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Choosing The Right Forklift Fuel Type Part 2: Electric

Filed under: Materials Handling

Electric forklifts … what are they good for? Today we will continue on with our forklift fuel type series by telling you a little about electric forklifts and going through the advantages and disadvantages of having one.

Electric forklifts are powered by either a battery or fuel cells that provide power to its electric motors. The electric motors used on forklifts may be either DC or AC types. If you are involved in working indoors or in cold climates (freezers or cold storage) or even in food processing; you must use an electric forklift. The reason being is that it doesn’t emit fumes which will raise the temperature in the area in which it is being operated.

However, you should never use an electric forklift outside where it can possibly rain or snow as it can cause the machine to short circuit. Electric forklifts are generally fitted with cushion tyres making them only suitable for hard surfaces such as concrete.  



  • Environmentally friendly
  • Usable in small areas and indoors
  • Electric forklifts have a longer life span compared to other types of forklifts
  • Cheaper consumption when it comes to hourly work compared to gas/diesel
  • At a national average peak rate of 15¢/kWh, most electric forklifts cost around $1.10 per hour to operate for fuel. 
  • Helps with communication amongst workers by providing a low level of noise
  • Greater manoeuvrability
  • Low centre of gravity – more stable at greater lift heights
  • Controls simple and user friendly
  • More mechanically simplistic (no transmission, torque converter etc)


  • The battery is required to be charged for 8 hours and additionally, you must let it cool down for another 8 hours after charging before you can actually use it. Therefore if needed for a lot of work, you would need extra batteries which are expensive.
  • Can take between 10 - 45 minutes to swap over a battery
  • You need to have a battery charging station (around 200 square feet) that is well ventilated, dry and temperature controlled.
  • Aren’t appropriate for use outside, especially in wet weather.

A common question asked about electric forklifts is: why does its value fall more than LPG and diesel?

Answer: Electric forklift batteries last for roughly five years (if maintained properly (link to battery maintenance blog)) with the batteries costing a hefty price to replace. In addition most chargers for these are three phase and many buildings don’t have three phase power.                 

Do you have any other questions about electric forklifts that you have always been thinking about? Leave them below for us to answer. Next week will be our final post for the series discussing gas forklifts so stay tuned.

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Next entry: Choosing The Right Forklift Fuel Type Part 3: Gas

Previous entry: Choosing The Right Forklift Fuel Type Part 1: Diesel (Internal combustion)