Blades sharpened, oil changed, filters cleaned, fuel stabilized, tires inflated – you’ve taken proper steps to winterize your lawnmower. But there’s one mower component that can’t really be prepped and left unattended through the winter months. It’s the battery.
Just as is the case with vehicle batteries, lack of use will slowly but surely drain lawnmower battery life. That process is accelerated with freezing temperatures and harsh winter conditions.
If you live in a region with true winter and sub-freezing temperatures, you’ve no doubt noted that your vehicle labors more on cold startup after being parked outdoors. That’s due to the negative effect of cold temperatures on the battery. Lawnmower batteries are negatively affected much the same in cold temperatures. To make things worse, the mower battery doesn’t get the benefit of occasional startup and use through the winter months.
So what can you do to keep your lawnmower battery charged during the off-season, even when the mower is stored in cold conditions? Here are some tips and options:
If you park your lawnmower reasonably close to an electrical outlet, a battery tender is perhaps the easiest option to ensure your lawnmower battery stays in top condition.
These devices are designed to be hooked up to the battery and left for months at a time. There’s no risk of overcharging – a battery tender (or trickle charger) brings the battery up to a full charge, then supplies just enough current to keep it there indefinitely. (Called a float/maintenance charge mode.)
“The purpose of the Float/Maintenance Charge Mode is to maintain the battery voltage just slightly (typically between 1/10 and ½ volt) above where it would be if it were fully charged and sitting at rest. This keeps the battery topped off at voltages well below the gassing voltage of a lead acid battery.” - BatteryTender.com
A battery tender can be hooked up and unhooked at your discretion. For example, perhaps you need to “make the rounds” in your garage between charging the lawnmower battery, and ATV, watercraft, or motorcycle batteries. Hooking up the battery tender intermittently will keep the lawnmower battery and all others charged and ready to go. Every time you hook up the tender, allow enough time for a full charge to be achieved before unhooking.
When it comes to maintaining a lawnmower battery, or nearly any other type of battery during the off-season, a battery tender is just about indispensable.
During a prolonged period of no use, loss of battery life occurs due to a combination of electronic drain and time. As detailed above, storage in cold conditions also greatly accelerates the loss of battery charge.
Unhooking and removing your battery from the lawnmower and storing it in indoors will help to slow a loss of charge.
Before the battery is reinstalled and put back into use for the season, charging is recommended. Even though you’ve slowed the loss of battery life by removing it from the mower and keeping it out of freezing conditions, some loss of charge will still have occurred. So for the best chance of maintaining a full charge for the entire mowing season, hook up the uninstalled battery to a tender until full charge is achieved, then reinstall on the mower before your first startup of the season.
Yeah, we know this sounds like a no-brainer, but some lawnmowers have an initial ignition position that keeps certain components and systems ON.
The mower engine can be switched off, but an ON ignition setting engaged. While you’re parking your mower for the off-season and juggling all of the factors involved in a proper lawnmower winterization, this sort of oversight becomes more likely. (At least that’s how it works for us.) If the cold temperatures and lack of use won’t doom your lawnmower battery, leaving the ignition ON most certainly will.
So make sure your lawnmower is definitely turned all the way OFF. Then take your pick of the on-site battery charging method (option 1) or battery removal and storage (option 2). Either way, your mower battery will be ready to rock when the snow melts and lawn duties resume.
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