The wheelchair is an essential means of transport for millions of people across the world. By their very nature, wheelchairs aid movement for those who can’t freely walk. Over the years, electric wheelchairs have evolved to accommodate the needs of their user better. Today, we have cutting-edge battery-powered wheelchairs. However, as with everything else battery-powered, they need to be regularly charged to maintain their effectiveness and optimum functionality.
So, how long should you charge a battery-powered wheelchair? How long does the charge last, and what can you do to lengthen your wheelchair’s battery longevity? Here’s an exhaustive guide on everything you need to know about wheelchair batteries.
On average you should get around 1.5 to 2 years of use on a power wheelchair with daily use. A fully charged battery should last 8 hours or up to 10 miles.
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How long do wheelchair batteries last?
Typically, a fully charged wheelchair battery lasts for at least 8 hours or about 10 miles. Nonetheless, it is not uncommon for some batteries to last for 20 miles. Again this will depend on the electric wheelchair and the weight it is moving and the terrain.
However, it is noteworthy to mention the longevity of these batteries depends on various factors such as the user’s weight and the battery’s general health.
As the batteries age, they’ll lose power much faster and need to be charged more regularly. Ideally, you should consider changing the batteries once you notice a change in power consumption.
The make and type of the battery can also influence how much power is stored and how long. Sealed lead-acid batteries are primarily preferred.
What is the lifespan of a wheelchair battery?
Again, numerous factors determine how long the wheelchair battery will serve you. However, a typical wheelchair battery lasts about a year or two. Depending on how the battery is used and general maintenance, the lifespan can drop to 6 months or extend to slightly over two years.
There are factors that can determine the lifespan of a wheelchair battery as mention above, there is a myriad of elements that can determine the overall service time of ba battery some of the more common factors are:
- Daily activity and terrain traveled – How active are you when using the wheelchair? If you’re an active person, you’ll use up more battery power. Additionally, the surface you travel impacts the battery life. Smooth surfaces tend to preserve the battery life as little force is needed to move from one point to another. Rough and rugged surfaces, on the other hand, require more power and drain the battery quicker.
- The user’s weight – The lighter you are, the easier it is to transport you. Heavier users require a bit more push and use up more battery power. Moreover, you’re advised not to carry any heavy loads as this increases strain on the battery.
- Changing frequency – How often you charge the battery also plays a part in the battery’s lifecycle. This, however, is a complex topic that needs tackling separately. Let’s save this for another time.
Most modern wheelchairs and power chairs come equipped with two batteries. When one battery drains or fails to work, the second can kick in and reduce any downtime.
However, if you notice the batteries lasting less than a day, or if they significantly drop their efficacy or speed, it may be time to get a replacement.
To avoid inconvenience, don’t wait until it’s too late before replacing the batteries.
How should you properly charge wheelchair batteries?
Understanding how to charge wheelchair batteries can help improve their lifespan. Some wheelchair batteries malfunction simply from poor charging habits. Correctly charging the batteries ensure they perform at peak performance.
Most efficient wheelchairs contain two 12-volt, deep cycle batteries. These batteries are sealed off and maintenance-free. These features help the batteries keep the charge for longer and more efficiently. Since these batteries are sealed, you don’t need to worry about the fluid level.
You should only use the recommended batteries for wheelchair use. Other batteries, such as car batteries, are not designed to handle the specifications of a wheelchair and could prove unsafe. Moreover, you should always ensure both batteries have similar chemistry and amp-hour capacity and the same make and type.
Battery-powered batteries often come with a battery charger. These chargers are calibrated to charge the batteries in a quick, safe, and easy manner. Only use the suitable charger to preserve the battery’s lifespan.
To charge the wheelchair battery effectively, you should:
- Place the wheelchair near a reliable power source
- Turn off the controller power and set the motorized wheelchair to drive mode
- Plug the charger into the programming socket of the controller
- Plug the charger into a power source and start charging the batteries
- After fully charging the batteries, unplug the charger from the power source and controller, respectively
How often should you charge wheelchair batteries?
The frequency of charging largely depends on usage. If the wheelchair is used daily for moderately lengthy distances and uneven terrains, charging the batteries daily for 8 to 14 hours will help maintain battery life and serve you for longer.
If you’re not a heavy wheelchair user, you can charge it about twice a week, for 8 to 14 hours. If you’re uncertain how long to charge the wheelchair, you can also confirm from the user manual.
What are the types of batteries a wheelchair uses?
When we speak about wheelchairs and batteries there are two main types of batteries that are used to power a wheelchair. Gel sealed lead-acid batteries and Deep cycle AGM batteries. Either is used as a replacement for wheelchair batteries.
Understanding the differences between the two batteries:
- Gel Sealed Lead Acid Batteries: These are more of a maintenance-free battery and are considered to be safer than an AGM batter because there is an extremely low chance of chemical spillage. They also tend to get more recharges before failing than the AGM battery as well. The downside is you will probably pay more for this type of battery.
- AGM Batterie: These have the tendency to have a larger capacity than Gel batteries and can supply larger power output. They are typically cheaper to buy and are one of the more popular choices when a new wheelchair battery needs to take place.
How long do mobility scooter batteries last? Similar to a wheelchair a mobility scooter on a fully charged battery can see around eight hours of use before the next charge. The lifespan of a mobility scooter battery will be determined by: How many times you charge the batter, Weight the scooter is moving, How many times you use the scooter during the day, and what types of surfaces the scooter is being used on all have an impact on battery life.
Can you use a vehicle battery for your wheelchair? No. Vehicle batteries are not designed to be used in a mobility scooter and are not designed to handle the long discharge. This is unsafe and should never be used.