There is a wealth of contradictory and confusing advice available on battery care. Much of this is outdated, or based on experience with car or mobile phone batteries, which work differently from powered wheelchair and mobility scooter ones. Our guide intends to dispel these myths by giving current, accurate information on caring for your powerchair or mobility scooter batteries.
Scooters and wheelchairs all come with the same type of batteries: VLRA (valve-regulated lead acid) or “sealed” batteries. There are two different types within this - AGM (absorbed glass mat) and Gel batteries.
Lithium-Ion batteries are available on a small number of folding scooters, and have bespoke charging and care requirements, and so this article does not cover them.
AGM batteries are seen on most small to medium sized powerchairs and scooters. They are cheaper than Gel batteries, and are better suited to those making less regular use of their mobility equipment.
Gel batteries are longer-lasting, and best suited to people who want to make heavy use of their powerchair or scooter. Higher capacity batteries, such as 70 Ah ones, are usually supplied as Gel ones. They take several charge cycles to reach their peak capacity.
All mobility equipment batteries are 12 Volt, and will be supplied in pairs to power a 24 Volt system.
All batteries have an ampere hour (Ah) rating, which shows their capacity. Higher capacity batteries can power high-performance products for longer. Basic boot scooters will have 12 Ah batteries, while large 8 mph scooters or high-performance powerchairs will have 70 Ah batteries. Higher capacity batteries are larger, heavier, and more expensive.
The general guideline is that batteries should last around a year. However, good care can dramatically increase this life-span - please see the Charging and Storage sections for further on how to achieve this. Heavy use of batteries, including frequent discharge, will reduce their life-span, whereas those who only use their scooter or powerchair occasionally, and for short journeys, will find their batteries last longer.
Good charging practice is key to getting the best out of your batteries. There are two stages to a charge cycle - the first provides the bulk of the charge, and can last a few hours depending on capacity, and the level of discharge. Following that, the charger automatically switches to a "trickle charge" - this uses roughly equivalent power to a light-bulb. The trickle charge stage tops up the remaining charge needed, and performs a vital task - conditioning the battery. This conditioning is crucial to extending the life cycle of the battery.
Our recommendation is to charge your product overnight, for at least eight hours. However, it is important to note that that there is no such thing as "overcharging" for modern batteries, so you never need to be concerned about leaving them on to charge for too long. In fact, if you have your scooter or powerchair charging all the time it is not in use, your batteries will be in great condition. Even if you can't do that, ensuring that they get an extra long charge from time to time, is strongly recommended.
If you only charge your batteries for short periods of time, the plates within the battery will suffer from sulfation, and the capacity and thus range will steadily reduce.
It is important to only use the appropriate charger supplied with your scooter or powerchair. Non-specialist chargers are hazardous, and even using a mobility charger of the incorrect ampage may damage the battery.
All batteries are best stored indoors at room temperature. While scooters and powered wheelchairs are often stored outdoors, cold and hot temperatures will damage the batteries, and reduce their life-span. It is quite common for us to get calls during the winter from people who leave their scooter outdoors, and have found the batteries have died!
Both AGM and Gel batteries are safe to charge inside, and being sealed units, there’s no need to worry about hazardous fumes being given off.
Most boot scooters have removable battery boxes, allowing you to charge these indoors separately from the scooter.
Maintenance and replacement of batteries should only be carried out by a trained mobility specialist.
AGM and Gel batteries can be safely transported by airlines without any special precautions.
We source replacement batteries from market leader MK Battery. MK Battery are a US-based global leader in sealed battery manufacturing, and are specialists in mobility equipment batteries. This is recognised by the fact that many powerchair and scooter manufacturers source their batteries from MK.
If you wish to purchase replacement batteries, please contact us for a quote.