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Green energy systems such as solar and wind often use large banks of batteries to store power. You can get Renewable Energy (RE) batteries designed for these systems but some systems have successfully used forklift batteries. In either case you'll need to have a battery changing system to maintain the network at its peak.

Solar Basics

The sun isn't always up. The wind isn't always blowing. Green power systems get around this by storing excess power in banks of batteries, creating a reserve during periods of low or no generation. Systems connected to the electrical grid don't necessarily need batteries since they can use the grid as a type of storage, selling excess energy to the power company and then buying it back when in need.

If you aren't familiar with banks of storage cells, you may not be aware of the "weakest link" factor. The storage network is only as strong as its weakest battery. Imagine running a fleet of forklifts where the entire fleet stopped working if a single battery lost power. That's how these banks of batteries work. It is essential you stay on top of weak batteries, swapping them out with a battery changing system before they cripple your system.

Are RE Batteries Worth It?

Manufacturers developed RE batteries for the renewable energy industry. These high-capacity cells are ideal for large power storage needs but can be expensive or hard to find. Organizations running renewable energy networks in remote areas might find it easier to lay their hands on forklift batteries.

The system needs deep-cycle batteries and forklift cells fit the bill. They are sometimes, though not always, cheaper than RE batteries and are certainly more plentiful. You may also find some battery lifters aren't sized to handle the big RE batteries, though Multishifter battery changing systems are designed to handle a wide range of battery sizes. So in answer to the question, yes RE batteries are worth it...except when they are not.

Used Forklift Batteries

The real advantage of forklift batteries comes when you are willing to incorporate used batteries in your network. Many forklift fleet managers get rid of their batteries when they still have a lot of life rather than risking the cells going bad at an inopportune moment. They sell these units at a fraction of the cost of new ones. To be fair these batteries have less shelf life than a new cell and that's why you will need a battery changing system to swap out cells as needed.

The real advantage of used batteries is the environment benefit. The best kind of recycling is reuse. If you can get a couple more years out of a used battery, then you are conserving the energy that would be used to manufacture a new one.

Used forklift batteries are an interesting and inexpensive alternative to new RE batteries as long as you have a reliable battery changing system to keep your network in top shape.


The Ugly Truth About Forklift Batteries

Posted on March 6, 2013 20:39 by Admin

We're willing to bet your forklifts are powered by lead-acid industrial battery systems. These batteries have come under fire because they have serious shortcomings, but they also have powerful advantages.

The Ugly Truth

Environmentalists hate lead-acid industrial battery systems. The lead is a potentially devastating environmental toxin. A gram of lead could contaminate the local water table, introducing problems from organ failure to brain damage to the local population. The acid, in addition to being a dangerous corrosive that endangers workers, is also damaging to the environment.

Ecological woes aren't the only problem. Lead-acid cells are extremely heavy compared to other battery technologies providing the same power. They cannot be stored without regular maintenance, and even with meticulous care they "wear out" and need to be changed regularly. Battery replacement is an ongoing expense for any forklift fleet.

Does this mean we are about to pack up our business and move on? No. Lead-acid batteries also have a number of advantages.

The Not-Ugly Truth

If we had to pick one factor that drives the popularity of lead-acid industrial battery systems, we'd pick cost without hesitation. Lead-acid batteries use inexpensive materials, are easy to manufacture, and are also the most recycled item in the country, which cuts manufacturing costs even more. Cost is always an important motivator to any business.

However "cheap" is not their only advantage. Although they require a trickle charge during storage, the lose power more slowly than other battery technologies. When called upon they are capable of high rates of discharge. The technology is simple and durable. One big advantage of using old technology is that it's well understood.

Most feel the benefits are greater than the liabilities but there are alternatives for businesses who want them.

The Other Truth

Some fleet managers are replacing traditional acid-soaked lead industrial battery systems with a technology called absorbed glass mat, or AGM. In these batteries, the acid is stored in mats of woven glass fibers. The glass doesn't corrode and this lengthens the battery life. The cells are sealed because they lose almost no water. Why don't more people use them? That goes back to traditional lead-acid batteries' biggest advantage: price. AGM batteries cost at least twice what the older technology does.

The other common alternative is to abandon electric-powered forklifts entirely and go with propane. Although propane has some benefits it has a number of problems: explosive tanks, toxic exhaust and ongoing fuel costs to name a few. For many fleet managers, good old battery power is the preferred choice.

It goes back to the old adage: if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Lead-acid industrial battery systems continue to provide the power needed at a reasonable price and that is why this ancient technology is still a vital part of a modern industrial setting.


