What Can Go Wrong When Charging a Forklift Battery?

Many people do not realize how easy it is to make a mistake while charging a forklift battery. These mistakes can be costly and sometimes irreparable.

Here are some of the most common forklift battery charging mistakes and how you can avoid them. 

Charging Your Forklift Battery When It Isn’t Fully Discharged

The first mistake is made by professionals and newbies alike. While it is important to keep your forklift battery fully charged, topping off your battery when it isn’t fully drained could be detrimental to the life of your battery. 

While you want to keep your battery changed so your forklift can operate for an entire shift, don’t make the mistake of charging your battery while it still is holding some power. A forklift battery has a limited amount of times that it can be charged. 

Most forklift batteries can only be charged 1,500 times. That is a little over 4 years if you are charging your battery every day. Charging the battery every time your forklift has downtime will be costly because you will have to change the battery more often. 

To protect the life of your forklift battery, wait until your battery has 20 to 30 percent of charge remaining before you recharge it. Don’t let your battery completely run out of charge, but also there is no need to charge it if it still has 50 percent of its power left. 

Forgetting to Maintain Your Battery

It can be easy to forget your forklift batteries maintenance but do so at your own risk. Electric forklifts use a lead-acid battery. These batteries need to be regularly filled with water to keep them in good running order. 

A lead-acid battery uses water and sulfuric acid as part of the electrolyte solution. The water is consumed by the battery. Monitor your battery’s water level to keep your forklift running properly.

A forklift battery that is running low or out of water can become damaged to the point where the machinery is no longer operable. This is a costly error to make so avoid it completely and check the water level of your battery often. 

How Often Should You Check the Water Level in the Forklift Battery? 

Well, that depends on where you are located. In a hot climate, such as Florida or Arizona, the forklift’s battery water can be depleted much quicker. Hot climates should check their battery water level on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. 

Make checking the battery water level a part of your warehouse’s routine maintenance. Top off the water when it gets below the top of the battery plates. Always use distilled water. Minerals in the water can damage the forklift battery.

Also, top off the battery after it is fully charged, not before. 

On the other hand, overfilling your forklift battery can be just as detrimental. This will dilute the electrolyte solution or cause the battery to overflow. If your forklift battery overflows take time to properly rinse the battery to prevent corrosion. Add water to the battery, but not too much. 

Using the Wrong Charger for Your Battery

Another common mistake is using the wrong forklift battery chargers. Your forklift charging stations should be equipped with the proper chargers for your forklift’s battery. 

Often your forklift fleet may contain different models of forklifts that use different batteries. If these batteries have different voltages, then they will require separate chargers.

Have a designated charging station for each forklift with the proper charger in place for each forklift to avoid using an inappropriate charger. 

When you charge a forklift battery with the inappropriate charger an adverse reaction takes place in the electrolytic fluid that damages the battery. This could leave your forklift battery smoking and inoperable especially if the voltage of the charger is much higher than the battery was designed for. 

This can be easily avoided by always checking to make sure you are using the right forklift battery charger for your battery. 

If your warehouse has decided to use variable voltage battery chargers, be sure to have a sign up at the designated charging station that clearly reads the voltage needed for each battery. This will make it easier for forklift operators to see the exact voltage of each battery and be able to match it with the appropriate amount. 

Additional Charging Tips

Do not overcharge your forklift’s battery. This can hurt the life of your battery. Some forklift batteries have a battery management system that will prevent overcharging. Check your battery to see if it has this. If not, keep a careful eye on the level of charge. 

Do not charge a battery in extreme temperatures. Charging your forklift’s battery in high heat or cold weather can also reduce the lifespan of your battery. Check your specific battery for its specifications. 

Proper Forklift Battery Handling

Forklift batteries can be dangerous if not properly handled. Follow these guidelines to handle your battery. 

Forklift batteries can be very heavy. Always use special equipment to maneuver or transfer a forklift battery. If the equipment isn’t available, never try to lift a forklift battery alone. Wear special protective gear like steel-toe shoes when moving batteries just in case of an accidental fall. 

Always have an eye and hand washing station nearby. Any liquid that comes out of your forklift’s battery should be considered hazardous. Wash your hands and rinse your eyes immediately if you come into contact with this liquid. 

Hand and eye rise stations should be located conveniently nearby your batteries charging stations to provide a quick rinse. 

Wear chemical-resistant protective gear when moving batteries. This includes both gloves and safety goggles. The handwashing and eye rise stations shouldn’t be your first resort in case you come into contact with battery liquid. 

Be sure to remove all metallic jewelry from the body when charging a forklift battery. This includes wedding rings and body piercings. 

Making Mistakes When Charging Your Forklift Battery Could Cost You

Making mistakes when charging a forklift battery can be costly. You can damage the lifespan of your battery or worse - be left with a completely inoperable battery. Follow these easy tips to prevent mistakes when charging your forklift’s battery. 

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What Can Go Wrong When Charging a Forklift Battery?