Forklift Battery Sulfation: Causes and Prevention

A small amount of battery sulfation is a normal process for lead-acid batteries. But when the buildup of lead sulfate crystals becomes excessive, it reduces the battery’s performance and can cause it to fail. Read on to learn more about forklift battery sulfation causes and prevention.

What Is Battery Sulfation?

A lead-acid battery has lead plates and lead dioxide plates. The plates are in an electrolyte solution of sulfuric acid diluted in water.

When batteries discharge, the lead active material on the plates reacts with the electrolyte. This reaction creates lead sulfate residue on the plates.

During normal use, the lead sulfate residue is only temporary. Sulfation will disperse during recharging. But when large lead sulfate crystals become permanent, they damage the battery.

What Causes Sulfation?

Knowing the causes of forklift battery sulfation can help you prevent the problem. Sulfation happens as a normal result of the battery’s chemical processes. But the following factors can increase the rate or amount of sulfation to a harmful degree:

  • Leaving the battery undercharged
  • Storing the battery at high temperatures
  • Not charging and discharging the battery for a prolonged period
  • Storing the battery without a full charge

Practice good battery care and maintenance to avoid these common causes of battery sulfation. For example, if you need to store a battery, fully charge it and place it in a temperature-controlled space.

Soft vs. Hard Sulfation

If your battery takes longer to charge or needs to charge more often, you might have a sulfated battery. The buildup can also cause excessive heat and complete battery failure.

There are two types of sulfation. Soft sulfation, otherwise known as reversible sulfation, and hard sulfation, also called permanent sulfation, which is irreversible.

If you recognize sulfation early enough, an experienced professional can sometimes reverse it. One indication of soft sulfation is when a fully charged battery can hold a stable voltage on discharge. But if the voltage drops rapidly, the battery likely has hard sulfation.

If you see signs of sulfation, contact Green Power Forklift Batteries. As a premier forklift battery dealer, we thoroughly inspect and recondition batteries. If your battery has permanent sulfation, we have new and refurbished batteries to keep your business running. Contact us today.