Lithium-ion batteries have a lifecycle of 3000 or more compared to just 500-1000 cycles in lead acid. Lithium-ion batteries generally last for several times the number of cycles as lead acid batteries, leading to a longer effective lifespan for lithium-ion products. Cycles are also counted in % of charge rather than one cycle every time you connect the battery to the charger. This means: 10% charge is 1/10 of a cycle with a Li-Ion battery, while a 10% charge at a lead acid battery is 1 full cycle.
While lead acid batteries always need a full charge cycle of 8-12 hours to keep the batteries chemistry in balance, LI-Ion batteries really like opportunity charging. They can be plugged in the wall and charge for 10 Minutes during a lunch break. This offers a unique way to work your shifts and reduce the overall Ah carried around in the truck.
Lithium-ion batteries offer high power density which cause lithium-ion batteries to be relatively small and light. It is only one-third the weight of lead-acid batteries. This offers manufacturers like EP the opportunity to develop the trucks with higher standards of ergonomics, bigger legroom and better performing trucks due to the smaller size and weight of the batteries.
Most lithium-ion batteries are 95 percent efficient or more, meaning that 95 percent or more of the energy stored in a lithium-ion battery is actually able to be used. Conversely, lead acid batteries see efficiencies closer to 80 to 85 percent.
Higher efficiency batteries charge faster, improved efficiency means a higher effective battery capacity. Lithium batteries takes 2-3 hours to charge while lead-acid needs 8 hours. Lithium batteries high effective capacity reduces downtime in warehouse duties.
More environmentally friendly
From an ecological point of view, it‘s non-toxic and harmless. Lithium batteries emits no gas so it is a much cleaner technology and is safer for the environment than lead-acid.
The alarming energy crisis and the shift in world climate is a clear indicator of the urgency of switching to cleaner energy sources at every level. As the future of energy storage solution, Lithium-ion battery technology, provides sustainable changes in transforming our way to store and consuming energy.
Lithium-ion batteries have been widely adopted in the production of electric vehicles. In the material handling market, Li-Ion batteries became popular mainly with entry level pallet trucks due to the introduction of the EPT 12EZ from EP Equipment in 2016. Since then, entry level pallet trucks are mainly produced with Li-Ion batteries, though the technology used can differ quite significantly, leading to different characteristics and safety standards. Larger equipment has been available with Li-Ion options for several years already, but at the same time it was always extremely expensive and payed of mainly in heavy duty, 3 shift application. With the development of new trucks, this obstacle can be eliminated, and all categories of material handling products can be powered by Li-Ion technology in the near future, according to EP Equipment studies.
While lead-acid batteries need special maintenance, Lithium batteries don’t require active maintenance to extend their service life. That largely eliminates the costs of battery upkeeping, maintenance and infrastructure.
It’s important to compare energy prices to ensure you’re getting a great deal for your Lead acid battery products and Li-ion ones.
In a nutshell, lead acid batteries may be less expensive from procurement perspectives, however, a lithium battery solution may contribute to a more cost-efficient warehouse operation in a long run:
- Less expense and energy spent on charging batteries
- No time and labour involved by swapping batteries
- Less time and labour spent maintaining and watering lead-acid batteries
- Reduced waste of energy (a lead-acid battery normally uses up to 50% of its energy through heat, while a lithium battery uses only up to 15%)
- Smaller overall battery size leads to similar purchase costs and offer the same or better autonomy due to opportunity charging.
IS EVERY LITHIUM BATTERY THE SAME?
Lithium-ion is named for its active materials. There are several types of chemical components to build rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. The most two relevant materials to the forklift industry are Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) and Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide (NMC).
NMC technology is very well known from the car industry and other manufacturing where weight and size play a major role. The upside of NMC batteries is a high energy density and the compact size. The downside of the NMC cell is the high possibility of inflammation and explosion when punctures or overheated. Due to the light weight and high energy density some manufacturers are still using NMC in material handling products, while manufacturers like BYD, Linde, Still, EP Equipment and others have switched to a different technology.
