Are Lithium Batteries Better Than Lead-Acid for Forklifts?

Choosing a forklift battery is a key consideration for maximizing efficiency, improving productivity, and controlling costs. Lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries are two prominent options for powering forklifts. Compare performance, maintenance, lifespan, and environmental impact to determine whether lithium batteries are better than lead-acid for forklifts.


Lead-acid batteries provide reliable performance and can deliver high initial power output. However, lead-acid batteries have lower energy density than lithium-ion batteries, resulting in shorter run times and increased weight. They also exhibit voltage drop as they discharge, reducing performance over time.

Lithium-ion batteries have a higher energy density, allowing for longer run times and reduced weight, which can enhance forklift maneuverability. The voltage of lithium-ion batteries decreases at a less noticeable rate than lead-acid alternatives. Plus, lithium batteries have faster charging times, which minimizes downtime and can increase overall productivity.

Performance Winner: Lithium-Ion

Lead-acid has been the traditional power source for forklifts and is still a reliable choice. But if you want better performance, go with lithium-ion batteries.

Maintenance and Lifespan

Lead-acid batteries require watering, equalizing charges, and periodic cleaning. Proper maintenance is crucial to prevent sulfation, which is the buildup of lead sulfate crystals that can significantly reduce battery performance and lifespan. Lead-acid batteries can last through 1,000 to 1,500 charge cycles.

In contrast, lithium-ion batteries do not require watering or equalizing charges. Minimal maintenance requirements reduce labor and costs associated with battery upkeep. Moreover, lithium-ion batteries may last for 2,000 to 3,000 charge cycles.

Maintenance and Lifespan Winner: Lithium-Ion

Lithium-ion batteries require less maintenance, making everyday workflows more efficient, minimizing downtime, and improving worker safety. The significantly longer lifespan of lithium-ion also helps offset its higher purchase price.

Environmental Impact

Another factor to consider when determining if lithium forklift batteries are better than lead-acid is each battery’s environmental impact. Improper disposal or recycling of lead-acid batteries can lead to soil and water pollution. However, lead-acid batteries have a high recycling rate, and responsible recycling practices mitigate their environmental impact.

The higher energy efficiency of lithium-ion batteries results in lower greenhouse gas emissions. However, the amount of energy used to keep the battery charged, called the operational cost, is about the same because lithium-ion batteries include a battery management system.

Lithium-ion batteries contain fewer toxic substances. Like lead-acid, lithium-ion batteries are recyclable, although presently, lead-acid batteries have a higher recycling rate.

Environmental Winner: Lithium-Ion, Probably

Overall, lithium-ion batteries are more environmentally friendly than lead-acid. However, technological advancements continue to improve lead-acid efficiency, and refurbishment significantly increases lead-acid’s reusability.

Lead-acid batteries offer reliable performance and are cost-effective for applications that do not require extended run times or fast charging. On the other hand, lithium-ion batteries provide higher energy density, longer run times, faster charging, and lower maintenance requirements.

At Green Power Forklift Batteries, we carry lithium-ion batteries as well as new and refurbished lead-acid batteries. Whatever your budget or efficiency considerations, buy forklift batteries from us for high-performing power.