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Used forklift buyers often make the mistake of thinking their electric lift truck isn’t performing as well as a new forklift would simply because it’s used. That’s not necessarily the case, though. The battery may be the culprit. If the previous owner didn’t take care of the battery as well as they should have, it may need replacing. Since batteries are expensive, you’ll want to squeeze as many years of top performance out of yours as you can. Here’s how to boost your used forklift battery performance and make sure it lasts as long as it should.
Protecting Your Battery from Temperature Extremes
In order to perform well, the internal temperature of a forklift battery should be neither too hot nor too cold. There’s not much you can do about the outside air temperature, but there are things you can do to get the best performance out of your batteries on very hot or very cold days:
• To protect the battery from extreme cold, insulate the battery compartment. This is a better solution than increasing the acid content (a common trick) because when the electrolyte solution is too acidic, it can shorten battery life by up to two years.
• On hot days, make a habit of giving your batteries a cooling off period after charging. When a battery is charging, its internal temperature raises as much as 10 degrees. While discharging (when in service) the temperature increases about 15 degrees. If you put your battery into use directly after charging, it can be up to 25 degrees hotter than the ambient temperature. On hot days, that can be enough to cause serious damage to the battery.
Water Right for Longer Life
You know you need to keep water in your batteries, but did you know that both over- and under-watering batteries can reduce performance and shorten battery life?
Under-watering is rarely a problem, but allowing water levels to drop below recommended levels often is. The solution to this is to carefully monitor your water levels and adjust your watering schedule as needed. If taking 15 minutes out of your day to manually top up your batteries is what makes you put the job off, consider investing in an inexpensive automatic watering system.
Many used forklift owners over-water their batteries without even knowing it. The reason why battery manufacturers recommend filling after an equalizing charge is because an electrolyte expands when a battery is being used. If you water after an equalizing charge, you minimize your chances of overfilling.
It’s tempting to over-discharge a battery when you’re trying to squeeze extra time out of it during a shift. It’s a temptation you should avoid, though, if you want to get the most out of your used forklift batteries. Allowing the battery to dip below 20% charge is a particularly bad habit to get into because you can get away with it for awhile, but every time you dip below 20%, you’re doing damage to your battery. A well-maintained battery should last up to 5 years or up to 1,800 cycles. Over-discharging can cut years off a battery’s life, so unless you like spending money on new batteries, recharge them before they reach that critical 20%.
Avoid Battery Parasites
Battery parasites are all those things like heaters and GPS devices that rob your battery of power. Individually, they do not use too much, but if you have loaded your used forklift with extra power-draining accessories, they may be reducing your battery’s ability to perform and shortening its life. Keep in mind that battery life is connected with its discharge/recharge rate more than it is connected with hours of use. If you need those devices, there will be a trade-off in battery life and performance.