LFP technology is currently the technology used by the leading manufacturers of Li-Ion material handling products. LFP offers good electrochemical performance with low resistance. The key benefits are high current rating and long cycle life, besides good thermal stability, enhanced safety and tolerance if abused. There are many advantages to choosing an LFP-powered machine. Especially when applying on larger equipment like an electric ride on pallet truck or electric forklift trucks, the LFP battery plays out its strength—it does not catch fire or burn when punctures – it is just safe!
|Criteria||NMC batteries||LFP batteries|
|Thermal Runaway||210C (410F)||270C (518F)|
|Life Cycle||1000-2000||2000 and higher|
EP Equipment produces all its Li-Ion machines with LFP batteries to power its trucks. Li-phosphate is more tolerant to full charge conditions and is less stressed than other lithium-ion systems if kept at high voltage for a prolonged time.
LITHIUM VS LEAD-ACID BATTERIES OVERVIEW
Electric powered material handling products are growing heavily in market share in the past 10 years with a strong push due to E-Commerce and the growth of warehousing vs. decentralized storage. In the past all of these trucks have been powered by some sort of Lead acid battery, Gel Battery or AGM Battery. In the recent years, Li-Ion became more and more cost efficient as it played a stronger role in the development and purchase strategy of manufacturers and customers.
With a difference in chemistry between those two battery types come differences in performance and cost. While both lithium-ion and lead acid battery options can be effective storage solutions, here’s how they stack up when compared head to head in key categories:
WHY LI-ION INSTEAD OF LEAD ACID?
Depending on the type of material handling product, the decision about the battery technology can be easy or a little bit harder. When you look at the prices of pallet trucks nowadays, it seems logical to go for a Li-Ion version even at ride-on versions, as the cost price is comparable and adds tremendous advantages. When thinking about the purchase of reachtrucks and forklift trucks, the price gap for most manufacturers is still an obstacle for many customers. In that case only manufacturers with Li-Ion customized trucks can offer a real alternative as their production costs can match the price of lead acid trucks.
HOW TO SELECT THE RIGHT LITHIUM BATTERY FOR YOUR EQUIPMENT?
When considering replacing an existing lead-acid battery by a Lithium Ion battery , or comparing lithium battery adoption in high power electric trucks across different providers, you need to take a couple of things into consideration:
HIGH QUALITY CELLS
The cell is the heart of battery. EP uses only the highest quality cells of the safest technology and strive to improve energy and power density and extend service life. EP adopts LiFePO4 cells that can be operated in a wide range of temperature for various applications, even in extreme weather condition. EP has been designing and assembling custom battery solutions or various electronic applications. There are 13 specifications on lithium battery cells to match our customers’ unique requirements.
RELIABLE BMS SYSTEM
Safety of lithium-based batteries has attracted much media and legal attention. Battery management systems (BMS) play a crucial role to protect the battery against short circuit, reverse polarity, over and under voltage, and over current in the reliability of systems utilizing lithium-ion batteries. By data-collecting, calculating and controlling the charge and discharge process of voltage, current, temperature and state-of-charge, BMS secures the battery longevity and improves battery performance.
Lithium-ion batteries are notorious for bursting into flames when overheating, mostly while charging. A good charger is not enough to prevent this. The BMS communicates with the battery, with the truck and with the charger and continuously monitors the temperature. The BMS kicks in when the temperature is out of range.
The BMS also prevents the battery from overheating during usage, as the lifetime of a li-ion battery strongly depends on its operating conditions. And the BMS does more: Charging is optimized and charging and discharging cycles are stored in its memory. EP Lithium-ion batteries are produced in our own factory and equipped with our own in-house developed BMS to ensure the reliability of the batteries and safety operation.
STABLE CAN BUS SYSTEM
The Controller Area Network (CAN bus) is the nerve system, enabling communication between all parts of the battery. The CAN bus acts as a central networking hub communicating information of battery condition and automatically sending alarms to the BMS system when damages occur.
With combination of BMS and CAN functionalities, EP develops its remote diagnostic system to proactively monitor the battery performance of all EP Lithium-integrated trucks. It is a powerful system providing advanced data monitoring and analysis capabilities for better technical support service.
High quality components can avoid overheating when high current charges and discharges. EP batteries are engineered with the highest quality components to maximize the performance of your battery system.
EP LITHIUM BATTERY APPLICATIONS
With years of experience and achievements in research and development, EP has been dedicated to developing its lithium battery technology. This expertise has been applied for EP trucks and after-sales services to establish a cohesive product support system for valued customers for work productivity and truck efficiency optimization. In 2019, EP advertised the slogan “LiST” featuring EP’s new array of lithium-integrated smart trucks. The series delivers savings in weight and space, a superior cycle life and charges a lot quicker.
