Electric Forklift: Charging forklift batteries safely

March 25, 2009 at 10:47 AMRing Power
Electric Forklift

Electric forkliftThe biggest consideration of an electric forklift is the recharging process. A typical battery takes 8 hours to recharge completely and then an additional 8 hours to cool down before it is used. For example, a single charge could last from 3 to 12 hours depending on the application and other factors. If your operation has multiple shifts you may need to purchase additional batteries or, in certain instances, a fast charge system can be used. The fast charge system will reduce the need for additional batteries and potentially eliminates the need for a charging station. A battery-handling station occupies approximately 200 sq. feet or more depending on the number of electric forklifts in your fleet and number of shifts in your operation.

Here are some recommendations to follow when charging the battery of your electric forklift.

Charging Areas - Proper Equipment
All plants should have designated charging areas for their forklifts, especially if they change batteries at the end of each shift. These areas should have proper battery handling equipment including overhead hoists, lifting beams, battery racks and cranes, and the area must be well ventilated.

A source of running water nearby is desirable and a water hose at the filling operation is recommended.

Racks used in the charging area must be insulated to prevent any sparking. The battery rack supports must also be suitably insulated or made of non-conducting material.'

The floors in battery and charging rooms should have an acid-resistant coating and be sloped toward a sump. They should always be washed with clean water after an acid spill. The spill should be neutralized with a non-corrosive, water based neutralizing chemical that is user safe and environmentally compliant.

Hand-operated fire extinguishers should be available in all charging areas even if the areas are equipped with automatic sprinkler systems. For information on extinguisher class, size and mounting locations, consult local fire authorities or your insurance carrier.

Charging Areas - Proper Ventilation
The forklift battery charging area must be properly ventilated, either naturally or with a ventilation system. When installing a ventilation system, a number of factors must be considered, including the number and size of batteries being charged at one time and the size, height and air-tightness of the room

Ventilation is considered satisfactory if the hydrogen concentration does not exceed 2% in anyone location. Concentrations of more than 4% are explosive and dangerous. A number of instruments, such as combustible gas indicators and flammable vapor indicators, are available for continuous automatic analysis of hydrogen content in the air.

Always keep tray covers and truck compartment covers open when charging a battery. This helps cool the battery and disperse the gases.

Connecting/Disconnecting Charger
Always turn the battery charger OFF before connecting or disconnecting a forklift battery. Live leads can cause arcing and sparking, which could cause an explosion if battery gases are present. In addition, the contact surfaces of the plugs or connectors will become pitted over time.

Sparks, Open Flames
Because of the explosive gas mixtures generated while charging batteries, anything that could ignite the gas, such as sparks, open flames, an electrical are, smoking, etc., must be prohibited in the charging areas. To serve as a prominent reminder, "NO SMOKING" signs should be posted in all charging areas.

Visit lifttrucks.ringpower.com to view all of our electric forklifts and contact us for electric forklift batteries, electric forklift battery chargers, and supplies.

 

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