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April 3, 2019 | Rob Hirschberg

Motive Power FAQ's

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What type of maintenance is needed on flooded-lead acid motive power batteries?

Appropriate motive power battery maintenance is crucial for prolonging the life of a battery. Using recommended battery maintenance guidelines will help prevent frequent and costly battery replacements. Proper maintenance of motive power batteries includes suitable charging techniques, maintaining battery water levels, keeping a forklift battery at a safe temperature, cleaning your batteries, and equalizing the battery (on some motive power batteries).

Why is it important to maintain a motive power forklift battery?

Maintaining your fleet of motive power forklift batteries will lead to many benefits including extending the lifespan of the batteries, improve performance of the batteries, decrease your overall battery expenses.

What are the typical types of motive power batteries?

There are many different types and technologies of motive power batteries for forklifts. These include Flooded Tubular Batteries, Flooded Flat Plate Batteries, Valve Regulated Lead Acid Batteries, Thin Plate Pure Lead Batteries, & Lithium Batteries.

What are the requirements for forklift charging station signage?

OSHA standard, 29 CFR 1910.178(g) requires that forklift battery charging must be done in a designated area, unless if you are utilizing proper fast / opportunity charging systems. Therefore, it is required that proper battery room signage is placed in every facility that has a forklift charging station / battery room. All motive power battery rooms must be equipped with signage for a fire extinguisher, eyewash station and no smoking signs.

What is an optimal forklift charging schedule?

A forklift battery must be put on a charger once or before it is at a 20% state-of-charge. Using a battery past 20% negatively affects its lifespan and can cause electrical components to overheat and damage your forklift. For Fast and Opportunity charging a 30% - 80% D.O.D. (depth of discharge) is recommended. Always equalize your battery once a week for maximum performance and life. Proper disposal and recycling of an expired battery is also critical.

What are key rules for forklift battery changing safety?

Only trained personnel should change batteries in electric forklifts. Employees tasked with battery changing should be trained on battery changing procedures and emergency procedures in case of an acid splash. It is important that personnel within a motive power battery area know how to operate eyewash stations.

29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1910.178 (Powered Industrial Truck), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) call out basic battery changing guidelines. Personnel must properly position trucks and apply brakes before attempting to change batteries. Personnel must also use a lifting beam or equivalent material handling equipment when lifting the battery.

Whenever changing or servicing a battery PPE should be worn to prevent harm if an accident should occur. The first area of concern is the weight of the battery. To protect workers against a dropped battery, proper safety footwear that meets ASTM F2413-2011 impact and compression requirements should be considered.

When is it time for a new forklift battery?

Physical signs such as corrosion on the forklift battery case or once your forklift battery is near 1,500 cycles.

What are forklift battery changing hazards?

Batteries contain sulfuric acid that is highly corrosive and could be splashed on personnel servicing or changing batteries. Also, toward the end of the battery charging process, batteries can give off highly explosive hydrogen gas. This is commonly called “out gassing”. Lastly, batteries are very heavy and pose a dropping hazard, some motive power batteries can be 6,000+ pounds.

What are common battery watering tools?

Common tools used for forklift battery watering include battery watering guns, battery watering carts, battery watering tanks, and single-point battery watering systems. Single-point battery watering systems eliminate the need for manual battery watering by automatically watering multiple batteries at once. Single-point battery watering is less time-consuming and frees up the time of facility staff to focus on other tasks.

Why do I need to put water in my forklift battery?

Water protects the active material that lives on the plates inside of a motive power battery. If the water level drops too low, then the active material on the battery dries out. This permanently damages the battery and shortens its lifespan. If city water Is not available, use deionized water.

Can you over-water a motive power battery?

Yes, it is important to never overfill a motive power forklift battery. An overfilled battery will overflow causing sulfuric acid to spill. Sulfuric acid spill can burn skin and erode floors within a facility.

Can the water in a forklift battery freeze?

Yes. Avoid prolonged exposure to cold temperatures while the battery is in a discharged state. Damage will occur if the water inside your motive power battery freezes.

What are common motive power vehicles that require a battery watering station?

All electric vehicles utilizing flooded lead-acid batteries will require battery watering. Watering flooded lead-acid batteries is crucial for maximizing the lifespan of the battery.

What is a typical forklift battery watering schedule?

Motive Power batteries generally need to be watered about every 2 weeks when used daily. Older motive power batteries should have water levels checked after every five charges. If a motive power battery is maintained correctly, then the battery can be checked after every ten charges, for the first few years of use. Check the water level within your motive power battery by opening it up and inspecting the battery elements. Water should be roughly a quarter inch above the element protector. It is important that you only water a motive power battery after charging.

What is forklift battery equalizing?

Motive power batteries require equalizing. Equalizing a battery is the process of overcharging it to remove sulfate crystals that have built up on the plates. Also, equalizing a battery reverses acid stratification, which occurs when the acid concentration at the bottom of the battery is greater than that at the top.

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