Opportunity charging of industrial batteries is becoming a mainstream charging technology due to the operational savings, increased productivity, and environmental advantages by reduced energy consumption and enhanced safety benefits that this technology offers. Users are realizing the benefits of opportunity charging as these systems are already being utilized at many manufacturing plants and distribution centers around the United States.
Opportunity charging is the process of charging a battery whenever power is available or between partial discharges rather than waiting for the battery to be completely discharged. It is used with batteries in cycle service, and in applications when energy is available only intermittently. Opportunity charging can be subject to wide variations in energy availability and wide variations in power levels and typically charges at a rate of 25-35 amps per 100 AH. Special control electronics are needed to protect the battery from over voltage.
Opportunity Charging gives you the ability to charge your batteries on lunch break or any down time before they are completely discharged saving you time and money. This keeps your vehicle running to the end of the day, not the end of the shift. There is no need for a battery changing area which saves you valuable space and the expense of purchasing battery handling equipment. Additionally, there is no need for the added expense of purchase and maintaining a spare battery, because there is less heat gain on your battery with opportunity charging.
Is your facility an opportunity charge candidate? If you operate battery-powered trucks 1.5 shifts per day or more, and perform at least one battery change-out per day, you may be a candidate for opportunity charging. The next step is to fully understand the operational profile of the trucks/batteries to see whether you can actually use opportunity charging. This can be established through a power study where the battery/truck operation is monitored for a week. Based on the data, one can determine whether there are adequate opportunities for opportunity charging throughout the shift or day as well as a weekly opportunity to perform finish/equalize cycles.