A forklift battery's operational life on a single shift averages around 5 years. However, with proper maintenance it can be extended up to 10 years allowing you to get maximum value for your battery and improve the safety and performance of your forklift. A forklift battery can be we worth up to 30% of a new truck cost so it's important to ensure that you're running both efficiently. We've put together some do's and don'ts for charging, operating and handling forklift batteries to extend your battery life up to 10 years.
Forklift Battery Charging Guide
When should I recharge my forklift battery?
Recharging a forklift battery at 20-30% charge helps extend its lifespan by avoiding deep discharges that can harm battery cells, causing electrical components to overheat and damage your machine. It also reduces the risk of voltage drops, maintaining consistent performance throughout the shift. Regular partial recharges improve overall efficiency and prevent excessive strain on the battery, saving on replacement costs and enhancing safety. We recommend as soon your forklift battery hits 20% charge remaining to stop using the battery right away to charge.
Should I fully charge by forklift battery?
Yes, allowing a forklift battery to fully charge ensures balanced cell voltage and capacity, promoting longer battery life. It prevents sulfation and stratification, which can occur with incomplete charging, improving overall battery health and performance. A battery has a limited number of charges in it (around 1,500) and the battery doesn't distinguish between a half/partial charge or full charge.
Do high temperatures effect forklift battery life?
If the temperature reaches 92 degrees, battery life can be reduces as much as half. Similarly performance drops when the temperature reaches 30 degrees. If your forklift operates in extreme temperatures, use a battery designed for those conditions.
Can I swap my forklift battery mid-shift or charge it during my lunch break?
The ideal time to charge a battery is at 20-30%, anything above 50% effective wastes one whole charging cycle and the battery doesn't differentiate between a full and half charge.
Similarly charging on a lunch break will cause the battery to become less efficient and eventually stop charging. The amount of charge cycles the battery undergoes determines the lifespan, so shorter charges on lunch breaks will impact the efficiency and performance of the battery.
How often should I clean my forklift battery?
We recommend cleaning your forklift battery monthly, using a battery cleaner.
How often should I check the battery water level?
It is very important to check the battery water levels once a week. A drop in water level can cause permanent damage to the battery and shorten the lifespan. Distilled or deionised water should be added every 5-10 charges (remember to add this after the charge).
What are the signs my forklift battery might need replacing?
If you spot any of the below please stop using the forklift battery immediately.
- Broken terminal
- Excessive leaking
- Bulge in the case
- Crack or rupture of the plastic
Should I take a voltage reading for my forklift battery?
A voltage reading will help indicate whether a battery is bad or not. If after a full charge the voltage is 12.4 or less, the battery is sulfrated. If the battery reading is under 10.5 volts after charging this may indicate the battery has a deadcell.
What are the red flags I can look for when I load test my battery?
If you experience the below it may be a sign that your battery needs replacing.
- Excessive battery sulfation
- Battery drain
- Dim or flickering display
- Damaged battery terminals/corrosion.
Remember to always wear protective PPE and remove metal jewellery the sulphuric acid that's contained within the batteries can cause burns. Never attempt to pick up a forklift battery, use proper material handling equipment.