If you have been a power wheelchair user for some time, you would already know that your batteries are the heart of your wheelchair. The heart stops beating and your power wheelchair is just a heavier manual wheelchair. In this article, we will talk about some of the best power wheelchair batteries available in the market and which aspects to consider while buying a wheelchair battery.
Power Wheelchair Batteries
Depending on your situation, it may not be possible for you to self propel a manual wheelchair. Also, you may not want to be in a position where you do not have an attendant or care giver around and your power wheelchair’s batteries have died in the middle of nowhere. That would be scary, to say the least.
So, it not only matters a lot to consider battery prowess while buying a wheelchair, it also matters a lot to know which battery to buy once your initial battery has run its life. Or, if your wheelchair has come with a single battery, you may want to buy one as a backup (in this case, it is best to buy one that has the same characteristics as your existing wheelchair battery).
Specifications of Batteries in a New Power Wheelchair
Batteries generally come in 2 configurations: 6 Ah and 10 – 15 Ah. Voltage is 12V. AH stands for ampere hours. It refers to the amount of energy your battery can store. Higher Ah rated batteries will give your power wheelchair a longer range on a full charge.
Wheelchairs which pack 6 AH (12 V) batteries, generally come with 2 batteries, connected in series to produce a 12 Ah (24 V) effect. While the ones with 10 – 15 AH battery come with a single battery, and it is advisable to buy a back up battery to increase the maximum distance that can be covered on single full charge.
What to Consider Before Buying Wheelchair Batteries
- Even though your new wheelchair comes with batteries of ranging from 6 to 15 AH, when you are buying a replacement battery you may buy one with a higher configuration of 30 AH – 60 AH to increase the performance of your wheelchair. This will greatly increase the maximum travel distance of your wheelchair.
- You have to consider the total charging time for your battery. Obviously, it cannot be taking more than 6-9 hours to fully charge. Otherwise, charging for one full night also would not be sufficient to fully charge your power wheelchair’s battery.
- Warranty: You should keep an eye on the length of the warranty period for the battery and should ideally avoid buying a battery with less than 1 year of warranty. Also, you may come across some batteries (and battery companies) where you will have to bear the shipping costs, if you are invoking warranty. Shipping costs to avail of warranty may be prohibitive depending on your location.
- Weight: The weight of the battery should not bother you till its less than 10 pounds. However, for larger configurations of battery, the weight of the battery exceeds 25 pounds and that adds to the weight of your wheelchair. If you have to fold your wheelchair and lift it to the back of your car, this extra weight may be a hindrance.
- Dimensions of the battery: You should obviously buy a battery that will fit inside the battery box of your power wheelchair. For the most part, this should not bother you unless you are planning to buy an extra large battery.
#1 Universal Power Group Wheelchair Battery 12 V 35 AH
This pack of 2 batteries are made from absorbent glass mat (AGM) technology that can be used across a wide variety of electric devices. Do check the dimensions of the battery and see if it fits inside your wheelchair battery box.
- One fully charged battery will last for over 20 miles
- Warranty of 1 year
- Good customer service
- Value for money if you have 2 electric devices at home which can run on each of these batteries
- Each battery weighs 24 lbs roughly, which will add to your wheelchair weight and reduce range and ease of carriage
#2 Weize 12 V 55 AH Deep Cycle Battery
This is a fairly heavy battery for a power wheelchair. The battery itself weighs 36 pounds. But its 55 AH capacity means that is enough to last you for 30 to 35 miles on a full charge. The battery comes fully charged, but you must check it before using. It is always advisable to fully charge the battery before its first use. This battery can run devices ranging from a boat, to a solar power installation, and, of course, power wheelchairs.
- Long range on full range
- 1 year warranty
- Takes relatively less time, about 8 hours to fully charge from 20% charge.
- These are anti-leak batteries that can be installed in any position
- The extra weight will make your wheelchair unwieldy. You may only think of using this battery when you are not folding and lifting your wheelchair regularly.
- You have to be careful to see if this battery will fit into your wheelchair battery box. Dimensions are 9 x 5.4 x 9 inches
#3 Mighty Max Battery ML35-12 – 12 V 35 AH Battery
These are rechargeable AGM batteries (pack of 2) which are anti-spill and hence can be mounted in any position. The batteries will come with only screws, you will have to use your existing connectors and cables. Do check the compatibility of your connectors with those of this power wheelchair battery.
