Mobility scooters run on batteries but you have to make sure you get the right ones if you want to make the most out of your scooter. There are four different types of batteries for mobility scooters and each has its own pros and cons.
As well as understanding the best type of battery for your mobility scooter, you’ll also need to know how to correctly maintain it.
In this guide, I’ll explain everything you need to know about mobility scooter batteries and how to take care of them.
What Type Of Batteries Do Mobility Scooters Take?
It doesn’t matter what type of battery you are using, your mobility scooter will always take a 12v. However, in the majority of cases, the scooter will take two 12v batteries equally a 24v output.
When it comes to changing the batteries in your scooter, I’d recommend doing them both at the same time. This is just easier to maintain and you won’t have one battery performing better than the other. If you notice that one is playing up, go ahead and replace them both since the other one will probably end up failing in the near future anyway.
It’s also important to make sure that you’re using two of the same batteries. By this, I mean the same type of battery and by the same manufacturer.
There are four main types of batteries that you can use in a mobility scooter. Let’s take a closer look at each one.
One of the main advantages of an SLA battery is that they’re so affordable. But that doesn’t come at the cost of durability or performance. In fact, SLA batteries are surprisingly robust for the price and this makes them ideal for all-terrain scooters.
If you regularly travel by air then batteries must comply with airline standards and the great thing about SLA batteries is they’re totally travel-friendly. Even if you only use them for travel, it’s worth having a couple in storage and then you can use other types for everyday use.
However, since these batteries are quite large and bulky, they aren’t the most appropriate for lightweight or folding scooters.
You’ll also benefit from the fact that SLA batteries do not require a lot of maintenance so if you want something that’s easy to take care of, they’re worth considering.
Where an SLA battery might not be suitable for everyday use owing to its size, a gel battery is perfect for this. However, you should keep in mind that you have to ‘warm up’ the batteries to get the most power out of them. When they’re new, they tend to only operate at about 60% but as you use them, this will increase. But this can take up to 25 full discharges and recharges.
In terms of how long a gel battery will last, they won’t last as long as the lithium ion battery but they have a much better lifespan than an SLA.
If you travel a lot then a gel battery can be taken on board an aircraft. Plus they’re less bulky than SLA batteries which is preferable when you’re travelling.
AGM batteries are a type of lead battery and they’re brilliant if you’re looking for something for occasional use. What’s more, they’re one of the more affordable types of batteries so are ideal if you’re on a budget.
Another great advantage to the AGM battery is how low maintenance they are. They also have a shorter charging time and are incredibly powerful. They’re very durable and have a decent lifespan which is great when you consider the cost.
However, it is worth keeping in mind that there is a knack to charging them. It’s best not to let them drain to below 50% and improper charging will reduce their lifespan significantly.
Lithium ion batteries are one of the newer types of batteries and they’re certainly considered to be one of the best. However, they are a lot more expensive but I’d say that they are worth the investment purely based on the fact that they can last up to ten times longer than other batteries.
What’s more, they’ll last longer per charge with many giving up to 40% longer run times on each charge.
While the price may be higher initially, you’ll have to replace the batteries less often so this somewhat balances things out.
Lithium ion batteries are also perfect for everyday use and for travel. They’re a lot more lightweight without sacrificing power so they can be used for folding or heavy duty mobility scooters equally. You’ll also be fine taking them on an aircraft.
Another great advantage to these types of batteries is that they are much more eco-friendly and can be recycled far more easily than other types.
Issues With Mobility Scooter Batteries
Pretty much every type of mobility scooter battery will perform well as long as it’s taken care of. But it’s worth keeping in mind that, as with anything, there are some potential issues that may arise.
Mobility scooter batteries will not last forever and you may notice that they start to dwindle in terms of performance. If you take good care of them, you’ll probably get about 12 to 18 months of use out of them. When it’s time to replace, I’d recommend replacing both at the same time even if it’s just one that’s acting up.
Note that if you are using a lithium ion battery, you’ll get a lot more use out of it and the best ones can last up to 13 years! Of course, this relies on you taking proper care of them.
When you drive your mobility scooter on more challenging terrain, there is a potential that this will damage the batteries prematurely. In some cases, it might just be that one of the connections has come loose so it’s worth checking this before buying new batteries.
