Used for just a few weeks a year on average, your Christmas decorations spend most of their time in storage.
But if you remember to remove any batteries before storing them, they will last for longer. So if your fairy lights or similar from Christmas are neatly packed away in the store room, not to be touched until the festivities roll around once more, bear this in mind.
And, if you haven’t already done so, it’s always worth taking out the batteries. So dig through those boxes and do it now – it’s not too late. Equally, of course, the same rule applies to anything else that’s being stored long-term. (And, what with Britain’s current boom in self-storage units, that could mean more items than you realise.)
It doesn’t matter so much if the items are going to be used again within a few weeks. But the problem is that batteries slowly discharge themselves, even in something which has been turned off.
Even if the period of time in question is just a couple of months, the amount of charge lost from removable batteries is likely to be very little. Yet over the course of months, batteries are likely to run completely dry. As discharging happens, pressure builds, and alkaline batteries in particular may corrode, or harmful potassium carbonate deposits may leak. Problems such as these can seriously damage small electronic devices.
Lithium batteries, admittedly, will probably not corrode. Even so, they will discharge more quickly if left inside your fairy lights in long-term storage. And if you’re storing batteries for next year, you can tape them to the box or even the lights themselves, so they’re all ready to be used next time.
If you can, place batteries back in their original packaging. And group all the batteries from one device in one place, with a label. For AA and AAAA batteries, you could consider covering the conductive terminals with masking tape.
Finally, there are cases available specifically designed for the storage of batteries long-term. And remember to store batteries at room temperature with only moderate humidity.
All of this can, of course, seem quite boring and time-consuming. But it will save you from a lot of frustration.