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Batteries and chargers: it’s crucial to buy smart

Is buying an intelligent charger worth the outlay? Do cheap batteries save money in the long run?

In trying to achieve the lowest possible purchase price, it’s easy to overlook the importance of specifying the optimum battery for your application… and then matching it with the right charger. A poor match can dramatically shorten your battery’s operating life. A good one could cut your energy bills by as much as 30% - and that’s not the only benefit.

Although the initial outlay is higher, the whole life running costs of electric trucks almost always work out cheaper than their LG gas or diesel equivalents over a 5 year period.

Euro-for-Euro electrics give you more energy per penny. That makes a huge difference as energy costs are a significant operational cost (second only to the cost of the operator him/herself). 

When it comes to minimising your running costs, specifying the right combination of battery and charger is paramount. It requires the buyer to take a holistic approach rather than opting for the lowest purchase prices.

The right combination

A forklift battery is expensive: typically accounting for more than 20% of your machine’s total purchase price.  Small wonder: it’s effectively your fuel source for the next five years. As such, it’s important you get the best return from it.

Battery technology has improved significantly in recent years… but so too has charger design and performance – especially the new generation of intelligent models..

Intuitive by design, this new breed of charger can sense the age, state, temperature and charge of a battery – meaning you don’t need to worry about over or undercharging and the risk of shortening battery life. 

With 50Hz chargers and Ri active inverter tech you can achieve up to 93% efficiency — a 50% increase over conventional chargers.

Beware of false economies

As with all things in life, with batteries and chargers you tend to get what you pay for. A cheap battery may appear to offer a good deal when all you’re looking at the initial purchase price. However, look beyond that and the numbers tell a different tale.

Cheaper batteries tend to use much lower quality lead, or even less lead altogether. So while you’re saving a few pounds/euros at the front end of the deal, you’ll have far fewer battery cycles before the whole thing needs replacing.

To ensure you get the longest, safest life from your battery:

  • Don’t charge a battery that’s only partially discharged (lead-acid only)
  • Always finish the charge cycle before disconnecting
  • Only top up with distilled water
  • Check the plug and socket regularly
  • Compare intelligent chargers with traditional versions – they are more expensive but will prevent many problems (under or over charging etc), extend battery life, optimise shift length and reduce energy/running costs

Changing market

Once just the mainstay of indoor operations, the advent of weatherproof electrics, like the Mitsubishi 80V EDiA EX, means that they can be used indoors or out.

And while, standard practice is to replace your current truck with a similar one (eg diesel for diesel), that’s starting to change, too.

And it’s easy to see why. The EDiA EX is top of its class for electrics, but – put it head-to-head against its IC-engine equivalents and you’ll see it surpasses them in a range of areas, including acceleration, maximum travel, and lift speeds.

A bright idea

A Mitsubishi customer in Suffolk, England even managed to take EDiA EX’s benefits even further – harnessing the power of the sun to charge his truck.

The owner of a removals company, he installed solar panels on his warehouse roof. During sunnier months, the panels provide the energy to charge his truck batteries free of charge. And, by selling the excess power back to the energy suppliers, he was able to cover his truck’s maintenance costs.

Our conclusion?

Taking time for find the right charger-battery combo is not only smart financially but also safer. Considering whole-life costs is one of the smartest things you can do.

  • Action points
  • Research what’s best for your application (electric trucks can equal and often outperform LP gas and diesel counterbalance
  • Investigate the whole-life costs of intelligent chargers vs traditional models
  • Get expert advice from your dealer
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