Industry News

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CHARGING YOUR FORKLIFT BATTERY

0 Published by admin Jul 19,2019

forklift battery

MOST INDUSTRIAL BATTERIES ARE GOOD FOR AROUND 1,500 CHARGING CYCLES

Each and every forklift battery ever made has a finite number of times it can be charged. Once a battery has reached its limit, you’ll notice that it won’t charge to full the way it used to and may not achieve its proper amperage. This can negatively impact the performance of your forklifts and even cause damage to electric forklift systems.

Because of this limited shelf life, it’s important to have a maintenance plan for your forklift equipment that includes phasing out aging batteries before they fail. How often should you replace an industrial battery? If the battery is good for 1,500 charging cycles, then that translates to about five years of useful life if you charge it once a day. So, replacing your forklift batteries once every five years should be sufficient to ensure you get the most use out of your batteries while minimizing your total cost of ownership for them.

YOU SHOULD AVOID OPPORTUNITY CHARGING IF YOU WANT MAXIMUM BATTERY LIFE
As mentioned above, a battery can only endure so many charging cycles before it starts to degrade. It doesn’t matter whether you start the charging cycle at 80% power, 50% power, or 25% power—it will still reduce the total number of charges the battery can withstand. The practice of “opportunity charging,” or recharging the battery whenever it happens to be convenient, can dramatically shorten a battery’s useful life.

Conventional Forklift Battery Charging
Charge time: 8-10 hours
Charges to: 100% SOC (State of Charge)
Cool down time: 8 hours
Charged at: 16-18A / 100 Ahrs

BEST FOR: Conventional charging is best-suited for single shift operations and is the easiest on the battery. You run it during the day, re-charge it in the evening and by the next day it's cooled down and is ready for use.

CONS: For multi-shift operations, you'll need to buy at least two batteries per truck. Your staff must take the time to change batteries between shifts which requires equipment and is a potential chemical hazard.

Fast-Charging
Charge time: 10-30min + weekly equalization charge
Charges to: 80-85% SOC
Charged at: 40-60A/100Ahrs (3-4x greater than conventional)

BEST FOR: Three-shift / heavy use operations. The battery can partially charge up in ten minute spurts during breaks or in-between shifts. This eliminates the need for extra batteries and for battery change-outs between shifts. Operations with limited space will also benefit from fast-charging as you no longer need battery change-out rooms.

CONS: Fast-charging is extremely hard on the overall life of the battery and warranties are reduced. So the battery will have to be replaced more often versus conventional charging.

SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS:
Fast-charging keeps the battery at a 40-80% SOC (state of charge). However, it’s important to charge the battery to 100% at least once a week (this is called equalizing) and it is typically done over the weekend.

Your lift trucks will need to be modified slightly to have permanently-mounted connectors and dual battery cables routed to the rear of the vehicle. Optional modifications include fans or vents to cool the battery and reduce heat under the hood.

Fast-charging also requires special chargers:
- With a multi-vehicle charger, multiple vehicles get charged  at the same time with one  AC input. The power is shared, so this is better for light-duty equipment like utility trucks, small forklifts, etc.
- You can also have dedicated chargers where only one vehicle charges at a time and gets the full power output. This is better for mid-sized forklifts and larger capacity lift trucks.

Opportunity charging Charge time: 10-30min  + weekly equalization charge
Charges to: 80-85% SOC, 100% overnight
Charged at: 5A /100 Ahrs

Opportunity charging is best for two-shift operations where you can keep the battery going just long enough to get through the second shift by charging  during breaks and lunchtime.  An opportunity charger brings  the battery up to an 80-percent state of charge. Once a week, the battery must be fully charged to equalize. Opportunity charging  can also extend the run time of aging batteries. 

BEST FOR: Companies with multi-shift operations and space to install strategic charging stations.

CONS: An opportunity charger will shut off at 80-percent SOC and allows the battery to cool down. Even if you can squeeze in a full hour of charging, the opportunity charger won't take the battery to 100% ( a fast charger will). 
For example, say your battery is able to take 1,500 charges. At one charging cycle a day, that battery should last for five years. If you charge it twice a day under an opportunity charging method, the battery will now only last two and a half years.

Need help finding the right forklift battery charging solution or a reconditioned forklift battery? Contact the experts at Wisdom Power for more information about forklift battery charging procedures and general warehouse equipment solutions.