Worth knowing about battery charging
The battery wouldn’t last very long if it wasn’t for the charger and and there are quite a few options depending on your needs and aspirations.
What’s the difference between a standard 50Hz charger and a HF (High Frequency) charger?
The big difference is that a HF charger is more efficient, 90-95% instead of 70-85%, which means that it consumes far less electricity. All HF chargers are on top of this “smart” which means that they reduce the overcharge to a minimum, 10-15% instead of 20-30% with an old style charger. The reduced overcharge does not only contribute to a lower electricity consumption but also reduces gassing and charging temperatures. Less gassing is of course good for the work environment but it also means that less water is consumed. The lower temperature also helps to prolong the battery lifetime. Because of the different technologies a HF charger is substantially smaller and lighter and it can therefore be hanged on the wall or on a stand, substantially reducing the need for space in the charging area. For an independent article take a look at Industrial Vehicle Technology International.
Is opportunity or fast charging something for us?
Whether opportunity or fast charging is something for you depends on your operation and priorities. These kinds of solutions are sometimes called ZBC (Zero Battery Change) solutions as one of the main objectives is to avoid to change batteries. Because of safety regulations and labor costs in many countries battery changing is something that one tries to avoid. With a ZBC solution you don’t have to have any spare batteries but the battery you use have to be reinforced and depending on the charger solution sometimes equipped with pneumatic acid circulation, i.e. the battery gets more expensive. The charger is also more expensive as it has to have a higher capacity and be more flexible when it comes to programming, sometimes it is also equipped with a pump for the acid circulation. Further control units have to be installed to adapt the charging to battery temperatures and control the charging cycles. Once per week the batteries need to be equalized and fully charged for roughly a day, i.e. you work schedule have to allow for this and also for 1.5-3h (depending of the charger capacity) charging per shift. When calculation the capacity you need per shift you have to consider also the fact that you will only get 80% of the usable capacity (i.e. 64% of the rated capacity). With opportunity charging during the week batteries can only be charged to 80% of their capacity as the gassing stage is never reached. Always contact us before you even consider a solution in this direction!
Sometimes we have to use the batteries before they are fully charged – is that a problem?
Yes, this is something you should try to avoid. If you break the charging cycle before the battery has reached the gassing stage (>80% of the capacity) this will result in sulphation and an unbalanced charge between the cells. If you do this often it will have an impact on the capacity of the battery. A modern charger with an equalize program can repair some of the damage but if you break the charging cycle on a daily basis equalizing has to be done at least once per week (compare opportunity charging above) and if this is not done the battery has to be low amp charged for a longer period – up to 4 weeks – to regain its capacity