Battery Washing 101

Posted on December 6, 2011 00:54 by Admin

One of the most overlooked aspects of battery maintenance is battery washing. Without proper washing, batteries not only have shorter life but they also endanger workers and equipment. A Multi-Shifter battery wash cabinet should be part of your company's maintenance plan.

Corrosion And Its Hazards

Forklift batteries contain acid, and small amounts of that acid leak out and corrode any metal or other materials it contacts. This is most noticeable on the battery's terminals, where corrosion builds up quite visible. This layer of corrosion impedes the flow of electricity, reduces the battery's efficiency and shortens its useful life. It also causes a buildup of heat and can cause a fire.

Corrosion may be most visible at the terminals, but it affects the battery's casing as well. Acid slowly eats away the casing, threatening its integrity. This causes larger leaks, in some cases large enough to endanger workers. Finally, corroded batteries damage forklift electrical systems. Despite all of these many dangers, the problems can be minimized or eliminated with a regular program of battery washing.

Problems With Battery Wash Services

Battery washing is so critical to proper care that companies exist to do nothing but help you maintain your forklift batteries. Although we understand these companies provide a valuable service, especially to companies with small fleets who may not be able to afford their own wash equipment, they aren't the most cost-effective solutions for larger fleets.

Outside battery maintenance services can be quite expensive, but there is more to the cost than the actual fee. Your batteries are unavailable during the wash process, and for offsite services that might be days. Even if the company comes to your site, you have little control over how long it takes or when these services are available. Your entire fleet might be at a standstill during the wash.

Multi-Shifter Battery Washing Cabinets

Our line of battery washing equipment handles the washing process automatically. These automated cabinets are "set it and forget it" systems that require little worker oversight. Batteries are loaded in and then the machine takes care of feeding, washing and drying each unit. Workers are not exposed to hazardous acids or other compounds.

Battery wash wastewater has to be handled carefully due to the presence of acid and heavy metals such as lead or mercury. Multi-Shifter systems recycle the water to minimize the amount of waste produced. Every drop of wastewater is kept inside the unit with no danger of spills or accidental contamination. When the wash process is done, you can drain the contaminated water for proper disposal.

Don't overlook the importance of battery washing as part of forklift maintenance. Buy one of our inexpensive wash cabinets and enjoy the benefits of longer battery life.


Tips For Longer Forklift Battery Life

Posted on January 25, 2011 00:46 by Admin

Battery replacement cost is a big part of an electric fleet budget, so companies want to get as much use as possible out of their batteries. Useful battery life can be greatly extended by observing a few forklift battery maintenance tips.

Clean Batteries Are Happy Batteries

A little mud here and a little scratch there aren't considered a problem in most forklift fleets. After all, you care more about performance than looks when it comes to your vehicles. However there is one kind of mess you don't want to see, and that's battery corrosion. The white residue that builds up on terminals is conductive and causes batteries to drain even when not in use.

The first step in most forklift battery maintenance programs is to clean the battery terminals using a solution of baking soda. This simple task keeps batteries charged longer and cuts replacement costs. Cleaning by hand works only for the smallest of fleets, so we recommend Multi-Shifter battery washers to make the process easy, fast and safe.

With Battery Charging, More Is Not Better

Different rechargeable batteries respond to different charging schemes. The lithium-ion batteries in your cell phone may benefit from frequent charging, but the lead-acid batteries in your forklift won't. Constantly topping off a forklift during the day or recharging batteries daily in vehicles used only occasionally is not the right tactic.

Forklift batteries are designed to work until they are discharged about 80% of their power. Most charge gauges start the "red zone" at this point. It doesn't matter if it takes a few hours or a few days to reach this point, recharging the units early will shorten the unit's life. Our forklift battery maintenance recommendation is to recharge as soon as a battery hits this point but not before.

But Less Is Not Better Either

Don't take the above advice too far. Using a battery well into the red zone is known as a deep discharge, and this is even worse than charging too often. Not only will this compromise a battery's ability to hold a charge, but it can damage the forklift. Deep discharged batteries cause the vehicles electrical system to run hot and this will eventually lead to breakdown and big repair bills.

The best forklift battery maintenance policy is to recharge a battery is right about the point it reaches 80% discharge. Of course, this is not necessarily convenient to forklift operation. We recommend that our clients remove the discharged battery and put in a new one rather than using the common practice of plugging the vehicle in to recharge. Replacement means the truck can be back in service in a few minutes, and the drained battery can be recharged at your leisure.

Multi-Shifter's line of battery handling equipment makes forklift battery maintenance safe and easy, as well as extending battery life and reducing operating costs.