Although made for tough work, forklift batteries require a little tender loving care from time to time. Properly maintaining them will help maximize their power output and increase their life spans. If you're about to purchase a new or used forklift battery, here are some maintenance-related questions. These questions will help ensure you know how to properly care for the battery.
When Should the Forklift Battery Be Recharged?
When a large battery, such as a forklift battery, is recharged can significantly affect the battery's ability to hold a charge. Recharge a battery too soon, and its capabilities will be diminished. Recharge a battery too late, and the same thing will happen -- its capabilities will be diminished.
Most manufacturers design batteries to be recharged when their charge is 80 percent depleted. While this is generally true, some batteries may have different depth-of-discharge cycles. Ask how depleted the forklift battery you're buying should be when you recharge it, and then make sure it's recharged when it reaches that level.
If you're buying a used forklift battery, it's also a good idea to ask whether the battery has been recharged at that point consistently. If it hasn't, the battery might not be as powerful as it otherwise could be. (This isn't a concern when buying a new forklift battery.)
What Should the Battery's Water Levels Be?
Forklift batteries use water as the medium through which electrons -- and electricity -- move within the battery. Because water can sometimes spill and slowly evaporates, a battery's water levels sometimes need to be adjusted.
Adjusting a forklift battery's water levels is easy. It usually involves just filling up a section of the battery with water, and it's a maintenance item that most people take care of themselves.
The steps to filling up a forklift battery's water will be detailed in the owner's manual, but you'll likely still want to ask where the water levels should be filled to when buying a forklift battery. The salesperson you're working with will be able to show you in person how high to fill the water, and it's often easier to learn while talking directly with someone than by reading an owner's manual.
What Temperatures Can the Battery Be Kept At?
Most batteries have specific temperature ranges they should be kept within in order to maximize their performance. The exact range varies depending on the type of battery and other factors, so you'll have to ask what temperature range is appropriate for the battery you're purchasing.
Finding out what temperature range is suitable for a battery is especially important when buying a forklift battery. Forklifts are sometimes stored in buildings that aren't heated or air conditioned, and sometimes they're kept outside. When kept in these places, they're regularly exposed to temperatures that may damage a forklift battery.
Some forklifts are even used in extreme conditions that expose a battery to temperatures outside of the appropriate range. If you're purchasing a battery for use in extreme conditions, talk with the salesperson about ways you might reduce the strain on the battery. They might recommend working during cooler or warmer parts of the day, using fans to circulate air, etc.
How Often Should the Forklift Battery Be Equalized?
Most forklift batteries need to be equalized periodically. Equalization is a chemical process that restores equilibrium within the battery. If a battery is never equalized, it may become chemically unbalanced and not work properly.
The equalization process will be detailed in your forklift battery's owner's manual, but you should ask how often this process ought to be done. The salesperson you ask will know what interval is appropriate, and they'll be able to explain the benefits of following a specific interval if the owner's manual has a few to choose from.