Chargers for Lithium Forklift Batteries
OneCharge offers a full line of OneCharge Ecotec Access chargers produced in cooperation with Ecotec, USA. These chargers are 100% compatible with our lithium batteries.
OneCharge engineers can help you upgrade your existing chargers to be used with OneCharge lithium batteries. We’ll customize the battery communication, power connector, and charging profile. OneCharge partners with over a dozen of charger manufacturers to give you a wide range of choices.
How to Charge a Lithium Battery
- The Li-ion battery should always be left on charge when not in use. There is no risk of overcharging the battery by continuing to charge when not in operation.
Stop, set parking brakeConnect, use both handsDisconnect, use both handsRelease parking brake, go back to work
- A lithium-ion battery can be opportunity charged. This means short periods of charging at times chosen by the forklift driver or determined by the shift schedule. The battery can be charged during any break in the shift, when downtime for the driver naturally occurs.
- Opportunity charging does not have to be scheduled. This style of charging not only increases uptime, but is recommended to increase the lifespan of a lithium-ion battery.
- A battery can be plugged in for very short intervals of time, even as little as 10 minutes, to easily maintain a sufficient charge level. It is best for the health of the battery to not let the charge level drop below 30%.
- Fully charging a lithium-ion battery from zero charge to 100 percent takes just under two hours.
- A OneCharge Li-ion battery is charged inside the forklift. While battery swaps are a part of how to charge a lead acid battery, lithium-ion counterparts do not require such labor intensive and safety compromising efforts.
OneCharge matches each Li-ion battery with a forklift battery charger for an ideal pairing.
- Lithium chargers are lightweight and small enough to be placed wherever an operation runs power and is most convenient for the drivers, e.g., next to a parking spot.
- The small size of wall-mounted or stand-alone lithium chargers means a smaller footprint and easy relocation when there is a facility set-up change.
- It is recommended to purchase lithium batteries bundled with their corresponding chargers, though in some cases older chargers can be retrofitted.
- A lithium charger needs to be programmed to provide the recommended Ah output corresponding to the battery capacity and charging rate; dual plug batteries can be charged in half the time, and require special charger models.
- Facility electric infrastructure needs to safely supply enough power to support the number of chargers required for the operation.
Charging a Li-ion battery offers unique advantages when compared with lead-acid.
- A major advantage of lithium-ion batteries includes increased capacity and lifespan of the battery with quick opportunity charging. There is no “memory effect” created when charging a lithium-ion battery as there is with some other battery types.
- If you are familiar with how to charge a lead acid battery, you will recognize the 8-8-8 charging cycle. This is 8 hours of operation, 8 hours of charging and 8 hours of cooling.
- Unlike lithium-ion batteries, which benefit from opportunity charging, a thin plate pure lead (TPPL) battery must be fully charged at each charging session to limit sulfation. TPPL batteries present an increased loss of charge capacity, or “memory effect,” with a partial charge. TPPL batteries have a higher rate of charge and discharge than traditional flooded lead acid technology, but it still translates to an increased level of internal heat and causes a reduction in the life expectancy of the battery.
Charging a lithium-ion battery is a safe process. OSHA statistics since 2015 have zero lithium battery-related incident records.
- A battery management system (BMS) controls every aspect of the battery: voltage, amperage and temperature. Once the battery is plugged in, the BMS will ensure that it charges safely.
- It is not possible to overcharge a lithium battery; there are no risks of overheating, or acid fumes or spills, associated with lead-acid batteries.
- OneCharge’s CAN bus integration with the truck ensures the drive function is disabled when the battery is on charge, so plugging in a forklift and driving away from the charger is not possible.
Li-ion batteries charge at a rate from 0.5 to 5C and higher.
- The charging rate is designated by C, which stands for Capacity. A 1C rate means that in one hour a battery charges to its full (one) capacity.
- An LFP, or lithium iron phosphate, Li-ion battery has a charging rate of up to 1.5C. The battery will charge from 0% battery state of charge to 100% in about two hours at 0.5C.
- NMC batteries can charge at a rate of up to 5C, but it rarely saves any time. The right battery capacity ensures that battery state of charge never goes below 30% and quick opportunity charging during regular breaks in a shift are enough to last the battery through multiple shifts per day.
- A dual plug connection can double the charging rate of a battery if such a requirement exists for a specific application.
Wireless charging technology is still being developed and is pre-commercial.
- The benefits of wireless charging will be ground-breaking for the growing adoption of AMRs and AGVs. A human operator is not needed with a wireless charging procedure, thus decreasing labor costs and eliminating human error.
- Developers are working to ensure wireless charging will not result in a drastic loss of power and charge rate. The main issue is the poor alignment of the charging panels of a battery inside the truck and the charger, or fouling of these panels during operations (and sometimes, both).
- There are also certain safety risks associated with open contactors for workers present in the area.