- Battery is able to perform optimally within a wide range of temperatures. Low discharge rate in cold weather
- Readily recovers from deep discharge. But you are not advised to regularly let it discharge beyond 20 per cent
- Invoking warranty may be a problem depending on your location. There is a drop off option available at authorized centers which may not be very convenient for you.
#4 Powersonic PS-12120F2 – 12 V 12 AH Battery
This is a single battery with 12 AH capacity that can power your wheelchair for 8-10 miles on full charge. Built on AGM technology, this battery will fit in most wheelchairs and two batteries can be connected in series for 24 V 24 AH output.
- Charges fully within 6-7 hours, even when deeply discharged
- Light battery at only 8 pounds
- 1 year warranty
- Bit expensive product in its category of batteries (12 AH)
#5 Weize 12V 35AH Deep Cycle Battery
This is a pack of 2 batteries, built on absorbent glass mat technology. Both the batteries can be connected in series to deliver power at 24 V. Each battery weighs 22 pounds (about 10 kgs). This battery has universal application and makes it a value for money proposition. Apart from electric wheelchairs, this can power appliances ranging from UPS, alarm systems installed at home, emergency and security systems.
- Compact dimensions of 7.7 x 5.1 x 7.0 inches makes it suitable for a range of power wheelchairs. However, you will do well to still check the dimensions of your battery box.
- Anti-leak batteries and so you can install them in any position
- 1 year warranty with liberal return policy on Amazon
- Shipping costs to avail of warranty may be prohibitive depending on your location
#6 Mighty Max Battery 12 V 12 AH Wheelchair Battery
This battery (pack of 2) is meant for smaller electric wheelchairs with 12 AH capacity and operates at 12 volt (24 volt with both batteries connected in series). Apart from lighter electric wheelchairs, you will find these batteries to be appropriate for powering golf carts, emergency lighting systems and home security systems.
- Weighs only 8.4 lbs and still lets your wheelchair be easy to handle when folded
- Smaller and manageable size: dimensions are 6 x 4 x 4 inches
- 1 year warranty
- Good value for money
- You may not be able to revive it, if is deeply discharged frequently.
Finally, this article will be incomplete if we do not briefly discuss about pulse chargers. You may invest in a pulse charger or a desulfator charger which has the capability to extend the useful life of your battery or charge even presumably dead batteries.
The formation of lead sulphate on the electrodes is the principal reason for dead batteries. Pulse chargers can reduce the size of sulphate crystals formed on the electrodes or thin out sulphate layers on them. Pulse chargers are generally able to work with a wide range of batteries and fully automatic ones are easy to operate.
However, this can be a significant investment as compared to the price of a battery. It should be balanced against the idea of buying new batteries. A pulse charger will set you back by about a hundred dollars. But you will be able to quickly get good returns from it if you have multiple battery operated devices at your home. You can read more about pulse chargers in our article about how to charge a dead wheelchair battery.
Best Practices for Good Battery Care
It is important to note that wheelchair batteries will mostly have a shorter warranty period than your wheelchair motors or body. Therefore, it is all the more important to care for them and use them properly to max out their longevity. Even then, you must have noticed that batteries hardly last more than 2 – 3 years. The following are some of the best practices you may follow to squeeze out the best performance and life from your batteries:
- I know that once you receive your wheelchair, you would be very impatient to get your hands on it and go on a ride. However, for the sake of your new batteries, hold on for a little while to charge them up fully. It may take up to ten to twelve hours for your power wheelchair batteries to fully charge the initial few times.
- In the initial two weeks of usage, you should take care to not discharge your batteries by more than thirty per cent. This may restrict your activities, especially if you are using your wheelchair for daily commute to work and do not have a car. However, you may have to take a call vis-a-vis securing a long battery life
- It is better to charge batteries every night for long periods (6 hours at least), even if they have not been used much during the day
- It is advisable to always use the charger which has come with your device. Using compatible but different chargers may reduce battery life
- You should not deplete your batteries by more than eighty per cent.
Your choice of batteries should mainly be driven by your wheelchair model and the maximum distance that you are generally required to travel. But once you have bought one, make sure to take good care of it, to get as much out of it as possible.