Why are my Forklift's Battery Cables and Wires Getting so Hot?

June 13, 2018

If you have ever asked, yourself this question, then it’s time to take note of the warning. Because electric industrial lift trucks run at high current and low voltage that use electrochemical cells as their power source, it is not uncommon to experience an elevated temperature within the system somewhere. However, excessive heating of your electric forklifts components should never be ignored because it is likely an indicator of problems that will only get worse!

Schedule Forklift Battery Cool Down Time

Typical lead-acid industrial batteries heat up when charged and become increasingly more likely to build heat as they age. Operating batteries with internal temperatures above 80-90 degree Fahrenheit reduces the batteries useful life. Many battery manufacturers set 110 degrees Fahrenheit as the maximum temperature for regular operation of their batteries with temperatures of 120 degrees Fahrenheit or higher as the temperature voiding the battery’s warranty. It is important, especially in multiple shift operations, to schedule cool-down periods after the battery has been fully charged. Most multiple shift operations require spare batteries used for change out to allow for time needed for cooling of the first shift’s battery.

Repair Or Replace Hot Wires And Cable On Your Forklift Battery

So we know that batteries get warm and heat up when being used or charged. If battery cables and connectors get hot enough to melt their insulating material, you have a problem. It is best to properly repair or replace continually hot connectors and cable wires as routine maintenance before they can lead to expensive repairs. Often the culprit is a weak contact at the tip of the connectors or a bad crimp at the connections. Sulfuric battery acid can also reach the copper cables by burning holes through the cable insulation corroding the copper wire. If this is the case, you will notice cable swelling. If any cable swelling exists, you must immediately replace all corroded and swollen cables and damaged connectors.

If you are experiencing hot components within your electric forklift system then something is interfering with the clean contacts between the metal conductors, or the overall size of your conducts (battery cables) are too small to carry the current loads needed to be effective. This happens when the lift truck battery has been retrofitted improperly with cables smaller than an adequate gauge. If you think this may be causing your hot cables, check with our battery experts to find out proper cable size to use for your specific battery and charger.


Hot Wire Hot Sheet

Melted connectors, and/or hot cables, do not mean your battery or charger are malfunctioning. The problem likely lies in the connectors and cables themselves. If you are experiencing hot cables check the following:

  1. Check for cracked, broken or melted battery connectors. If any are found replace.
  2. Check connector-contacting tips to make sure that contact surfaces are clean. Never use abrasives to clean contact tips.
  3. If you notice oxidation on contact tips, it means too much heating has occurred. Cut cables back to clean copper. Replace and crimp contact tips properly back in place. 
  4. Inspect for and replace any damaged insulation on cables with proper insulation material. Electrical tape will not last is not considered safe. Replace the cable if insulation is badly damaged.
  5. Heating nearest the charger end of your battery cable means that there is a problem with the connection within the charger itself. Consult an industrial battery specialist at SSE.

Southern States Enterprises battery maintenance experts are here to help with your lift truck battery needs. Contact us today for more information on our routine battery maintenance programs and avoid getting burned by a hot wire!

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