- by Joe Weber - updated on 12/1/2022
Taking care of all of your batteries in the winter is the key to not only having an easy-going winter but also a stress-free spring when you uncover your boat, bike or lawn mower for its first use of the year knowing that it will start on the first try. Read through this helpful guide for winterization and storage tips for every type of battery you may need to care for.
Worried that your battery may be starting to show signs of failing? Bring your batteries into your local Batteries Plus and our associates will be happy to test them for you while you wait and help you find the best replacement battery if a new one is in order.
Your boat's batteries can be expensive to replace if they are not taken care of during the off-season. No one wants to start the boating season with dead or dying batteries. Getting new batteries is time-consuming and, let's be real, you'd rather be out on the water.
Follow these easy steps to make sure your batteries stay in tip-top shape for the spring.
1. Charge the batteries
Charging the batteries one last time before storing them ensures they'll recharge completely next season and greatly reduces the risk of the batteries freezing.
2. Check the voltage
Using a voltmeter, check the batteries' voltage after charging them to ensure they are reading a voltage of 12.6V or higher. If after charging the voltage is reading less than that, you may want to bring your batteries into a Batteries Plus to have them tested.
3. Disconnect the batteries
Remove all of the electrical loads from your batteries by completely disconnecting them from all cables. Even when the electronics are off, a small amount of draw combined with the natural self-discharge is enough to damage batteries in the off-season.
4. Remove the batteries from the boat
Take the batteries out of the boat and store them in a cool, dry place where there is enough area around the batteries to be connected to a charger. It's recommended that you store them on wood surfaces in garages or storage facilities.
5. Charge and Maintain
Connect the batteries to a trickle charger or maintainer to keep the battery at a healthy charge level throughout the winter. If you don't have a maintainer, charge the batteries monthly with a marine battery charger. Proper charging during the off-season prevents self-discharge and extends the lifespan of the battery. Fully charged batteries are also less likely to freeze.
6. Confirm your charger is designed for your battery
Flooded, AGM and Lithium batteries often require different chargers and algorithms. Verify that your charger is designed for your type and voltage of battery before charging. Smart, automatic chargers are a nice tool as they constantly adjust to the battery's needs to prevent overcharging.
Learn more about maintaining your boat battery by reading our blog "How to Maintain Your Boat or RV Battery Over the Winter".
If you live in a cold weather state, you understand the strain that the winter cold can cause on your car batteries. Knowing how to take care of them, whether you store your car or drive it daily and allow it to sit out in the cold, is key to having batteries last as long as possible.
If you drive your car in the winter there are a few things you can do to aid in keeping your battery healthy.
1. Plug it in at night
There are two ways to keep your battery warm by external means: block heaters and battery blankets.
Block heaters are installed into the engine block by a mechanic and plug into an electrical outlet to heat the engine. This doesn't necessarily keep the battery warm but it does reduce the strain on the battery because a warmer engine starts easier than a cold engine.
Battery blankets are essentially industrial heating pads that you plug into an outlet to provide ambient heat to the battery to keep it warm. Remember to remove the blanket before driving.
2. Keep the battery charged
Drive the car regularly if possible. Driving for 30 minutes will help keep the battery charged to a healthy level. If you aren't driving your vehicle regularly, connect the battery to a battery maintainer to keep the battery at optimal charge levels.
3. Keep it clean
Keep connections tight and secure by removing any corrosion from the terminals with a corrosion cleaner and terminal brush.
If you store your car for the winter and plan on taking it out on the road again in the spring, you want to make sure that you follow these steps to ensure your battery stays healthy.
1. Charge your battery
Charging your car or truck batteries one last time before storing them for the winter ensures they'll recharge completely next season and greatly reduces the risk of the batteries freezing. Partially charged batteries can start to freeze at temperatures as high as 20°F.
2. Keep an eye on the temperature
Car batteries, whether flooded or AGM, are susceptible to extreme temperatures just like we are. If it's excessively cold, car batteries are more likely to freeze if that battery is not charged fully.
The best thing to do is to either park your unused vehicle in a garage or remove the batteries and store them somewhere away from the elements and extreme cold.
If keeping the batteries in a warmer environment is not possible, consider a battery blanket to keep your batteries warm while out in the cold. Essentially an industrial heating pad, a battery blanket plugs into an electrical outlet to provide ambient heat to make sure your car battery doesn't freeze.
3. Clean any Corrosion or Dirt
Keep connections secure by removing any corrosive material from the terminals with a corrosion cleaner and terminal brush. Wipe down the battery if it's dirty and keep it clean throughout the winter.
Learn more about keeping your battery warm in the winter by reading our blog article "How To Protect Your Battery Against Extreme Weather".
