For people with mobility issues an electric scooter can reopen a world of options. But while better scooters (like some of the outdoor mobility scooters) are durable and can last for a long time, scooter batteries themselves wear down over time and need to be replaced.
As a result, many people researching a new scooter ask the question: How long do mobility scooter batteries last?
Life of Mobility Scooter Batteries
On average a mobility scooter battery will last about 2 years. But with light use – say 1 to 2 times per week – you might get up to 3 years out of your battery. With heavy daily use a mobility scooter battery may only last a year to 18 months before needing to be replaced.
But there are many factors that affect scooter battery life in addition to frequency of use. Here are several factors that will affect how soon you will need to think about mobility scooter battery replacement.
Type Of Battery
Lead Acid Batteries
There are two primary types of batteries used in mobility scooters – lead-acid batteries and gel cell batteries. The lead-acid batteries come in two different varieties – wet cell and sealed.
The wet cell batteries contain an electrolyte medium inside the housing. The lead plates and the liquid undergo a chemical reaction to store electricity.
Wet cell batteries tend to be the least expensive, but also require you to check and maintain water and electrolyte levels. These batteries have to be kept in an upright position so that the liquid does not leak out. All in all, wet cell batteries can be a bit cumbersome to use.
Sealed lead-acid batteries are similar to their wet cell counterpart but there is no way to access the inside housing. This means that you do not require as much user maintenance. Hence they tend to be more convenient to use.
In general, lead-acid batteries tend to have a shorter lifespan than their gel cell counterparts. But they also are usually less expensive, which can make them a great value for less frequent users.
Gel Cell Batteries
The gel cell batteries are better for heavy users. They are typically more expensive. But their greater capacity for charge and discharge cycles can make them a better buy in the long run.
Unlike some lead-acid batteries, gel batteries do not require adding more water to them, making maintenance easier.
Deep-cycle gel batteries are quite good for slow, deep discharge situations.
They also tend to last longer than their lead-acid counterparts. This means that you can avoid paying for replacements as soon as you would with traditional batteries.
Their performance also gets better with time. They tend to reach peak performance after having undergone 15-30 cycles of charging and discharging.
Mobility scooter batteries perform best when stored in a cool, dry place and operated in moderate temperatures. Extreme heat or cold are hard on any kind of batteries, and mobility scooter batteries are no exception to this. Extreme heat or cold can affect both their life and their ongoing electrical output.
High humidity is also harder on batteries, and excessive moisture can cause battery corrosion and lead to malfunctions. Too much sunlight can also damage a battery, so to maximize your mobility scooter’s battery life try to avoid temperature extremes, and keep your it stored in a cool, dry place.
Mobility Scooter Loading
The heavier the load carried by the scooter, the more energy the motor requires from the battery to make it go. So heavier riders or users who frequently transport additional items with their scooter will find that their batteries will give them less driving time than users with lightly loaded machines. And the additional stress and output requirements from heavy loading will cause the batteries to wear out faster, leading to more frequent replacements.
Types Of Driving
Since objects at rest tend to stay at rest, it takes more energy from a battery to get the mobility scooter moving from a stop than it does to keep it moving once it is up to speed. As a result riders who do a lot of stop-and-go driving will see shorter travel range, battery cycles, and overall scooter battery life than operators who keep their machines moving for longer stretches of time.
And by the same token, it takes less energy to travel downhill or on level planes than it does to drive up an incline. And smooth road surfaces offer less resistance than rough or bumpy terrain, so scooter riders that spend most of their time riding on pavement or around malls and parking lots will see much better battery life than riders climbing hills and riding on dirt or grass.
How you charge your scooter battery will significantly affect its performance and lifespan. Overcharging your battery can damage it, and draining it too far can also lead to premature failure. Here are some scooter battery charging tips to help you get maximum performance and life out of your battery:
- Start With A Full Charge – New batteries will come with a partial charge, but they should be fully charged before their first use. Failing to do that could limit their maximum capacity for future charging.
- Limit Initial Usage – For maximum performance over the life of your battery the best practice is to only use about 30% of its capacity for the first week or so, and then recharge it.
- Charge Them Daily – Getting in the habit of charging your scooter battery daily is much better for it than drawing it further down and then only charging it every few days.
- Charge Them Fully – It often takes 8-12 hours to fully charge your battery. Even if it appears to be charged after an hour or two, the best practice is to leave it on the charger for 8-12 hours to ensure proper charging.
- Don’t Overcharge – As we said before, overcharging your battery is bad for it and can damage it. Therefore make sure not to leave your scooter battery on the charger for more than 24 hours.
- Don’t Over Drain – Using too much of your battery capacity can hurt it and prevent it from fully recharging. So never let your battery go completely flat, and try not to draw it down more than 80 percent.
- Use The Right Charger – Different batteries require different chargers, and using the wrong one with your battery can ruin it.
- Store Them Charged – If you plan to take your battery or scooter out of service for a while, be sure to fully charge the battery before storing it. And as mentioned above, storing your batteries in a cool dry environment is best.
- Handle With Care – Scooter batteries can be heavy, and dropping them can damage the terminals and/or crack the casing. To avoid the need for premature replacement handle them carefully, and store them in a place where they aren’t easily bumped or knocked over.
- Inspect Them Regularly – As with any vehicle, regular inspection and maintenance is required. Checking your battery for abnormal wear, bulging, corroded terminals, or frayed wires can help you catch potential problems before they happen. If you do notice anything out of the ordinary be sure to read the manual and/or contact the manufacturer for further directions.
When To Replace An Electric Scooter Battery
The primary signs that your mobility scooter batteries need to be changed are quicker loss of power and decreased travel range. As mentioned above, terrain and environmental conditions can affect battery performance. But if you are noticing slower speeds and shorter times between charges, or if your see batter leakage or damage, then it is time to order replacement batteries.
Changing Your Scooter Battery
When the time comes to changing your electric mobility scooter batteries you should start by reading the owners manual from the manufacturer. Be sure to only order replacement batteries that are endorsed by the manufacturer. Once you have the new batteries, here are some common steps for successful and safe scooter battery replacement:
- Reread the owners manual, and familiarize yourself with the specific procedure for your model scooter and battery.
- Handle the batteries, chargers, and cords with care to avoid damage.
- Only change the batteries in a well ventilated area.
- Do not smoke or have flame near your batteries.
- Do not charge or change your battery in a wet environment.
Here is a helpful YouTube video demonstrating how to change the battery on your scooter: