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Battery Care

The average lifespan of a lead acid battery is between 2-3 years. Under thorough and regular maintenance, this lifespan can be as long as 4 years or, if neglected, the battery can suffer damage which can affect the overall capacity and ability to charge. The following sections will serve as a basic introduction to the functionality and maintenance of lead acid and lithium-ion batteries in electric forklifts and warehouse equipment. If anything is unclear, or if you require any further information, please contact our offices on 01502 532211 or fill out our online contact form.


Battery Safety

Good ventilation is an essential requirement for lead acid battery ownership in electric forklifts. The reason for this is because both hydrogen and oxygen gases, which are extremely flammable, are exhausted during the charging process. Without sufficient ventilation, these gases can build up dangerously and, in the event of a spark, can cause an explosion. Additionally, there is an acidic vapour that is generated while charging. This can leave a thin coating of lead acid on the forklift and the immediate area which must be cleaned off immediately after charging has completed. With these points in mind, it is typical for owners of electric forklifts to set aside a dedicated charging zone in their workplace.

Any personnel responsible for operating or maintaining the battery should be dressed in protective clothing complete with eye protection. The reason for this is because the active component in these batteries is lead acid which can cause serious harm if it comes into contact with skin or eyes. In the event of contact occurring, neutralise with water immediately and seek medical attention.

Do not operate the battery if you are unfamiliar with the procedures and risks involved. Should you require any further information, please contact our technical support team on 01502 532211 or fill out our online contact form.


Battery Maintenance

As your lead acid battery charges and discharges, the level of fluid in the battery will decrease. This fluid consists of electrolyte and distilled water, similar to what is used for car batteries. A key part of lead acid battery maintenance involves ensuring that this fluid is topped up and has the correct concentration/density of the sulphuric acid electrolyte. Maintaining this concentration of electrolyte is a delicate process, as too little electrolyte can increase the rate at which the battery discharges and too much can shorten the overall battery lifespan. Following any addition of fluid to the battery, it needs to be charged for over half an hour in order to allow the electrolyte and the distilled water to properly mix.

Never use an uncharged battery, or a battery that has been severely discharged. While using the electric forklift or other battery powered lifting equipment, keep a careful eye on the active discharge to avoid draining the battery excessively. Excess use of the battery, or deep discharge, can cause sulphurisation of the battery, which can be seriously damaging to the battery's functionality. In the case of long operating hours, our customers have often found that having one battery charging on standby while another is in use is a great way to ensure the equipment has sufficient battery power to see through the operation. Simply remove the discharged battery when charge gets too low and swap it for the charged unit, putting the discharged battery on standby to charge while the replacement is working.

Full detailed instructions on lead acid battery maintenance and charging can be found in the operation & maintenance manuals included with your lifting equipment. If you require further assistance, you are welcome to contact our technical team or fill out the online contact form.


Lithium-Ion Batteries

Lithium batteries are one of the newest developments for electronic lifting equipment, offering an easy-to-maintain solution for businesses that rely on shift work or that have very limited time and space for regular battery maintenance. Developed for fast-charging, lithium-ion batteries can obtain a full charge in 2-3 hours, even when fully discharged. This fast charging capability introduces the practice of opportunity charging, whereby the battery supports being charged while not in use, even if only for a coffee break, without fear of causing damage to the battery or shortening the overall lifespan. In fact, this process is actively encouraged in order to streamline your business operations and helps create a seamless work environment by eliminating the need to swap the batteries, which can typically be a time-consuming and potentially dangerous procedure.

Unlike lead acid batteries, which are contained in open tanks, lithium batteries are built into completely sealed units. This means that there are zero gas emissions during charging and no need to perform regular maintenance, which protects operators from harmful hydrogen fumes and potential acid splashes. In addition to the 40% improved power efficiency and greatly improved lifespan, lithium batteries feature a significantly lower total cost of ownership (TCO) compared to lead acid batteries, despite the heavier upfront cost to purchase.

At Nexen, we have been incorporating lithium batteries into more and more of our electric forklifts and warehouse equipment to offer greater flexibility for our customers who rely on shift work. If you feel this battery option would be beneficial to your business, or if you would like further information, please contact our sales team or fill out the online contact form.



Despite electric forklifts and warehouse equipment being the green alternative to traditional engine-powered machines, most models are not suitable for use in outdoor operations. However, Nexen has recently developed a new line of lithium battery IP-rated forklifts based on traditional IC forklift design which enables them to operate safely outdoors without fear of dust or water affecting the key components. With this advancement, we may see more electric equipment being made suitable for outdoors.

A traditional lead acid forklift battery can take anywhere from 8-12 hours continuously to get a full charge. On the other hand, lithium-ion batteries only take around 2-3 hours to get a full charge but, thanks to their ability to be opportunity charged, you can charge the battery any time that it is not in use which extends the working time before needing to fully charge.

Lead acid batteries have a slightly cheaper upfront cost when compared to lithium-ion batteries, however they also require much more maintenance and upkeep due to the constant fluctuation in battery fluid. While lithium-ion batteries have a steeper upfront cost, they require no maintenance at all and have been proven to be more efficient and longer lasting. In many cases, lithium batteries have been used for a second truck life, so can work out cheaper than lead acid batteries in the long term.

Opportunity charging is the process of charging a battery during brief intervals when it is not in use. For example, a lithium-ion battery forklift can be put on charge when you go for a 10-15 minute coffee break and it will still acquire a reasonable amount of charge. This process is supported by lithium-ion batteries thanks to their fast charging capabilities and not being subject to the 'memory effect', which causes the battery life to deteriorate over time. Lead acid batteries do not support opportunity charging due to the fact that they require several hours of continuous charging and, because of the damaging effects of deep discharging a lead acid battery, they fall prey to the memory effect over a long period of time.