Cold Weather Battery Guide: Top Picks for 2023
Table of Contents
- Cold Weather Battery Guide: Top Picks for 2023
- Can Cold Weather Mess with a Car Battery?
- What is the Best Cold Weather Battery?
- Why are Lithium Batteries the Best for Cold Weather?
- How to Maintain a Lithium Battery in Winter
As the days grow shorter, the nights longer, and the air begins to chill, this signifies the fact that winter is right around the corner for many of us (depending on where in the world you happen to be reading this from).
Winter is a season that is very divisive, in that people seem to either love it or loathe it, with no middle ground. Regardless of how you feel about the cold however, something that doesn’t love the cold is the humble car battery.
The last thing you want on a freezing cold, dark winter’s morning is to get into your freezing cold car, hit the ignition, only to find that the battery is completely dead because of the cold weather. This is not only frustrating and time-consuming, it’s also expensive because it means roadside assistance, as well as a new battery.
The good news is that choosing a cold weather battery for your vehicle, whatever it may be, is now easier than ever as there is so much choice. Gone are the days when lead acid was the only option, as you will soon see.
Here’s a look at the best batteries for cold weather and how to keep a cold weather battery in top condition.
Can Cold Weather Mess with a Car Battery?
It doesn’t matter whether it’s the battery to your car, your RV, your boat, your phone, or even your TV remote, if it’s stored in cold temperatures the battery is going to drain empty far quicker than usual.
Lead-acid batteries in particular, really struggle in the cold. Just like people, if they’re too cold they’re going to feel drained and be less effective. Once temperatures get below around 32 degrees F, you’ll find that it will provide just 70% – 80% of its rated capacity.
You see, a battery’s primary objective is to store, and then release energy as and when needed. If temperatures are just right. I.E not too hot and not too cold, the battery should function perfectly fine. If the temp drops too much however, then unless you have a cold weather battery, the battery is going to struggle.
If you imagine being outside in the freezing cold for several hours, as soon as you get into the warmth it’s going to take you several minutes to get warm and start functioning as you should. Well, the same goes for a battery. A battery’s internal resistance is increased during cold weather. Why is this a problem? Well, because it can then reduce the capacity of the battery.
In basic terms, the battery is not able to release as much of its energy, nor can it hold a charge as effectively in colder weather. Not only that, but it will also take much longer to charge up.
During the winter months, batteries need to be charged much more often. The more you charge a battery, the quicker it will wear out. This is where it pays to have the best cold weather battery you can find.
What is the Best Cold Weather Battery?
While there are four different types of deep cell battery type (lead acid, absorbent glass mat, and gel being the first three) it is almost universally agreed that lithium batteries such as a LiFePO4 (Lithium Iron Phosphate) are the most effective.
Lithium batteries can last upwards of 10 years, with on average of 3,000 – 5,000 partial cycles. Just to compare, a typical lead acid battery has just 400 – 500 cycles if you’re lucky.
In cold temps, lithium batteries can provide as much as 95% – 98% of their rated capacity, which is quite the difference compared with the 70% – 80% provided by a lead acid battery.
Why are Lithium Batteries the Best for Cold Weather?
There are plenty of reasons to use a cold weather battery in the form of an ionic lithium battery, but just what is it that makes them so well suited for the colder winter months?
Here are several reasons why lithium batteries are the best for cold weather:
Low discharge rate
One of the best things about lithium batteries in the winter is the fact that they have the lowest discharge rate of any battery when in storage, by far.
During the winter, many of us tend to hibernate and stay tucked up warm and cozy indoors. This means we venture out less, so some vehicles may not be used as frequently. If you have an RV for example, you may leave it safe and sound in the garage over the winter, ready to hit the open road in spring. That’s all well and good, but whenever the battery is not in use, it is slowly losing its charge.
