Forklift Battery

A little TLC can go a long way when it comes to forklift maintenance. Today we’re talking specifically about electric sit down forklift batteries and how to extend its useful life expectancy. You don’t want to lose a day of productivity because of an unexpected battery blowout, so running through a service checklist regularly is a recommended practice for all forklifts and other material handling equipment technicians.

Charging a Forklift Battery

Did you know that you should be charging your electric forklift batteries at a certain time and to a certain level? Firstly, a qualified forklift technician should check to make sure the truck has a battery discharge indicator and has been calibrated. This professional should determine when to charge to extend the life of the battery as long as possible. It’s best to charge when the BDI is close to 20 percent, but not below. Going below 20 percent will cause the voltage to drop below normal and the battery will begin to supply the forklift’s electrical system with higher amperage to meet its electrical needs meaning higher heat and can lead to unnecessary costs and repairs. Next, make the charger is matched to the battery itself in terms of size and voltage. Designate different plugs for different battery sizes if you have multiple forklifts in your facility to prevent confusion. You only need to charge it when the power level goes below 30 percent. Charge when you know the forklift won’t need to be in use for a period of time because you shouldn’t disrupt the charge cycle. Once it reaches full charge, go ahead and unplug it. Overcharging as well as undercharging can drastically decrease its lifespan. Hydrogen gas is released from lead acid batteries during the charging process so it is very important that the battery charging area be well ventilated, ideally with high ceilings and free from any open flame or spark.

Equalizing Batteries

It’s also important to equalize the battery every five to ten charge cycles. If your battery has an equalizing setting, it’s going to come in handy when the battery is flooded or get wet. When the battery gets flooded, the acid and water become stratified and it can no longer hold a charge as well. Equalizing re balances the electrolyte concentration, helps remove sulfate crystal from the plates, and helps it hold a charge again.

Fluid Levels

Check the battery fluid levels by opening the battery around every five charge cycles. Check several of the battery cells and ensure there’s enough fluid to cover the plastic element. If there’s not enough fluid then water needs to be added. When adding water, fill enough to cover the plastic element protector but don’t overfill it. Only add water after the battery is fully charged and use clean water that has a low mineral content. If you’re in an area that has hard water, distilled or bottle water may be the most cost-effective option.

Safe Temperatures

Your forklift is your workhorse, and you may be putting it to use in some extreme environments. If working temperatures are high, make sure the operating temperature doesn’t exceed 45 degree Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) to help prolong its life. If this isn’t possible, be sure there’s plenty of air circulating around the battery to allow for cooling. Extreme cold temperatures may al

Cleaning Forklift Batteries

It’s worth your time to clean the top of the battery if you see acid covering part of the top of the cell. A mixture of baking soda and water will do and make sure it doesn’t get inside the battery cells while cleaning or it will neutralize the acid and cease function. Be sure to dry the top of the battery when you’re finished cleaning and wear protective clothing throughout the process. Cleaning should be performed once a year or if you every see a white flaky material on the perimeter of the battery, which is a sign of acid leakage.

Forklift batteries are expensive so maintaining their longest useful life should be an important practice for any facility. If you’re looking to replace your forklift battery, visit our Forklift Parts page to shop for the type you need. You can also receive pricing on new and used forklifts from top brands like Toyota, Nissan, Linde, Mitsubishi, and more right here.

For more visual examples on how to water your electric forklift battery, check out the video below from

(Operations Manager)

Chris Charles is a 27 year veteran of operations and logistics. Experience included commercial property management and project management for an international shipping company in Maryland.

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