Keeping your industrial forklift batteries in peak condition can be difficult now that the cold temperatures have set in. How exactly does the cold weather affect your forklift batteries? And what can you do to keep them working when you need them most? We’ve got the answers for you.
COLD WEATHER AND YOUR INDUSTRIAL FORKLIFT BATTERIES
You may be wondering why your forklift batteries are affected by the temperature in the first place. Essentially, the colder temperatures slow down the reaction of the lead and acid within the battery. This reduces the amount of power produced which can lead to poor forklift performance, trouble starting your machines and reduced battery life.
Not to worry! We’ve got a few changes to your usual battery care that will keep your batteries at their best in cold weather.
STORING YOUR INDUSTRIAL FORKLIFT BATTERIES
Similar to your car battery, forklift batteries that have been cold for too long will have trouble starting your forklifts. To avoid a “no start” situation, we recommend you keep your forklift batteries inside. Ideally you’d store them in a heated area, but at the very least get them out of the freezing temperatures outside.
Even if you store your forklifts outside, the batteries can be removed and stored separately overnight. Forklift battery transfer carts or roller transfer carts make quick work of removing forklift batteries on most stand-up forklifts or order pickers as the batteries can be slid out onto the cart. For other battery-powered forklifts you’ll need to attach a battery bar and use a crane to hoist the battery out of the machine.
BASIC INDUSTRIAL BATTERY CARE
Make sure you complete basic maintenance on your batteries regularly. How often is “regularly”? This interval will be different for everyone. It depends on whether you’re using the forklift inside or outside, how many hours you’re putting on the forklift, how hard it’s working and how often you charge the battery. It could be twice a week, every two weeks or once a month.
Keep an eye on the battery terminals and cables. Check that they’re sealed tight and kept clean to avoid spills and corrosive build up.
Over time the water in the battery turns to sulfate which means you’ll need to top off your batteries with water as needed. Your watering schedule will depend based on whether your battery is new or reconditioned. A good rule of thumb is to check the water level in the battery after 2-3 charges. If the water isn’t covering the element protector by a ¼ inch, you should add water.
CHARGING YOUR INDUSTRIAL FORKLIFT BATTERIES
A discharged battery will freeze more easily so it’s even more important to keep your forklift batteries charged in cold weather. Keep an eye on your Battery Discharge Indicator or BDI. Generally when the battery charge dips below 20%, it should be charged. Even if the battery isn’t being used regularly, keep it charged to avoid damage.
Try not to short charge your batteries*.
*Short-charging is a common practice in some industries so make sure to take your industry practices into account when re-evaluating your forklift battery care.
What’s short charging? Short charging refers to the practice of charging your forklift batteries for short periods of time when they haven’t been discharged properly.
For example: if you charged your forklift battery for 45 minutes on your lunch break when the BDI showed the battery was at 85% charge, you would be short charging your battery.
This practice will reduce the life span of your battery and we usually do not recommend it, especially during the winter months.
Properly caring for your industrial forklift batteries means making some changes when the cold weather hits. However, implementing these changes into your battery routine can improve your battery life and forklift performance.
Read more on preparing your forklift for winter weather.