Forklift Battery Maintenance

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Forklift Battery Maintenance

Forklift Battery Maintenance Dec. 05, 2023

Forklift Battery Maintenance

When to Water a Battery

In a perfect world, batteries are run for 8 hours, charged for 8 hours, and cool for 8 hours. Some lift trucks offer an indicator, but the best time to water your batteries is always right before each shift, after batteries have had time to cool, and the worst time is right before or during charging.

Even though it may be tempting to charge during lunch breaks, this is not ideal. If watering occurs before or during charging, it can lead to the water boiling over and acid leaking from the battery. Also, let the battery charge completely and avoid keeping it stored in extreme conditions.  

Everything You Need to Know About Electric Forklift Batteries

Choosing the right battery technology is one of the most important decisions you will make when looking for how to power your electric forklift. Whether you’re doing an upgrade on your battery or purchasing a brand-new forklift, it is imperative that you carefully evaluate the various battery options available since that can influence the forklift’s performance, bottom line, and overall productivity.
When it comes to providing power for commercial forklifts, there are 2 basic battery techs that can get the job done. They are the lead acid batteries and lithium-ion batteries. Through this post, we will do a comparison of both battery types via different perspectives, such as safety, lifespan, maintenance, as well as charging needs. After going through these pointers, it will be easy for you to make an informed decision on which battery would be best for your electric forklift.

Battery Weight
It is important that you consult with the spec plate or spec sheet to know the maximum or minimum weight that is required by the truck. If you choose to purchase a battery that exceeds the maximum weight requirement for the forklift, there is a good chance that you might end up adding unnecessary strain on some components of the equipment. Besides hampering performance, that can also invalidate the warranty given to you by the manufacturer.
In most cases, the battery serves as a counterweight to that of the truck, ensuring that the forklift is always in a balanced position. That implies that you cannot buy a battery that has a lesser weight than the minimum required weight, because that will not only destabilize the forklift but can also give rise to safety problems.
The weight of a battery acts in a counterbalancing capacity. Any attempt to offset this balance can also affect the performance or lifting capacity of the forklift.

Anyone who is opting for lead-acid batteries should be aware of what is known as sulfation. It is simply a chemical process that can make a lead acid battery break down. To ensure this does not happen, one needs to make sure the electrolyte water level is maintained. That is why distilled water is used to top the water level from time to time. That way, you can maintain the lead-acid battery’s life.
Having said that, you need to consider how much it costs to water lead-acid batteries for large fleets because that would cost a lot of money, and can only be undertaken by professionals. They need to follow special instructions when doing so; otherwise, their safety could be at stake.
It is a lot easier to maintain lithium batteries because they do not require you to add any distilled water to them. You can use a lithium-ion battery without bothering about maintenance. Apart from doing a routine clean up on the battery itself, there is no other special thing that is required from you. So, while maintenance for a lead-acid battery is time-consuming and expensive, none of that is an issue for lithium-ion batteries.

On the issue of safety, the difference between lithium-ion batteries and lead-acid batteries is so clear. A lead-acid battery is made basically from two chemicals – lead and sulfuric acid. These are extremely risky chemicals that can present safety challenges to any team. Sulfuric acid can make contact with the skin of those carrying out maintenance on it. Hence, it is recommended that you always put on personal protective equipment such as rubber gloves, face shields, splash proof googles, and acid resistant aprons.
A lead acid battery also has the capacity to output an explosive product that comprise hydrogen and oxygen gases during its charging. That is why there has been reports of explosion when it is being charged in a space that is not adequately ventilated. In addition to other measures, lead acid battery users need to install hydrogen sensors to monitor its charging.
Overcharging an old lead-acid battery can yield a gas known as hydrogen sulfide. This is an extremely dangerous gas that should not be inhaled by anyone. If this ever happens, you may have no choice but to evacuate everyone within that vicinity.
On the other hand, lithium batteries do not pose as much danger as lead-acid batteries. Lithium-ion batteries are completely sealed, so there is no need for you to open it to do anything. That reduces the possibility of spilling electrolyte, sulfation or toxic fumes.
Safety and health are crucial in any workplace, which absolutely makes lithium-ion batteries a better option compared to lead-acid batteries.

