To summarize, some key benefits are
Lead-acid batteries are often overcharged to implement cell equalization with as much as 35% per charge cycle energy wasted, and are less efficient batteries as lead acid is about 80 to 85% efficient and Balancell Lithium is 96% efficient at full work rate.
- Opportunity charging encouraged, hence battery and machine can be kept in continual use
A single battery in a machine can achieve 24/7 operation
No battery changing, swop outs, or battery rooms needed
No maintenance, no gassing, no watering, no acid fumes or spillage, and no corrosion
Faster lift times, as less battery internal resistance
Better performance over a whole shift, as the battery voltage does not droop
Better performance over the lifetime of battery with less degradation
Considerably longer lifetime and reliability
On average uses 30% less energy than a lead-acid battery in the same motive application
The benefits of lithium batteries in the motive industry are now rapidly becoming widely accepted.
You can also view the Risk Assessment for Balancells LiFePO battery packs HERE.
Firstly all batteries of any chemistry are energy storage devices. This energy can be discharged very quickly, and so enough abuse of ANY battery type or chemistry can cause damaging and violent reactions. Hence all batteries of any chemistry should always be treated with respect. In this vein, if a fully charged lead-acid is short-circuited, they have been known to rapidly and violently rupture and expel acid, causing facility damage and injuries. In addition, flooded lead-acid cells also need well ventilated charging bays, as they emit combustible hydrogen gas when charging. Flooded lead-acid cells used in the industrial motive market are not safety rated for short circuits. This is in contrast to the automotive rated lithium Ferro phosphate cells which are rated for short circuits, and emit no gas, and so it can be argued that these LFP cells are in fact safer than lead-acid.
Secondly, the type of lithium chemistry should be considered. Lithium Ferro Phosphate (LFP) is accepted as being a safer lithium chemistry compared to any Cobalt or Manganese variations.
We use Lithium Ferro Phosphate Chemistry (LFP) cells that meet GB31484, GB31485, GB31486, UL1973, MSDS UN38.3, and manufactured to ISO9001, ISO14001, TS16949. Batteries tested and certified for CE EMC. Batteries have been designed to meet IEC 62485-6, IEC 63056, IEC 61619, and automotive temperature and vibration standard IEC 62660-2. All batteries have dual redundant digital protection with failover analog protection
In simpler terms, we use automotive rated cells that can be punctured, short circuited or crushed and they will not ignite or explode.
In addition, we use dual redundant digital and analog circuitry to make sure the battery itself is protected from any strenuous, abusive or damaging conditions.
For high work rates we recommend 2/3 Ah capacity of the recommended lead-acid battery for the same application.
As an example – An operation that used 4 wheel 2.5 ton counterbalanced forklifts in a 24/7 high work rate distribution center, previously had 3 lead-acid 800Ah 48V batteries per machine. Replacing the three lead-acid batteries with just one 550Ah 52V lithium battery in each machine proved to be capable of easily achieving the same forklift operating hours (20hrs out of 24hrs) provided every opportunity was used for charging.
For single shift, low work rates, or sporadic usage, 1/3 Ah capacity of the recommended lead-acid battery should easily suffice.
As an example – A business that uses a single 4 wheel 2.5 ton counterbalanced forklift in a single shift operation, where the forklift is used to load or offload trucks, with periods of no use in between, and previously had a lead-acid 560Ah 48V battery. This application can easily be replaced with a single 270Ah 52V lithium battery and a small single-phase 60A charger if the forklift is charged at every opportunity. It is most likely possible to replace it with an even smaller 200Ah lithium battery, however, the C discharge rates then become quite high if working hard, which although tolerable, is not within cell specifications. Hence we generally do not recommend less than 1/3 capacity of previous lead-acid.
NOTE! Even if it is a multishift application, if there are only short periods of use, with enough periods of no use in between for opportunity charging, a smaller battery will easily work.
For medium work rates, and multiple shifts, some testing may have to be done, but usually a 400Ah battery is suitable.
Please see FAQ on operating times and work rates for more information.
Some Reasons why less capacity lithium batteries are needed to achieve similar performance.
