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Forklift Battery Types: Function, Advantages, and Disadvantages

Publish Date: May 07, 2020

A Forklift truck is one of the majorly used powered industrial truck for lifting heavy items rapidly and an entire inventory reducing the pain points of manual lifting. Forklift trucks are mostly powered by diesel, gasoline, electricity, and propane. As they need constant power supply to function properly, deep cycle industrial grade batteries are used that can be discharged up to 80% on a regular basis. A variety of industrial batteries ranging from size to density are used by the forklift trucks.

The forklift industry counts on a variety of battery types for power. Each type differs from each other owing to the setup, system, charging requirements, and price tags. The two primary types of forklift batteries are:

1.    Lead Acid
2.    Lithium-Ion

Lead Acid Forklift Batteries

The most common type of batteries used in the forklift market are the old-school lead acid batteries. “Wet cell batteries” are another name for these batteries. 

Components: The components of this type of battery are a battery case, cells, cable, and a mixture of sulfuric acid and water.

Functions: This type of batteries have two primary functions. They are:

1.    Providing a power source, and
2.    Acting as a counterweight to lift truck. 


For top level of performance, lead acid batteries need regular maintenance. Often, specialized electrical work is required by some of the charging systems to support voltage demands. These types of batteries also need regular watering to sustain the electrolyte levels. Specialized watering systems are recommended to ensure the accuracy of the levels. With proper care, most lead acid forklift batteries sustain up to more than five years.


•    The initial cost of the lead acid battery is comparatively lower. They are sustainable for a long time.
•     With over 140 years of development, they are still reliable.
•    This type of battery can be used both in light or heavy duty application.


•    The primary drawback of lead acid batteries is that they have to be cycled down to 20% to charge fully. 
•    The lead acid battery also need an equalized charge every 5-10 cycles. Regular watering is also another requirement. 
•    During charging, in some occasions, these batteries get very hot which may expose to the danger of overheating.

Lithium-Ion Batteries 

Industrialized in 1996, Lithium-Ion batteries are rising in popularity in the global forklift market. Lithium-ion batteries are also found in most of the portable devices such as cameras, smartphones, and tablets. They can also be used to power electric cars, like Tesla. 

Components: The components of lithium-ion batteries are -- an anode, cathode, separator, electrolyte, and positive and negative terminals.

Maintenance: The lithium-ion batteries are low-maintenance, no watering needs, and less risky. Lithium-ion batteries can be quick-charged and they have no risk of overcharge. These batteries are smaller in size, which requires additional forklift counterweights in the battery compartment. Lithium-ions can also suffer damage at high temperatures. 


•    Lithium-ion is the most inventive battery option which has no requirements of maintenance or watering. This type of battery also sustains for a long life of more than 10 years.
•    The ultra-fast charging allows the user to plug in the equipment during any break times to keep the battery charged all day long with up to 18 hours in run time, without having to run it down to 20%.
•    The chemistry of lithium iron phosphate batteries prevents generating heat during use, leaving no risk of fire or explosion even under the most extreme conditions.
•    These sustainable batteries have no gassing, venting, corrosion. With no toxic or heavy metals, they are 100% decomposable.


The high cost is the only disadvantage of lithium ion batteries. Additionally, they also require small changes in some operations which account for the higher charge.


Princy A. J

Princy holds a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from the prestigious Tamil Nadu Dr. M.G.R. University at Chennai, India. After a successful academic record, she pursued her passion for writing. A thorough professional and enthusiastic writer, she enjoys writing on various categories and advancements in the global industries. She plays an instrumental role in writing about current updates, news, blogs, and trends.