Forklift Battery FAQ


A forklift battery may sound like a simple component that can be easily replaced, like an automobile battery for example, but it's actually more complex, with more details to be considered in its replacement, and even in maintenance. Here are some Frequently Asked Questions regarding forklift or industrial batteries:

A: While there are actually only two kinds of forklift batteries- Standard Lead-Acid or the newer Lithium Ion (Li ion), there are still many variables to consider when choosing between the two because each one is significantly different from the other. Lead-Acid batteries have been around for years and actually serve a function beyond powering a forklift or material handler: the battery itself serves as a safety-enhancing counterweight for the machine. A typical Lead-Acid battery is made up of a battery case, battery cells, and battery cables that come together to house a liquid electrolyte mixture of sulfuric acid and water. Lithium ion batteries are made up of an anode, cathode, separator, electrolyte, and positive and negative terminals. They are no doubt the streamlined battery of the future, but they do require additional counterweight in the battery compartment.

A: The quick answer is that the difference lies in the shape of the components; the solid plate is flat and features a mesh grid holding an active mass of lead-oxide. The tubular design uses vertical spines to keep the active material together while pressing it onto the grid. The more efficient tubular forklift batteries offer a longer lifespan, less water loss, quicker recharging and shows no negative reaction to high temperatures, but will cost you more than the solid plate forklift battery.

All forklift battery prices can range between $2,000 and $6,000 depending on many things. As answered above, there are varying levels of efficiency which will translate into higher costs. Specs and sizes of batteries will affect the cost. When selecting an electric forklift battery, be sure to have all pertinent data ready, such as vehicle voltage or number of cells in the battery, what kind of charging connector will be used, and all information on the battery compartment, such as size and covering specs.

Forklift battery chargers work carefully to charge batteries to keep their efficiency high and production costs down. These industrial batteries have a finite number of cycles; if you charge them based on convenience instead of a strict schedule, you can potentially shorten the battery’s life. The best plan is to recharge the battery after an eight-hour shift or when it’s discharged more than 30%. Keeping to a schedule will allow you to charge the battery completely once you’ve started to charge it. Cutting a charging cycle short can also be harmful for the battery’s longevity. Don’t let a discharged battery sit for more than a few hours a day. Sitting too long allows sulfation within the battery to develop, which will reduce the run time and life of the battery. Never discharge your forklift battery, as this may significantly shorten the battery life. Always be aware of battery temperature when charging. Excessive heat will shorten a forklift battery's life by half. Use a battery monitor to help ensure these safety measures are followed.

A: Charging a lead-acid battery takes careful monitoring because it should only be charged at certain times and to certain degrees. In fact, it should only be charged when it dips below 30% in order to preserve its plates. Over or undercharging industrial batteries can significantly decrease the overall lifespan. A Li Ion battery on the other hand benefits from a no-memory aspect, meaning you do not have to completely or partially discharge the battery before recharging. Also, it can handle hundreds of charge/discharge cycles, making it an efficient choice for many forklift projects.

A: If you are considering purchasing or renting a used forklift battery, be sure you trust the supplier. Used batteries should go through rigorous testing and maintenance before being sold. This ensures the battery will work at maximum capacity by being cleaned, equalized and filled with fresh acid. Forklift batteries and chargers are available to rent together or separately. Be sure to have all the specs on your battery before you shop.

A: A forklift battery changer assists in the safe removal and installation of electric forklift batteries. These batteries can typically weigh from 800 pounds to as much as 4,000 pounds and require a heavy-duty lifter to get the job done. Some forklift battery changers are on wheels, some are manually moved by an operator, some are attached to a powered mover and driven by the operator, and some are fixed fixtures, requiring the forklift to be driven up to the changer.

A: Simply put, they optimize efficiency and increase productivity of your forklift batteries. Monitoring usually includes voltage imbalances, amp hours, temperatures, electrolytes and water levels. Forklift batteries need to be charged and discharged properly in order to maintain their full available capacity and to run at full performance. Monitoring a battery's water level is imperative; it alerts the operator when the battery needs watering. Monitoring your battery for overheating and over-charging is also key to keeping your electric forklift battery operating efficiently for a long time.

A: Our team of professionals at ACT have had great results with the EnerSys brand of battery and charger. They carry a variety of battery types, for every purpose, and each consistently provide long-lasting performance and dependable results. EnerSys also provides customer support services to customers from over 100 countries through their many sales and manufacturing locations around the world.

A: Your forklift battery should be maintained as often as the forklift itself. Here are some maintenance tips to practice for extending the life of your industrial batteries.

*Always check and maintain battery fluid levels.

Keeping the right amount of water in your battery will keep it functioning at its full capacity.Work out a schedule for regularly checking the fluid level of your forklift batteries, such as every five charging cycles. Check the cells to see if there's enough water to cover the plastic battery element. If any are low, top off the fluid. But remember, batteries should only be topped off when they are fully charged. It’s also important not to overfill the battery, which needs space for expansion when the forklift is in use. Always refer to the documentation on your forklift battery for specifics on the allowed limits of water impurities.

*Keep your forklift battery at a safe temperature

As mentioned in earlier answers, overheated temperatures can damage forklift batteries. Even though forklifts are often used in hot environments, you should try to keep the operating temperature at or below 113 degrees Fahrenheit (45 degrees Celsius). Otherwise, it's imperative to make sure there's a lot of circulation in the battery compartment so it can cool.

*Consider equalizing your forklift battery if you suspect sulfation.

Equalizing a battery means that you are overcharging it to remove sulfate crystals that have built up on the plates. Sulfation, as it's called, can shorten the battery's life, but equalizing it may reverse this damaging process. Fortunately, some industrial batteries don't require equalizing, so check the specifications on your battery before practicing this step. Should your battery require it, do not equalize more than the recommended frequency per operating procedures as it can have adverse effects on the battery.

*Clean your forklift battery

Cleaning the top of the forklift batteries with battery cleaner or warm water is a vital maintenance practice. A monthly cleaning will help avoid the build-up that can lead to tray corrosion, faster discharging and possibly even negatively impact the forklift's electronics.

*Designate a safe and dedicated charging station

For extra safety a designated battery charging area should be designed into your work area. This area should have clear signage, available water supply for eye washing, ventilation, a fire extinguisher and a phone in case of emergencies.