What are the advantages?
Less charging time.With a standard battery and charger, reenergizing a battery from a 20 percent to a 100 percent state of charge normally takes about eight hours. Fast charging lasts about an hour to an hour and a half and is usually completed during scheduled breaks or lunch times.
Higher currents/ additional cables.
On a forklift, fast battery charging means delivering 40 amps or more per 100-ampere hours of battery capacity, or a 40 percent start rate. This compares to standard charge rates in the 16-20 percent range.
To accommodate fast chargers, lift truck battery manufacturers usually modify their existing standard batteries by adding extra intercell connectors on top to carry the increased current. Depending on the level of current, you may require two sets of cables and connectors for charging purposes.
Fast charge batteries also generally require a single-point watering system - which means users don't have to remove the battery from the forklift to water it.
Fast charge batteries have a thermistor placed near the center cell to monitor temperature. When the temperature reaches a certain level, the charge rate is reduced or even stopped to keep the battery from overheating. This could result in an undercharged battery.
Some brands of fast charge batteries use copper inserts and extra thick posts and intercell connectors to increase conductivity and decrease heat generation due to the higher current. This ensures the battery will accept a higher charge rate for a longer time.
Will fast charging work for you?Fast charging systems are suited for two- and three-shift operations in manufacturing, distribution and fast-paced applications like ground support at airports. They allow multi-shift operations to run on one battery per forklift and produce a quick return on investment -- usually less than one year.
A few other things to consider:
- Multi-shift facilities benefit the most from fast charging because it can eliminate battery handling equipment and battery rooms, helping to drastically reduce operating costs. You don't need dedicated battery charging personnel, either.
- Users of fast charge batteries do have to plan for one time each week to bring the battery to full charge and equalization.
- Fast charge batteries usually last 3-4 years. Because fast charge batteries deliver the same amount of energy throughout their usable life, they normally last three to four years rather than the typical five- to six-year life of standard batteries. This is due to the increased amount of service provided in a shorter time frame.
- Consider purchasing chargers and batteries from one supplier. Most experts suggest you get both the battery and charger from the same source, to avoid potential connectivity issues.
If you are considering fast charging for your forklift fleet, your local dealer can help you find battery and charger resources in your area. Many battery suppliers will take power consumption data or even simulate a fast-charging application with software designed to graphically depict whether or not your operation will make it through a week on a single battery.
No matter which recharging system you use, your local dealer can help you work out a schedule and process to make the most out of your forklift truck and warehouse products. For more information, contact your local lift truck dealer.