Maintaining a Proper Forklift Battery
A lead-acid battery is one of the most neglected pieces of equipment in the material handling industry. No question electric forklifts require little extensive maintenance, especially compared to gasoline or liquid petroleum-fueled trucks. However, batteries tend to be forgotten in our daily maintenance procedural schedule. With low water levels, corrosion, and electrolyte spillage as common issues with a battery, we may forget that equalization charging is essential in keeping your battery in tip-top shape. Here is a step by step process on how to equalize a charge on a forklift battery.
What is an Equalization Charge?
According to Battery University, it is nothing more than a deliberate overcharge to remove sulfate crystals that build upon the plates over time. When left unchecked, sulfation reduces the overall capacity of the battery and renders the battery unserviceable in extreme cases.
How to Equalize a Charge on a Forklift Battery
The first step in the battery equalization process is finding a forklift battery charger with the ability to equalize the battery, whether automatically or via manual voltage setting: Not all chargers offer this functionality! Consider this while choosing your charger, while also ensuring the charger and battery are physically compatible and have appropriately matching voltage inputs/outputs. In general, buying batteries and chargers from the same supplier help both with compatibility issue avoidance and with troubleshooting/support, should you need it.
Once you have an appropriate charger, equalization charging is fairly straightforward:
- Remove all loads from the battery
- Connect the charger to the battery
- Set the charger for the battery manufacturer-directed equalization charge level
- Begin charging, ensuring the electrolyte begins bubbling and gassing
- Measure the specific gravity of the cells periodically, as this will increase with charging
- Finished when specific gravity no longer increases; be vigilant
- Replace any water lost during the charging process (see our battery watering post for details)