A lead-acid battery that is properly maintained has a maximum lifespan of between 1000 and 1500 cycles. Having said that, there is something else you need to know in this regard. That is the fact that even if you charge a lead-acid battery for 30mins, that counts as one cycle. That means, the lifespan of a lead acid battery shortens with every charge.
Besides maintenance, another factor that can affect a lead-acid battery’s lifespan is how it is charged. As a hint, lead-acid batteries are not to be left to partially discharge. Plus, anytime they are discharged, they need to be charged back as soon as possible. That is how you can ensure its longevity and optimally performance.
In stark contrast, lithium batteries can last anywhere between 2000 and 3000 cycles. Lithium-ion battery is not like lead-acid batteries because it is only considered to have done one charging cycle anytime the battery charges up to 100%. When you charge a lithium battery for just a few minutes, it does not reduce its lifespan. Additionally, a lithium-ion battery does not experience any damage when it is left in a state of partial discharge.

Owing to the aforementioned reasons, it is obvious that li-ion batteries are top class for electric forklift. The only reason why many people still prefer lead-acid batteries could be the high upfront cost that comes with purchasing lithium-ion batteries. But, ask yourself this question

FAQs About Watering a Forklift Battery

With your forklift battery representing a significant investment, taking the necessary steps to ensure optimal performance is essential. Regular maintenance is critical – but don’t worry; this doesn’t have to be overly time-consuming. Adopting simple forklift battery watering techniques gives you the best chance of preserving its lifecycle and enjoying maximum value from your purchase.

Watering a Forklift Battery FAQs

Here are answers to frequently asked questions to help make sure your lead-acid batteries are kept safe from any common mistakes associated with watering a forklift battery.   

How often should we water a lead-acid forklift battery?

Typically, forklift batteries need watering once weekly or every five to ten charges.  

Should we add water before or after we charge the battery? 

To keep your forklift battery healthy, water it after a charge. Adding water to a forklift battery before it’s charged could cause damage to the battery.  

When is the best time to water a lead-acid forklift battery?

The best time to water your battery is right before each shift after it has time to cool.   

If we water a lead-acid forklift battery properly, how long should it last?

A properly maintained battery should last five years.  


What happens if we don’t water our forklift battery properly?

Improper water levels can lower battery life and reduce charge cycle time. Not properly watering a forklift battery can diminish the life expectancy of a forklift battery by up to 50%, or 2 ½ years.  

Do older batteries need to be watered more frequently than newer batteries? 

Yes, older batteries can dry out more quickly.  

Do we need a specific type of water for our forklift battery?  

Always use clean water (pure or distilled) to water your forklift battery. Dirty water or water filled with particulates will upset the electrolyte imbalance and damage the battery.  

Why can’t we use tap water to water a forklift battery? 

Most tap water contains potassium, magnesium, calcium, and other minerals your battery doesn’t need. High mineral count water is known as “hard” water. Hard water will upset the electrolyte balance, limiting the battery’s ability to store a charge.  


What can we do to extend our lead-acid forklift battery?  

Avoid lengthy exposure to cold temperatures to extend the life of your battery. If water freezes, it will damage your battery.  

Another tip to extend the life of your forklift battery is to charge it to 100 percent before each use. Batteries have limited charges, so each one counts, whether total or partial.  

Can we schedule forklift battery maintenance?

Yes. TMHS offers planned maintenance for forklift batteries and chargers in Los Angeles County and the surrounding areas.   

Forklift batteries are expensive, so proper maintenance should be part of any warehouse or distribution center’s routine. We hope this blog post gave you vital information on watering a forklift battery and how often it should be done.  

If you need forklift battery maintenance or have more questions about watering a forklift battery, contact us to speak to an equipment specialist. 

Tags: Battery maintenance, battery watering, lead acid battery

Tags: battery

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