One of the reasons less capacity of lithium is needed is the way capacity is rated at different C rates. There is a big difference between lithium and lead, as a lithium batteries capacity is usually rated at 1C. This means a 100Ah lithium battery can be discharged at the full 100A and it will give 100Ah, lasting the full hour. Lead-acid on another hand is usually rated at C/5, C/10 or C/20 which means a 100Ah lead acid can only be discharged at 20A or less to get 100Ah. If the 100Ah lead is discharged at 100A, it will typically give only 50 to 60Ah. However, a typical 560Ah lead-acid used in a forklift is often drawing 500A when lifting heavier loads, which is essentially 1C for the lead-acid, limiting its performance. In addition, lithium has a lower internal resistance, hence loses less energy, and has a slightly higher terminal voltage (52V vs 48V), meaning for the same Ah, more energy can be delivered from the lithium to the forklift.
There are four categories that connectivity can add value
1. Safety, 2. Operational improvements, 3. Business metrics, 4. Asset or fleet management.
As all battery information can be analyzed in real-time on the server-side, so various alerts and warnings can be generated if something is going wrong. Even simple warnings, such as battery should be put on charge, can help prevent a dangerous over-discharge condition, but is also very useful in saving the battery itself and preserving the value and life of the battery. The same can be said for overcharge or over-temperature etc. As algorithms improve the warning predictions will become more accurate and will happen further ahead of time, preventing any damage to the battery, or downtime to operations. Over the air updates and upgrades can be performed and a Remote shutdown can be initiated if necessary.
- Operational improvements
gain to being connected is the operational improvements or savings that come from having visibility into battery state, its usage, operating hours, tracking etc. For example, on any rental fleet (from floor cleaners to scissor lifts to yachts) the operational costs of having flat batteries are always much higher than acknowledged. Simply knowing the battery needs to be charged ahead of time can prevent this. The service and support functions are greatly facilitated by remotely knowing the history of the battery and its current state. This is useful for the diagnosis of both battery and machine problems, even if to simply isolate one problem from another.
- Business metrics
Knowing the actual operating, charging and idle hours, is a simple and useful measure of your fleet performance, efficiency, work rate, and operations. It can also give insights into how to change the operational configuration to optimize the number of machines, work rates, shifts, tea breaks etc.
Honoring a guarantee or warranty. Having a full history and battery performance clearly visible, makes the whole transaction traceable and accountable. This pertains to making the battery supplier uphold all performance specifications and making any abuse by user visible.
Many more subtle metrics are available, such as machine work rates, VDI energy consumption or machine efficiency, electricity consumption and savings, total operating hours, machine availability etc
- Asset/fleet management
(In development) – Our battery can also provide a simple fleet and operator management system, to any old or new forklift, without any additional hardware, or additional wiring into the machine itself.
Since the battery is the heart or energy source of an electrical machine, with the ability to switch on/off, it can control the usage of the entire machine. A cell phone app/or device with functionality to have a user login into the battery can turn it on/off, which in turn gives a user access to the machine while logging operating parameters, and providing operator metrics to our battery dashboard
If the upfront Capex cost for one lithium battery is compared to one lead-acid battery, then yes, lithium is more expensive. However, just a little more in depth analysis shows that even for just one battery, this is not usually the case if the cost over lifetime is calculated. Here is a third party’s evaluation of lithium life time cost.
In addition for single battery applications, usually a smaller 1/3 Ah capacity lithium battery will replace the lead-acid, and smaller chargers can be used adequately.
In the case of multi-shift applications, where more than one lead-acid battery is required per machine, where one battery can replace three lead acids, then the benefits become obvious.
In addition, the operational benefits and savings of not having to change batteries, ease of use, better performance, and opportunity charging are harder to quantify but possibly add the most value.
For fleet management or rental fleets, the connectivity and insights into a battery can also save way in excess of its cost in terms of operational efficiencies, maintenance, service and support of the fleet itself.
This depends on two things. The first is the size of the battery, best measured in kWh which is its energy storage capacity. The second is the work rate of the machine and its energy consumption. This is traditionally measured by Energy usage per hour (kWh/h) when performing a defined VDI cycle. This measure is usually considerably higher than in practice, and actual operating work rate kWh/h needs to be determined for a machine in its actual normal operating regime.