Combining all the benefits of lithium technology with an intelligent BMS, the LiST series showcases two major smart applications: telematics and Bluetooth services. Telematics can be used to monitor hours used and miles driven in real time. Bluetooth service streams fault information and sync diagnostics data from a truck to operator’s mobile phone. The wireless communication technology that sends data in real time over long distance has allowed EP to develop remote diagnostic technologies for one-stop after-sales services.
EP LiST trucks are widely used in various industries, such as transportation and logistics, retail sector, general manufacturing, construction, food, and beverage industry. It proofs that using lithium battery products becomes a more popular demand. More manufacturing professionals are aware of benefits to adopt lithium electric forklift — less pollution, higher energy efficiency, and lower maintenance costs.
IS LI-ION THE RIGHT CHOICE FOR ME?
With large purchase like electric forklifts and other material handling equipment, you want to consider your options. Contact us directly to receive further information about EP Lithium products. If a Lithium-ion battery is something you’re interested in pairing with your system, or you would like to receive further information about EP Lithium products, contact our EP representatives directly. You can also follow EP Updates to learn more about EP customer stories and how we can help to leverage your business.
EP VISION: ENERGY STORAGE SYSTEM
EP has been working with its R&D team and develops its own lithium battery energy storage system, which is a solar energy storage system that automatically converts solar energy into electricity and store in lithium battery packs for operators to use at later time. It allows forklift operators to reduce costs and maximize uptime during working hours by eliminating demand charges from a company’s utility bill or by providing reliable emergency power backup.
EP battery energy storage system includes solar panels and EP lithium battery packs. The solar panels collect energy from the sun and turn it into electricity, which is passed through the inverter and stored in lithium battery packs that operators can use to swap dead batteries from their trucks anytime without discontinuing their shifts.
In typical battery energy storage system, the higher the battery’s capacity, the more solar energy it can store. With a stamp of lithium batteries as the best option for energy density, EP battery energy storage system adopts lithium batteries for storage of excess solar power. Moreover, the benefits of BMS and CAN bus systems in lithium batteries allow the system to monitor battery performance during electricity production—making it incredibly safe.
LITHIUM BATTERY SAFETY CERTIFICATIONS
Battery safety is at the top of the list for both manufactures and end users. EP lithium batteries are rigorously tested and certified by universal standard practices in industry to ensure conformance to global standards where they are used.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does LFP means?
LFP stands for lithium iron phosphate, which describes the chemistry behind the battery. Compared to NMC, LFP technology does not use cobalt as a material, which often involves with child labor. LFP also will not burn like NMC batteries.
LFP technology is safe both from a technical and humanitarian point of view.
Does EPT12-EZ uses NMC?
It used NMC at the beginning and switched to LFP
Is the Lithium-ion battery same supplied with BYD?
No, it’s not the same because we make our own batteries. But we share same battery technology. BYD claims they have special technology, which is exactly the same as LFP technology we are using in our batteries.
The big difference between us and other suppliers is that we allow our partners to exchange the cells or service this batteries by themselves. We train you to do this job by yourself. So our batteries are more highly advanced when it comes to after-sales service, compared to others.
Using a classic battery and as a counterweight, does the use of lithium-ion batteries not affect the capacity of the forklift?
When you take a conventional truck model, like the 5-ton electric lithium-ion truck for example, we take out the lead-acid battery and put the lithium-ion battery in. Then we need to add counterweight at the bottom of the battery box to have the same capacity.
By the new factors of lithium-ion, we can redesign our forklifts machines from scratch and move the counterweight to different places to have more compact trucks, larger foot space or more view for the operator. The residual capacity is given by what the customer needs. We design a truck from scratch with lithium-ion batteries according to the needs. And we try to find a different way to design the machines to have a similar stability.
What is the expected life of a lithium battery in years?
It depends on the application and the style of charging. You can expect this battery to last as long as the truck itself. Customers are expected to replace their forklifts every five years because of the renewal of contracts. We also provide a 5 year warranty. But replacement with li-ion this is not necessary anymore.
What is the situation with battery recycling?
First step is what we call ´2nd life solutions´. Lithium-ion batteries have a value in the future. You can sell or rent them out. They can be used as buffer storage and don’t need to be recycled for at least 20 years. See the batteries as an asset in your company and use them step by step.
When the battery has less capacity over time, it might not be good enough for your fork lift truck, the battery can go for a 2nd life in another application like stand-by solutions.
