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Forklift
Batteries

Forklift
Batteries

A forklift battery is the source of motive power in electric lift trucks and electric forklifts. It is one of the main parts of a piece of electric material handling equipment that determine the efficiency of operations. There are multiple types of electric lift trucks and various types of forklift batteries. The choice of battery for a company’s material handling equipment is fundamental for efficient fleet management and has a great impact on the bottom line.

Forklift types

Capacity

Rated between 1,500 to 12,000 pounds of load capacity, electric counterbalanced Class I forklifts are kept stable by a heavy weight on the non-lifting end of the forklift. Typically the industrial battery that provides power to it is located there. Available in three- and four-wheeled versions, these forklifts serve different purposes, depending on the specific application needs.

Varieties

Three-wheeled electric forklifts are commonly used indoors on smooth floors in warehouses and order fulfillment distribution centers, with a load capacity of 1,500 to 4,000 pounds. Typically they have cushioned tires, unlike those forklifts that use pneumatic tires for the outdoors and rough terrain.

By comparison, a four-wheeled Class I sit-down lift truck is rated for between 3,000 to 12,000 pounds and can use different types of batteries that require a charger to match. For example, depending on the forklift’s voltage, you may choose a 24-volt, 36-volt, or 48-volt battery charger for heavy equipment.

Applications and Industries

This type of electric forklift is rated for freezer use, and can be used in the material handling, paper and packaging, shelf-stable food and beverage, manufacturing, and distribution/3PL industries. If you have an electric counterbalanced forklift that you’d like to use in cold temperatures, lithium-ion forklift batteries (rather than lead-acid) are a great option for this application.

How to choose forklift batteries for Class I applications

When you are selecting a Class I forklift battery, you’ll want to take a few things into account. Among these is the size of your lead-acid battery compartment, the voltage of your forklift’s electrical system, which may be powered by a 24-volt forklift battery, 36-volt forklift battery, or 48-volt forklift battery, etc. The type of battery that you choose determines whether you can keep your forklift operating efficiently and effectively.

In many situations, this comes down to a simple comparison of different types of electric forklift batteries. Wet-cell battery packs (commonly referred to as lead-acid batteries) must be charged with a heavy-duty truck battery charger for much longer, hold less energy, and take longer to charge. They can only be recommended for single-shift light operations.

Lithium-ion batteries, which last much longer, are able to charge more quickly with opportunity charging. They hold significantly more power than their lead-acid precursors, especially in demanding applications such as food and beverage, paper and packaging, and 24/7 distribution centers known for heavy loads and multiple-shift operations.

For more on how to choose the right battery for your forklift, see the Battery Selector page.

Capacity

As a lighter-weight electric forklift, a Class II forklift is the smallest forklift, intended for tighter spaces and narrow aisles. Rated for between 1,500 and 5,500 pounds of load capacity, they include quite a few varieties, such as order pickers, side loaders, turret trucks, and reach fork trucks. In some applications, companies work with multiple types of forklifts in the same location to improve the efficiency of different operations.

Varieties

Order pickers and reach fork trucks are indoor-only, with order pickers lifting the control and driver to the level of the pallet to be picked, while reach trucks have forks to lift and lower the pallet to the ground level. This improves the safety and efficiency of warehouse operations.

Applications and Industries

Apart from regular warehouses, Class II forklifts are often used in freezer and cooler environments, typically found in the food and beverage, refrigerated storage, wine, and fresh produce industries, as well as many of the industries that Class I forklifts can service. However, their smaller lifting capacity limits their functionality to lighter-weight loads and facilities with tighter space.

How to choose Class II forklift batteries

When deciding on which Class II forklift batteries are right for your business, there are a few considerations to think about. As with Class I forklifts, you’ll need to know your forklift’s voltage and the battery compartment size. You’ll need to decide which industrial battery type you want to use in your warehouse: wet cell battery, gel cell battery, or sealed lead-acid battery type. The most advanced solution on today’s market is a lithium battery.

Though lead-acid wet cell batteries have been used for decades now and are the least expensive, are much less efficient, require a lot of labor hours for maintenance, have shorter life spans, take four times as long to charge, and pose environmental hazards in the form of sulfuric acid and lead. By comparison, lithium-ion batteries last 2–3 times longer, bring environmental benefits, can be charged intermittently, and are much safer.

Some companies choose alternative “creative” solutions, including using refurbished forklift batteries reconditioned or using several lower-voltage batteries (for example, the 6V 225AH Toyota battery) connected together in different voltage patterns. Even if you have enough expertise to assemble a battery pack cheaply and safely, used batteries or rebuilt batteries will not last long and demand daily maintenance and service.