Sometimes, you may notice a burning smell and this is an indication that some wires have burned or the battery has overheated. If this happens then it’s definitely time to buy a replacement.
When you purchase your batteries, it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with how they’re meant to be used. They’ll come with a user guide that’ll tell you how you should charge them and it’s imperative that you follow this to the letter. Not doing so could damage the batteries. That said, if you are having charging issues, it could be that there is a problem with the charger itself. To test this, hook it up to another battery and see if the problem continues.
It’s a good idea to look at how you use your mobility scooter as this can impact the performance and life of your batteries. For example, if you drive the scooter more recklessly, you’re not going to get the most out of your batteries. Moreover, a lot of stopping and starting will drain power more quickly than continuous, smooth use.
Even something as seemingly innocent as the weather can impact your mobility scooter batteries. Using the battery in very cold conditions will affect its performance so I’d always suggest warming it up in the house before taking the scooter out. On the flip side, hot weather can make the battery less powerful and you’ll notice this because the scooter will typically go slower.
Also keep in mind that the more weight that the scooter has to carry, the harder the battery needs to work. Where you need to carry items such as shopping or personal equipment, try to distribute the weight more evenly as a heavy load in the rear or front can drain the battery more quickly.
If you really want to get the most out of your mobility scooter battery, you’ll need to recondition it. You can do this by filling it with distilled water and leaving it to charge for around 60 minutes. This is a great way of rebooting it to an almost new condition and you should be able to do this around four times before the battery entirely wears out.
Correct Storage Of Your Mobility Scooter Batteries
There may come a time that you don’t need to use your mobility scooter batteries for a while and this means storing them safely and correctly. If you don’t then you’re risking their lifespan and you may come back to find that they just don’t perform.
One of the first things you’ll need to do before putting the batteries into storage is to fully charge them. You should never store them when they’re drained. Over the course of storage, check the batteries every four weeks or so and give them another charge if they need it. That said, it depends on the type of battery as to how quickly it’ll drain when not in use. Things like gel and AGM batteries can last up to six months without charging.
Make sure that the storage conditions are favourable. The temperature should not be excessively hot or cold. Moreover, the batteries should be disconnected before you put them into storage.
Correct Charging Of Mobility Scooter Batteries
As I have already mentioned, it’s a good idea to read through the user manual to understand how to properly charge your batteries. Each type may require a slightly different approach but here are some general tips on mobility scooter battery charging.
- Only ever use a charger that is compatible with your batteries. You should never try to charge mobility scooter batteries using a car battery charger.
- To get the most out of your batteries, you will need to charge them every day. Most people find that doing this overnight is the most convenient method and there’s no need to worry about overcharging as modern smart chargers will shut off the supply once the battery is at capacity.
- Try not to let the battery drain entirely as this can impact the overall lifespan. That said, the lower you can get it before charging, the better.
- As discussed in the previous section, you should always fully charge a battery before putting it into storage.
- When taking a battery out of storage, you will need to fully recharge it before use.
Mobility Scooter Battery Safety Advice
Batteries are designed to be used in a certain way and when they’re mistreated, they can be dangerous. It’s really important to use your mobility scooter batteries safely so let’s discuss a few important tips.
If you are wearing a watch or bracelet and this accidentally makes contact with the battery terminals, this can cause an electric shock. Other risks here include fire and potentially the battery exploding. It’s worth removing anything metal from your person before dealing with the terminals. This includes if you were to drop a metal tool onto them so take extreme care.
Since batteries can produce gas, it’s imperative that you do not expose them to sparks or flame. Do not smoke around the batteries and only ever work on them in a well ventilated space.
It is possible that the battery terminal and posts could contain lead as well as other chemicals which may be linked to birth defects and cancer. When you have handled the battery, be sure to wash your hands afterwards to prevent contamination.
When you are finished with a mobility scooter battery, you will need to make sure that you dispose of it correctly. They’re considered to be hazardous and should be properly recycled. The best thing to do is to contact your local council who will be able to provide you with details on how and where to do this. They may even offer a service for battery recycling.
Using a mobility scooter means educating yourself on batteries, the various types and how to use them. By understanding this, you’ll get the most out of your mobility scooter batteries, ensure a long life and will be much safer.
The information in this guide is intended to help you better understand your batteries. However, you should always follow manufacturers instructions as a first port of call.