Charged! Tips to Keep Your Forklift Battery Running Properly
If you’re familiar with forklifts, chances are you’ve had some experience dealing with the challenges of forklift batteries. Often, properly caring for the battery can lengthen the capacity of any forklift and help to keep it performing at its best. Battery care can be simple as long as you follow these tips on a regular basis.
Know How and When to Charge Your Battery
One of the most important things to do when caring for your forklift is charging the battery at the right time. Keep a close watch on the amount of discharge before you charge the battery. Ideally, a battery should be 80 percent discharged before recharging.  Unlike typical batteries, a forklift battery will perform better if you adhere to this rule as opposed to just charging on a regular basis.
Break Time for Your Battery – Conventional vs. Opportunity vs. Fast Charging
With conventional charging, just because you or your coworkers are taking a break, doesn’t mean it’s time to charge your forklift battery. Overcharging your battery, or charging your battery too often can cause additional wear and tear. Consider giving both your lift truck and your lift truck’s battery some time to rest. This will increase your battery’s life in the long run, as well as improve its performance.
However, if your operation works on a multi-shift schedule, opportunity or fast charging may be better options. With opportunity charging, the charge rates are different (25% of battery capacity vs. 15% to 20% for conventional)  and you're charging more frequently at a higher start rate to return the amps faster. The "opportunity" refers to the times operators can use to charge; for example, charging typically takes place between breaks and lunches, or anytime the trucks are not in use. If your operation works more than two 8-hour shifts, then you might benefit from an even higher output charger. Instead of a 25% start rate, the fast charge process uses the highest start rate of 50%. The more amps you need to work the increased number of hours due to longer shifts or more shifts will determine which charging method you need to use. There’s a lot to consider, so a fleet evaluation to find the best solution for your operation is recommended.
Watch Your Battery Fluid
Never run a battery dry, as it could cause an extreme amount of damage. A good rule is to check your battery every four or five charges to make sure that the fluid level is right. The level of fluid should be enough to cover the plates inside your battery. Do not add more water if the level is already at the appropriate level. Always add water after the charge and use distilled water. For large forklift fleets, a single-point watering system is an effective option. The system helps to save both time and money, by ensuring that batteries are correctly watered; as a result extending the life of your battery for a better return-on-investment.
Regular Battery Maintenance
Regular maintenance of your battery will ensure that it functions properly. Sulfation  is often the primary reason your battery will have problems and not perform to the highest level possible. This process prevents your battery from receiving an optimal charge, but can by refurbished if cleaned properly. If you notice that your forklift’s efficiency is diminished, refurbishing the battery could restore its performance levels. Also, it’s important to rinse your batteries about twice a year (possibly more, if needed) to remove any acid residue from the battery.
At Action Lift, we know industrial batteries! We offer a wide range of products including chargers, low water/low maintenance, high-capacity battery options and new, fast-charge products. On top of that, we can evaluate your fleet and help maximize your battery investment with our PM Service and wash programs. Remember, as you take care of your forklift battery—it will take care of you!