I want to move as many tools and equipment from inside house to a recently repaired shed.

I was wondering, whether I should be worried about how equipment -- particularly electrical -- would be affected by being stored in a non-heated location, subject to frequent changes in temperature?

My home is in a temperate maritime zone, in winter it can get colder than -20C/-4F, but generally it has recently been nearer -5C..+5C/23-41F, and 20-30C/86-86F in summer, and a typical difference between day and night can be up to ~10 degrees all year long.

Obviously a lawnmower (I have a cordless one) would still stay in the shed, but I have a number of electrical tools -- both corded and cordless, such as a drill, a couple reciprocating saws, a cordless screwdriver and impact driver, etc, so I was wondering if it was reasonable to store them in shed all year round. What about Li-ion batteries for the tools?

Humidity is usually quite high at all times except winter, but that would be only somewhat different indoors, as we don't generally do HVAC in residential areas, and I don't have an AC unit either.

The shed is without flooring [the ground is rather humid in the area], and is very well ventilated due to multiple cracks in walls; there are gaps between roof and wall as well. It has partially translucent roof, but in general, only wind can get in, and air humidity -- I am not worried about rain or snow.

1 Answer 1


Changes in conditions can kill equipment in environments like you're describing - especially involving high humidity. When the temperature falls at night, the moisture condenses on every available surface. The next day as the air heats back up, the moisture evaporates. If the day/night temperature swings are big enough to cause significant condensation, then you're essentially dousing any metal surfaces in water every 24 hours. I had a home years ago with a poorly built uninsulated garage, on a cool summer morning there would be significant condensation - any tools left out there would look like they'd been sprayed down by a hose. Sometimes the condensation would be so great that the tin roof would drip water and it would "rain" inside the garage. It killed a few tools. I quickly learned to deal with it (and made structural improvements) and things were fine - I still have and use some tools that had been stored in that garage for a decade, once I learned to protect them.

There are ways to combat this. Wipe down metal surfaces with a rag and some light machine oil every time you use the tools. The oil will help repel condensation. If you can, store the tools in tightly-closing cases or bags, and then put the cases in airtight storage bins. This will cut down on the condensation significantly by capturing a more-stable environment directly around the tools. For the cordless tools, it probably makes sense to store the batteries in your house regardless of the temperature or humidity, so they can be on or near their chargers (I'm assuming you don't have power at the shed).

You said there is no floor to the shed - if the floor is earth or gravel, it can be a big source of moisture. For the larger items like the lawnmower, it may make sense to store them on a pallet or at least on a makeshift floor of 2x4s or other scrap lumber - the idea is to allow air circulation under and around the tools, so they're not just sitting directly on the damp ground all the time.

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    A floor would be an improvement, for sure - It's also worth considering insulating it. "But I don't heat/cool it" - insulation will slow the temperature change, and reduce the condensation as a result. If there IS power, building an insulated closet with a small heat source (you're not trying to keep it warm, you're trying to keep it warmer) will greatly help with the tool storage not being dank.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jun 21, 2019 at 14:32
  • You make some good points. I guess in the end you need to decide to either "embrace" the current nature of the shed and do what you can to protect the tools, or do it "right" - build a real floor, insulate, etc.
    – dwizum
    Jun 21, 2019 at 14:36

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