How To Increase Your Forklift Battery’s Lifespan

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When you work in any sort of warehouse or factory setting, the forklift is one of the most valuable pieces of equipment available. From unloading trucks to storing and retrieving pallets, there’s no denying that a lot of the work couldn’t be done without access to a forklift.

With the understanding that this machine is crucial for workplace operations, it’s essential to take good care of your forklift and do everything you can to keep it in working order. An excellent way to get the most out of your equipment is by keeping track of the battery and knowing how to keep things running.

When reviewing the maintenance needs of all the machinery in your workspace, it’s good to know how to increase your forklift battery’s lifespan. Many older forklifts use a classic lead-acid battery, while newer models may use 48-volt lithium-ion forklift batteries. Here are a few helpful things to know about the battery, proper charging procedures, and what you can do to extend its lifespan.

Basics of Battery Charges

One of the first things to know before looking to extend your battery lifespan is how battery lifespans typically work. Many forklift batteries are designed to hold a certain number of charges. This number varies depending on the model and style of battery that you buy. Certain lead-acid batteries may last up to around 1,500 charges, while many newer lithium-ion packs sustain fewer than that.

This number means that if you charge your forklift once per day, the battery will last roughly between three and five years. However, improper storage or charging of your forklift battery may drastically lower this number. Other factors can affect this time, such as removing weekends or holidays from the equation. Still, it’s a good idea to know roughly how long a typical battery should last.

Properly Charging the Battery

As we already mentioned, properly charging your battery will help extend its total lifespan. Charging the battery on a whim or during an improper period may reduce the amount of time you can use it.

Many workers develop a bad habit of putting the forklift on a charger to give it a little juice during their lunch break. The problem with this method is that your battery doesn’t know the difference between a quick charge and a long charge, so even briefly plugging it in during a break depletes one of those precious lifespan charges.

Typically, you want to charge your battery once per day and at the end of an eight-hour shift. If workers didn’t use the forklift very much on a particular day, it’s okay to skip charging it; you should avoid charging a battery that hasn’t discharged at least 30% of its energy. However, allowing the battery to discharge more than 80% of its power may also cause lasting damage. There is a balancing act here, and it’s a good idea to charge the battery at around 60-70% discharge. Leaving a discharged battery without power for too long may lead to the development of sulfation or other effects that reduce total lifespan.

Creating Your Forklift Charging Station

The charging station is just as important as the battery itself. There are many factors that go into a proper charging station, and following these tips is a great way to increase your forklift battery’s lifespan.

Remember to allow for a resting period before swapping or charging the batteries when connecting the forklift to the charging station. Also, it’s a good idea to keep detailed records regarding maintenance, safety inspections, cleaning schedules, and any changes made to the batteries.

Remember to adhere to all safety guidelines when utilizing the charging station. Avoid wearing metal jewelry when coming in contact with the batteries as the metals may cause sparks, leading to minor shocks, damage to the worker and battery, and in the worst cases, explosions. Wear proper safety gear such as goggles, gloves, and aprons.

Your charging station should follow proper safety guidelines to ensure everything is up to code. Take the time to label everything with the correct signage and have the necessary safety gear on hand. Additionally, keep your forklift charging station in a well-ventilated area and provide immediate access to eye-wash stations, first aid kits, fire extinguishers, and a phone in the event of an emergency.

Important Battery Maintenance

Correctly charging the battery is an essential step in getting the most out of it. We’ve discussed when and where to charge your battery and how to operate a charging station safely. Of course, there’s more to extending the life of your battery than just good charging practices. Here are several vital steps you can take to maintain and protect your forklift battery over time.

If your forklift still uses a lead-acid battery, many more processes go into extending the lifespan. Occasionally removing the battery from the forklift in order to clean it helps prevent the battery from spilling acid, which may damage the exterior.

Equalizing is a process where you intentionally overcharge the battery in an attempt to remove sulfation, where hardened crystals damage the battery in the long run. Fortunately, modern lithium-ion batteries don’t require equalizing since their chemical composition doesn’t cause a build-up of sulfur deposits.

No matter what type of batteries you use, it’s a good idea to store them at an optimal temperature to maximize their lifespan. Keep your battery between 59 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal heat while discharging. In storage, the best temperature for your lithium-ion battery is between 23 and 95 degrees. While these batteries operate safely at a broader range—with lithium-ion batteries working safely in temperatures up to 149 degrees—not overheating your batteries is an excellent way to prolong their lifespan.

If you have any questions, please get in touch with us by email or phone, and we’ll be happy to answer them. Our experts and specialists can help you find the ideal battery for your forklift and address any concerns you might have about proper care or maintenance. 

Big Battery knows the importance of your equipment in your workplace and wants you to feel comfortable and secure when taking care of it. Please reach out to us today—we look forward to hearing from you.

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