TRUE OR FALSE: Cold weather is bad for batteries.
FALSE: Batteries like the cold. Lower average battery temperature means longer life expectancy. A typical baggage tractor battery weighs well over 3,000 pounds, which is too much mass to lower the internal temperature over the course of a day or two. Hopefully, the battery is being used and charged, which generates heat and maintains temperature. And even if the internal temperature drops, the electrolyte in a charged battery will not freeze. So in most cases, even freezing temperatures don’t make any difference at all, and possibly they even help.
There is some bad news, however:
- Lower internal battery temperature means lower capacity: A cold battery could deliver as little as half the capacity of a warm battery. And probably at a time when the tractor is demanding more power to do the same work.
- Some chargers shut off before cold batteries reach 100 percent state-of-charge: In this case the electrolyte can stratify, leaving mostly water on top and create the possibility of freezing. Unlikely, but possible.
What To Do
Don’t let a tractor sit on the ramp for days. Keep charging and discharging. And make sure you charge to 100 percent and equalize charge regularly to keep the electrolyte properly mixed.