Batteries can be one of the most expensive components of a forklift truck, however correct maintenance will increase life, reduce costs and improve operator safety. This blog will provide some advice on best practice to ensure you get the most from your batteries.
Why keep your battery topped up?
Safety is paramount and should come first and foremost. Topping up the battery keeps the sulphuric acid mix at the correct dilution allowing the battery to reach its rated power capacity and charge without overheating and burning out.
How to top up your battery:
- Batteries contain dilute sulphuric acid and it is essential to ensure you have the appropriate PPE including goggles and gloves when opening the cell caps for inspection and topping up. Using protective equipment not only ensures your safety but also protects those around you.
- The process of charging a lead acid battery generates heat, known as the “gassing stage”. This heat generation causes the electrolyte levels in the battery to rise so it is essential that maintenance is not carried out until the battery cools to room temperature.
- Top up your battery with clean distilled water only after charging. Never top it up before beginning a charge.
- “Over Topping” occurs when discharged batteries are overfilled or when cells are filled above the manufacturers recommended level. This results in excess fluid discharge from the top up caps and a white/ yellow residue forming on the cell tops from evaporated sulphuric acid. This not only provides a serious health and safety issue but will also compromise truck performance as it attacks the cell links and battery tank.
- “Under Topping” happens when the electrolyte level is below the plates in the cells. This reduces the performance of the battery as the plate surface area is not being fully utilised. It also leads to a reduction in performance and battery life as the cell plates become damaged, distorted, or appear burned. To avoid many of these potential problems it is advised that any maintenance should only be carried out on a fully charged and cooled battery.
How often should you top up your battery?
The frequency in which a forklift battery needs to be topped up depends on several factors, including age, quality, technology, temperature, and usage. Modern batteries now have built in electrolyte indicators alerting you to when the battery requires topping up.
The best thing to do is to check periodically to make sure that electrolyte levels are well-maintained or set a schedule whereby all forklifts must be checked on a certain day of the week or month depending on equipment usage.
What should you consider when monitoring your battery health?
The key to battery maintenance is regular checks and action as required. It is essential to keep the cells topped up above the plates to the recommended level, checking the Specific Gravity (SG) of the acid and ensuring cell tops and links are clean and residue free. A charged and healthy battery should have a SG of around 1.265, a discharged battery will be more like 1.15 and should be charged as soon as possible.
It is important to monitor the SG of the charged battery as this provides a good indication of its health. Although the SG will drop slightly over time, any rapid drop could indicate an issue which needs addressing quickly.
For more information on battery maintenance, speak to our battery care team on 0370 850 1402, or follow the below link to fill in a contact form.