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How to Choose the Best Battery for Floor Cleaning Machines

February 28, 2024 9:17 AM by Tennant Company

Posted in Sustainability Productivity Best Practices Innovation & Technology

How to Choose the Best Battery for Floor Cleaning Machines

Many commercial and industrial organizations use tried-and-true lead acid batteries to power their floor cleaning machines today. That’s understandable since they have been the most common battery type for more than 160 years. But just as the passage of time has brought incredible innovation to cleaning machine technology, so too has innovation modernized batteries. These days, there are a variety of lead acid battery types to choose from, and each has distinct criteria for battery life, performance and cost.

In recent years, the Lithium-ion battery has become an attractive alternative to lead acid batteries. Lithium-ion batteries can maximize uptime and productivity, simplify operations with an uncomplicated charging process and make facilities safer—because there’s no exposure to flammable fuels and battery acid.

So how do you know which battery type is the right for your organization and cleaning application? Below you’ll find more information on the most common battery types as well as some supporting data to consider when choosing the battery that is best for you.

Flooded or wet cell batteries

Lead acid batteries come in a variety of forms and are 100% recyclable. Flooded or wet batteries have a relatively low acquisition cost and an expected battery life of approximately 750 charge cycles, which means they need to be replaced every 18 months to two years. Therefore, wet batteries are best for applications where long runtime is needed.

Wet cell batteries also need to be periodically watered to function properly. Failing to properly maintain wet batteries can significantly diminish the life of the battery—cutting it nearly in half. Plus, fluid levels should be checked in each cell at least once a week prior to charging batteries.

Cleaning machines equipped with Tennant Smart-fill™ Automatic Battery Watering technology can eliminate the need for battery watering. Smart-fill increases battery life, extends battery run-time, optimizes long-term battery performance, and provides a nearly maintenance-free battery watering system.

Benefits of Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) batteries

There are also various types of sealed AGM lead acid batteries. They offer a lower acquisition cost and have about a year of expected life, which translates to approximately 400 charge cycles—yet they require no maintenance.

AGM batteries tend to be heavier than flooded lead-acid batteries, which may require the operator to exert more energy when running walk-behind machines. AGM batteries also have a relatively long charge time compared to other battery types. This type of battery is best suited for applications with a short runtime.

GEL batteries: advantages

Higher cost, maintenance-free GEL lead acid batteries are another option to power floor cleaning machines. They typically last more than a year (500 charge cycles), depending on the frequency of use.

However, GEL batteries have a shorter run time before needing to be charged—making them best suited for applications where short runtime is needed. However, with GEL and AGM sealed lead acid batteries, the risk of acid contact is eliminated and there’s no watering.

Floor cleaning machine Lithium-ion batteries

Lithium-ion batteries come at a higher cost but deliver big advantages in the life and performance of the batteries. They have the longest battery life of 2,000+ charge cycles and require zero maintenance because there’s no watering or other maintenance. For organizations that don’t have machine operators well trained in taking care of lead acid batteries, Lithium-ion batteries offer a maintenance-free, no fuss option.

With significantly higher battery life and charge cycles, Lithium-ion batteries also have the fastest charge time of all battery options. It is the only type of battery for floor cleaning equipment that allows for opportunity charging—charging whenever the operator wants to—without sacrificing battery life.

Results from Tennant testing

Other factors to consider

When choosing a battery for a floor cleaning machine, usage comes into play. Retailers that only run the cleaning machine for two hours before a store opens don’t need as much battery capacity as industrial warehouses like Amazon that run floor cleaning machines 24/7.

Battery size is also important and Lithium-ion batteries come in a range of sizes to accommodate actual run time. Some operations might overbuy just in case they need extra capacity at some point, but this unnecessarily drives up cost. That’s why it’s important to consult with a cleaning machine and battery provider that can help assess true battery size and capacity needs.

Lithium-ion batteries are the future of floor cleaning

Until recently, organizations didn’t have Lithium-ion batteries as an option. Now, in the industrial space there are third-party battery providers with retrofit kits and Lithium-ion batteries can come standard on Tennant cleaning machines for any application.

Those using AGM batteries today will likely look at Lithium-ion batteries soon due to higher cost and lower cycle life. While industrial operations are typically used to the maintenance that comes with wet batteries, transitioning to Lithium-ion batteries can free up staff to focus on other high-value tasks that advance the operation.

For more information on battery options, contact Tennant.


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