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Converting Internal Combustion to Electric Forklifts

  • October 8, 2012

“Going Green” has been a major concern when a company decides to make the switch from Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) forklifts to Electric Forklifts.  The evolution of the Electric forklift has provided higher performing trucks that today can outperform the ICE counterpart.  This article will highlight some of the benefits and problems that will occur when you are considering switching from Diesel Forklifts and Liquid Propane Gas engines to an Electric Forklift fleet.

“Why convert my fleet from Internal Combustion Engine Forklifts to Electric Forklifts?”

Aside from reducing emissions and reduction in noise levels, the transition to an Electric Forklift fleet will save you more than $6,000 per truck annually.  Regardless if your business needs a forklift that will run constantly 24 hours or just 8 hours, an electric fleet will result in long term benefits in savings from fuel, maintenance, and overall useful life.  Benefits that Electric Forklifts can bring your business include:

-Healthier employees, with the elimination of fumes from fuel engines and a reduction of injuries from having to rotate heavy liquid propane tanks which can weigh up to 60 Pounds.  Also, electric forklifts increase safety to operators and other employees when reversing without the obstruction of vision from LP tanks.  The absence of propane tanks also means little to no risk of an explosion or fire occurring in your warehouse from the storage and use of liquid propane.


-Reduction in storage space and smaller aisles, some of the narrow aisle lifts with similar lifting capacity to an ICE forklift can increase the number of aisle in a
warehouse resulting in greater space efficiency.

-Superior efficiency with newer forklifts in higher top speeds, acceleration, and faster hydraulic operation.  The absence of a motor also provides a smoother ride for the operator and extended tire life.

Problems with Converting to Electric Forklifts

Although the benefits with today’s Electric Forklift technology typically outweigh the reasons not to convert, there are some issues that your business may come across during the process.  Without the initial cost of batteries, chargers, and other equipment the cost to purchase a fleet of ICE trucks is much higher than Electric Forklifts.  The biggest obstacle your business may run into is the experienced LPG and ICE operators will have difficulty with the change, the hydraulics on an electric forklift differ from the traditional hydraulic pump in an ICE forklift, which is powered by the revving of the engine to lift the fork to the desired height.   With Electric Forklifts, the fork and hydraulic pump are controlled by a digital controller that is sensitive and can take a while for some ICE forklift operators to relearn and have full control of the electric forklift.


Something else to remember when making the switch to electric forklifts is to install reverse alarms and strobe lights, because of the low noise level.

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