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Electric forklifts are run by battery power. But unlike the AAA batteries found in your TV remote control or the C batteries in holiday toys, forklift batteries are bigger, more powerful, and potentially more dangerous.
Properly maintaining and charging your electric forklift’s batteries will help keep it in service longer, extend its usable life, and improve your everyday operations. You might say that understanding how to properly handle your forklift battery can earn your company real money.
Here, then, are five things every owner of an electric forklift absolutely has to know about working with forklift batteries.
Forklift Batteries Must Be Charged Correctly
While it may be tempting to charge your forklift battery only when it’s convenient for you, charging forklift batteries too early or too late can actually decrease the life of both the battery and the forklift itself.
You should only charge your forklift battery when the charge falls below 30%. Then, it’s important to fully charge your forklift battery. Over- or under-charging your battery also can be harmful to the battery and vehicle.
Once the charging cycle begins, let it fully charge without interruption.
Forklift Batteries Need to Be Equalized
Wet cell batteries need to be equalized regularly. This means reversing the chemical process called stratification, which is when the battery acid becomes more concentrated at the bottom of the battery.
When water and acid become stratified, the battery can’t hold it’s charge as easily. Equalization rebalances the concentration of electrolytes throughout the battery. Plus it removes sulfate crystals that can form on battery plates.
To learn how to equalize the specific battery found on your brand and model of forklift, consult the owner’s manual.
Don’t Forget the Fluid Levels
To work at optimum capacity, forklift batteries must have the proper amount of water. About every five times you charge your forklift battery, you should check the fluid levels. So if you charge daily, designate a specific day to check the fluid levels, such as every Friday.
Open up the battery and make sure there is enough fluid on all the cells. If there isn’t, add water.
Maintain Water Levels
Top off the fluid in the battery about once every 10 charges for new batteries. Remember, you need to add enough water to cover the battery’s plastic element protector.
Don’t put too much water in the battery because it needs extra space for expansion while the battery is in use.
If you have maintenance-free batteries, you may not need to top off the water levels. Again, consult your owner’s manual or the place where you purchased the forklift. Or visit the manufacturer’s website for more information.
Conditions that are too hot or too cold can affect the performance of your forklift battery. If possible, don’t use electric forklifts in climates hotter than 113 degrees F.