Lithium Forklift Battery vs. Lead Acid Battery: How to Save Money by Switching

The lithium ion forklift battery is poised to revolutionize the materials handling industry. And when you compare the pros and cons of the lithium battery vs. lead acid battery for powering your forklift or fleet of lift trucks, it is easy to understand why.

The biggest reason is that the potential cost savings are enormous. It’s true that lithium forklift batteries do cost considerably more than lead acid batteries, but they last 2-3 times longer and create dramatic savings in other areas that guarantee you a significantly lower total cost of ownership.

Here are some of the key advantages that make powering your electric lift trucks with lithium batteries a smart decision:

  • Dramatic cost savings
  • Lower total cost of ownership
  • Longer life span
  • Longer warranties
  • Safer operations
  • Faster, more efficient charging
  • No need for a battery room
  • Less down time

Lead Acid Battery vs. Lithium Battery

Let’s take a closer look at some of the major advantages of powering your fleet with state-of-the-art lithium battery technology.

Dramatic cost savings:

Because lithium ion batteries last so much longer than traditional lead acid batteries, the cost savings begin to add up quickly and end up being substantial over the much longer life span of this game-changing forklift power source.

Other factors that contribute to a more cost-efficient warehouse operation include:

  • Far less money spent on energy for charging batteries
  • Less time and labor expended by workers swapping out lead acid batteries
  • Less time and labor spent maintaining and watering lead acid batteries
  • Less energy wasted (a lead acid battery burns off 45-50% of its energy in heat, while a lithium battery loses only 10-15%)
Worker safety:

Hydrogen fumes and “acid splash” are a health and safety concern for workers maintaining lead acid batteries. Risks include sulfuric acid contacting their clothing, skin or eyes. Though not always adhered to, OSHA guidelines call for nearby eyewash stations and for workers to wear personal protective gear (goggles, rubber or neoprene gloves and aprons). Such potential health and safety hazards are eliminated when using lithium batteries.

No battery rooms required:

Due to the space needed for charging and the risk of spills and fumes, most companies that run multiple forklifts powered by lead acid batteries handle the time-consuming recharging tasks by dedicating some of their valuable warehouse space to a separate, well-ventilated battery room.

Opportunity charging:

So-called “opportunity charging” (or charging forklift batteries when opportunities arise; for example, during breaks or in between tasks) is one of the great advantages of lithium batteries. However, the same practice will significantly shorten the life of a lead acid battery.

Longer warranties:

Lead acid batteries must be meticulously maintained, according to the manufacturer’s specifications, to remain in compliance with warranty protections. Lithium batteries are essentially maintenance free and are covered by longer warranties.

Lithium Ion Batteries for Forklifts: Frequently Asked Questions


Does it meet weight requirements related to the lifting capacity of my equipment?


Yes, it will meet any weight requirements. Though lithium batteries are much lighter than lead acid batteries, ballast is added to ensure the proper weight distribution for maximum, reliable lifting capacity for all of your equipment.


How long will it take before the higher cost of my lithium battery starts paying for itself in savings?


In most cases, savings kick in as quickly as 10-14 months.


Is it possible to convert my existing fleet to lithium battery power source, or do I have to wait until it’s time to purchase new equipment?


The decision is completely up to you. Electric fork trucks from any manufacturer can be converted from lead acid to lithium battery power. The bigger your fleet, the bigger your potential savings.

“We can convert any current electric truck over to lithium. It’s plug and play,” says Marcus Warner, director of strategic accounts at NITCO, and one of the materials handling industry’s leading experts on lithium battery technology.

NITCO has partnered with California-based OneCharge, one of the most innovative companies in the lithium ion battery space, to make lithium battery solutions available to companies throughout New England and beyond.

Lithium ion batteries have long been used to power such personal electronics devices as phones, tablets and laptops, as well as hearing aids and even pacemakers — and now the technology is making a major impact in the materials handling industry.

So if your business involves using forklifts and other materials handling equipment, and you want to operate as efficiently as possible, lithium ion is definitely something to keep your eye on. Contact the team at NITCO, New England’s largest electric forklift distributor, to gather more information about the potential benefits and cost savings for your business.

Lithium Forklift Battery

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