Forklift batteries come in many shapes and forms. From a basic 12-volt forklift battery, these power packs are also available in 24, 48, 36, 72, and 80-volt sizes. When replacing a forklift battery, itís important to know the size and capacity of the old unit before sourcing a new battery. There are two general types of forklift batteries: traditional lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries. Lead-acid forklift batteries are cheaper and more affordable. However, it requires more maintenance than the lithium-ion variety since regular topping of water is required to maintain peak charging and discharging efficiency.
On the other hand, lithium-ion forklift batteries require almost zero maintenance but are sold at a higher cost. And since lithium-ion batteries are more energy dense than lead-acid, it lasts longer, charges faster, and suffers less degradation even during repeated opportunity charging cycles. In a typical electric forklift, lithium-ion forklift batteries have almost double the service life at 3,000-plus charging cycles per battery, whereas an ordinary lead-acid battery is only good for around 1,500 to 2,000 cycles.
In terms of safety, great care should be undertaken when handling and inspecting lead-acid batteries, most especially when removing the battery from the vehicle before charging. Lead-acid batteries contain toxic and corrosive fumes that may explode in the presence of high heat or sparks. In the meantime, lithium-ion forklift batteries are sealed tight and are resistant to spills, shock, and vibration. And when the battery goes flat or empty, lithium-ion forklift batteries can be charged on the spot, even without removing the battery pack from the forklift.
A typical lead-acid forklift battery will fully-charge in around eight hours, but it also requires an 8-hour cooling period before installing. Lead-acid batteries should be charged once the capacity dwindles from 30 to 50-percent capacity. Otherwise, charging the battery too soon or when the capacity falls below 20-percent will dramatically shorten the service life. This is the reason why every forklift should have at least two or three spare batteries when equipped with the lead-acid variety, especially during heavy operation. This is compounded by the fact that lead-acid batteries are known to die sooner when charged on an as-needed (opportunity charging) basis.
Periodic maintenance is at the heart of lead-acid batteries. Frequent cell balancing or equalizing is necessary to prevent sulfate crystals from weakening the battery, which is something you donít need to think about in a lithium-ion battery. Maintaining the proper temperature is also critical since exposing lead-acid batteries to both extreme hot and cold temperatures will diminish performance.
Whether choosing lead-acid or lithium-ion forklift batteries, there are simple steps to follow to ensure maximum longevity. Make sure to charge the batteries immediately once the battery charge indicator is in the red zone. Continuous operation at less than 20-percent capacity will negatively affect the lifespan of your forklift batteries.
Cloud Electric has a large inventory of electric forklift batteries. We carry an impressive lineup of 12-volt, 48-volt, 24-volt, 36-volt, 72-volt, and 80-volt battery sizes for any type and brand of forklift.