Operating time can be calculated using the following equation
Operating time in hours = (Battery Capacity in kWh) / (Energy usage per hour kWh/h)
As an example, a 2.5 ton 4 wheel counterbalance forklift operating at a medium work rate will use around 2.5kWh/h of energy. If it has a 14kWh battery then the operating time on a full charge will be
14 kWh / 2.5kWh/h = 5 hrs and 36 mins
The same forklift operating at a high work rate would use 3.5kWh/h meaning its operating time would then be
14 kWh / 3.5kWh/h = 4 hrs
Replacing the battery with a 28kWh battery, and still operating at a high work rate of 3.5kWh/h, means its new operating time on one full charge, with no breaks would be
28 kWh / 3.5kWh/h = 8 hrs
The amount of time to charge predominatly depends on the current (or rate) that the charger ouputs. The following equation will give total time charge from 0 to 100% SOC
Total Time to charge = Capacity of battery in Ah/Charging Current in Amps
If you are opportunity charging, to calculate the % increase in SOC you just pro-rata the above. I.e. if you want to increase SOC by 50% then it takes 50% of the time above.
Our batteries come standard rated to 0.6C charging. This means you can charge your battery from 0 to 100% in 1hr or 40min. Or you can increase SOC by 50% in 50 min, e,g, from 20% to 70% in 50 mins.
Note! It is better for lithium batteries to receive many small charges and discharges, than a full discharge charges. In other words, it is actually desirable to opportunity charge at every possible occasion. However, once full batteries should not be left on charge, but disconnected and left ready for use.
This depends on the charger rate, battery size and work rate of the machine.
Details on how to calculate Charge time to operating time ratio will be provided soon.
Automotive certified Lithium batteries offer a considerably longer and more reliable lifetime than lead-acid. Our guarantee is comprehensive, and we consider it to be one of the best backed up in industry with our battery data logging, total operating hours or total energy delivery specification. In most cases, the battery will last as long or longer than the machine itself. Please see battery datasheets for more information.
Yes, provided the voltage range is the same as the previous lead-acid battery. I.e. you can charge our 52V lithium battery with an old 48V lead acid charger. This does come with a provisio that the old charger does not exceed certain votlage levels, or retry charging with excessive inductive energy. This is usually only present in very old thyristor based chargers, which are not recommended. More details are provided in the datasheets. However, every high-frequency charger tested so far has been suitable. A list is availabile on request.
In almost ALL cases the power requirements when replacing lead acid batteries with lithium will be the same or LESS. There are many ways to achieve staggered opportunity charging as well. More information can be provided on request.
No. In fact it will use less total electricity, given an identical distribution center doing the same work with lead-acid batteries. I.e. replacing the lead-acid batteries with lithium and using the same machines in the same distribution center doing the same work, will save on average 30% of electricity costs. This is because in reality, lead-acid need excessive charge for equalization, and are less efficient batteries overall.
Without electrical power, you can not charge batteries. however, there is a solution if you are experiencing regular power outages. Please look at our forklift solar charging station under product section to investigate charging your forklift directly from solar panels.
Please just register yourself as a user, on the battery dashboard link in menu of our home page.
Once you have done this you will automatically have access and visibility of Balancell forklift and UPS batteries. If you have bought a battery, or belong to an organization that owns batteries and wish to see these. please send an email to support.
Every light on the battery reports on some status of the system, see THIS page for more details.
See our Battery Due Diligence document to find some of the questions you should ask when selecting a battery for an industrial application.
Balancell lithium batteries are fully recyclable at the end of their useful life. We have an internationally approved lithium battery recycler as a partner: EnviroServe
Simply deliver Balancell battery to them or our premises, and we will arrange recycling for you.
Balancell lithium batteries can use direct solar charging and operate on 100% renewable energy generation. In South Africa electricity generation from Eskom is mainly coal based, and sometimes diesel based.
We are committed to making the Earth as green as we can.
Read more on direct solar charging here: https://balancell.com/
We are a diverse team with eclectic innovative ideas. We have very deep experience in battery design, power electronics, system integration, in a range of electric machines from floor cleaners to electric vehicles.
Our experience started with BMS solutions for lead-acid batteries, motor and controller design, to designing some of the first electric vehicle lithium batteries for the joule electric vehicle. Along this journey, we have experienced many difficult problems and learnt many interesting caveats of batteries.
We hope we can pass these lessons and knowledge onto you, save you time and make your transition smoothly into a fully battery-powered electric future.
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