Batteries have a shelf life of about two years after which they are no longer be able to hold a charge.
To make matters worse, there are billions of disposable batteries dumped into landfills each year and this is not sustainable for the environment.
Fortunately, you can prolong the life of your battery by reconditioning them. It’s cheap, easy, and helps to make a positive impact on the environment!
Why battery reconditioning is important
A reconditioned battery not only saves the environment but also helps prevent hazardous materials from entering landfills and water supplies. The manufacturing of new batteries is one of the main sources of mercury contamination around the world.
Mercury in a battery cell is a neurotoxin that can damage the nervous system, kidneys, lungs, and brain. It can also cause blindness and effects on your red blood cells.
Battery reconditioning has been proven to be a cost-effective way of preventing hazardous materials from entering the environment.
Not only does it save money in the long run, but by reconditioning batteries you can also prevent money spent on buying new batteries.
Different types of batteries
Most battery cells can be reconditioned and they can range from NiMH rechargeable batteries, laptop batteries, car batteries, the battery from cell phones, the battery from hybrid cars, and even golf cart batteries can be reconditioned.
Even though there are different batteries, most of them are should be able to reused via proper battery reconditioning.
Impact on the environment
A battery improperly disposed of does pose a significant threat to the environment as they usually end up in landfills. A dead battery is just as harmful as plastic bag waste so we need to take note of the so-called “old and dead battery.”
Reconditioning batteries help to eliminate this problem by keeping a battery from entering the environment through waste disposal. It also helps reduce air pollution since it does not require energy-intensive extraction of raw materials needed for making new ones.
Additionally, reconditioning batteries is much more cost-effective than buying new ones for those who use many. A reconditioned battery is a good replacement battery. In this way, consumers can save money as well as help make an impact on the environment!
Handling and Storing reconditioned Batteries
There are a few things that you need to do in order to properly use reconditioned batteries. They must be stored off of the floor with a battery holder, especially if they are lead-acid batteries.
Alkaline batteries have a relatively high self-discharge rate of 10% per month. This means that within one year, 90% of the original energy can be lost due to lack of use.
This suggests that consumers should try and use them regularly in order to prevent losing a significant amount of their overall lifespan. It also raises the question if it’s even worth reconditioning alkaline batteries considering how quickly they lose charge?
The answer is yes, because even though it takes longer for alkaline battery life to degrade as opposed to lead-acid batteries; it still falls into an unusable state after two years making them suitable candidates for reconditioning.
This information is vital to recondition batteries because it will allow for proper handling and storage of the salvageable ones. It also helps to reduce risk in case an accident occurs such as spilling battery acid during charging which can be very dangerous.
The main things that you need to take into consideration include: should the battery plates (lead or lead-calcium) be soldered on, tightened down with nuts and bolts, or connected using spring steel straps? These factors make a dramatic difference in how they are charged, stored, and handled when not being used.
The advantage of storing them properly is that it reduces waste since many batteries can be reconditioned instead of disposed of prematurely.
Properly salvaged batteries may still re-form and be useful for a second life cycle. It also prevents unnecessary exposure to toxic chemicals which would have otherwise been released into the soil and water supply.
Types of battery that can be reconditioned
Most types of disposable batteries can be rebuilt over time. As the technology for battery production improves it allows for more efficient ways to recover the components contained within an old battery which results in a newly formed one.
It doesn’t matter if they are a lead-acid battery, a nickel-cadmium (NiCd) battery, or an alkaline b; they can all be salvaged and later reused with minimal loss of energy capacity as long as they were not damaged beyond repair during their first use.
That being said, there are some exceptions that should not be attempted such as lithium-ion batteries. These would have to be incinerated instead due to safety precautions created by federal law regarding releasing hazardous materials into the environment.
Can I recondition car batteries?
Yes, it is possible to recondition a car battery. However, there are several steps that must be taken before a dead car battery can be recharged and reused. This is due to the fact that they usually contain lead-calcium plates which make them too difficult and expensive to dismantle.
Unfortunately, most lead acid car batteries need professionals to handle because if mishandled a car battery might release toxic chemicals into the environment.
It’s suggested that consumers consider recycling them instead because if a novice tries to recondition a car battery incorrectly, it can be harmful.
This is one of the main reasons why it’s vital for homeowners to do their homework before attempting to recondition a car battery when the battery dies.
In short, always practice caution then trying to recondition a car battery at home.
In addition, you should always check with your local or state department of waste management for proper disposal instructions before attempting to recondition car batteries.
They should be recycled if possible so always check with your local Department of Environment Safety for any avenue of recycling car batteries.
Can I recondition a laptop battery?
Yes, a laptop battery can be salvaged as well. It’s not always necessary for them to be completely disassembled in order to fully recharge the laptop battery and restore its capacity.
