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4 min read

Forklift Battery Charger Basics: What Do You Know?

forklift battery charger - forklift in warehouse

Forklifts are an integral part of any warehouse material handling operation. They enable the safe and efficient movement of goods from one location to another, allowing for more efficient storage, transport, and shipment of goods. By using forklifts in warehouse operations, businesses save time and money while increasing safety for staff members who are responsible for transporting items manually.

Forklift battery chargers are a crucial component in ensuring the smooth operation of your warehouse. Goods need to be stored and shipped quickly and without interruption, making it vital to maintain a reliable fleet of forklifts with a dependable source of power. By regularly maintaining your forklift battery chargers, you can increase productivity and optimize the performance of your fleet of forklifts. 

Forklift Charging: Maximizing Efficiency and Performance

Forklift chargers are an essential part of any warehouse material handling operation where forklifts are used. They provide the power necessary for the charger for a lift truck to be able to move heavy and large items throughout the warehouse. 

Without a properly charged battery, the forklift will be unable to operate effectively, leading to decreased productivity and efficiency. The charger also ensures that the battery is kept in good condition over time which extends its life and ensures that it can continue to perform at its best. Proper maintenance and care of your fleet of forklifts by regularly charging their batteries will ensure maximum performance and reliability.

Battery Basics

The battery is roughly 30% of the forklift cost. Therefore, it saves money to be proactive in proper care and maintenance. Each battery, when created, has roughly 1,500 charges before it will no longer be useful. This means a lifespan of five years, based on daily charging 300 days of the year, and with a few instances of fast charging mixed in. 

The ideal window for charging a forklift battery is when there is 20-30% battery left - NOT when there’s 50-60% left. That is a waste of energy. 

Batteries are also impacted by extreme temperatures, with a significant drop in performance when temperatures are above 92° F and below 30° F. However, there are batteries designed specifically for extreme temperatures, and those can maintain performance despite the extreme temps. 

There are a few situations to avoid when it comes to your forklift battery, including:

  • Don’t try to pick it up (it weighs 3,000 lbs)
  • Don’t use it if you see white crystals on the battery
  • Don’t use it if the battery is smoking. Immediately power off the forklift.

When powering a forklift, there are options when it comes to batteries:forklift battery charger - man with forklift

  • Lead-acid batteries: This option has been available since the 1920’s. With a high power-to-weight ratio and lower cost (not to mention regular updates over the course of their use to keep them operating efficiently), this option is a popular one for forklifts. The average weight is anywhere from 800 to 4,000 lbs for a forklift battery.  This is considered a benefit, however, as forklifts require weight to balance as products are lifted hundreds of feet high at times. This battery type requires more maintenance, namely watering. These batteries require eight hours for a full charge and eight hours of cooldown time before use. 
  • Lithium-Ion batteries: Introduced in 2014, these batteries are newer to the market. Benefits include high energy density, low discharge rate, and no memory loss. While lighter, these batteries still weigh between 500 and 2,500 lbs. This battery provides eight hours of use time after only one to four hours of charging - and it does not require any cooldown time. 

Selecting the Right Forklift Charger

The wrong forklift battery charger can void your warranty, damage the battery, and ultimately cost you a significant amount of money when you are hoping to save. Forget about cutting a few corners, get the right charger for your forklift battery needs. It is important to match the charger voltage to the battery voltage. Also, it is key to choose a charger that helps optimize performance and keep the warehouse operations running smoothly. 

Choosing the right forklift charger depends on various factors, including: 

  • Building input voltage and phasing: The higher the voltage, the more efficient the charger. 
  • Output voltage and AH: For a standard charge, you need 17% of the battery AH, and for Fast Charging, 40% of the battery AH.
  • Battery temperature monitoring
  • Adjustable charge rate based on temperature (prevents overheating).

When considering the best forklift charger, it is important to assess your warehouse needs, including the size of your forklift fleet and the types of forklifts and batteries you keep on hand. It is also a good idea to take into account the charging rate needed for each battery, operational hours at your location, and the shifts your forklifts are used for, as well as the general energy consumption patterns for your facility. 

Forklift Charger Safety and Best Practices

When it comes to charging forklift batteries, processes and things to watch for differ based on the type of battery you rely on for power. 

Lead-Acid Batteries

In terms of proper handling and storage of lead-acid batteries, the following are recommended safety precautions during charging: 

  • Add water (deionized, distilled water AFTER charging)
  • Add water once per every 5-10 charges
  • Check water levels weekly: If it falls too low, the active materials on plates dry out and become brittle while if it gets too full, an overflow means a spill of sulfuric acid that can burn skin and also erode the floor in the warehouse. 
  • Clean the top of the battery once a month.

Emergency Procedures and Protocols:

  • In the event of a sulfuric acid spill, a solution of baking soda and water (1 lb. baking soda per gallon of water) should be used to neutralize the acid. Apply with a cloth or sponge to avoid splashing and spreading the acid further. 
  • If the battery starts smoking: turn off the forklift immediately. Do not use
  • If white crystals are present, it is a sign the battery has not been cared for properly. Do not use. 


Lithium-Ion Batteries

Lithium-ion batteries have a reduced level of maintenance without a need for water in the battery. However, that does not mean that the batteries can be trusted to maintain optimal performance without regular maintenance checks. 

Maintenance concerns for Lithium-Ion Batteries include: 

  • Wear on plugs and cables
  • Fault conditions can occur with the charger
  • Temperature sensitivity
  • Regularly required software updates
  • Susceptible to moisture


Your Forklift Battery Charger: Know What Your Warehouse Needs

The integral role of forklift chargers in optimizing warehouse efficiency

Importance of selecting the right charger for your specific operational needs

Embracing innovative technologies for a more productive and sustainable future


Ready to Discuss Your Charging Needs?

Matric staff are prepped to outline the key components of unmanned vehicle charging - and the considerations to address first. Contact Matric today to get the ball rolling for better clarity on your warehouse charging needs. 

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