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How to Refurbish Electric Forklift Batteries

How to Refurbish a Forklift Battery 

Refurbishing electric forklift batteries can be a cost-effective way to extend the life of the battery and improve its performance. Here are the steps to refurbish electric forklift batteries.  We highly recommend a OEM trained field technician to perform the battery refurbishment.

  1. Safety First: Wear safety goggles, gloves, and protective clothing before starting any work on the battery.

  2. Drain the battery: Disconnect the battery from the forklift and use a voltmeter to check the voltage. If the voltage is above 32 volts, use a battery discharge until the voltage drops to 32 volts or less.

  3. Test the cells: Use a battery tester or multimeter to test each battery cell. Any cell with a voltage below 1.7 volts is considered dead and should be replaced.

  4. Remove the battery cells: Remove the battery cover and disconnect the cell connectors from the battery terminals. Carefully remove the battery cells and set them aside.
  5. Clean the battery: Use a mixture of baking soda and water to clean the battery terminals and connectors. Rinse with clean water and dry with a clean cloth.

  6. Replace the dead cells: If any cells are dead, remove them from the battery case and replace them with new ones. Connect the new cells to the connectors and terminals.

  7. Refill the cells: Use distilled water to refill the battery cells to the recommended level. Do not overfill the cells.

  8. Charge the battery: Use a battery charger to fully charge the refurbished battery. Check the voltage and specific gravity of each cell to ensure they are properly charged.

  9. Reinstall the battery: Once the battery is fully charged, reinstall it in the forklift and test its performance.

Note: Refurbishing a battery is not always possible or recommended. If the battery is severely damaged or has reached the end of its useful life, it may be safer and more cost-effective to replace it.

Preparing the Forklift Battery for Refurbishment

A forklift battery can weigh several thousand pounds, and a person may need a forklift to remove it. Users should check the faulty forklift's user manual for specific instructions on battery removal and maintenance. Upon removal, the user should place the battery in a well-ventilated concrete wash. Record the voltage readings, using a voltmeter. Check the battery label for an indication of the battery's voltage. Discharge the battery to 80 percent of its labeled voltage.

Cleaning the Forklift Battery

Once the user has discharged the battery to the appropriate level, it is time to clean the battery terminals. Sprinkle the top of the battery and the terminals with baking soda. Wet the baking soda with clean water and scrub the battery with a soft- to medium-bristle brush. The baking soda neutralizes any traces of acid on top of the battery, but the user should wear protective clothing, such asgoggles,gloves, and an apronwhile working with the battery as battery acid is highly corrosive. If baking soda fails to remove all the dirt from the top of the battery, use dish detergent to remove additional grime.

Measuring the Acidity of the Battery Water

The user needs to remove the cell caps to access the battery water. Battery water should contain 30 percent sulfuric acid and 70 percent water. Use a hydrometer to measure and record the acidity for each cell. This information indicates how much water or acid the user should add to each cell.

Refreshing a Forklift Battery

The user must add battery acid or distilled water to individual cells to restore the required water to acid ratio. Do not use tap water to top up battery fluid, as tap water contains minerals and contaminants that could damage the battery further. The user should check the acid concentration during this process to guide the addition of water and acid. Once each cell contains the ideal ratio of acid to water, the user should replace the cell caps and connect the battery to the charger. Eight hours of charging should be enough to charge the battery fully.

If the battery does not attain the expected voltage, the user should recheck the water to acid ratios in the cells, make any adjustments necessary, and charge the battery again. Users should discharge batteries before each new charge cycle to avoid overcharging and permanently damaging them. It may be necessary to repeat this process a number of times. If the water to acid ratio is correct, it could indicate damaged cells. Measure the voltage of individual cells to identify damaged or faulty units by attaching one probe of a voltmeter to a terminal and immersing the other probe in the cell liquid. Users should replace faulty cells or have the batteries refurbished by professionals.

Removing Sulfation from a Forklift Battery

Sulfation is one of the most common causes of lead acid battery failure. While a battery is in use, small sulfate crystals form. Usually, these are not harmful, but when a battery does not charge properly or fully, this lead sulfate converts to a crystalline form that deposit on the battery's negative plates, forming large crystals. These reduce the battery's active material responsible for low resistance and high capacity and lowers charge acceptance. Charging takes longer due to higher internal resistance.

Users can reverse some types of sulfation. An anti-sulfation or desulfation device applies pulses to the battery terminals to prevent and reverse the process. These devices tend to lower sulfation on healthy batteries, but may not be capable of fully reversing the condition in damaged batteries. As a preventative measure, use a special desulfation charger to reduce the likelihood of damage to new or healthy batteries.

How to Buy Forklift Battery Refurbishment Supplies

eBay sellers offer a variety of forklift battery refurbishment supplies at competitive prices. To find what you need, type a key phrase (for example " forklift battery charger") into the search field, which you can access from every page. Refine your search by choosing the most suitable category and item specifications.

Forklift battery refurbishment is more complex than regular lead acid battery refurbishment. However, you can refresh the battery by adjusting the water to acid ratio in the cells. Desulfation can improve its charge holding capabilities and charging speeds. For more serious problems, consider having the battery refurbished by professionals or replacing the battery entirely.