let’s discuss how they work. Batteries produce electricity by means of a chemical reaction that occurs inside it rather than an outside power source. When one end of the battery is connected to a circuit, the chemicals react, producing a flow of electrons. Temperature affects the rate of the chemical reactions, altering the battery’s performance and lifespan.

How High Temperature Affects Batteries

Why does my battery always seem to fail in extreme weather? Batteries do fail in extreme weather some times because they operate as electro-chemical reaction which is sensitive to temperature. In hotter weather, the pasted material in the battery plates will come off reducing electrical power. During colder weather the battery does not function as efficiently because the acid moves slower thus less power for the battery to operate. In short, high temperatures can lead to several changes in the battery, affecting its ability to produce a charge. Here are some of them:

1. Voltage

Temperature affects voltage; the higher the temperature, the lower the voltage, and vice versa. This is because high temperatures cause more energy to be released, reducing the voltage output, leading to decreased performance.

2. Shelf Life

Those batteries that are stored at high temperatures will experience degradation and lose charge capacity over time. This is because, at high temperatures, chemical reactions occur more quickly, resulting in faster discharge rates. Overcharging these batteries again and again at high temperatures shortens the battery life and performance.

3. Battery Chemistry

Heatwave conditions can cause batteries to emit hydrogen and oxygen gasses, causing swelling or bulging of the battery’s outer packaging. These gasses are highly flammable and pose a significant fire risk to storage sites, particularly when exposed to heat or sparks.

4. Charging

High temperatures affect battery capacity, resulting in an overcharge when placing batteries in chargers. Overcharging the battery decreases its overall capacity, shortens its lifetime and decreases its performance.

What Happens When Batteries Overheat?

Overheating can lead to battery failure, which is potentially dangerous to the user and the environment. Here’s what may happen when a battery overheats:

1. Short Circuit

An overheated battery can cause a short circuit because the high temperature can generate internal heat and cause swelling. When the battery is subjected to extreme temperatures, the internal heat causes the battery’s exterior case to melt, leading to a short circuit. A short circuit occurs when the positive and negative ends of a battery are connected, allowing an excessive flow of energy between the two ends of the circuit. This could cause a spark or heat, leading to fires or explosions.

2. Gas Emission

Overheating batteries can produce hydrogen and oxygen gasses, as previously mentioned. These gases are highly flammable, and when exposed to heat or sparks, they could ignite, posing a significant fire risk.

Precautions to Take Against Heat-related Battery Issues

The following are some of the precautions you can take to ensure the battery’s longevity and safety:

1. Avoid Extreme Temperatures

Avoid exposing your battery to extreme temperatures, either hot or cold. Do not leave batteries or electronics in a car parked out in the summer’s direct sun, or during winter, outside in freezing temperatures.

2. Store Properly

Store your batteries in a cool and dry place, away from direct sunlight, using a plastic or metal container. This helps regulate the temperature, increasing its longevity. Avoid storing batteries in areas where the temperature can fluctuate; refrigeration is not recommended!

3. Avoid Overcharging

Avoid overcharging your batteries, as it causes overheating and subsequent damage. Check the charger manual for the recommended charging time and avoid using non-compatible charges.

4. Recharge When Necessary

Recharge your batteries frequently, and avoid misuse of batteries and overuse of electronic devices.


Batteries are sensitive to temperature changes. Extreme heat can lead to reduced battery efficiency, decreasing its lifespan and posing a potential danger to the user and environment. Overheating of batteries can also cause irreversible damage leading to short circuits, gas emissions, and explosion. To avoid heat-related issues, avoid exposing batteries to extreme temperatures, store your batteries properly, avoid overcharging, and recharge when necessary. Heat management is a crucial component in battery care, and if done correctly, it can ensure that everyone uses their electronic devices safely and efficiently.

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