Original Publication Date: August 25, 2020
Revised: March 16, 2022
With some basic information, you can keep your equipment running, avoid unnecessary downtime, and keep your cleaning team on track with the daily cleaning checklist, all the while maintaining a safer space for clients and your team.
Knowing how to care for batteries used in commercial floor cleaning equipment goes hand in hand with how long the batteries will last and how long they will operate at 100% power. Over time, batteries lose their ability to completely recharge, but this can be extended in some cases with proper care.
The life of batteries used in floor scrubbers and sweepers depends on a few things:
Floor scrubbers and sweepers are designed to work with specific types of batteries so making sure you are using the correct type of battery is key!
Therefore, starting with manufacturers guidelines is always the safest way to get started with battery knowledge and maintenance.
Wet flooded lead acid batteries require more maintenance than other lead acid battery types because the plates need to be submerged in an electrolyte and water mixture, as this process produces power.
Refilling this mixture should happen weekly and the plates must be covered with distilled water before charging and after charging—however, the electrolyte can expand during the charging period, so it is important to add the proper amount of distilled water to avoid over-flowing. Overflowing can damage the equipment and be potentially harmful to users.
It is also important to note that water must be distilled to keep the battery working correctly.
AGM and gel lead acid batteries are both considered to be “low” maintenance batteries as they do not need water added to the cells.
The best way to maintain them is through proper charging.
Lithium-ion batteries are also considered “low” maintenance as there is no adding water, or periodic discharging. The best way to prolong the life of lithium-ion batteries is also through proper charging techniques.
They can be sensitive to heat due to the movement of lithium-ions, so it is best to store them in cool, dry, places.
Prolonged downtime can reduce the life of all batteries after a certain period.
If batteries have a prolonged idle time, it is important to make sure they are fully charged and unplugged from any equipment and leaving them plugged in at the charging station is suggested. This way, if power is turned off, and then back on, the battery can immediately start charging again.
Some batteries may be able to last up to three months sitting idle if the battery had been fully charged prior to the downtime, but again, it depends on the type and usage of the battery.
A sure-fire way to kill the battery is leaving it plugged into equipment while sitting idle, this is not advised.
Proper charging techniques are one of the most important ways to sustain and prolong battery life.
Industry guidelines suggest lead acid batteries should be charged after each use of 20 minutes or more. The battery must be fully charged before using it again and for this reason charging overnight can be good to build into your routine.
It is also important to make sure AGM and GEL batteries are kept with their specific charger as GEL batteries are sensitive and have charging stations designed specifically for the gel-like substance.
Unless specifically stated, most lead acid batteries cannot be opportunity charged.
Opportunity charging means plugging the battery in to charge for a small amount of time when the opportunity arises, and the battery does not have to charge to 100% to be used again. This can shorten the life of lead acid batteries and should be avoided.
Lastly, do not over charge lead acid batteries: it is recommended that these batteries not be charged more than once in a 24-hour period.
Lithium-ion batteries are some of the fastest charging batteries on the market and the longest lasting.
The charge/ discharge cycle of lithium-ion batteries is between 2000-5000 cycles (depending on the battery) compared to 200-500 cycles for lead acid batteries—this can equal up to 6-7 years of machine usage with one battery at 100% charge.
Plus, lithium-ion batteries can be opportunity charged giving cleaning professionals more flexibility in their floor cleaning schedule. For these reasons, lithium-ion batteries are gaining popularity with manufacturers of floor cleaning machines.
The cost of batteries is dependent on the type, size, and manufacturer: In an interview for ISSA and Cleanfax.com, Tom Coyne, Sales Director at Battery Service Hub, says :
Important things to note when figuring out initial costs are the expected life of the battery, number of charges, and disposal. Even though a battery may have a lower price point initially, the long-term care, durability, and disposal of the equipment could end up costing more than a battery that costs more upfront.
For example, lithium-ion Batteries are some of the most expensive batteries on the market but, due to the length of their charge cycles, they do not need to be replaced as often, and there is zero maintenance involved—thus they can be more cost effective overall.
It is important to read all the manufacturer's instructions and suggestions for proper care and maintenance to ensure staff and equipment operators stay safe.
Again, making sure you have the correct battery for your floor cleaning machine is an important first step of safe operation.
Other key steps according to Cleaning Maintenance Management are:
Building a consistent battery maintenance plan into your cleaning business routine can go a long way when it comes to keeping your cleaning team focused on the job.
Proper charging can not only reduce downtime, keeping employees working longer, but it can also extend the life of the battery, which can help you control variable costs.
When you and your team focus on safe and correct battery maintenance and replacement costs, you can increase uptime, reduce the risk of injury to your staff or anyone in the facility, and reduce costs associated with running your floor cleaning equipment. Doing these things can have a positive effect on your business ROI.
Battery maintenance and care for floor cleaning machines can have a substantial impact on your cleaning business.