Not all mobility scooter batteries are created equal, but both Sealed Lead Acid (SLA) batteries and lithium-ion batteries have specific properties that make them more suited to certain lifestyles than others. Those who want to use their scooter for occasional trips to museums or grocery stores will need a different battery type than those who plan to use it every day. Understanding what powers each mobility scooter you’re interested in buying will help you make a choice that best suits your needs, whether you’re a homebody or a person who’s always on the go.
Battery Terminology to Know
The product description of every electric mobility scooter contains many terms that describe the power, battery life, and charging capabilities of the product.
- Cycle - Think about this phrase as the number of quality charges in the battery’s lifespan.One cycle is when a battery can be fully charged, fully used, and fully charged again to its maximum capacity. As batteries get older, they can’t charge up to their original capacity. If a battery is rated for 500 cycles and you average 20 miles per charge, you could ride your scooter for about 1,000 miles before you would need to replace the battery under good conditions.
- Amps - Short for the word “ampere,” an amp measures how quickly an electrical current moves from one spot to another.
- Ampere-Hours - An Ampere-hour (abbreviated to Ah) is a measurement of battery charge. A battery with one Amp-hour of charge means that one amp of current can flow for one hour out of the battery before it dies. When a battery is rated at a 75 Ah (Amp-hours), it means that it can deliver 5 amps for 15 total hours.
- Volts - Think of voltage like water pressure in a pipe but for electricity. It’s the difference in electric potential between two points of current flow. One hundred and twenty volts is written as 120V, and the higher the voltage, the more power can be transferred. For example, AA batteries have a nominal voltage of 1.5V while a car battery runs at 12.6V Most of our scooters range from 12 to 24V.
- Watts - Watts are a measurement of power, specifically the rate of energy transfer. The motor of your mobility scooter will have a certain wattage, which references the motor’s power to transfer electricity into scooter motion. For a visual and analogy that explain the difference between amps, volts, and watts, click here.
So why bother learning these terms? It will help you make sense of product description jargon and details when comparing two scooters. For example, if you take a look at the EWheels EW-36 model mobility scooter, you’ll see the volts and battery type listed under the “Specs” tab. Because battery types vary, and each battery comes with its own pros and cons, understanding acronyms and terminology can help you make the most informed selection.
Below are the two most common types of batteries that your scooter could come with. Make sure you compare and contrast your battery options with how you plan to use your scooter.
Battery Type 1: Sealed Lead Acid
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The Sealed Lead Acid battery (SLA) was invented as the first rechargeable battery. Within the SLA battery category, you can choose between a gel battery and an Absorbent Glass Matting (AGM) battery, both of which come with specific capabilities and limitations.
As the name suggests, the charge of this battery is held in a gel substrate, eliminating the need to worry about an acid leak. Gel batteries run for a longer time at a steady pace than AGM batteries and, therefore, produce more cycles. Those with active lifestyles who plan to use their scooter daily might find a gel battery to be worth the cost, which is typically higher than that of AGM batteries.
Absorbent Glass Matting (AGM) Battery
AGM batteries are less expensive than gel options and will supply more power to your scooter over a shorter time. However, AGM batteries don’t have the cyclical capabilities that gel batteries do. This is where you should factor your personal preferences into your purchasing decision. Do you plan to use your scooter daily to help you do things like shopping, meeting up with friends, or traveling? As a regular user, a gel battery might be more suited to your needs. If you only need a mobility scooter for occasional trips, an AGM battery will provide you with everything you need at a lower cost.
Battery Type 2: Lithium-Ion Battery
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Lithium-ion batteries are the same batteries that power our phones, electric cars, laptops, and even pacemakers. They have a longer lifespan than SLA batteries and can be recharged even if the battery still has some juice in it. They’re also incredibly efficient and can store much more energy than traditional batteries.
Lithium batteries have gotten much cheaper in recent years (so cheap that electric cars are almost the same cost as gasoline-powered vehicles), but they’re still an expensive choice compared to SLA batteries. They are also lighter-weight batteries, which makes them a strong choice if you’re looking for a portable scooter or one that you plan to lift into and out of vehicles regularly.
You’ve probably heard about lithium-ion batteries before, most likely when making your way through TSA to catch a flight. Because FAA guidelines have specific rules regarding lithium-ion batteries, be sure to select a scooter that is FAA-approved if you plan to travel with your scooter.
How to Power Your Lifestyle
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Choosing the perfect battery to power your scooter and your daily routine is important, but there is no battery that is the “best” overall. Each option has pros and cons, as well as different price points. The possibilities with mobility scooters are endless—whichever battery you choose, make sure it fits your transportation needs.Sources