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How to Charge and Maintain Forklift Batteries

Updated: Dec 6, 2019

Forklift Truck battery maintenance is an extremely important task, yet often forgotten or overlooked.

It is a simple yet significant factor that will effectively contribute towards your forklift truck’s safety and overall lifespan.  Effective and thorough maintenance can extend the lifetime of these batteries, allowing you to extend the life of your forklift too.

What is a Forklift Battery Cycle?

A Forklift Truck battery cycle will usually begin with 1500 cycles.  Each time you charge your battery it uses up one cycle. Once you have used up all cycles, it will most likely mean you will require a new battery.

Where can I Charge my Forklift Battery?

There should be a designated area in the workplace for charging (Charging Station). This area should be well-ventilated with good lighting. As a precaution : do not smoke or use a mobile phone,  do not carry hot objects into this area, and do not use or set any metal tools or objects on the battery.

What Personal Protective Equipment should I Wear?

Always protect yourself! When charging batteries it is crucial that you wear safety goggles or a face shield, wear a plastic apron, and use approved gloves.

What Safety Items should I keep Near Industrial Batteries?
  1. Acid neutralizing solution or baking soda

  2. Proper eye wear, masks and gloves

  3. Non-metallic containers to handle liquid

  4. Eyewash facility

  5. If battery acid is ingested, drink water or milk. Do not induce vomiting. Call a physician immediately.

When Should I Charge my Battery?
  1. DO select equalize charge option every 5-10 charge cycles. This helps to keep the cell voltages even;

  2. DO charge the battery after an eight hour stint or if it has less than 30% power;

  3. DO NOT let the battery run too low – anything below 20% can reduce lifespan;

  4. DO NOT let a flat battery sit stagnant for long periods of time for the same reason;

  5. DO NOT charge for the sake of it – have a charging schedule and stick to it;

  6. DO NOT ever interrupt a charge mid-way through.

Check your Fluid Levels?

When maintaining the fluid levels in your battery, there are a number of things you should consider;
  1. Make sure that you check the H2O levels and have them topped up regularly (every 10th charge) for the initial couple of years. If the battery is a second-hand battery then this should be reduced to every five charges.

  2. If the fluid levels do need to be topped up, only use enough to cover the plastic element protector by approximately a half of a cm. If your battery has a Single Point Watering kit fitted, this must also be refilled after charging is complete, never before.

  3. This applies to clean water too – never top this up before the beginning of a charge. Overtime, it will help if you checked 2-3 pilot cells every five or so charge-cycles so that you know whether or not the level is above the plastic element protector following the charging operation. Always avoid over filling the battery as this can cause acid loss and overheating.

What Should I do When I Charge a Battery?
  1. Check the electrolyte level before recharging. If the battery has been outside in cold weather, make sure that the battery is not frozen before recharging it.

  2. If the electrolyte is covering the top of the plates, do not add more water. Recheck the fluid level after the battery has been recharged. If water is added, use distilled water, not tap water.

  3. When vent plugs may need adjustment, follow manufacturers’ instructions carefully.

  4. If the battery has sealed vents, do not recharge the battery with a current greater than 25 amps.

  5. To reduce the possibility of explosions, follow the recommendations of the recharger manufacturer for attaching and removing cables and for operating the equipment properly. Generally, this includes unplugging or turning off the charger before connecting or disconnecting the clamp connections. Carefully attach the clamps to the battery with the proper polarity (positive [+] clamp, usually red, to the positive terminal and negative (-) clamp, usually black, to the negative terminal).

  6. Ensure that area is ventilated when the batteries are being charged.

  7. If the battery becomes hot or if the electrolyte spits out from the vent, turn off the recharger temporarily. Resume recharging using a lower current or charging rate.

How Do I Change a Battery?
  1. Make sure you are trained in using any of the battery changing equipment.

  2. Ensure the battery gate or other devices securing the battery in the lift truck are removed.

  3. Disconnect the battery cable from the lift truck.

  4. Use non-sparking and insulated tools.

  5. DO NOT lift by post or cables.

  6. Keep metallic objects away from uncovered batteries.

Forklift Training Scarborough / Toronto – 416-321-9675

Forklift Training Mississauga / Brampton – 905-629-9679

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