Laptop batteries have been known to prematurely fail after just certain cycles of use, so this is one of the reasons why you should always recycle your old ones instead of throwing them away once they die.
Most people don’t realize that most laptops are still functional even after their laptop battery was removed because they are attached to a power adapter when in use.
This means that the energy needed comes directly from an outlet rather than harnessing power from within the laptop battery itself.
If you own a laptop then you know how important it is to keep it charged and ready for use. So this makes it easy to understand why so many people are searching for ways to rebuild their old batteries rather than buying new ones every time they go dead.
Mechanisms of reconditioning batteries
There are two primary ways that a dead battery can be recharged after sitting idle for an extended period of time:
- by reversing the chemical reaction that took place during its original manufacture
- by replacing the chemicals inside a battery which are now considered useless
The first method is usually used on secondary cells, while the second one is for a rechargeable battery that can undergo reconditioning.
This reconditioning process involves disassembling the battery and replacing its electrolyte with a fresh blend that contains conductive additives to boost performance levels back to their optimum condition.
Many people think they need new batteries when really all they need is reconditioned ones, so this common misunderstanding leads them to purchase more disposable units than necessary, discard old and dead batteries into landfills after just a few uses.
But there’s no reason why you should continue doing that if battery reconditioning is much cheaper and good for the environment!
Battery reconditioning process and safety precautions
The process varies depending on the type of batteries being salvaged, but they are all relatively safe as long as they are done properly. It’s important that safety measures such as wearing goggles or glasses, gloves, and other protective gear along with reading online tutorials or manuals about how to safely open the case are followed.
This helps to prevent dangerous situations where chemicals being released into the air might result in bodily harm.
In most cases, you will need a wire brush to remove excess corrosion from the contacts/terminals, a Phillips-head screwdriver for removing the screws from the battery case, and a standard multimeter.
Other tools that you might need include plastic pry bars, eye protection/face shields, and an assortment of metal spoons.
Can I recondition lead-acid batteries?
Lead-acid batteries are used in cars, boats, power-wheel chairs, forklifts, and golf carts to name a few. They are also very popular with consumers since they are usually much cheaper than nickel-cadmium (NiCad) and lithium-ion replacements.
This makes them an excellent choice for people who want to replace their old car battery.
When using lead-acid batteries for reconditioning it is important that the upside-down model be handled first since they contain grids that tend to corrode quicker than those on standard top loaded ones.
The process is rather simple and only requires you to attach wires across the terminals in a series of 6V or 2/6V sets until it reaches full capacity once again.
It’s also important to note that lead-acid batteries will last longer if they are not recharged before being discharged completely. This is due to the fact that it causes sulfation which makes the plates less efficient in converting chemical energy into electricity as time goes by.
How do I recondition nickel-cadmium (NiCad) batteries?
These types of rechargeable batteries are known for having different chemistry and voltage groups compared to those of standard alkaline or lead-acid types.
They help save space because they can usually be stacked instead of adding bulkiness like with most top-loaded versions.
Unfortunately, many people overlook them since newer models tend to be much more versatile and compact than their NiCad counterparts
How are they reconditioned?
Most of the time, batteries are reconditioned by stripping down the casing and plates from a used battery. These components can then be rebuilt through soldering or using other assembly methods that suit their design.
It is very important to pay attention to how they were originally assembled because some safety precautions may have been compromised resulting in poor contact between the positive and negative terminals.
This could potentially result in short-circuiting which would release hazardous chemicals into an environment where people will inevitably come into contact with them.
After rebuilding it is often necessary to test each one individually before incorporating them back into a working system, because not all batteries are created equal.
This is important to avoid problems later down the road when they’re used because it would alter the voltage and current capacity of the entire battery array.
When reconditioned, a typical alkaline battery can be expected to regain about 90% of its total energy capacity. It is cheaper to fix old battery cells rather than to buy a new battery.
It’s even better news for businesses who make heavy use of disposable batteries such as toy retailers or photographers who rely on them as part of their livelihoods. The cost savings add up quickly over time and eventually pay for themselves in no time at all!
Can you recondition batteries by yourself?
That being said, you can save a lot of money if you know how to recondition batteries on your own. You could even open your own business and make some extra cash on the side by selling them to people in your town or online. Battery reconditioning can be a pretty good business idea.
If you have any extra old batteries lying around then you should give it a try because there is nothing lost from trying except maybe some time.
It doesn’t take very long at all for an experienced technician to dismantle most types of disposable batteries so they can be salvaged.
What are the benefits of reconditioning a battery vs buying new batteries?
So what are the benefits of using a reconditioned battery over a new battery?
