The short answer is: if you are a medium to large-sized business that requires multiple shifts of operation, then forklift lithium batteries may be a very good option.
Because although the price of forklift lithium batteries is currently higher compared to lead-acid batteries, they offer many cost-saving benefits in the long run.
The return on investment for forklift lithium batteries is usually achieved within 36 months.
Overall, forklift lithium batteries are 40% more energy-efficient than lead-acid batteries and 88% more efficient than diesel.
Lithium-ion batteries have a longer design life, making them a good choice in operations where battery replacement is inconvenient.
They can also operate at extremely low temperatures without failure, making them ideal for outdoor applications.
There are two basic types of batteries for electric forklifts: lead-acid batteries and lithium-ion batteries. But what are the actual differences between these two technologies?
Chemical composition of lead-acid batteries
Lead-acid batteries have been the most common type of battery for a long time. Their technology dates back to the mid-19th century. Also known as "wet cells," lead-acid forklift batteries are relatively inexpensive.
Lead-acid forklift batteries consist of lead plates immersed in an electrolyte solution (sulfuric acid + water).
Lead-acid batteries generate electricity through the electrochemical reaction between the lead plates and a mixture of 30% to 50% sulfuric acid and distilled water (known as "electrolyte solution").
Components of lead-acid batteries include:
Lead dioxide plate
To generate an electric current, an electrochemical reaction occurs between the lead plate and the electrolyte solution. Charge flows from the sulfuric acid to the negative plate, creating an electric current.
Lead acid battery charging
Lead-acid batteries take longer to charge than lithium-ion batteries. Typically done at the end of a work shift using regular charging, charging time is around 8 to 10 hours until the battery is fully charged. The battery needs to cool down for 6 to 8 hours before it can be used again.
Routine charging usually takes place overnight and is suitable for single-shift operations. This also means that lead-acid batteries generally do not undergo opportunistic charging. This can quickly damage the battery, shorten battery life, and reduce charge times.
Overall, lead-acid forklift batteries have a shorter lifespan: typically between 3 and 5 years (or between 1,000 and 1,500 charge cycles) under normal 40-hour workweek operations.
Forklift lithium battery chemical composition
Lithium-ion batteries have become more common in consumer electronics over the past few decades. Today, lithium-ion batteries are becoming an increasingly popular technology for powering forklifts.
Forklift lithium batteries consist of the following:
Two current collectors (positive and negative)
Hot sale forklift battery by lithium forklift battery companies Lithium Storage:
To generate electricity, different chemical reactions occur in lithium-ion batteries, the most popular of which is lithium iron phosphate in forklifts.
The anode and cathode store lithium. When a lithium-ion battery discharges, the electrolyte moves from the anode to the cathode through the separator layer, transporting positively charged lithium ions from the anode to the cathode.
When a battery is charged, electrolyte liquid moves from the cathode to the anode through the separator layer, carrying negatively charged lithium ions with it.
Forklift lithium batteries can be easily recharged through opportunistic charging because of their fast charging characteristics. This kind of charging uses a special charger to quickly charge the battery through high current.
Opportunistic charging can occur on demand, or when it's most convenient, making lithium-ion batteries more efficient.
If properly maintained, the life of a lithium forklift battery will be between 2,000 and 3,000 cycles, or approximately 7 to 10 years at 300 working days per year.