Equipment and Solutions

A Quick Guide to Watering Electric Forklift Batteries  

Maintaining proper water levels in a forklift’s battery is critical because it directly affects the unit’s performance and life span. In most lead-acid batteries that power electric forklifts, water fills each cell to ensure the proper mix of electrolytes and other chemicals that give energy to the machine.

When a battery is low on water, the risks of overheating and burnout arise. When you add too much water, overflow can occur and cause potential wear or corrosion. The best way to ensure proper performance is to consistently check the water levels before the beginning of each shift of operation and after watering when the battery cools down.

How Often Should You Water a Forklift Battery?

The watering frequency of a battery depends on the usage of the forklift. Operations using a machine 24 hours a day might need to add water daily, while a company that runs a lift less frequently might add water once a week. In addition, older batteries may require higher watering frequencies than newer ones.

Since usage varies and keeping the water in your forklift battery topped up is so critical, it’s essential to check the water levels regularly.

The worst time to water a battery is directly before or during charging because the electrolyte content can expand, causing the battery to overflow and leak acid. Topping off the battery after charging can help maintain levels as the water level decreases. When doing so, operators should take care to allow the proper amount of cooling time to make sure the water does not boil over.

How to Properly Water an Electric Forklift Battery

When monitoring the water level, you should ensure the plates are below the waterline to prevent the battery from drying out. If the plates are above the waterline, add enough water for the level to reach the top of the plates. There are several popular methods for adding water to a battery, including various battery water filling systems.

Some examples are:

  • Gravity-fed systems: Gravity systems involve elevated water drums or tanks that have attached hoses. The forklift operator fills each battery cell with the hose until the water reaches the proper levels. Some gravity systems do not have cutoffs, which increases the risks of over or underwatering.
  • Single-point watering kits: Most single-point battery watering systems use multiple hoses that hook up to each cell and fill the cells to the required levels. When the cells reach the correct water level, the system shuts off automatically. While these systems are more expensive than most conventional options, they offer the highest degrees of fill accuracy and convenience.
  • Water guns or hoses: These types of systems require the operator to use a gun or a hose and fill each cell individually with the proper amount of water. These methods do not guarantee accuracy, as the operator must determine when to cut off the water supply.

Additionally, only distilled or deionized water is appropriate for lead-acid batteries. Most tap water contains calcium, potassium and other minerals, which can prevent the battery from holding a charge by upsetting the electrolyte balance.

Similar to any other maintenance procedure, you should consult the manuals for your battery, charger and filling system if it has one.

Connect With RAKA for Your Forklift Battery Needs Today

If you need assistance deciding how to water your electric forklift batteries, the team at RAKA is here to help. Contact our material handling professionals today for guidance on charging, maintenance and any other issues to keep your fleet performing its best.