It's important to keep your battery healthy in the winter so your bike or ATV starts in the spring. Starting the spring with a dead battery is a powersport enthusiast's worst nightmare. Follow these steps to ensure a healthy battery in the spring.
1. Check the voltage
Use a voltmeter to check the voltage of the battery before tucking it away for the winter. If the voltage is over 12.7 volts, your battery is in excellent shape. If you are getting a reading of close to 12 volts or lower, it's time to look for a replacement battery.
2. Add fuel stabilizer
While you are preparing your battery you may as well take steps to winterize your bike or ATV too. Adding fuel stabilizer to the fuel tank will help remove any water from the system while it sits in the freezing cold.
3. Keep them cool and dry
Remove the battery from the machine and store them on a shelf in a cool, dry place like a garage or shed. Leave enough area around the batter for easy charging.
4. Keep it charged
Connect the battery to a battery maintainer to keep the battery charged to the optimal level at all times during the off-season and to ensure the battery remains healthy throughout the winter.
Most lawn and garden batteries come with a 6-month warranty to get through the season. To help save money in the spring when it's time to mow the lawn again, maintaining your batteries in the winter is hugely important. If you would like to learn more about winter maintenance for your lawn mower batteries on top of what we list out below, read our blog "How Do I Winterize My Lawn Mower?".
1. Remove the batteries
Remove the batteries from the mower or lawn tractor and store them in a cool, dry place like a garage or shed. Remember to leave enough room around the batteries to allow a charger.
2. Connect a charger
Connect the battery to a battery maintainer to ensure that the batteries stay at the optimal charge level throughout the winter. Connect a battery maintainer also helps keep the battery healthy by removing any sulfation that may occur from undercharging.
3. Make sure your lawnmower is switched to off
If you do leave your battery in your mower make sure that it is completely switched off to avoid any draw of electricity from the battery.
Electric golf carts can take upwards of 6 batteries. Replacing all six can be expensive so it's important to maintain them in the winter months so they are ready to go in the spring.
1. Clean the terminals
Using a terminal cleaning spray or a mixture of baking soda and water, gently scrub the terminals and the terminal connectors clean with a wire or terminal brush to remove any corrosive material from the terminals reducing the current draw while being stored.
2. Remove and store
Disconnect the batteries to remove them from the golf cart and place them in a well-ventilated area in a garage or shed. Ideally, place them on a wood worktable or shelf that has plenty of room surrounding them for a charger.
3. Check water levels
If you are using flooded batteries in your golf carts be sure to check the water levels by popping off the caps and checking to make sure the water level is at the fill line or at least covering the lead plates. If more water is needed, replace the caps and clean the exterior of the battery to avoid debris falling into the fill hole. Using a funnel, slowly add enough distilled water to cover the plates and reach the fill line.
4. Charge and maintain
Connect all of the batteries to a golf cart battery maintainer. Battery maintainers will not only charge the batteries but they will also keep them charged to optimal levels; preventing damage caused by undercharging, known as sulfation. Connecting your batteries to maintainers in the off-season is key to ensuring healthy batteries in the spring.
If you have a basement, you probably have a sump pump. Sump pumps are there to remove unwanted water from your basement and deposit it into your yard, away from your home. While they are an amazing tool to keep your basement from flooding, there are some steps you should take to ensure proper functioning in the winter months.
1. Remove the discharge hose
If you live in an area that regularly drops below freezing, you will want to make sure that you remove the sump pump's discharge hose until the weather warms up. Removing the hose is important because any water in the hose could freeze and cause additional blockage. It's also important to have an extra hose on hand, at any point in the year, to replace the hose if it is damaged.
2. Clean out debris
Standing or slow-moving water has a greater chance of freezing in low temperatures. Clean out debris, mud or other junk that may be present in the sump pump's pipes and pit to help keep the water flowing freely.
3. Keep it plugged in
Sump pumps run off your home's power so never unplug it. A battery backup can be used and is incredibly important to have so your pump will still operate if your home has no power.
4. Keep the heat on
Help keep the batteries at a healthy temperature by keeping the heat on in the home and the vents open in the basement. Keeping the battery warm in the winter if it's in an area susceptible to freezing is extremely important for the health of the battery.
5. Clean battery terminals
Scrub off any dirt, grime and corrosion from the battery terminals using a terminal cleaner or a mixture of baking soda and water. Scrub gently with a wire or terminal brush. Keeping the terminals clean will help ensure a clean connection to the sump pump if the power goes out.
To learn more about sump pumps and how to maintain them read our blog article "How Do You Winterize a Sump Pump?".