Whether you are buying your mobility scooter brand new or second-hand, the battery is one of the most important things to get right. Equally, if you already have your mobility scooter, you need to know how to take proper care of the battery. In this article, we aim to give a bit more detail about the different types of batteries and to help you chose the right one.
It also covers details about removing and replacing a battery, for example for charging it or for replacing it when it is worn-out. Taking good care of your mobility scooter battery is essential to get the longest life and best performance out of it, so there is also a guide to the proper charging procedure.
A Guide to Buying Mobility Scooter Batteries
There are essentially three main types of mobility scooter battery; Sealed Lead Acid (also known as absorbed glass mat, or AGM), Gel Cell and Li-Ion. These are usually 12-volt batteries and mobility scooters use them in pairs, giving a total output of 24 volts.
The first two types both use a lead-acid reaction to generate power in the same way as a car battery. This technology has been around for well over a century, but unlike many car batteries both these types are sealed units, so there is no chance of spillage and no need to top up the fluid levels. Since both types are sealed and maintenance free, you should experience few problems handling batteries and no issues with travel by air, should the need arise. AGM batteries are cheaper than Gel Cell and enjoy superior performance in cold conditions. They also have a high level of charge retention when not in use. This makes the AGM type the obvious choice for those who will use their mobility scooter only occasionally. Gel Cell batteries can undergo many more recharging cycles before they have to be replaced and, for daily users, will almost always offer better value for money in the long term. Some mobility scooters, particularly the newer lightweight folding scooters, now take advantage of Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) battery technology. This is similar to the type in your mobile phone or laptop and benefits from a much better power to weight ratio which, for the user, means a much lighter battery to lift out of the scooter while still retaining good range. Of course, these types of battery are more expensive to buy than lead-acid batteries, but they make up for that in the long run because they can go through many more charging cycles before needing to be replaced.
As well as the voltage, there is another important factor to consider. The number of amp hours (abbreviated to Ah) will have an impact on the range of your vehicle. Although there are a large number of different form factors the vast majority of scooters share around five main ones and many batteries will be compatible with more than one scooter. The exception to this is Li-Ion batteries which are usually unique to a particular make or model.
How to change a mobility scooter battery
The first and most important piece of advice is to check the specific details for your make and model in the operating instructions for your mobility scooter. If you are unsure about anything, your first point of contact would be the retailer who will be happy to demonstrate the process even before you buy. Mobility scooter batteries come in pairs of 12 volts each, connected in parallel, making a total of 24 volts output. If you are replacing old batteries, you should always replace both at the same time with a pair of new ones. Different scooters vary in the details but for AGM and Gel Cell batteries you will probably need a few simple tools, usually two spanners, to disconnect the wires from the terminals. You may need to remove the seat and the seat mounting to access the battery housing. This should be a simple procedure and will be explained in the manual. Some batteries are held down by a Velcro strap, others are housed in a case which needs to be unscrewed first to access them. Although this may all sound a bit daunting at first, there is nothing terribly complicated and full instructions will be in the manual. Scooters with a Li-Ion battery are generally a lot simpler since the battery will be much lighter and simply clicks into place with a simple release mechanism for removal. Li-Ion batteries are also much lighter than lead-acid ones of similar output, so require much less effort to lift out of the vehicle.
Charging a mobility scooter battery
It is essential to read, and follow, the manufacturer’s instructions for charging your battery.
Always use the correct charger supplied by the manufacturer.
Those two statements are essentially everything you need to know. If your specific product instructions contradict anything which follows here, then assume the instructions are correct.
Mobility scooter batteries do not have a ‘memory’ and should never be fully discharged before recharging. The amount varies depending on the type but generally, performance is best if they retain at least 40% charge before the next recharge. Also, if lead-acid batteries are charged properly, according to the instructions, the performance will actually improve, from new, over a period of time to their optimum capacity before slowly degrading in the normal way. Generally speaking, if you use your scooter daily, then the batteries should be fully recharged overnight for a minimum period of twelve hours regardless of how far you have travelled. If you use the scooter less frequently, e.g. weekly, then it should be fully charged after use and again (if possible) the night before. If your scooter will be spending long periods in storage you should disconnect the batteries, for safety, and they will need to be charged every two weeks for 24 hours.
Once again, however, if the manufacturer’s instructions differ from anything here, then those instructions take priority.
Mobility scooter battery warranty
Modern batteries are not simply a black box with some chemicals in them. They have sophisticated features to help you to get the best out of your product and to ensure your safety. For example, when the battery is fully charged or if there is a circuit fault the charger will ‘know’ and stop charging. They also have sophisticated diagnostics built in and can reveal if the battery has been properly cared for. Therefore, not only is it a good idea to follow the manufacturer’s instructions meticulously to maintain a long battery life, it is also vital because failure to do so could invalidate the warranty.