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Most electric forklifts are powered by rechargeable high-voltage lead-based batteries. These batteries typically can provide anywhere from 8 to 20 hours of continuous use, depending on the size and maximum charge of the battery and the weight and capacity of the vehicle.
Between uses, these batteries must be recharged. Recharging typically is done in a dedicated recharging station that is located someplace within the work facility — either a room or a corner of the dock or warehouse where the battery recharger is located.
Transferring Power to the Battery
The battery recharger is plugged into a power supply, where it draws power from the main grid and transfers it to the batteries power cells. Once the forklift battery is fully recharged, the vehicle can be returned to service.
The amount of time it takes to recharge a forklift battery will vary greatly depending on the capacity and age of the battery. In some cases, it can take only an hour or two. In others, a forklift may need to be recharged overnight.
While the forklift is being recharged, it essentially is out of service. And any downtime is non-productive time for your forklift.
Here are some tips to help improve the efficiency and safety of your forklift battery recharging process:
Before Recharging Your Battery
- Forklift batteries are potentially dangers. So anytime you are recharging your battery, you always should wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Forklift batteries typically need to be recharged when they fall below 20% charge capacity. “Opportunity charging” — or recharging batteries with more than 20% charge — can be harmful to the battery and reduce its useful life.
- For optimal recharging, batteries should be at room temperature. Charging a frozen or overheated battery can be dangerous
- Inspect the charger, the battery, and the handling system for cracks, worn cables, damaged connectors and other problems before charging the battery. Repair any problem before attempting a recharge.
- Only use a battery charger that has been approved for use with the type of battery on your forklift. Using the wrong kind of charger can be dangerous to both the battery and to the person doing the recharging. Very Important: Both must the battery and the charger must be the same voltage.
- Arcing is possible during battery recharging, so make sure there is nothing flammable in the area, such as gasoline or propane. No smoking is allowed while recharging a forklift battery.
- Always allow the battery to complete its charging cycle before disconnecting it from the charger.
- During charging, check the charger to make sure it is clean, well-equipped and operating properly.
- Charging areas should be well-ventilated and be equipped with proper battery handling equipment, such as overhead hoists, lifting beams, battery racks, and cranes if necessary.
- After charging has been completed, the battery’s water level should be filled with distilled or de-ionized water only. Top off each cell separately but be careful not to overfill them.
- Batteries should always be stored in cool, low-moisture environment. Keep your battery clean to extend its usable life.
- After recharging your battery, you should update your battery charging and watering log file immediately before you forget.