Lead Acid Forklift Batteries
Lead-acid batteries are the most common in the forklift market. They are sometimes referred to as wet cell batteries. Components include a battery case, cells, and cables, as well as a mixture of sulfuric acid and water.
Electric forklifts have increased in popularity in recent times due to rising fuel costs and a greater awareness about environmental problems. An electric forklift has many benefits over a conventional one, but if you do not care for it, your savings can quickly evaporate.
Before we look into how to maintain your forklift battery life, it’s useful to know that most batteries start with 1500 charging cycles before they expire. If you charge your forklift battery once every working day (300 days) for a year then that battery will last you for 5 years. This is why looking after your battery is important because, when you do, there are some huge benefits.
For instance, did you know that with proper care you can increase the life of your battery by over 40%? It will also decrease your expenses, improve battery safety and maintain the forklift’s performance.
The battery on your electric forklift can constitute up to 30% of the cost of the vehicle. On average, it can serve you for 6000 hours. But, to get this benefit, you will have to take care of it accordingly.
With our expertise, we help you sort through the options and find the battery and charger that’s perfect for your application. UNLIKE MOST INTERNET STORES, WE GET TO KNOW OUR CUSTOMERS.
Here are our 8 top tips for how best to maintain your forklift truck battery:
1) FORKLIFT BATTERY CHARGING
Stick to protocol when it comes to forklift battery maintenance and charging your lift trucks. Batteries have a finite number of cycles, if you charge based on convenience instead of sticking to a schedule; you can potentially shorten the battery’s life. The general rule of thumb is to recharge the battery after an eight-hour shift or when it’s discharged more than 30%. If you charge too frequently when it is not more than 30% discharged, you will shorten the battery life. The following charging tips are also considered best practices:
● If possible, let the forklift battery charge completely once you’ve started to charge it. Cutting a charging cycle short can also be harmful to the battery’s longevity. Be sure to fully recharge the battery once every day.
● Don’t let a discharged battery sit for too long - not more than a few hours to one day. By doing so, you increase the likelihood that hard sulfation will develop, which will reduce the run time and life of the battery.
● Don’t over-discharge your lift truck battery. If you discharge beyond 80% you’ll be doing long term irreparable damage to the battery and significantly shorten the battery life.
● Be aware of battery temperature when charging. Excessive heat will shorten battery life by half. Keep the forklift battery as close to 25C as is practical. And charging a cold battery around 15C or less requires extra time as well as temperature compensation on the battery charger to achieve proper charge voltages.
2) FORKLIFT CHARGING STATIONS
In addition to these electric forklift battery maintenance tips, for safety purposes, it’s also highly recommended that a facility be set up with a designated battery charging area. This area should have clear signage, available water supply for eye washing, ventilation, a fire extinguisher, and a phone in case of emergencies. Additionally, these other safety precautions are recommended:
● Prohibit smoking near the designated battery changing area.
● Avoid wearing metallic jewelry while recharging lift truck batteries.
● Use appropriate handling equipment for lifting and moving heavy batteries.
● Wear appropriate protective equipment (safety goggles, gloves, apron, and/or face shield).
● Position forklifts appropriately and apply breaks before charging or changing batteries.
● For batteries with sealed vents, do not recharge with a current greater than 25 amperes.
● If the battery becomes hot or electrolyte fluid begins leaking from the vents, turn off the charger. When the battery has cooled, restart at a lower charging rate.
● Keep accurate records of battery watering, cleaning, inspections, and other maintenance, etc.
● Recycle or follow specified local procedures for battery disposal as they contain hazardous waste.
3) DO NOT CHARGE DURING THE LUNCH BREAK
Many forklift operators have gotten into the habit of giving a quick charge to the battery during the lunch break or other break times. In the industry, this is called opportunity charging. The lifespan of the battery is determined by how many charge cycles it has undergone. When you charge it for a short while, you will have to do so more frequently. Over time, this habit will decrease the battery’s efficiency and there will come a point when the battery will not charge at all.
4) CHECK THE WATER LEVEL IN THE BATTERY
Water plays a very important role in maintaining the health of the battery. During a cycle, the water gets heated up and splits into its components- hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen gets discharged at the negative plate and oxygen at the positive one. With time, the water level will come down. When this happens, the plates are exposed to air. The active material on the plates will become dry and brittle, causing permanent damage. So check the water level regularly and keep adding distilled water whenever you notice that the water level has come down, but do not overfill the battery.
5) FAST CHARGE AT YOUR OWN RISK
Charging the forklift battery quickly will reduce downtime, but there is a price. The excessive heat generated can reduce the battery life. We are not saying that you should never fast charge, only that you reserve it for emergencies.
6) KEEP YOUR FORKLIFT BATTERY AT A SAFE TEMPERATURE
Oftentimes forklifts are used in rather extreme environments, but for optimal battery life, you’ll want to keep the operating temperature at or below 113 degrees Fahrenheit (45 degrees Celsius). If there’s no way around working in hotter temperatures, be certain the lift truck battery has a lot of circulation in the battery compartment so it can cool. Due to chemistry, the life of a battery is reduced by 50% for every 10 Dec C temperatures above 25C. So 35C longevity is half of 25C and 45C longevity is half of 35C.
Some batteries require equalizing, and if so they will often have an equalizing setting on their charger. What is equalizing a battery? At its core, equalizing a battery means that you are overcharging it to remove sulfate crystals that have built up on the plates. Sulfation, as mentioned in the charging section of this article, can shorten the battery’s life. Equalizing a battery also reverses acid stratification, which occurs when the acid concentration at the bottom of the battery is greater than that at the top. Not every lift truck battery requires equalizing, so check the specifications on your battery before adding this to your forklift battery maintenance routine. For wet cell batteries, these should be equalized about once per week. Do not equalize more than the recommended frequency per operating procedures. More is not necessarily better!
8) CLEANING YOUR FORKLIFT BATTERY
Cleaning the top of the forklift batteries with battery cleaner or warm water is not only a good maintenance practice; it is also required on some batteries to maintain the warranty (check your warranty documentation just to be sure). We suggest a monthly cleaning even if it’s not required by your warranty to help avoid build-up, which can cause tray corrosion, faster self-discharge and possibly even impact the forklift’s electronics. Review the safety procedures listed above when preparing to clean a battery.
By taking care of your battery, your forklift truck will operate smoother and more efficiently. As the power source, the forklift depends on the battery, so make sure that your machine is taken care of by looking after its source of power too.