Deionized Water: The Lead Acid Battery Maintenance Nightmare For Forklift Trucks & Material Handling Equipment

The conventional choice isn’t always the best choice, and many material handling companies are discovering that this is true when it comes to powering their material handling equipment. Lead acid batteries, a traditional choice for managers who oversee the usage of forklifts and other material handling equipment in their operations, have long been the standard battery choice. However more companies are now turning towards Lithium Batteries to power their forklift trucks to increase safety, efficiency & benefit from the huge cost savings. Offering an extended battery life, integrated super-fast charger & opportunity charging (plug in anytime) it’s no wonder Lithium is causing a storm in the material handling industry. One major benefit of Lithium powered forklift trucks & material handling equipment is that there is zero battery maintenance. However, if you are adamant on Lead-acid, this guide will explain the complex maintenance regime of taking care of your lead-acid battery.

Regular maintenance of lead acid forklift batteries helps preserve their capacity and could increase their life and run times. One of the most significant parts of lead-acid battery maintenance is monitoring water levels and adding water, as needed, to achieve improved performance.

But not just any water, so whatever you do don’t use water straight from the tap. Tap water contains dissolved minerals and salts, which can build up over time on battery plates, seriously shortening battery life and run times. Chlorine, added to some municipal water supplies to kill bacteria, can have the same ill effect on batteries.

What Is Deionization?

Water that has been purified of dissolved minerals and salts through a process called deionization is recognized as the best choice for maintaining lead-acid batteries. Deionization eliminates more impurities from water than distillation or conventional filters.

Minerals in water interfere with cell voltage and increase self-discharge, which progressively shortens battery run times. Deionized water also reduces corrosion of the cells.

With the mineral-ions gone, deionized water will not conduct electricity and thus will not hinder battery performance. While some might argue that removing undesirable content from your water isn’t really creating a solution (mixture), it is definitely the right solution for getting the most from your lead acid battery investment.

How to Water Batteries?

How often you need to replenish water in a lead acid battery depends on how often you use it. The battery of a forklift that runs all day, every day, may require a weekly watering, for instance. With use, the water evaporates, reducing the battery’s effectiveness and increasing the risk of battery damage.

So, it’s important to check water levels regularly after the battery is charged, keeping in mind that hot temperatures accelerate water loss. Batteries should be watered while gassing or at the end of a charge cycle and should be filled to about a quarter inch below the bottom of the vent well.

To assure safety, make sure that only personnel who have been trained in lead-acid battery maintenance can water batteries. Importantly, avoid watering batteries by hand. Hand watering is cited as the most common factor associated with improper battery watering. A single-point watering system reduces the risk of overwatering or underwatering, which can damage batteries.

The bottom line is that the charging process for lead acid batteries is time consuming and labour intensive. Not only that, lead acid batteries are made from toxic lead and sulfuric acid. If a lead-acid battery is overcharged, this electrolyte solution can overheat, which then causes hydrogen and oxygen gas to form. To sum up, traditional is not always best. These concerns are leading operations managers to question whether their lead acid batteries are the best option, and more companies are making the switch to the maintenance free, safer and less costly lithium powered forklift trucks & material handling equipment.

If you want to avoid lead acid maintenance nightmares, contact Forktruck Solutions today for more information on upgrading your fleet to Lithium.

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