Is the extra cost of a lithium-ion forklift battery worth it?

In material transport, productivity and efficiency are two important keys to success. There are only so many hours a day that if a company can do more in less time, it will give them a competitive advantage. For some operations, particularly food processing, 3PL and other multi-layer applications, lithium-ion forklift battery offers this added benefit by reducing labor costs and improving productivity.

Lithium-Ion Forklift battery
Lithium-Ion Forklift battery

In this article, we answer the most common questions about lithium-ion forklift batteries (L-I).

Which applications benefit the most from lithium ions?

Multi-shift applications (3PL, food manufacturing and processing) and all other 24-hour and 7-day material handling processes take full advantage of the switch to lithium-ion. For this type of operation, lithium-ion batteries can pay for themselves in a few years.

Operations that operate forklift trucks in cold environments can also quickly benefit from switching to lithium ions. Lithium-ion forklift batteries can charge quickly at low temperatures and hold their capacity better at low temperatures than their lead-acid counterparts.

What does a lithium-ion forklift battery cost?

The average price for a lithium-ion forklift battery is $17 – $20,000 (about 2-2.5 times higher than a similar lead-acid battery). For this higher starting price, an operation saves money on:

Electricity bills: Lithium-ion batteries are 30% more efficient and charge eight times faster than lead-acid batteries.

Batteries: The lithium-ion battery lasts 2-4 times longer than a lead-acid battery.

Idle time: Lithium-ion batteries must never be replaced and can be charged during the operator breaks.

Labor costs: Lithium-ion forklift batteries require no maintenance or watering.

Productivity – Enjoy longer run times and don’t slow down performance when the battery is empty.

Hazards: Lithium-ion batteries do not emit harmful vapors or CO2, there is no risk of acid spillage, and you will have to dispose of 70 to 80 percent fewer batteries over time because you do not replace them as often.

Real estate: Reclaim the area that you use as a hold for additional storage space.

How long can I get from a lithium-ion battery?

As with lead-acid batteries, autonomy depends on the application (how much has to be raised, how much has to be driven uphill). In general, a lithium-ion forklift battery lasts as long as a lead-acid battery, but charges faster and does not degrade during discharge.

Is it possible to reassemble a forklift to use a lithium-ion battery?

Yes! The conversion is quick and easy. Resetting only requires inserting the new battery and adding the charge indicator.

Why use lithium-ion forklift batteries?

Save money and space: lithium batteries make replacement batteries and hold unnecessary. Save time and money by spending less time watering, cleaning and balancing forklift batteries.

Longer and more even performance: when the lead-acid batteries are discharged, their voltage decreases. That is, the more they work, the slower they run.

Lithium-ion batteries store about three times more energy than conventional batteries, deliver a constant voltage and do not slow the machine down when it is discharged.

Safer for employees and better for the environment: Lithium-ion forklift batteries have a service life that is four times longer, are 30% more energy-efficient, smoke-free and CO2-free from acid pollution.

Lithium-Ion Forklift battery
Lithium-Ion Forklift battery

Full charge in just one hour: lead-acid batteries take 8 hours to charge and another 8 hours to cool down. A lithium-ion forklift battery can be fully charged in less than an hour or at least use the charging options more efficiently during breaks, making lithium-ion an ideal choice for multiple operations.

Are lithium-ion batteries worth the additional cost?

The answer requires a little analysis. Does the current charging system initially meet the requirements of your application? How much downtime does your company have? What are the (labor) costs per month for the maintenance and charging of the batteries? The maintenance costs for lead-acid batteries can really increase in the long run.

For multi-shift operation: lithium-ion batteries pay for themselves in just a few years. With an average single-shift operation, lithium-ion batteries pay for themselves in around five years, sometimes even less. Keep in mind that L-I batteries last up to four times longer, so you buy batteries less often.

Despite the fact that lithium-ion batteries cost more in advance, they can be quickly paid for by lower operating costs, which gives some companies a long-term competitive advantage. To learn more about whether switching to lithium-ion can be a wise investment for your business, contact online or by phone.

How long does my forklift battery last?

A forklift battery is designed for an entire eight-hour shift when fully charged. However, this may vary depending on battery life and equipment life. A truck that does not drive much at minimum heights can be loaded for twelve hours. In contrast, an older battery in a truck doing a heavy lift can only last three hours. The lifespan of an average forklift battery is five years or 1,500 cycles. The five-year average assumes that the battery is recharged once a day, 300 days a year, with a quick charge and a deep discharge.

What about the counterweight?

The ballast is contained in the lithium-ion forklift battery housing so that it meets the minimum requirements for battery weight.