For more on how to choose the right battery brand for your forklift, see the Battery Selector page.

Capacity

Built for loading and unloading cargo as well as moving products through a store or public space, Class III forklifts include powered pallet jacks, walkie stackers, pallet stackers, and tow tractors. These smaller lift trucks can handle loads of up to around 4500 pounds.

Varieties

These forklifts can be walked behind and ridden on, and are capable of bearing loads of 2,000–4,000 pounds for pallet stackers, 4,500–10,000 pounds for pallet jacks, and 10,000–15,000 pounds for tow tractors.

Applications and Industries

The applications for Class III lift trucks are everywhere, starting from box delivery by commercial trucks in retail and logistics, and ending with manufacturing facilities. This is the most widespread lift truck in the material handling, paper and packaging, wine, manufacturing, distribution, and third-party logistics industries.

How to choose Class III forklift batteries

Choosing a Class III forklift battery can be summarized in a few steps. Start with your forklift’s voltage, take the battery compartment size into account, then decide what type of battery chemistry you’ll use. Weight is an especially important factor in tuggers and tow tractors: since this lift truck design does not need a counterweight, the additional 150 lbs. of the load is more efficient than an extra 150 lbs. of a battery.

Lead-acid wet cell batteries are significantly heavier than lithium-ion batteries, often by 2–3 times. With lithium batteries, the lower weight and greater power in the same battery compartment size provide a longer period of operation. They also charge faster and are more environmentally friendly. There are different pros and cons for AGM batteries, which can be sealed and have lower maintenance needs, but overall, they are not much more efficient than lead-acid batteries.

For more on how to choose the right battery for your forklift, see the Battery Selector page.

Forklift Battery Type

Order-picker Class II lift truck powered by Onecharge lithium battery
Class II reach truck
powered by Onecharge lithium battery

Lead-Acid Wet Cell Forklift Batteries

Lead-acid wet cell batteries are standard flooded lead-acid batteries. Lead-acid technology was the industry standard for decades. The recently developed valve-regulated lead-acid (VRLA), gel, absorbent glass mat (AGM), and thin plate pure lead (TPPL) varieties overcome some of the inefficiencies and safety issues of this chemistry, but only demonstrate average performance. Commonly used in passenger and commercial vehicles, they are very heavy and only allow a maximum of 60% of their nominal capacity to be used. However, new lead-acid batteries are inexpensive to purchase initially, which is why many companies continue to use them in their forklifts.

All versions of lead-acid batteries have a cycle life of 4-5 times shorter than newer available options. They have to stay on charge for many hours and can’t support single-battery operation, especially in multiple-shift and other demanding applications. Because these batteries contain lead and sulfuric acid, they pose a serious environmental hazard during regular maintenance: clean water has to be added to individual cells to equalize their electrolyte levels, which can lead to possible acid spills and the emission of fumes. With increasing maintenance and labor costs, they are a poor choice for forklifts compared to newer options that have become less expensive over the past decade.

Lithium-Ion Forklift Batteries

By comparison, lithium-ion batteries provide a lot of advantages for material handling operations and have come down significantly in price over the past few years. These batteries, which include LFP, NMC, and NCA options, have a higher energy density and can be charged at any time without damaging the battery or shortening its cycle life. They perform much better in cool or even extreme cold and hot temperatures, unlike lead-acid wet cell batteries, which lose capacity and charge in cold conditions.

Lithium batteries increase your forklifts’ utilization rate, increase uptime and provide maximum availability with shorter charging times. They put lower demands on your existing infrastructure with lower electricity consumption and lighter, simpler chargers. Though lithium-ion batteries are still more expensive than lead-acid batteries up front, they have a much longer lifespan, at least twice the cycle life, while improving efficiency and safety in all industrial applications.

Lead-Acid vs. Lithium Forklift Batteries

Overall, the only real advantage that lead-acid wet cell batteries have over lithium-ion batteries is their price. In terms of environmental protection, efficacy, workplace safety, charging times, charging cost, and energy use, lithium-ion batteries come out a clear winner every time, with lower overall costs and higher ROI over the lifetime of the battery when compared to lead-acid options.

Forklift battery specs: capacity, size, and weight

Many of our customers are switching their forklifts from the old lead-acid batteries to lithium. OneCharge lithium batteries are a drop-in solution, but, it is important to understand how to correctly choose specs for a replacement lithium battery.

