How to Buy the Right Forklift Battery
Updated: Dec 8, 2020
The alternate title of this post could be, “how to avoid paying double for your forklift battery.” When uninformed buyers choose a cheap battery with no warranty, they inevitably end up buying a second battery - the right battery - a short while later.
Before you spend a few thousand dollars on a battery, take a few moments to learn how to choose the right battery for your forklift and important questions to ask.
5 Things to Know Before Buying a Forklift Battery
First, collect some stats about your forklift to ensure you get a battery that fits in your battery compartment and provides the correct amount of power. A forklift dealer can also help you find a battery with the right specifications.
What voltage can your lift truck use? Forklifts can use either 36-volt or 48-volt batteries, be sure to confirm what your lift truck can handle. The wrong choice can cause severe damage to your equipment.
Measure the battery compartment dimensions Write down the size of the battery compartment in inches (width, depth and height). Important: measure the size of the compartment, not the size of the old battery.
What is the amp hour capacity of the battery? Check the ampere-hour (AH) capacity rating on your current battery. To get the maximum power and run time, choose the highest-rated amp hour battery approved for your lift truck that can fit in the battery compartment.
Confirm the minimum counterweight requirement Check the forklift's data plate or owner’s manual to confirm the minimum battery weight. Installing an underweight battery can cause stability issues and is extremely dangerous.
Check the connector type, cable position and cable lengths You'll need to know:
Where the battery plugs into the forklift
How long the battery cable needs to be (when in doubt, choose longer cables)
The color and position of the connectors
How to Choose the Right Forklift Battery
Check the battery brand and where it was made Avoid buying a battery made overseas, especially from countries with a reputation for making cheap products. A low forklift battery price is always too good to be true.
Buy a battery with a warranty and ask to see the warranty statement Only purchase a forklift battery that comes with a warranty - the longer the better. Ask to see the warranty statement and make sure you understand how warranty issues are handled. Does the battery have to be sent away for service or can someone local come to your facility and take care of the problem? Are parts included and available locally?
Does the battery need to be watered? Some forklift batteries require de-ionized or distilled water to be added every five to ten charges. The water protects the active material inside the battery. If the water level drops too low, the active material dries out and becomes brittle. This permanently damages the battery and shortens its useful life. There are also low-maintenance and maintenance-free forklift batteries.
Do you have the right charging system? Unfortunately, the average 48-volt battery charger isn’t compatible with every 48-volt battery ever made (and the same goes for 36-volt chargers). Similarly, most chargers can’t be converted from one voltage to another. If you have a battery charger currently, check the nameplate data and talk to your battery supplier about which electric forklift batteries will pair with the charger you already have.
If you’ve decided to purchase a lithium-ion or other sealed battery, you probably won’t be able to use your existing charger. Check with the battery supplier or manufacturer.
Reconditioned forklift battery pros and cons Reconditioned forklift batteries are much less expensive than new ones, but they’re not right for every operation. A reconditioned battery typically lasts only three or four hours until before it needs to be charged again. For this reason, reconditioned batteries only make sense for single-shift operations where the equipment is used infrequently throughout the day.
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