Top Factors Affecting Forklift Battery Replacement Costs You Need to Know

Friday, June 16, 2023


When batteries are damaged or worn out, it is essential to have accurate battery performance data to help you plan replacements. Knowing when to replace a forklift battery is vital to maintenance and safety. Standard lead-acid forklift batteries require regular water maintenance, cleaning after acid spills, and equalizing charging. Lithium batteries do not need this type of maintenance and can remain inside the forklift, saving labor and facility costs.

Battery Capacity

The battery capacity determines how long the forklift can operate. It is measured in amp hours. The amp-hour rating is typically printed on the forklift battery’s data plate or intercell connector. Lead-acid wet cell batteries were the industry standard for decades and still have some advantages compared to newer technologies like gel, absorbent glass mat (AGM), or thin plate pure lead (TPPL). The main disadvantage is that they require extensive maintenance, including inspections, periodic cleaning of chemical buildup, equalizing, and overcharging to mix electrolytes and remove plate sulfation. Lithium batteries cost more upfront than their lead-acid counterparts, but the increased lifespan gives them a lower total cost of ownership in most cases. Keeping detailed records of forklift battery maintenance and forklift battery replacement cost will help businesses budget for future purchases. Regulatory agencies may even require companies to document forklift battery maintenance and replacements, so accurate documentation is crucial for safety and compliance. The proper forklift battery for the job will ensure optimal performance and reduce downtime. Our forklift battery selector tool can help you find the right specs to meet your needs.

Battery Type

Most forklifts use wet-cell batteries. These contain lead and sulfuric acid, which can be dangerous when improperly maintained. They must have their electrolyte level checked and topped up with distilled water regularly to prevent the process known as battery sulfation, which can damage the battery plates. This maintenance is costly and time-consuming. These batteries also have a much shorter lifespan than newer options.

Additionally, the battery must remain on charge for long periods and can’t support multiple shift operations in demanding warehouses like 24/7 distribution centers. On the other hand, lithium-ion batteries don’t need to be charged overnight. They can be set in short intervals, including during operator breaks. This method, known as opportunity charging, reduces the number of charges/cool-down cycles a battery undergoes throughout the day, lengthening its life span. They also store 4X more energy and operate 30% more efficiently than their lead-acid counterparts. They’re also lighter, eliminating the need to alter the counterweight of the forklift and allowing for higher lift capacities. This can improve productivity and reduce labor costs.

Battery Life Expectancy

A battery can only experience several charging cycles before it degrades. This degrading is due to sulfate accumulation on forklift batteries’ plates. Sulfate hardens and reduces the surface area of a battery’s plates, inhibiting its chemical reaction with electrolyte acid. If left unchecked, this will reduce a battery’s lifespan and cause decreased performance. Regular battery monitoring and replacement can increase productivity, minimize maintenance costs, and ensure compliance with regulations. During battery replacement, forklift operators should use personal protective equipment such as splash-proof goggles and face-shield to prevent contact with high-risk sulfuric acid. Battery chargers should not interrupt a battery’s charge cycle until it reaches 20% to 30% discharge. Otherwise, it will lose its lifespan and efficiency. If a battery is charged before reaching this point, the forklift will require recharging more frequently, leading to increased downtime and maintenance expenses. Lithium forklift batteries can be recharged in 15-30-minute spurts, called opportunity charging, during breaks or when idle. This allows them to be used for multi-shift operations without sacrificing battery life expectancy.

Charging Method

There are several methods for charging batteries, including conventional, opportunity, and fast charging. Conventional battery charging is done overnight, using low current to charge the batteries until they reach 100% capacity. This method is best for single-shift operations. Opportunity charging uses a rapid charger to recharge batteries between shifts. This method requires a more expensive charger and additional storage space but may reduce forklift maintenance costs. Fast charging uses high currents to rapidly recharge batteries between shifts. This method may reduce forklift maintenance costs but shorten the battery lifespan. Both of these methods require a properly designed battery maintenance program that includes keeping a battery water log and adding water to each cell as needed after the charge cycle. Equalizing batteries regularly will rebalance acid concentration and prevent stratification. The type of forklift battery and charging system you choose is vital to the overall safety of your fleet and facility. Damaged or malfunctioning batteries and charging systems can cause serious injury due to the electrical current and combustible chemicals they contain. Always follow all recommended safety precautions when handling, transporting, and charging batteries to avoid this.


Creating a maintenance schedule is one of the best ways to extend the lifespan of forklift batteries. Inspecting the battery for physical damage, cracks, or leaks is an essential part of this process. Another way to extend battery life is to invest in quality batteries that utilize thicker plates and advanced technology. These batteries typically cost more up-front but will last longer and require less maintenance. The frequency of charging, equalizing, and washing a forklift battery is also crucial to its longevity. Consult the manufacturer’s manual for a recommended schedule. Using specialized equipment, such as a walkie-pallet jack equipped with a transfer carriage, is essential to move forklift batteries, as they can be cumbersome. Employees should wear steel-toe shoes and be appropriately trained to handle the equipment. It’s also necessary to record all battery maintenance, testing, and replacements. This information will help with budgeting, training, and compliance with safety regulations. This will prevent injuries and downtime in the future. For example, a battery that isn’t replaced on time could become a fire hazard.

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket photo googleplus.png

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love reading and responding to comments but in order to get my reply you must ensure you are NOT a no-reply blogger. If you are, here are some quick steps to change that!

1. Go to the home page of your Blogger account.
2. Select the drop down beside your name on the top right corner and choose Blogger Profile.
3. Select Edit Profile at the top right.
4. Select the Show My Email Address box.
5. Hit Save Profile.