Forklift battery specs, including voltage, size, and weight are determined by the host vehicle, but battery capacity (Ah) with lithium batteries can be 30-40% lower than lead-acid batteries for the same application. This is because of the overall better performance of lithium technology and its tolerance of a lower level state of charge without detrimental effects on battery health.

Below are a few conversion tables for the most popular forklift makes in North and South America.

Order-picker Class II lift truck powered by Onecharge lithium battery
Class III electric double pallet jacks powered by OneCharge lithium batteries

Forklift voltage Forklift brand Forklift model Lead-acid battery capacity range (Ah) Lithium battery capacity range (Ah) Forklift battery compartment (inches) Forklift battery weight range (lb.)
24V forklift battery Crown forklift PE3520 510-660 180-630 31.12″ x 13.19″ x 31.62 975-1500
36V forklift battery Crown forklift RD5260S-30 750-930 210-630 38.69″ x 16.25″ x 31.00″ 930-2000
48V forklift battery Crown forklift 30TSP 1000-1240 210-840 38.75″ x 27.00″ x 31.00″ 3140

Forklift voltage Forklift brand Forklift model Lead-acid battery capacity range (Ah) Lithium battery capacity range (Ah) Forklift battery compart­ment (inches) Forklift battery weight range (lb.)
24V forklift battery Raymond forklift 112XD 540 180 – 630 31.50″ x 13.00″ x 40.00″ 965
36V forklift battery Raymond forklift 160 625 360 – 630 38.38″ x 13.69″ x 30.88″ 1600
48V forklift battery Raymond forklift 4450-C35TF/TT/QM 540 210 – 420 38.80″ x 20.61″ x 23.00″ 1966 – 2500

Forklift voltage Forklift brand Forklift model Lead-acid battery capacity range (Ah) Lithium battery capacity range (Ah) Forklift battery compart­ment (inches) Forklift battery weight range (lb.)
24V forklift battery Big Joe forklift PDC25 510 – 540 180 – 630 31.60″ x 13.10″ x 40.00″ 721 – 1065
48V forklift battery Big Joe forklift V-18 425 – 450 180 – 420 32.00″ x 23.00″ x 24.00″ 1520 – 1711

Forklift voltage Forklift brand Forklift model Lead-acid battery capacity range (Ah) Lithium battery capacity range (Ah) Forklift battery compart­ment (inches) Forklift battery weight range (lb.)
24V forklift battery Drexel forklift SL-33-HP 900 – 1000 180 – 630 39.00″ x 26.38″ x 25.75″ 2750
36V forklift battery Drexel forklift SLF-30 800 – 1000 210 – 540 39.38″ x 28.50″ x 27.50″ 2650
48V forklift battery Drexel forklift SL-80 765 540 45.00″ x 39.63″ x 23.50″ 4300 – 4500

Forklift voltage Forklift brand Forklift model Lead-acid battery capacity range (Ah) Lithium battery capacity range (Ah) Forklift battery compart­ment (inches) Forklift battery weight range (lb.)
24V forklift battery Toyota forklift 6HBE3040 540-750 180 – 630 31.50″ x 13.44″ x 40.00″ 490 – 1500
36V forklift battery Toyota forklift 5FBCU18 990 210 – 420 39.10″ x 28.00″ x 23.00″ 2000 – 2605
48V forklift battery Toyota forklift 5FBCU18 720 210 – 540 39.10″ x 28.00″ x 23.00″ 2575 – 2822
80V forklift battery Toyota forklift 05-8FBM20T /K25T/K30T 500 180 – 360 40.50″ x 28.00″ x 30.90″ 3435 – 3475

Forklift voltage Forklift brand Forklift model Lead-acid battery capacity range (Ah) Lithium battery capacity range (Ah) Forklift battery compart­ment (inches) Forklift battery weight range (lb.)
24V forklift battery Hyster forklift A25XNT 500 180 – 420 32.90″ x 17.30″ x 25.00″ 1290 – 1543
36V forklift battery Hyster forklift E100XN 1800 – 2300 360 – 1080 45.70″ x 45.40″ x 24.50″ 4738 – 5500
48V forklift battery Hyster forklift E100XLS 1170 – 1400 210 – 1050 44.10″ x 39.20″ x 23.15″ 4080 – 5290

Make the Smart Change to Lithium-Ion Forklift Batteries!

If you’re ready to make the change to the safe and efficient lithium-ion solution, the experienced professionals at OneCharge are ready to help. Please contact us today for forklift battery prices or to request a quote on your forklift battery replacement.