Two people comparing options concept

As floor care equipment continues to evolve, an increasing number of frontline cleaning crews are turning away from conventional corded options for battery-powered alternatives. Without needing to depend on outlets to clean, cleaning crews can improve their efficiency by over 30 percent through the utilization of battery-powered floor machines. 

A key step in optimizing floor care, however, is selecting the ideal battery for a fleet of machines or facility. When it comes to commercial cleaning, four types of batteries are typically on the table for discussion: AGM, wet flooded, GEL, and lithium ion. While the first three options have a longer-standing for conventional use in the industry, the efficiency and sheer power of lithium batteries has gained traction in recent years — especially with pandemic-induced labor shortages among janitorial staffs. According to a Statista report, the market for lithium batteries is expected to grow from what was approximately $40 billion in 2020 to 92 billion in 2026. 

For this Fast Facts installment, we’re going to focus on two of the options: GEL and lithium. Ultimately, the decision to power floor equipment with either GEL or lithium batteries comes down to a variety of factors, including available budget, square footage requirements, and how much maintenance a frontline cleaning crew is willing to put in. 

Price Considerations. For a cheaper baseline prices, GEL is easily the way to go, as lithium batteries will typically be 50 percent more expensive upfront. The trade-off is lithium batteries have a significantly longer life cycle. On average, a properly-maintained lithium battery will last at least 2,000 cycles — while being able to perform at 80 percent of their original capacity. Alternatives to lithium including GEL will last between 500-1,000 cycles conventionally. With a longer lifespan comes less time and money spent on downtime, replacements, and installation.

Efficiency. Lithium batteries have a higher percentage of stored energy that can be utilized at 95 percent, compared to 80-85 percent on average for GEL counterparts. Greater efficiency correlates directly with faster charging speeds as well. In addition, the two options have differing depths of discharge, which refers to how much of the battery’s power can be used before a refill is recommended. For lithium, depth of discharges can reach 80 percent, while most GEL options top out at around 50 percent. 

Maintenance. One of the key benefits to GEL batteries is the simplicity of use, as the design makes them maintenance-free and spill proof. GEL batteries combine silica and sulfuric acid which create the gel-like substance that it’s named after. The formulated substance doesn’t leak as a result. While GEL batteries are more sensitive to colder temperatures compared to lithium, the ease of use and low cost can make it ideal for indoor areas that don’t require the large capacities of footage that a more efficient lithium battery could better be suited for. On the other hand, lithium batteries are heat-sensitive and more difficult to dispose compared to GEL counterparts. 

For more Fast Facts coverage, check out another recent installment on how vacuum filtration helps improve indoor air.