Since it only takes about an hour to recharge a dead battery, you could go without power for that entire day if there was a natural disaster or some other emergency. You can be sure that the energy capacity is identical.
Also, when a battery is recharged properly they’ve been shown to retain its ability to hold a charge longer than newly manufactured ones which may lose half of its original capacity within the first year alone.
With proper maintenance, a salvaged lead-acid battery should last over five years and NiCd batteries up to twice as long before requiring replacement again.
In fact, after 5 years it may prove more economically feasible to use reclaimed ones in an uninterruptible power supply for a computer server room than new ones.
When it comes down to it, they’re cheaper and better for the environment. They may require a few minutes of your time but you can be sure that if you keep them maintained properly then they’ll last far longer than two years!
Battery care tips and tricks.
Now that you know how and why battery reconditioning is important, here are some battery care tips and tricks that can help extend the life span of your battery with minimum battery degradation.
To take proper care of them just follow these simple steps so that you can enjoy a fully functional battery:
- Don’t drain them fully – Recharge or replace batteries when they’re low on power instead of waiting until they die completely.
- Don’t overcharge them – Once a battery has been fully charged it should be disconnected from the charger until it’s needed again so it doesn’t wear out prematurely.
- Store in a cool dry place – A moderate cool temperature (around 60°F) is ideal for long-term storage; avoid freezing cold or hot summer days.
- Turn them off when they’re not in use – Batteries that are left on while not in use will slowly discharge and may lose their charge.
- Clean battery terminal often – A little bit of corrosion can cause bigger problems later so clean it with a wire brush, pencil eraser, or sandpaper to remove any buildup.
- Discharge completely before recharging – Allow batteries to rest for a few hours after each full charge cycle is completed then recharge them again (you may have to recharge regularly).
- Use a properly sized regular charger/converter – Using the wrong type of charger or converter can be dangerous; make sure it’s rated for your battery or you could ruin it!
- Keep them at room temperature unless recommended otherwise by your manufacturer – Using them in cold weather can cause a drop in voltage and even shorten their life.
- Avoid charging with an incompatible battery charger – Some battery types are not compatible so never try to charge one type of battery cell with a charger that was designed for another.
- Store batteries upright if possible – A fully charged battery will leak electrolyte if stored on its side or upside down. Use a battery holder so that it can keep the position right.
What is considered an old or dead battery and how long does it take for a battery to die?
It may seem obvious but just like people, old batteries can and do die prematurely so it’s important to keep track of their charge. If you try to use a battery that has less than 25% charge then it will not function properly no matter what you do; this is considered an old or dead battery even if it’s brand new.
A good way to measure the amount of electricity left in your battery is by using a voltmeter which usually comes with a tester included in most kits.
Just set the selector on VDC (volts DC) and connect the positive side from your meter to one terminal then another terminal from the other side of your meter to the negative terminal before reading voltage level out loud.
Keep in mind that when a battery is at 0% it has 100% D.O.P (depth of discharge) which means it’s going to die regardless of what you do so don’t try anything if your battery already registers less than 25%.
As for the question, how long does it take for a battery to die? This depends on many factors like its storage conditions, usage, and maintenance as well as the battery type.
Here are some estimated times based on normal use:
- Lead-acid – six months to one year
- Lithium-ion polymer (Li-ion) – two years
- Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cd) – 18 months
- Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) – three years
- Sealed lead acid – three or more years
Other than that, most batteries will last 2-3 years minimum.
The best way to dispose of completely dead batteries
In the end, some batteries will be indeed, no longer able to be reconditioned. That means you really need to dispose of them.
The best way to dispose of dead or old batteries is to recycle them; some battery manufacturers will accept old or unwanted batteries for recycling and this not only helps the environment but also cuts down on processing costs.
There are also other independent companies that collect used and dead batteries including automotive, marine, household, and lawn & garden; these may or may not be free so do your research before sending them away.
If you’re simply tired of replacing alkaline batteries all the time then it’s time to switch to rechargeable NiMH rechargeable ones instead. They cost more upfront but they’ll save you a lot in the long run especially if you use many AA-size batteries frequently like me because I use mine at work daily from 5 am-1 pm Monday through Friday.
I use an AA battery tester/charger that’s powered by only one AA rechargeable NiMH battery or a 9V alkaline battery which means I don’t have to worry about recharging it as often since it’s always ready and fully charged.
Take care of your battery, take care of the environment
Did you know an old battery contains toxic material? You may want to recycle your used batteries too because they contain materials like lead, mercury, cadmium, and compounds of these metals.
They can get into the food chain when thrown away so recycling is best for everyone!
Batteries account for more than 30 percent of electronic waste. But you can do something about it by recycling used batteries!
By sending back flat dead batteries you will help reduce the number of toxins that enter our landfills and water supply every year.