Shelf Life of Alkaline Batteries

What Is the Shelf Life of an Alkaline Battery?

Consumers use alkaline batteries for several products in their home, such as electronic toys, radios, clocks, smoke detectors and television remote controls. If you keep a stock of batteries available, it may help to know their shelf life.


  • The purpose of an alkaline battery is to power electronic devices until the charge within the battery runs out.


  • Alkaline batteries, also known as dry cell batteries, have a steel outer casing. Fabric inside the core separates the electrodes from the anodes. The electrolyte is a potassium hydroxide solution in water that carries the ions within the battery cell.


  • Alkaline batteries produce power through a chemical reaction that begins to occur when you put the battery in a device, complete the circuit and combine the electrodes and anodes. The battery produces electrical energy because the battery contains the chemical reaction.

Shelf Life

  • While an alkaline battery is reliable, it has a shelf life of about 7 to 10 years. Around that time, the chemicals within the battery become stagnant and no longer produce a chemical reaction to power the battery.


  • Some people believe that placing unused batteries in a freezer extends their shelf life. While the chemical reaction within an alkaline battery does slow at lower temperatures when in a device, there is no documentation available to support the assumption that a disconnected battery has a longer shelf life when kept cold.
  • Alkalines major advantages (compared to the zinc-carbon battery system) are a high energy density; the ability to operate continuously at relatively high discharge rates over a wide temperature range (due to its lower internal resistance); and a shelf life in excess of four years. The cost of the alkaline battery, on a service life basis, is lowest in medium to high drain applications.

    The components of the alkaline-manganese battery are a zinc anode, a manganese dioxide cathode, and a highly conductive potassium hydroxide electrolyte.

    The open circuit voltage ranges from 1.5 to 1 .6V, depending on cathode formulation. Typical median operating voltage ranges from 1.3 to 1.1V under moderate discharge conditions.

    Discharge Characteristics
    Moderately sloping discharge curve.

    Energy Density
    75 Wh/lb. (163 Wh/kg); 6.5 Wh/in.3 (398 Wh/l).

    Effect of Discharge Load and Temperature
    Capable of performance at high discharge rates; typical temperature range: -4°F to 130°F (-20°C to 54°C).

    Shelf Life
    Up to 85% capacity remaining after 4 years of storage at 70°F (21°C).
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