When the battery is broken, we offer in Europe a solution on the recycling process.
What happens if we keep charging the batteries? Does it affect battery life?
A lithium-ion battery lives the longest when you keep your battery between 35-65%, or between 25-85%. The battery prefers quick charges. So charging during break times is the new normal way of working with batteries.
Do you have data or experience to calculate the energy consumption of different machines?
For various trucks we have testing results based on VDI cycles.
Also www.logisticsinside.eu has tested some of our machines on their test track. Logistics Inside is an independent test institution in Europe checking our trucks and putting them to a standardised test.
The real-life net usage of batteries always depends on local circumstances. Weight of the load and lifting height has a lot of influence.
Note that we add the opportunity charging which extends the availability up to 24 hours per day.
Can these batteries be changed when needed? What is the weight of a 48V forklift battery?
A 48V forklift battery weighs 250 kilograms. But we do not recommend to change batteries for longer running time of the truck. The concept is to use opportunity charging.
When selling this tech, do you have any downloadable video content for iPad?
In general, we try to use our website as a great showcase where you can directly find the information on the lithium-ion. We have a section on li-ion batteries, reference cases on customers and blog posts on our trucks and batteries.
On youtube you can find videos.
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What are the effects of operating above 45 degrees Celsius?
The single cell should not get hotter than 45 degrees or colder than minus 20 degrees.
To cool down there is a ventilator in the truck to make sure the batteries are cooled. There’s no problem with running our lithium-ion forklift trucks so far.
The batteries can run in relatively extreme temperatures. But the more comfortable the battery feels, the longer its lifetime.
What should be the minimum power supply in the warehouse to be able to charge in 2.5 hours?
All HF Chargers have 16 or 32 amp plugs
If you need lower power, you can reprogram the charger or BMS to a lower charging power, with longer charging time change the cable and plug.
The EFL 181 is standard needs 230 volt plug.
If the ground environment is bad, will it affect the battery/trucks?
Yes. vibration, as well as extreme temperatures, is bad for any electrical component. But you can use your lithium-ion forklift or pallet trucks in any application that you have used it before.
Which is better to use, LFP or NMC for all forklifts?
As a highly developed technology, NMC is easier for our powered pallet trucks. The NMC cells are used in cars which need light weight and small size. When it comes to safety, cars with NMC cells catch fire easily. LFP cells are a little bit bigger and heavier but more robust and fire-proof. So we switch to LFP cells for safety and reliability. In addition, there’s no cobalt.
What is the difference between the power consumption of lithium charging and a lead-acid battery?
A lithium-ion battery is more energy-efficient than a lead-acid battery and the lead acid battery produces more heat when charging, meaning a loss of energy. More power needed to be put in lead-acid battery compared to lithium-ion battery. See for this also the TCO Training.
The power supply needed from the grid depends on the charging time. Faster charging means higher current. You can choose and eventually set the charging parameters to your needs.
Can EP use Micropower chargers?
Yes, we have finished a project with Micropower for Micropower chargers to work with the EP charging protocols and battery settings. So besides the chargers from the factory, we have an 48V and 80V Charger from Zapi-Zivan and now the Micropower chargers. Supply from this charger is trough EP EU. Other chargers are not possible since they have to be able to communicate with the BMS.
How do I identify a battery as LFP and not another type?
Every manufacturer should state that in their MSDS sheets, yet it is not always transparent and clear. You can be assured that all current EP batteries are LFP. With other manufacturers in the smallest battery range I would not be too sure.
Do we have any other warehouse equipments with li-ion batteries?
We have two types of trucks. One is called LIST: lithium integrated smart trucks, which are designed around lithium-ion technology. They do not fit a traditional lead-acid or AGM battery anymore. These are trucks like the L1/L2/EPL154/EPL185/WPL201/12EZ.
The other type is the traditional trucks like stackers, pallet trucks, ride-on pallet trucks. They have the traditional lead acid battery design chassis and from that are equipped with lithium-ion batteries (and electronics in the truck).
Every truck you get in the EP portfolio that has a lead-acid battery can also get with a lithium-ion battery.
A new truck in this range is the EFL302, where we transformed a diesel truck into li-ion electric power.
What does EP stand for?
EP stands for “East Power”. It’s the power of a company. It means we feel strong. We are very proud that now in the topic of lithium-ion batteries, the topic of power becomes a whole new dimension.