Electric forklifts are incredibly beneficial for companies because they last longer than alternative options, release fewer emissions, and are easier to repair. Charging an electric forklift properly helps the battery operate efficiently and last as long as possible, and understanding how frequently you need to charge your battery helps you optimize your charging schedules.
Maintaining your forklift battery with the right charging procedures offers the following benefits:
Charging an electric forklift battery correctly prevents damage. You can protect your forklift’s battery from potential damage by charging it at the right times and maintaining the proper charges. Protecting this important forklift component helps you avoid costly repairs and replacements to save money.
Following proper charging protocols and preventing damage also increases your battery’s longevity. Your battery will last longer when you maintain the right charges and charge it at the appropriate times.
An electric forklift battery’s charging time depends on the charger and battery type that powers your forklift. To understand how long it should take your forklift battery to reach its ideal charge, consider the following battery types:
Lithium-ion batteries recharge rapidly, and quality lithium-ion battery models can typically reach a full charge within one hour. Reputable manufacturers develop UL-approved lithium-ion batteries using high-grade nickel manganese cobalt for the greatest performance and charging capabilities.
Flooded lead-acid batteries operate best when you charge them to 100% after letting them drain to their red zone. A battery is typically in the red zone when it reduces to 20%. These batteries take approximately 8 hours to reach full charge. It’s also important to allow a flooded lead-acid battery to cool for 8 hours after it reaches its full charge.
Some manufacturers design special opportunity and rapid electric forklift chargers that can charge within 15 minutes. If your forklift operates on this type of battery, an operator must charge it any time the machine is not in use for 15 or more minutes. This rapid charging method is only safe for opportunity and rapid chargers, so you should avoid implementing it for other battery types.
Thin plate pure lead (TPPL) batteries last longer and operate best when you maintain the highest possible charge, which you can achieve using the opportunity charging method. Maintaining the highest charge means you keep the battery as close to 100% charged as possible.
The best opportunities to charge a TPPL battery are times when the machine remains unused for longer than 15 minutes.
Opportunity charging is a frequent and fast method, but the exact time the battery takes to charge depends on the battery’s percentage before you begin charging. A TPPL battery can usually reach a 100% charge in less than 1.5 half hours if you use it for class III applications or within 5 hours for class I operations.
Opportunity charging typically occurs during employee breaks, lunch hours, or between different shifts. Frequent charging helps the battery maintain a charge of at least 40%-80%, but you should also equalize a TPPL battery weekly, which achieves a 100% charge and reduces sulfate residue. With the right charger, a TPPL can rise from 40% charged to 80% charged within an hour.
Since you can use a TPPL battery continuously throughout the day, there is no need to change it as frequently as you would other battery types.
A flooded lead-acid battery can typically operate for 8 hours on a full charge. Since flooded lead-acid batteries take 8 hours to charge, you must change them after an 8-hour shift if you need to operate forklifts continuously. Overnight charging is an excellent method if you only need to use your forklifts during the day because you can charge the batteries at night and expect them to deliver a full cycle of operation the following day.
Lithium-ion batteries can also last up to 8 hours on one charge, and they do not require a cool-down period between charging and operating. Residue buildup can shorten a battery’s run time.
Keeping a battery clean lets it run as long as possible following each charge. A battery’s run time also depends on its voltage, size, and amperage. Higher voltages typically help batteries operate more efficiently than lower voltages, and batteries that properly fit the forklifts they power allow trucks to operate without strain.
A battery that’s too large for a forklift can work too hard, resulting in shorter run times and potential damage. Only use a battery if it matches a forklift’s maximum and minimum weight capacity. You should also use a battery with a high amperage because a higher ampere-hour rating helps batteries run longer.
You can charge a forklift battery with the following steps:
Establish a safe charging station and move your forklift to this area before charging its battery. A safe charging station contains the following features:
Personal protective equipment (PPE) protects your face and body from potential injuries. Before charging a forklift battery, make sure you are wearing rubber gloves, a protective apron, and a face shield.
Apply the parking brake and turn the key to ensure the forklift is off before charging its battery. Once the forklift is off, you can lift the seat to reach the battery.
Make sure the electric forklift charger you use matches your forklift battery’s amp hours capacity and output voltage. You should also inspect the charger and charger cables to ensure they are free of damage, cracks, and burns.
Use appropriate equipment to remove your forklift battery from the machine if you need to. A pallet jack transfer carriage is typically the safest type of equipment for moving batteries. Move the battery securely to prevent spills, and make sure only trained and experienced individuals transport batteries.
Ensure the battery is at a neutral temperature that’s not too hot or cold, and connect the charger to it. Make sure you plug the battery charger into the battery and not the forklift terminal, and confirm that the charger indicates it is active.
Turn the charger off to prevent electricity arcs between the charger cables and the battery. After the charger is off, you can disconnect it from the forklift’s battery. Ensuring the charger is off before disconnecting it prevents serious damage.
Only add water to a flooded lead-acid battery after it charges and cools, and only if necessary. Never complete this step before charging because it presents safety and damage risks.
Electric forklifts are excellent machines, and charging your forklift battery properly can increase its longevity. Some forklifts charge rapidly and offer 8 hours of run time, while others require more detailed charging scheduling.
Thompson Lift Truck offers high-quality electric forklifts to help you increase your efficiency and productivity. Request a quote to learn more about our available forklifts and find the right forklift for your application.