Off-Grid Living: Use Forklift Batteries to Store Solar Power

If you've decided to power your off-grid homestead with solar power, you may be considering using rechargeable forklift batteries to store the power from the sun. Here are a few important things to understand about using forklift batteries for off-grid power. 

Forklift batteries will last a long time

Forklift batteries are ideal over other types of batteries due to their life expectancy, which is based on cycles. Life expectancy and cycles are how many times a battery can be used and recharged before it can no longer work efficiently. The cycles of forklift batteries will last longer than other battery options for solar power due to their intended capabilities of operating forklifts in industrial and manufacturing settings.

They are typically designed to have a lifespan of 1,500-1,800 cycles, which is typically enough for a forklift to be used every day of the work week for about 5 years. You likely will not use anywhere near the same amount of power, which means forklift batteries can last a very long time for off-grid power storage. 

Forklift batteries are heavy 

Forklift batteries are very heavy. In fact, a single forklift battery can weigh as much as 3,500 pounds, but there are smaller pallet jack versions that weigh as low as 585 pounds. Due to the weight of forklift batteries, you'll probably want to purchase them from a local distributor. The costs of shipping such a heavy item can be expensive.

Additionally, this is not an item that can be easily transported and delivered by the typical shipping companies, such as USPS and UPS. However, you'll need to keep the weight in mind when you pick the batteries up from the distributor and whether or not your vehicle will be able to handle the additional weight. 

Forklift batteries need water

Forklift batteries require each cell to be topped off with water at the end of each charging cycle. Do not add water during the charging cycle as doing so could cause the cells to boil over, which could release explosive gasses. Carefully add water to avoid splashes, but you should wear protective clothing and a face shield in case. Do not overfill the batteries as this could lead to acidic residue on top of the battery. If this happens, clean the top of the battery with a mixture of water and baking soda, which will dissolve and neutralize the acidic residue. 

Be sure there is a water source nearby, such as a garden hose. Otherwise, you will need to lug water to the location of the batteries to refill them after each charge. The amount of water needed will depend on the size of your batteries, so keep this in mind when you are choosing the size. 

Forklift batteries need to be easily accessible

Due to the weight and the need for water to be added, you'll need to choose a location for them that is easily accessible. Obviously, this cannot be in the center of your off-grid home or in the basement, simply because the batteries will require large equipment to move into place. Forklift batteries are far too heavy to lift without the help of heavy machinery.

Because of this, you'll likely need to own or rent a forklift, front loader, or other type of material handling equipment to move the forklift battery into place, such as in a shed on your backyard. However, you may be able to find forklift batteries that have removable cells, which may be easier to move them into place if you are physically strong or have small pallet jacks that can be maneuvered through doorways. 

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