5

I got myself an Nikon D80. I have a spare battery for it. EN-EL3e.

What I am fearing is. I don't use that battery and keep it as a backup. I will probably forget about it for days and charge it only when I go to a photoshoot or an event.

Is it really healthy to simply forget it inside a drawer and after days of not using it just charge it and go to a photoshoot with it?

I just fear an battery leak,self combustion,battery age drop or things like that.

So what is the best course of action for keeping spare Li-Ion batteries like that safe? Should I regulary charge it and take photos with it when its not in use and then put it back away in a drawer?

12

I don't know that there is a "best course of action", but here's what I do... I have multiple batteries, and I numbered them. When battery #1 gets low, I put in battery #2 and charge #1. If they've been sitting for a while, then the night before I'm going to spend enough time shooting that I may potentially need more than one, I'll top off the charge on the next couple in sequence.

That means over time, I'm approximately subjecting each battery to the same wear and usage. The topping off may not be ideal for Li-ion batteries, but it shouldn't hurt too much...

Oh, and I never charge a battery in the camera, even though that's possible with many/most models these days...

  • The topping off is ideal for Lithium batteries. The thing that depletes their life the most is deep discharges. Topping them off helps to avoid deep discharges. The slight effect on storage life is negligible. The significant effect on cycle life is not. – David Schwartz Nov 19 at 23:08
8

What you're doing now is fine. Li-ion does not need to be fully charged for storage. In fact, the best state to store them in is between 30-70% charge, but I'd probably only bother with that if storing them for many months.

It's also fine (encouraged, even) to recharge them when they're only partially discharged -- a very deep charge/discharge will reduce battery life more than running them down halfway and recharging twice.

Source (though it's very verbose) is Battery University

  • 4
    They also discharge while in storage so if you leave it in a draw at 30% for a very long time it could drop too low and be damaged. – Qwertie Nov 19 at 6:31
  • "A very deep charge/discharge will reduce battery life more than running them down halfway and recharging twice" was true 20 years ago, but I understood that it was no longer the case, and unless I overlooked it that doesn't seem to be mentioned in the page you link. – Peter Taylor Nov 19 at 9:03
  • 1
    @Qwertie, that's true, but Li-ion doesn't actually self-discharge much, and I believe they won't be damaged from self-discharge unless they're really left alone for many years. The requirement to ship them by air is a 40% state of charge, and presumably they then sit in warehouses/store shelves for months after that. – Nate S - Reinstate Monica Nov 19 at 17:00
  • 1
    @PeterTaylor, it's still true. Check out table 2 on this page: batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/… – Nate S - Reinstate Monica Nov 19 at 17:00
  • @PeterTaylor It's 100% true and it's the most significant effect on battery life. For most practical cases, it's the only thing that matters. – David Schwartz Nov 19 at 23:09
2
Is it really healthy to simply forget it inside a drawer and after days of not using it just charge it and go to a photoshoot with it?

Yes. Lithium ion batteries in general are quite durable. They will age based on usage and calendar life, but the aging is much slower than for e.g. NiCd batteries that are forgotten for long amounts of time.

I just fear an battery leak,self combustion,battery age drop or things like that.

I would fear battery leak or self combustion most for the battery inside the camera. If it combusts, it destroys the camera with it. If it leaks, it may destroy the camera with it.

Battery capacity will continuously drop. It will drop more for batteries that are actually used (or kept at a high temperature like in a laptop). It may be useful to occasionally use the spare battery just to see it is still healthy. If you never use it, you will never see exactly how much its capacity has degraded.

I would use and charge the battery twice per year. That ought to be enough. When its capacity has degraded too much, replace it with a newer one and take it for proper recycling.

  • If batteries are worse inside the device they are meant to power, how come airlines will not let you carry Li-ion batteries at all under any circumstances, unless they are inside the device they power? I carry spares on flights in their appropriate charger, which seems to satisfy that requirement. At home I keep spares in the charger too, unplugged. – Tetsujin Nov 18 at 19:41
  • 2
    @Tetsujin They are not worse. They just destroy the device with them. Airlines care about destroying the airplane, not destroying the device... – juhist Nov 18 at 19:49
  • @Tetsujin I guess it's like this: Something happens and it's contained in your device (and ruins it) — worse for you. Something happens and it's not so contained — worse for the airplane. – mattdm Nov 18 at 19:49
  • 3
    The other factor is that Li-ion can explode when shorted out, and it's much harder to short them out accidentally if they're installed in a device. – Nate S - Reinstate Monica Nov 18 at 20:34
  • 1
    I would absolutely not fear spontaneous combustion of the battery in the camera or anywhere else. Except for rare manufacturing defects, Li-ion batteries do not self-combust unless they're physically damaged, shorted or over-charged. None of those will happen to a battery that's just sitting around. I've also never heard of Li-ion batteries leaking. That's a problem with alkaline cells and other low-capacity formats. – David Richerby Nov 19 at 10:55
2

"Days" is not a problem for an intact li-Ion battery, neither should "months" be.

What should not be allowed to happen is letting them self-discharge below a minimum safe voltage. Well designed batteries will make themselves unserviceable permanently (chargers will refuse to charge it) if that actually happens. Do not attempt to fix a battery that has done that - THAT can make it unsafe indeed. A battery damaged in that way has a certain risk of eg bloating, if it self punctures against a sharp object in storage something bad could happen. So get rid of unserviceable batteries, they are worthless anyway.

To clarify "below a certain voltage": A LiIon battery that a device recognizes as "empty" is not empty. And it can't be. Most any rechargeable battery ends up worse for wear when it is discharged (by self discharge or by usage) to the point where it can't deliver any power at all - if you do that to a LiIon, you HAD a battery.

Catastrophic failure from anything else than physical damage or tampering is unlikely with original manufacturer or good quality aftermarket batteries that are not under recall - makers tend to aggressively issue recall notices if such problems become known.

1

Is it really healthy to simply forget it inside a drawer and after days of not using it just charge it and go to a photoshoot with it?

Days are not a problem. Back with my old 550D, I'd shoot around once a month, and with the obscene amount of spare chinese batteries (numbered like twalberg said), I'd switch them around each time so each would get used once or twice a year. So far, none ever failed, even taking them out of the shelf years later was never an issue.

The only lithium batteries I've ever seen exploding were the shrink-wrapped RC ones, if the casing got damaged/punctured, charging went wrong, or they were shorted out. Completely enclosed camera batteries are comparably resilient, can be charged out of the camera and have slightly recessed contacts, so those risks are greatly reduced.

In short, I'd second Twalberg's answer. Number them, switch them around, and never charge in the camera.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.