Logistics & Materials Handling Blog

Comparison: Lithium Ion VS Lead Acid Forklift Batteries

by Paul Hinz
Filed under: Batteries

The adoption of lithium ion battery powered forklifts such as the new Hyster J1.5-3.5UT counterbalance forklift is becoming increasingly popular due to the advantages they provide over traditional lead acid batteries.

Whilst the initial cost of lithium ion batteries is considerably higher than lead acid alternatives, their two to three times longer operational life, increased efficiency, environmental and safety features make them an appealing alternative.

In this week’s blog we compare and discuss some of the advantages of lithium ion forklift batteries.

Cost Savings

Due to their longer operating life lithium ion forklift batteries offer substantial cost savings across their life.

Some of the ways they contribute to cost savings include:

  • With highly efficient charging lithium ion batteries save money as less energy is needed to be purchased to charge when compared to lead acid counterparts
  • Their ability to power a forklift for longer operational shifts provides cost savings as operators need to spend less time and labour completing battery swaps that need to be regularly completed with lead acid batteries
  • Lithium ion batteries do not need to be maintained or watered in the same way as lead acid batteries, this allows for additional cost savings as operators are able to begin work sooner and work longer without having to spend time and labour cleaning and maintain the battery

Longer Operational Life

Lithium ion forklift batteries have an operational life time that is often two to three times longer than lead acid batteries.

The longer operational life offers significant cost savings across its life as replacement batteries do not need to be purchased as often, reducing the overall cost of battery investment.

Opportunity Charging

Opportunity charging is the ability to charge a forklift battery when the opportunity arises such as during a lunch break or in between assignments.

The ability to be able to opportunity charge lithium ion forklift batteries is perhaps the most significant advantage they hold over lead acid counterparts.
Short charge burst when time permits greatly contributes to the length of time the forklift can be operated which is particularly beneficial to operations that run their forklifts for long shifts.

With lead acid batteries at some point during the shift the operator would need to stop work and replace the battery with a fully charged one to get the forklift to the end of their shift.

Opportunity charging the forklift during breaks for lunch will regenerate battery charge enough in the middle of a shift to make it to the end of the shift without needing a battery change.

Trying to opportunity charge lead acid forklift batteries also significantly shorten their operational life which can lead to extra expense as damaged batteries need to be replaced more often.

Forklift battery opportunity charging

Consistent High Performance

The more drained a lead acid forklift battery becomes the more inconsistent its voltage becomes resulting in less power being fed to the forklift towards the end of a shift compared to the beginning.

Lithium ion forklift batteries offer a more constant voltage curve that better maintains the level of power being supplied to the forklift resulting in consistent higher performance across the life of a battery charge.

Lithium ion batteries allow the forklift to perform at the same high level across a full shift compared to the slow performance degradation of a lead acid powered unit across a long shift.

Increased Worker Safety

When maintaining lead acid batteries hydrogen fumes and acid splash are common health and safety concerns to workers, where they could potentially inhale deadly fumes or splashed by corrosive acids.

Lithium ion batteries do not emit dangerous fumes or contain acids that could spill out increasing safety for workers.

Forklift battery watering 3

No Battery Charging Room Required

When operating lead acid battery powered forklifts especially for large fleets a large and potentially expensive battery charging room is required to house all the necessary charging equipment.

For operations that run multiple shifts per day the battery room needs to be even larger to incorporate enough space to also store spare batteries that are needed to run the forklifts over multiple shifts.

Lithium Ion battery powered forklifts do not require a dedicated battery room to house the charging equipment and spare batteries, allowing valuable warehouse space to be regained for the storing of profitable goods and supplies.

Photo 3

This week’s blog has briefly discussed some of the major advantages lithium ion forklift batteries offer compared to standard lead acid batteries and why their popularity is increasing.

Adaptalift Group are constantly striving to bring the latest innovative technologies available to our customers including the new generation of lithium ion powered forklifts and materials handling equipment.

To find out more about the new lithium ion powered Hyster J1.5-3.5UT counterbalance forklift series or the Hyster PC1.5 lithium ion powered pallet jack contact our team of experts on 13 22 54 or complete a contact form and we will respond as soon as possible.