Maintenance and care for the heavy-duty industrial batteries that power electric forklifts are important to keep the machines running and avoiding expensive downtime. Proper maintenance will also ensure the best performance and longest life from the batteries. Fortunately, the best practices for this battery care are relatively few and easy to perform.
A key factor in proper care of a battery is knowing when to charge them. For forklift batteries, it is recommended that you use them to a point of 80-percent discharge before charging them. Forklift batteries are different than other types of batteries in that they will have a longer life if you recharge them as necessary rather than on a daily basis.
Proper fluid levels are important in the battery. Running a battery dry will damage it. Check the water level in your batteries every five charges, and see that the water level is just high enough to cover the plates within the battery. Add water as necessary, but you should not fill above this recommended level because the extra space is needed for expansion within the battery. Use only distilled water when refilling the battery.
Rinse any overflows from the battery immediately with generous amounts of baking soda and water. The acid is of course dangerous, but it can also cause your battery to prematurely discharge as it is highly conductive. Clean any corrosion or build up regularly and rinse the battery case frequently.
Some of the best advice regarding battery care is in regards to what should not be done. Do not discharge a battery completely, or down to discharge levels of more than 80 percent. This is known as a deep discharge, and it is one of the major causes of shortened battery life. Also, do not let a discharged battery sit for a long period of time (more than a day) before recharging. If you need to store a battery, recharge it beforehand and also regularly during the storage period. An even better solution is to attach it to an automatic trickle charger.
An automatic charger with microprocessor control will more than pay for itself by providing a long useful life for your lift batteries. Buy and use a "smart" charger with an equalization phase and automatic switching to float charging. This will protect against overcharging and damaging the battery.
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