A Quick Guide to Forklift Batteries

Category: Equipment and Solutions

charging a forkliftForklift battery charging and maintenance are vital steps in keeping your equipment and business moving. While charging a forklift battery may sound simple, these batteries require special considerations, especially if you want to maximize their life spans. Our guide will cover everything you need to know about charging your forklift batteries safely and effectively.

How Long Do Forklift Batteries Last?

Most standard forklift batteries last for up to 1,500 charging cycles. After the battery has gone through more than 1,500 charging cycles, it may stop charging to full and struggle to reach proper amperage. This issue can limit your operation’s productivity and even cause damage to your forklifts, so it’s important to replace your forklift batteries as soon as you notice their performance declining.

If you charge your forklift batteries once per day, you can expect to replace them every five years. Since they have shorter life spans, fast-charging batteries will need more frequent replacement. Although you will need to replace old batteries periodically, they can often be recycled instead of discarded.

How Often Should You Charge a Forklift Battery?

As with many types of rechargeable batteries, it’s best to charge your forklift battery only when it has about 20-30% charge remaining. We advise this practice because a charge cycle affects the battery’s life span equally, whether the battery begins charging at low or nearly full power.

It takes around eight to 10 hours to charge a standard forklift battery to 100%, so plan accordingly. Overnight charging works well for most single-shift operations.

How Can You Choose the Right Forklift Battery Charger?

The charger you use also impacts forklift battery life span. To choose the right forklift battery charger, make sure to match the charger’s voltage and amp hour (Ah) rating to the battery. Consider labeling your chargers and color-coding the connectors to prevent accidental battery-charger mismatches.

Do Forklift Batteries Need Maintenance?

In addition to charging your forklift batteries properly, it is important to perform routine battery maintenance according to manufacturer recommendations. Forklift battery maintenance typically involves:

  • Cleaning the top of the battery monthly to remove chemical buildup.
  • Equalizing the battery weekly using a longer charging cycle.
  • Watering the battery after it has been fully charged, using distilled water.
  • Conducting a thorough visual inspection of the battery’s cables and connectors.

If a visual inspection reveals broken or cracked connectors or battery cables with exposed copper, kinks or cuts in their protective cases, consider reaching out to a qualified service provider like RAKA for assistance.

Forklift Battery Charging Safety Tips

Forklift batteries are extremely heavy and contain potentially hazardous chemicals, so workers need to use caution when transporting, charging and maintaining them. Begin by conducting a thorough battery charging risk assessment. After you have identified and eliminated any potential hazards unique to your job site, use the following tips to charge your batteries safely:

  • Wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): To prevent injury, workers should remove all metallic jewelry and wear eye protection, gloves and steel-toe boots when handling forklift batteries.
  • Set up washing stations nearby: In case of accidental contact with battery acid, operations should set up eye-washing and hand-washing stations near the charging location.
  • Use the proper lift equipment: Forklift batteries are too heavy to safely lift manually. Use lift equipment with a transfer carriage to transport batteries.

Contact RAKA for Forklift Battery Maintenance and More

At RAKA, we have been providing material handling equipment and service in the upper Midwest since the 1970s. Whether you want to buy a new or used forklift or need a service provider to perform battery maintenance, our knowledgeable staff will meet your needs. Find a RAKA location near you or contact us for more information.

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