Tips for Making Your Forklift Battery Last Longer

Keeping your forklift batteries in top condition helps ensure safe and efficient operation of your forklifts. Meanwhile, maintaining your forklift batteries saves you money by helping you get the most out of your equipment. Follow these tips for making your forklift battery last longer.

1. Start Recharging at 20 to 30 Percent

Charge your battery once it reaches 20 to 30 percent of its full charge capacity. If you start the charging process before it’s depleted to this point, you’ll be charging the battery too often. A forklift battery’s lifespan is about 1,500 charges, and the more often you charge your battery, the closer you bring it to the end of its usefulness.

For optimal battery health, don’t let its power drop below 20 percent. If you charge the battery when it’s lower than 20 percent, you risk damaging its performance. For the best balance of longevity and efficient use, begin charging the battery when it’s at 20 to 30 percent charge, and charge it to 100 percent; this takes about eight to 10 hours, which is why many single-shift sites charge their batteries overnight.

2. Add Water After Charging

The next tip for making your forklift battery last longer is to add distilled or deionized water after charging. In the lead-acid battery cell arrangement, lead plates are immersed in an electrolyte that consists of sulfuric acid and distilled or deionized water. The water plays a crucial role by helping ions move between the plates.

While the battery recharges, the water breaks down into hydrogen and oxygen gas. The more this change occurs, the lower the water level falls. Forklift operators should add water after the battery has charged to maintain the balance within the battery to avoid reducing the battery’s usable lifespan.

3. Avoid Sulfation

The top cause of early battery failure is sulfation, which is when the battery has a buildup of lead sulfate crystals. Sulfation interferes with the battery’s normal functioning and can lead to longer required charging times, a buildup of excessive heat, a shortened battery life, and battery failure. To avoid sulfation, store charged batteries at a temperature below 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and don’t allow stored batteries to fall below a charge of 12.4 volts.

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We often receive questions about operating an electric forklift in various weather conditions. Because these forklifts rely on complex electrical components, it is important to know when and where you can run your electric forklift.

Three frequently asked questions we receive about using electric forklifts in the rain are:

  1. Are electric forklifts able to operate in the rain?
  2. How waterproof are electric forklifts?
  3. What safety precautions should I take in the rain?

Are electric forklifts able to operate in the rain?

While some electric forklifts cannot operate outdoors (especially in the rain), many more are designed to withstand light to moderate rain. You should always check the IP code of your forklift to ensure that it is safe to operate outdoors. More about IP codes next.

How waterproof are electric forklifts?

The best way to tell if your forklift is able to operate in the rain is by looking at the forklift’s International Protection (IP) code, sometimes referred to as Ingress Protection Markings. The IP rating is a system designed to signify how well a machine withstands solid particulates and liquids. Every forklift has an IP code that follows the pattern ‘IPXX’ with the first X denoting its solid protection level and the second X denoting its liquid protection level. Any forklift that is rated IPX4 and higher is capable of operating outside while it is raining.

The solid protection level ranges from 0 to 6, with zero indicating the forklift has no protection against contact from any size object, and six signifying that the machine is completely dust proof. Similarly, the liquid protection level ranges from 0 to 8. Zero indicates the machine has no protection against water, and eight means the machine can be submerged over three meters of water without sustaining any damage.

What safety precautions should I take in the rain?

Once you have confirmed that your forklift is able to operate in the rain, it is important to have procedures set up to keep your forklift operators safe during inclement weather. Because it is more difficult to operate a forklift in the rain, you should follow these tips to keep your team safe.

Ensure Adequate Visibility

Visibility should be a top priority in all weather conditions.

  • Use your lights and horn to help avoid incidents in the rain if you can’t see.
  • Make sure all safety lights operate.
  • Replace necessary bulbs if working in low-visibility conditions.

Know the Variances of the Forklift’s Operation

It will be harder to maneuver when operating a forklift in the rain, so you should take the necessary precautions when driving in the rain.

  • Go slow to avoid accidents. The brakes may not respond immediately, and the forks will be slick.
  • If the ground is icy, install forklift chains to provide a solid grip.
  • Close all covers to prevent water from entering the forklift and creating a potential hazard.

Wear Appropriate Rain Gear

Another great way to protect your forklift operators (and keep them healthy and comfortable) is to make sure they are wearing the right gear.

  • Wear waterproof jackets and pants.
  • Wear non-slip boots with treads to help prevent falls.
  • Wear uniforms or vests with reflective tape to stand out in limited visibility.

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