Forklift Batteries: When To Know, Its Time To Go

Forklift and Pallet Jack Batteries

Knowing When The End is Near

With material handling, there is one staple that is a must; a forklift. With the aforementioned forklift, next is the forklift battery. There are many ways to recognize that your forklift battery is coming to the end of its life. Being prepared for this and having the right choice for replacement is vitally important. Understanding the cost of ownership and downtime that can occur when a pallet jack or forklift goes down is crucial. Having a forklift down for an hour, a day, a week because of a failed battery or waiting for a shipment to arrive is not what you want. An emergency replacement is never convenient. That is why maintaining a regular schedule to check on the health of an industrial forklift battery is crucial. Too often, battery failure leads us to other issues, like loss of productivity, increased replacement or service costs, and worse, possible injury to the user or damage to the forklift itself.

Depending on what type of battery you are currently using, the signs of battery failure will look different. Be on the lookout for dim or flickering displays, poor response times, corrosion or damaged terminals, even an off-putting odor of a rotten egg.

In the world of forklift or pallet jacks, if you are not using propane or gas, you will have three types of batteries to consider.  Deep Cycle Lead-Acid, Absorbed Glass Mat ( AGM), and Lithium-Ion. At the end of the day, each class will get the job done, but they have differences worth pointing out. Knowing which forklift battery is correct for you will come down to three things: cost, power availability, and battery maintenance required.

A deep-cycle lead-acid battery

More often, you will see  forklift batteries running on deep-cycle lead-acid batteries or wet cell batteries. Deep-cycle lead-acid batteries contain suspended plates that get charged in a mixture of sulfuric acid and water. Deep-cycle lead-acid batteries offer a trade-off when it comes to cost vs. maintenance. The price is such that having multiple batteries at your disposal is not unheard of. Although the maintenance required tends to be tedious and requires special training and equipment. The trade-off is to pay less upfront but concede more labor hours keeping it performing at its peak.

It is the maintenance, the charging times, and the charging stations that make this choice difficult for some. First, the deep-cycle lead-acid battery needs to be removed from the forklift and placed in its own charging station. The charging times can be somewhat lengthy. So if you have more than one battery needing to be charged, you may need more than one battery charging station. Finally, a deep-cycle lead-acid battery must always have the proper levels of water and sulfuric acid. This step involves topping off the battery with a specially designed tool called a watering system, that allows your team to fill the battery back up keeping the electrolyte level at its best.

When assessing the battery, look for terminals that may be broken or loose. Signs of a failing battery can be a bulge or bump in the case, cracks in the plastic, or excessive leaking of the sulfuric acid or water. Performance is another critical indicator of a forklift battery's life. If the forklift is showing signs of slowing down or unable to perform its regular duties on a fully-charged battery, it is a good indication that replacement is near.

With correct maintenance and charging procedure, most Wet Cell batteries will last up to five years or 1,500 charging cycles.

Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) Forklift Batteries

Absorbent Glass Mat or AGM batteries, sometimes called maintenance-free because they need no watering, like in the case of deep-cycle lead-acid batteries and their battery watering systems. They are a great choice if you are looking for less upkeep and labor for your lift truck. They are lead-acid batteries, but the mats do not absorb the acidic electrolytes, allowing them to work more efficiently and at a higher temperature range.

One main advantage of AGM batteries is that charging is extremely fast with a forklift battery charger, up to five times faster than a wet cell battery. However, the main trade-off for an AGM battery is its life expectancy. You will not get the cycles from an AGM battery as you will from the lead-acid battery. The AGM will clock in at around 1,300 charging cycles. When checking the health of an AGM battery, consider using a load tester. This tool allows you to check the battery voltage against its manufacturers' minimums, and if you are consistently falling below 10%, it is time for a new battery. Don't look for leaking, as the AGM battery has no sulfuric acid or water inside to leak out.

Lithium-Ion Forklift Batteries

The last battery to consider is the Lithium-Ion. This is tops on the battery technology scale. It is also regarded as maintenance-free because it is sealed and requires no watering or cleaning. It has a fast-charging time, requiring only 2-3 hours to charge with no cooldown period. A very convenient offering with lithium-ion is the ability to charge whenever you need to. Consider a quick charge or what is referred to as opportunity charging, over a break time; the lithium-ion can do that too. Most lithium-ion batteries can be charged right from a wall outlet. The easiest way to tell if a Lithium-Ion battery is nearing its lifespan is how well it holds a charge. If it won't hold a charge, doesn't perform as well as it used to, and gets noticeably warmer when charging, it may be time for a replacement. The lithium-ion takes the prize for most charging cycles coming in at 3,000 cycles. And with no harmful substances, such as sulfuric acid, it is safer to be around. All of these features increase the cost of this choice. Hence, bringing lithium-ion at the top of the list for overall cost.

Being Ready is Key

Remember, a forklift battery beginning to show its age will lose charge and dramatically affect how a forklift operates and even how it sounds during operation. So be ready next time, have a plan, and keep your forklift operating at peak capacity. Then, when it is time for a new or replacement battery, POWERTRIDE has what you need.

EVERYTHING in our store includes FREE GROUND SHIPPING in the contiguous USA. No handling fees, processing fees, or core charges will ever be added to your order; this applies to every single battery, charger, replacement battery, power supply, or Solar Flooded battery, if we sell it, it ships free in the 48. That's our promise to you.

We want you to be completely satisfied with your purchase from Powerstride Battery. Therefore, you may return any item within 20 days of receipt of your order to exchange it or receive a refund. All warranties exclude damage due to neglect, improper charging, or improper use. See our warranties page for specific details about individual brands.

Nov 5th 2021

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