Any battery loses its charge when not in use for a prolonged amount of time, it’s just that some lose it quicker than others. A lead acid battery like you find on a lot of older vehicles, has a discharge rate of around 30% each month. That means that in less than four months, the battery will drop from 100% charge to 0%.
A lithium battery however, such as a LiFePO4 battery, has a discharge rate of just 2% per month, or thereabouts. Obviously when you know the battery isn’t going to be used for a while, a lithium battery is going to be the much better choice than lead acid.
Another reason why your cold weather battery should come in the form of a lithium battery is because they’re the most reliable.
Lithium batteries do not contain any acid, which means that because of this acid-free chemical makeup, they fare far much better in cold weather than their lead acid counterparts.
From a user perspective, that’s of course a very appealing prospect because it means that you are far less likely to find your battery dying on you in the midst of a cold spell. The last thing you want is for your vehicle to die on you because the freezing cold temperatures have drained the battery, and with lithium batteries, this is far less likely to happen.
Safer and Eco-Friendly
Yes, lead acid batteries may be cheaper to buy at first, but considering they last far less time than a lithium battery, by the time you’ve replaced them for the third time, you’d likely have saved money as your first lithium battery would almost certainly still be functioning at its best.
Lead acid batteries cost less, but they are also far worse for the environment as they can leak. Not only that, but they require more maintenance as too much build-up on the battery will affect its performance, meaning you’ll need to clean it manually. This is not only a great deal of hassle, it can also be dangerous due to the acid.
With lithium batteries however, there is no acid to worry about, nor do you need to worry about them leaking or corroding. This makes them safer, better for the environment, and easier to look after.
How to Maintain a Lithium Battery in Winter
As fantastic as lithium batteries are when used as a cold weather battery, they do still need to be cared for and maintained, especially during the colder winter months.
Here’s a look at several ways to keep your lithium cold weather battery maintained during the winter.
Try to keep the battery warmer
Yes, yes, we know that’s easier said than done during the winter, but whenever possible, try to keep your lithium battery as warm as you can, especially during a particularly cold snap.
The optimal temperate range for a lithium battery is between 32F and 80F. That doesn’t mean that the battery will suddenly drain dead if it drops to 31F outside, or explode if it gets to 82F, it just means that the battery will be less effective.
Ideally, try to keep your battery in temperatures ranging from 32F – 80F. If you have a lithium car battery for example, if you have a garage, storing your car in the garage instead of out on your driveway will help keep it warmer, which in turn will help keep the battery in better condition.
Basically, if you are able to safely store a battery in warmer conditions, you should try and do so to prolong its life and make it more efficient.
Regularly charge your battery
The good thing about lithium batteries is the fact that they can be charged as frequently as you like, regardless of how chilly it is, with no damage to the battery at all.
Throughout the winter, be sure to charge your battery every so often just to ensure it’s functional and in the best shape possible. Just be aware that lithium batteries should not be charged in freezing temps. Hold off on charging your cold weather battery until it is out of direct freezing conditions.
Keep the battery clean
Even though lithium batteries such as LiFePO4 batteries do not leak like lead acid, that doesn’t mean that they won’t benefit from being kept clean.
Corrosion, dirt, dust, and other debris can wreak havoc on your batteries and can lead to very serious issues later on down the road.
Before you store your lithium battery away for a prolonged period of time, I.E placing a vehicle in winter storage, make sure you check the battery for any sign of dirt or debris.
The good thing about a lithium battery is the fact that it requires virtually no maintenance at all. That means that, unless the battery is visibly dirty or dusty, you won’t need to do anything other than maybe giving it a quick wipe with a dry cloth. Pretty neat, huh?
If you’re on the lookout for a cold weather battery this year, be sure to head on over to MANLYBattery.com and check out the huge selection of custom lithium battery packs, and other similar items, that they have available.
With lithium batteries to suit all budgets and needs, and a wealth of experience behind them, there’s a reason why their regulars continue returning to them again and again.