Reconditioned is a term that gets thrown around quite frequently when referring to forklift batteries. It sounds impressive and gives a reassuring feeling that you are purchasing a good battery, but what does reconditioning mean? What does the reconditioning process look like? When do you need a reconditioned battery?
These are questions that many people do not know the answer to, including people selling “reconditioned” batteries. Here are some answers to those questions that will help guide your buying experience and help you better understand what your specific application needs in terms of a forklift battery.
What does it mean to recondition a forklift battery?
Reconditioning a battery for some companies can mean cleaning the battery, slapping a layer of paint on it, and sending it out the door. However, that does not lengthen the life of the battery or ensure it’s reconditioning. A proper reconditioning involves, first, load testing the battery. A load test will put the battery under a load for a certain amount of hours with voltage readings every hour to measure what percentage the battery has at a certain time. A true reconditioned forklift battery should have about 80% of the voltage output after 4-5 hours of a load test.
A couple of things can be done prior to the test to strengthen the battery. You can cycle the acid in the cells, water the cells, or even replace a couple. Oftentimes, if there are a number of dead cells, it is better to just scrap the battery for the lead (call us with questions or scrap values). Once the battery has been load tested and it checks out fine, it is then common practice to clean and paint the battery to improve the outward appearance.
When do you need a reconditioned battery?
If a forklift battery has been load tested, it should be very easy to tell how many hours the battery will last under a load. For example, if the battery tested at 80% for 5 hours, you can be sure you’ll be able to use the machine with that battery for 5 hours of continuous use. If the machine is being turned on and off, on and off, as in the case with many warehouse applications, the battery will last quite a bit longer. So when you are buying a reconditioned 5 hour battery, know that the 5 hours does not start the minute you take it off the charger, it is 5 hours of continuous use.
Many load tested batteries may come back at 50% which can be considered a 3 hour battery. That would be ideal for the application where the machine sees sporadic usage during the course of a shift and the battery will be on a charge every night. Anytime the battery will be under load more than 5 hours you have 2 options.
1 – purchase a new battery. Depending on manufacturers, most new batteries will give you 8 hours capacity use; or
2 – purchase 2 used batteries. The reality is both options will cost about the same, but a new battery generally comes with a manufacturer warranty.