Q: “I’ve heard that the batteries I use for my wireless system should be stored in a refrigerator while not in use. First, will this actually help and secondly, why or how does it help?”
A: Consumers Report magazine some time back took exactly 432 double A, C and D batteries and used them as part of a scientific report on this very subject. They stored some in the refrigerator, and some at room temperatures. At the end of five years they found that indeed the refrigerated batteries had more charge, but not by much. The room temperature batteries still had 96 percent of the charge of the refrigerated ones. So, is this enough to merit filling a refrigerator with batteries? That’s probably a call you’ll have to make on your own. I will say that whether or not it helps keep a charge for a longer period of time, it’s not a bad way to manage your batteries. Most problems you’ll run into regarding batteries and your wireless system will be due to mismatching partially used and new batteries, or simply not knowing which batteries are used or not. Storing new batteries in your ‘fridge’ keeps them from mixing with used batteries, and, who knows, maybe you’ll get more hours on them too.
To answer your second question, a battery generates a current by a chemical reaction. When the chemicals exhaust themselves, the battery dies. This reaction is only supposed to take place when the battery is being used in a closed circuit, but the chemical reaction does go on to some small degree even when the batteries not being used (unless they are stored in a vacuum or at very, very low temperatures). Over time the reaction will corrode the battery, covering the end with a brown film. There’s no practical way to stop this reaction (unless you’re willing to spend more money saving the batteries than they cost to buy…).