Electric forklift trucks have been a presence in many operations for years. However, they are becoming increasingly popular due to their lower maintenance, increased efficiency and eco-friendliness. There are two different types of electric forklifts; lithium-ion or lead-acid. Here we go through the differences between each battery type.
What is a Lead Acid Battery?
Lead-acid batteries are the traditional batteries for electric forklifts. They generate electricity through a chemical reaction, this reaction is then reversed when being charged.
How do Lithium-Ion Batteries Work?
Lithium-ion batteries are charged and discharged by lithium ions moving between the negative and positive electrodes. They are able to store more energy compared to their lead-acid equivalent. As lithium forklifts become increasingly popular, the many advantages over traditional forklifts are becoming clear.
Which Comes Top – Lithium-Ion or Lead Acid?
There are many ways that lithium-ion can be compared with lead acid, however, the most important differences between the two battery types.
Energy Density: Compared to lead-acid, lithium-ion forklift batteries have a higher energy density. As a result, lithium batteries have the capacity to store more energy in a more compact and lightweight way, enabling longer running durations and higher efficiency.
Charging Time: Fast charging is a huge benefit of lithium-ion batteries, when charging they can reach 80% of their capacity as little as one hour. In comparison, lead-acid batteries need to be charged for a longer period of time—typically 8 to 12 hours or more, in order to regenerate the cells of the battery.
Opportunity Charging: Lithium-ion trucks can be opportunity charged, which enables quick and flexible recharging during short breaks between shifts. This optimises productivity and saves time on switching batteries and water top-ups, which is necessary with lead-acid batteries.
Lifespan: Lithium forklift batteries typically last three to four times longer than lead-acid batteries. This longer lifespan does vary based on usage and maintenance. This longer lifespan reduces the frequency of battery replacements and overall costs in the long run.
Maintenance: Lead-acid batteries require routine maintenance in addition to the usual maintenance of a forklift mast, chains, tyres and brakes. This maintenance includes watering, equalisation charging, and cleaning. On the other hand, lithium-powered batteries require zero maintenance, reducing the time and effort required to keep the batteries in good condition and therefore only requiring the standard forklift maintenance checks and repairs.
Total Cost of Ownership: Lithium-ion forklifts do have a higher upfront cost compared to lead-acid alternatives. However, because of their lower downtime, maintenance and better productivity and extended lifespan of key components, including the battery, the lifetime cost savings are much lower.
Despite the higher upfront cost, lithium-ion forklifts are the better option if you’re looking to increase efficiency in your daily operations and save money whilst reducing the emissions of your operation. With zero maintenance and an increased lifespan, it seems a no-brainer to choose lithium!
At Dawsongroup | material handling we know the difference that the right forklift can make in your operation’s effectiveness, cost savings, and safety, but it’s important to choose those that align with your specific tasks and operational needs. Get in touch with us today for some honest advice on which attachments are right for you.