4 Crucial Tips For Maintaining Electric Forklift Batteries

Posted on: 8 August 2016


When you rely on an electric forklift, you want to get the most out of its batteries. The average forklift battery is designed with a lifespan of approximately 1,500 charging cycles in mind. With the right amount of care and maintenance, however, it's possible to extend the working life of your forklift batteries. Keeping your forklift batteries in excellent shape can help reduce maintenance-related downtime and increase overall productivity. When it comes to taking care of conventional lead-acid forklift batteries, it pays to heed these following maintenance tips:

Never Overcharge or Over-Discharge

One of the most common reasons for early battery failure involves a charging cycle that goes on for too long, causing the battery to overheat and damage critical internal components. Although most charging stations have features that are designed to prevent overcharging, it is important to carefully monitor both the charging station and the current charging state of the battery in case built-in fail-safes prove ineffective.

Overcharging isn't the only way that a forklift battery can be irreparably damaged. Constantly draining the battery of all of its charge can also cause internal damage and reduce the battery's total charge capacity. If you're operating an electric forklift, you should always have the batteries recharged once the battery discharge indicator has reached the yellow warning zone.

Avoid "Fast Charging" and "Opportunity Charging" When Possible

Many well-meaning forklift operators make the mistake of "topping off" their forklift battery's charge during their breaks. However, every charging cycle brings the battery closer to its eventual end of service. Wasting cycles on brief and incomplete charges can shorten the battery's working life. You should avoid opportunity charges and only charge at the end of the work shift or when the battery has reached the manufacturer's recommended discharge level.

Some facilities may attempt to speed up the charging process by using chargers with higher charging currents. However, this can be detrimental to batteries that weren't designed with fast charging in mind. Fast charging should only be done on batteries that are specifically designed to handle the stresses involved. Batteries built for fast charging utilize charge control features, fortified internal components and additional battery cell vents for improved cooling and longevity.

Never Interrupt a Charging Cycle

Interrupting a charging cycle can also prove detrimental for a conventional forklift battery if done on a regular basis. Constant operation on a partial charge can eventually lead to a decrease in battery charge capacity. Once a charging cycle has started, you should let it finish. Instead of using a forklift that is being recharged, it's a good idea to use an alternate forklift with a suitable battery charge until the other forklift finishes charging.

Always Maintain Proper Fluid Levels

It's important to inspect fluid levels within the battery after every 10 charges (or every 5 charges for a reconditioned battery). An excess of fluid within the battery could put it at risk of leakages during charging, which could shorten the battery's charging capacity and lifespan. Low fluid levels can expose the lead negative plates, causing sulfate crystal deposits to form on the exposed plates. Sulfation can cause a drop in battery performance and, if left unchecked, permanently ruin the battery.

If you need to refill the battery, make sure to use only clean, distilled water. Ordinary tap water contains minerals and other impurities that can accumulate on the lead plates and negatively impact the battery's overall performance. When topping off the battery, enough space should be left between the plastic element protector and the battery lid to account for expansion during the charging process. Check the water level only after charging the battery.

These tips can help extend the life of your forklift battery while enhancing your overall productivity in the warehouse environment. For more tips, contact a company like Horizon Equipment Rentals.