When they’re taken care of, electric batteries will last an average of 1,500 charge cycles - that’s about five years. Without regular preventative maintenance, however, they quickly deteriorate. Follow our expert tips to extend the life of your industrial batteries and get the most out of your investment.
Under normal operating conditions, the water in your electric forklift batteries will evaporate. Check the water level after every five charges and add clean water as needed. For newer batteries, you’ll likely need to add water once a week.
The quality of the water you use will have a direct impact on the life of the battery. Be sure to use water with fewer than 100 parts per million of total dissolved solids. Dissolved solids in the water will solidify on the plates and shorten the battery’s life.
Batteries can be filled using canisters, specialty watering guns, or single point watering systems depending on the size of your fleet. Whichever method you choose, the same rules apply—only fill after charging and only up to ¼” of liquid above the top of the plates. Both over watering and under watering can result in damage.
Forklift batteries should be washed with water and battery acid neutralizer every six months to remove corrosive buildup. This buildup causes damage to the plastic casing, corroded terminals, and shortens the battery life if it’s not removed.
Friendly reminder - wait for batteries to dry completely before using or charging them again. A closed system, appropriate disposal plan for wastewater, and personal protective equipment are required to stay in compliance with EPA and OSHA regulations when washing industrial batteries.
Overcharge batteries in a controlled process to break up the sulphation on battery plates - AKA battery equalization. The specific gravity should be checked at set intervals per the battery manufacturer instructions. This procedure - which helps to rebalance the electrolyte and rejuvenate the battery - is complete when specific gravity stops rising. Forklift batteries should be brought back to room temp before using again.
Because equalizing batteries takes longer than a typical charge, it is best to schedule on a slow day, every five to ten charge cycles.
Lead acid battery maintenance is extensive and time consuming, but it does result in longer battery life. If you’re interested in an option that requires less maintenance, read our blog on lithium ion batteries: Do Lithium Batteries Make Sense for Your Fleet?
If you have any questions about the battery maintenance tips we’ve shared, need a forklift part, or would like to schedule service, contact your nearest Papé Material Handling location in Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, or Montana.