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  1. #1
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    Lighting batteries and subfreezing temps

    I keep my commuting bike in an unheated, unattached garage at home, and at work I lock it up outside.

    I've heard that subfreezing temperatures make batteries stop working. So what about my bike lights, front light and various blinkies? Will they not work if I leave them out in the cold?

    It would be a pain to detach them and bring them in every time I get home, and then again when I get to work, and then have to put them back on, but I wouldn't want to be stuck with nonworking lights, especially on the commute home when it's dark.

    Anyone know the answer to this?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Dog is my copilot. GGDub's Avatar
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    I've never had a problem with batteries not working and my bike sits covered but unheated in temps below -30c. I have had problems getting buttons to work however, but its normally on poorly designed buttons.
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  3. #3
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    Batteries work because of a chemical reaction, and cold slows chemical reactions down. Your car battery is less effective on cold mornings, but it still works. Back before I got a bike with a generator, I used batteries and found that I would have to change them more often in cold conditions. However, they still worked fine. Blinkies draw so little current that they seem uneffected by cold. Don't worry.

    Paul

  4. #4
    I like bikes dr.raleigh's Avatar
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    I have generator lights that I got at the local hardware store for $12.99 and they work great. Bright enough to see in pitch black.
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  5. #5
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    I have seen all kinds of conflicting answers to this question. My experience has been if you have some time to warm up the nimh's and alkalines before you go, then they will perform better. But sometimes that's not practical....and then you can't always keep them warm during your commute.

    The lithiums on the other hand don't seem to mind the cold.....that's why I have them in all of my lights in winter.

  6. #6
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    thanks for the feedback everyone.

    And ccd rider, thanks for the tip on lithium batteries, I'll give them a try for winter commuting.

  7. #7
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    The batteries in my bicycle headlights (and camera, for that matter) stop working sooner in the cold than they do in warm temps.

    If you don't want to remove your headlight, you might consider creating some sort of insulated headlight "cozy" to help keep your batteries warmer. But I don't understand why it would be such a pain to remove them. It takes one quick click (less than 10 seconds) to remove and reattach mine.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    But I don't understand why it would be such a pain to remove them. It takes one quick click (less than 10 seconds) to remove and reattach mine.
    Well there's the front light, the light under the seat, the light at the back of the rack, the light on my helmet... Plus I have to park the bike, take the panniers off, lock it up, all in freezing weather. Basically I'm lazy ...

    Also if I have to take them off when I get home, that means I also have to bring them into the house, put them somewhere the kids won't take them, remember where I put them, remember to bring them out with me when I leave in the morning, and I'm getting to the age where all that remembering gets kind of hard.

  9. #9
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    The ONLY batteries i've ever had NOT work, while riding in the cold were in my cell phone at about -5 F. I understand that other batteries can have issues esp. in colder temps, but that is about as cold as it gets around here.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by chipg5 View Post
    thanks for the feedback everyone.

    And ccd rider, thanks for the tip on lithium batteries, I'll give them a try for winter commuting.
    You're welcome. Keep in mind they are EXPENSIVE.....and there are a fraction of the options available for easily found AAA's or AA's (Energizer pretty much has that market covered) than alkalines or nimh's. But their longevity and cold tolerance far outweigh the initial investment during the winter months (then I go back to nimh's in the spring). And speaking of outweigh....that's something they DON'T do, they seem light as a feather compared to alkalines and esp. nimh's....but evidently are only around a third lighter (which is still very substantial esp. when you're talking up to 4 to power a light).

    And, if that wasn't enough.....they carry higher voltage to your light, so it's brighter. You might be cautious when you place them in your particular light....it might get a little too hot (though if it's cold enough it shouldn't be a problem regardless).

    You might also consider the same thing for your more expensive rechargeable lights.....the lithium ion option. The same qualities hold true.

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