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Since batteries (for cameras, cell phones, etc) will lose charge in cold weather, what can I do to prevent loss of charge, or at least extend the battery life as long as possible?

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Perhaps this should be rephrased to make it more on topic with the outdoors? At the moment it reads more like an electronics question. –  berry120 Jan 26 '12 at 14:52
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It should be noted that a battery does not lose its charge from being chilled, but simply can't discharge as well until warmed up. Chilling batteries actually prevents them from losing charge. –  Peter DeWeese Jan 26 '12 at 20:29
    
@PeterDeWeese Fascinating! I never knew that. So you can allow your batteries to get cold, but you need to warm them back up again before using them. –  Chris Jan 26 '12 at 21:58
    
tape a hand warmer to the back. –  user4181 Nov 12 at 21:16

4 Answers 4

up vote 15 down vote accepted

Assuming you're talking about a situation where you're out in the elements (It's the great outdoors after all!), the best method would be to simply store those items close to your body. A pocket inside of your outerwear close to your skin would be best.

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One approach might be, where possible, to use Eneloops. Far from losing their charge rapidly in the cold, they actually retain their charge far better when they're kept cold (and in general retain it far better than normal rechargeables.) I've got 8 AA ones I use in various pieces of gear (torch, GPS) and they've been great.

edit: James Dunn

Eneloops have a "much" longer storage time than NiCd or standard NiMH (lose about 5%/day). They are reported to lose 10% of their charge in 7 months. They have a large current potential to better provide quick cycling of speedlites (heavy loads).

If charged in a freezer they will load about 25% more total power but the charge time is slower/longer. But for fast charging, charging in the freezer is still better to keep the temperatures under control. If kept frozen I have no idea how long they would hold their charge.

However, if discharged below 60% of full charge voltage, this permanently damages the cells and they will not charge to full capacity ever again. Discharge is linear from about 95% down to 70% of discharge voltage, but from 70% to 60% the time is very short under the same load. So it seems that it is better to keep them topped off, but prevent overheating during charging.

http://www.buchmann.ca/article18-page1.asp

Put them close to your body several hours before using them.

For seldom used, small load battery use, I am sure there are more durable batteries. I have lithium ion batteries in a security system that have been running wireless contact sensors for more than 5 years.

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@jamesbdunn I accepted your edit but I think it would be better if you'd propose your own answer. There are plenty of new ideas. –  EverythingRightPlace Nov 1 at 21:17

Photographers in the Antarctic store camera batteries in their armpits to keep some decent heat in them. Amusingly, when the batteries in the camera die, that is also the best place to put them. My dad used to test cameras in the Antarctic (in addition to his day job) and said that was the worst bit at 50 degrees below freezing - popping a cold battery under your arm!

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The cold can cause the electrochemical processes in the battery to slow down, eventually giving you less than it's usual voltage. (http://www.howeverythingworks.org/page1.php?QNum=1230)

If I need to use anything in the cold, I always keep it next to my body or in my sleeping bag at night. Try not to roll over them in your sleep!

If you can, use lithium batteries in your devices they will last longer and are less susceptible to the cold. My old gopro wouldn't shoot video in the snow unless I had lithium batteries in it. The regular NiCd or NiMh batteries could only do the less power-intensive photos.

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