Logistics & Materials Handling Blog

How to Charge a Forklift Battery

by Paul Hinz
Filed under: Batteries

Correctly charging a forklift’s battery is imperative to prolong both the life and performance of the battery.

Over or under charging a battery can shorten its operating life whilst also adversely affecting its performance.

This week’s blog briefly looks at safety precautions workers involved in forklift battery charging operations must adhere to as well as briefly explaining three of the most common battery charging methods conventional charging, opportunity charging and fast charging.

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Forklift Battery Charging Safety Precautions

There are a number of safety precautions that need to be observed when charging a forklifts battery, these precautions are critical to ensuring the safety of workers who are charging batteries as well as to prevent damage to batteries and charging equipment.

If workers do not observe safety precautions they run the risk of seriously injuring themselves either via electrical current or the dangerous chemicals that a battery contains.

Damaged or malfunctioning batteries or charging equipment risk the safety of not only individuals but also the whole operational site due to electrical current and combustible toxic chemicals in the batteries.

To maximise safety when charging forklift battery charging the following safety precautions should be observed as recommended by government safety department guidelines.

  • Forklifts should be parked in a safe position with the park brake firmly applied before battery charging begins
  • All battery covers must be held open to allow any gas build-up generated during charging to dissipate
  • In all battery charging areas it is important that adequate washing, cleaning and safety equipment are provided. Including but not limited to eye washing stations, chemical cleanup kits in case of chemical spills and fire extinguishers to fight any fires that result during battery charging
  • Buildings where battery charging takes place must have the proper ventilation to allow any gases generated during charging are able to be safely dissipated. All battery charging rooms need to be designed and built to the Australian Building Code standards to ensure Worksafe compliance
  • All charging components must be in good working condition, connectors mustn’t be damaged or cracked
  • Only appropriately trained and authorized workers should be permitted to charge and change batteries as they are able to quickly spot potential problems and have been trained in the best response practices
  • Appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) include face shields, aprons and rubber gloves must be worn at all times during battery charging to reduce the potential for eye or skin injuries from battery acid
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Workers involved in battery charging must observe the following additional precautions:

  • No smoking
  • No open flames
  • No sparks
  • No use of mobile phones or similar electronic devices
  • No use of metal objects that may emit an ignitable spark
  • Use the proper tools
  • All jewelry must be removed

Types of Forklift Battery Charging

Conventional Charging

Conventional forklift battery charging is common and straight forward, batteries are standard charged overnight.

Overnight charging normally lasts for between eight to ten hours, resulting in the battery charging to 100% capacity.

During conventional charging batteries heat up and will need to be allowed time to appropriately cool down before the forklift is operated.

Conventional forklift battery charging is most suited to single shift operations or applications where multiple batteries are available for the forklift.

Conventional battery charging allows you to get the most longevity out of batteries, but may not be the best solution for operations running multiple shifts.

Forklift battery conventional charging

Fast Charging

Fast charging is suited to multi-shift operations where there is no time to charge batteries.

Fast charging utilises a higher current that doesn’t decrease the charge rate like conventional chargers do, this allows for batteries to fully charge in as little as two to four hours half the time of conventional charging.

Fast charge batteries are constructed with heavier duty components due to cope with the excessive amounts of heat generated, it is important that both the battery and charger are carefully sized based on a power study of consumption.

Fast charging batteries must be equalised usually for between six and eight hours on a weekly basis to mitigate sulfating.

Opportunity Charging

Opportunity charging is exactly what its name suggests a forklifts battery is charged whenever it is convenient and possible such as during lunch breaks.

Similar to conventional charging opportunity charging assists in minimising forklift downtime and avoids the need to purchase multiple batteries per shift.

Opportunity charging is ideal when extended use is required.

With today’s modern technology equalisation and cool down time periods can be adjusted to under 8 hours, however the battery must be carefully monitored to make sure the charger isn’t slow charging the battery during peak periods.

Forklift battery opportunity charging

For assistance in finding the ideal forklift battery charging solution for you application call our team on 13 22 54 or fill out a contact form and we will respond as soon as possible.

Reference List

  1. 2008. Guidance Note Working Safely With Forklifts. [ebook] Perth, Western Australia: Government of Western Australia, p.15. Available at: [Accessed 29 October 2020].