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Lithium Ion Batteries vs. Lead Acid Batteries: Which is Better?

One of the most talked about topics regarding forklifts is the influx of lithium ion batteries, but how does it hold up against lead acid forklift batteries so commonly used today? Will we see a complete replacement of battery types in the near future? Or is this just a trend? Looking at the pros and cons of lithium ion batteries should help us understand the direction of the industry.

Lithium Ion Batteries vs. Lead Acid Batteries: Which is Better?

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  • 1. Pros and Cons of Lithium Ion Batteries
    1. a. Pros:
      1. Low Maintenance – Require no active maintenance like other batteries do. No discharge or battery fluid check ups
      2. Self-Discharge – The self-discharge rate is extremely low, around 1-2% / month
      3. High Energy Density – Lasts longer between charges and has 2-3x the power of a nickel cadmium battery
      4. No Priming – Most batteries require priming after the first charge, but ion batteries are ready to use without this step
      5. Loading Characteristics – Lithium ion batteries give around 3 volts per cell
    1. b. Cons:
      1. Cost – Lithium batteries cost 40% more than the average battery
      2. More Vulnerable – Requires protection from short circuits using covering during transportation
      3. Constantly Changing – Although a modern marvel in technology, it’s still in constant development, meaning the tech evolves and never stays the same
      4. Aging – Ion batteries can only handle up to 1,000 cycles before failure
  • 2. Pros and Cons of Lead Acid Batteries
    1. a. Pros
      1. Cost – Lower cost than ion batteries and easy to manufacture
      2. Low Maintenance – Minimal maintenance required
      3. Durable – Withstands overcharging and abuse without causing damage
      4. Performance – Can perform effectively in any temperature range
      5. Recyclable – Can be reused more than any other battery type
    1. b. Cons
      1. Environmental Effects – Impacts the environment more than ion lithium batteries
      2. Slower Charge – Full charge can take up to 16 hours
      3. Size and Weight – Tend to be heavy and large, making them more cumbersome than lithium ion batteries
      4. Short Lifespan – Up to 500 cycles before failure