Forklift Battery Maintenance
Forklifts may use several different types of batteries. Electric forklifts require the battery to operate, while gas powered forklifts need a battery to start. Over time, these batteries will run down. Electric forklifts will need to be charged periodically, while other types of forklifts will need the battery completely replaced when it runs down. Replacing these batteries is done in much the same manner as a battery on an automobile, so we will focus more on maintaining batteries in electric forklifts.
What Makes Up the Battery?
An electric forklift battery is made up of five different parts. Those who work on an electrical forklift should know these parts to avoid getting shocked or, worse, causing the battery to explode.
How Can you Select the Best Battery for your Forklift?
One factor in deciding on the best battery for your forklift is to look at its size. Larger forklifts that are rated for lifting larger loads are going to need bigger batteries because they will require more power. Smaller forklifts won’t have as much weight to move because the frames are usually lighter, plus they’re not rated for lifting really heavy loads. Another very important factor when selecting proper battery size for your forklift is weight. In an effort to save money, it may be tempting to purchase a smaller battery. Minimum battery weight is listed on the data tag located on your forklift. It is very important to fit a battery that meets these weight requirements. The battery is factored into the counterweight and crucial to the lifting capacity and safety of the forklift. Make certain you get the correct size battery for your forklift.
Before purchasing a new battery it would be wise to have the battery inspected by a battery technician. Often these batteries can be repaired. It may be a matter of replacing a cell or two. It may just need an acid adjustment. These remedies to not make your battery new again but can in some cases extend the life by a few years.
Be careful when buying off-brand batteries. Yes, they may work in your forklift, but they may also be cheaper for a reason—many off-brand batteries are of a lesser quality and will not last as long as the more expensive brand names. Look for product reviews before you make a purchase.
Tips on Charging the Battery
Maintaining a proper charge on your forklift battery is important. If the battery isn’t properly charged, it will run down much more quickly, and then you’ll end up spending more money on replacement batteries than you should. Here are a few quick tips on charging your batteries to make certain you get the most out of them.
Steps on Replacing the Battery
On average, a battery for an electric forklift will last around five years, less if it’s used and recharged a lot. Under ideal conditions a well maintained low usage battery can last as long as 10-12 years. Fortunately, these batteries are fairly easy to find, and most are reasonably priced.
There are a number of signs that your forklift battery is about to expire. Here are a few of the most common:
Replacing a forklift battery is not as simple as replacing other batteries. The first issue is that the battery can weigh several thousand pounds. It’s going to take another forklift to move it. It can also be very dangerous as batteries carry high amperage that can be deadly if not handled correctly. In many cases, it’s easiest to simply have a battery technician do the installation. These professionals have been trained in forklift battery replacement and can handle everything.
However, if you’re going to do the replacement yourself, you should first make certain that you keep the top of the battery clear of all metal objects. Otherwise, the battery could short circuit and explode. You should remove any jewelry you’re wearing such as a wedding ring—even that small bit of metal can cause an arc. Even keep the connector cables away until you’re ready to connect it. Keep them out of the way, and make sure they’re not going to get caught under the battery.
Now move the new battery under the hoist using a second forklift. Make certain the hoist hooks are securely connected to the battery’s lifting hole. Lift the battery up, carefully move it into position, and then lower it into the forklift. Connect the connector cables and power up the forklift to make certain it works.