Power Wheelchair Battery: Tips on how to Charge and Maintain It

Charging and maintaining a power wheelchair battery is an important task. Have you ever wondered how to charge and keep it? If “Yes,” you are at the right spot.

A power wheelchair can be a lifesaver for people with mobility disabilities. The battery is the heart of the power wheelchair, and it needs to be charged and maintained correctly to get the most out of it. A power wheelchair is costly but can be damaged if you do not charge and keep its Battery.

Proper charging and maintenance of a power wheelchair battery is something that you should not neglect. This article will give you tips on how to charge your power wheelchair battery, how often you should charge it, and other helpful information about maintaining your chair’s life. So, let’s dive into the article.

How to Charge Wheelchair Batteries?

To maintain the efficiency of your wheelchair batteries, you must learn how to charge them. Without understanding the procedure of charging a power wheelchair battery, you can’t charge it properly.

Before charging, you need to read the manufacturers’ manual of your power wheelchair battery so that you get information about all safety precautions given by the manufacturer before charging or using a power wheelchair. For charging a wheelchair battery, you need an off-board charger. You can also use a 12-volt charger or an automotive battery charger.

To charge the wheelchair, you need to place it on level ground so that acid spills do not occur if there is leakage from the cells underneath the seat. Check whether your chair has been locked into drive mode or freewheel mode. If you have turned off the wheelchair, turn it on and lock or freewheel mode so that you don’t accidentally move your chair while charging.

Once done with locking the power wheelchair, follow the following steps to charge your power wheelchair battery:

  • Place the wheelchair close to the electric outlet.
  • Make sure that you have turned off controller power and your wheelchair is in drive mode.
  • Remove the charger clips from the controller and insert them in battery terminals.
  • Plug your off-board charger into the off-board charging socket on the controller.
  • Now plug the off-board charger into the electric outlet and let the batteries charge.
  • Once batteries are charged, unplug the off-board charger from the electrical outlet.
  • After detaching the off-board charger from the electrical outlet, also disconnect it from the controller.

While your power wheelchair battery is charging, keep an eye on its LED lights. LED lights show three phases of battery charging. One is “charging ON.” The next one is “charging in progress.” The final phase is “charging completed.”. Once the LED light is turned off, charging has been completed.

How Often Should You Charge an Electric Wheelchair?

It would be best if you found out whether your chair requires more frequent charges, or you can charge it once a week. It will depend upon the type of your power wheelchair, its size, and how much you use it every day.

Generally speaking, if you are using your chair daily for long hours at a stretch, you should charge it more frequently so that the Battery does not die out when needed most or is not charged fully. However, if you use your chair only for a couple of hours daily, it can be charged once a week without any problems.

If you feel that charging is not happening as per the manufacturer’s instructions, contact customer support and ask them how to charge my power wheelchair battery.

How Long Does It Take to Charge a Power Wheelchair?

The charging time of the wheelchair battery depends upon the capacity of the Battery. If you have a 48-volt wheelchair, it will take around 12 to 16 hours for complete charging when your chair is turned off. If your power wheelchair is on, it might take 24 to 30 hours for the battery to get fully charged.

However, this period can shorten the charging period by turning up the controller’s speed. Keep in mind that overspeeding may cause damage to the batteries as well as to the motor, which are both costly repairs.

Also, ensure that the charger has been plugged into an electric outlet completely. You need not worry about the ticking sound emitted from chargers while they are working. All chargers make noise during their operation, especially automobile ones that emit loud sounds from the running engine.

How long do wheelchair batteries last?

Wheelchair batteries have a life span of six months to two years. However, it depends upon the type and model of your power wheelchair as well as its usage. However, suppose you replace weak batteries with new ones from time to time before they give up. In that case, this also increases their longevity because these wear out earlier due to regular charging and discharging, which reduces cycle life. Generally speaking, good-quality electric wheelchairs last longer compared to cheaper models.

What are the factors which affect battery life?

The following factors greatly influence your power wheelchair’s battery lifespan:

  • How many hours do you use them daily? If you are using your chair for more than two hours at a stretch, this will reduce its cycle life by half or even lesser in some cases depending upon the usage pattern and age of the owner.
  • Using weaker batteries also shortens their lives because they wear out earlier due to repeated charging and discharging, reducing their cycle counts.
  • The quality of material used in manufacturing electric wheelchair batteries is another significant factor affecting durability.
  • The environment in which a wheelchair operates also affects the life of its batteries. For example, cold weather makes its components work harder and increases the rate of power consumption which reduces battery life.
  • The weight that a wheelchair bear is another contributing factor to its lifespan. The weight of the user contributes to the life of batteries. Also, the weight the user holds around, like groceries or a bag, affects their life.
  • The weight of the wheelchair also influences the lifetime of electric wheelchair batteries. Heavier power wheelchairs drain their batteries faster than lighter ones.
  • The king of surfaces on which you use your wheelchair affects power consumption, which affects the life of its batteries. Using a wheelchair on smooth surfaces usually requires less power consumption than on uneven and soft surfaces.

Tips for the Maintenance of Power Wheelchair Batteries

You can improve the life and efficiency of a power wheelchair battery by giving some attention to the maintenance of its batteries.

Cleaning Wheelchair Batteries

Cleaning them is very important to increase their life. A dirty exterior of the batteries may cause corrosion, creating problems in starting your power wheelchair if they are not cleaned properly. Also, it results in a loss of energy. It reduces its efficiency because dust absorbs moisture from the air, producing a layer of acid on top surfaces, thus creating an unfavorable environment for the Battery’s charging/discharging process.

Abruptly Connecting and Disconnecting Both Terminals of The Battery

You should also ensure that you do not disconnect or connect both terminals while charging electric wheelchairs’ batteries. It might short-circuit, resulting in leakage and damage to the components used inside these devices, such as circuit boards, electronic parts, etc.

Fully Charging the Battery

You should fully recharge the power wheelchair batteries before you store them for any reason. Storing a partially charged battery may cause sulfation that reduces its cycle life and makes it less efficient.

Avoid Overcharging Your Wheelchair Batteries

Overcharging your electric wheelchair’s batteries is another crucial factor affecting their lives because these conditions reduce the number of charge and discharge cycles. It causes permanent damage to internal components, thus reducing their efficiency over time.

It also affects chargers’ performance, resulting in decreased lifespan due to improper functioning after prolonged usage. To avoid this issue, always remember not to leave an attached controller plugged into a wall socket overnight. If it is left unattended, they will continue charging until all energy is exhausted from the Battery, which causes overcharging.

Regularly Checking The Terminals of Battery

A dirty terminal may cause a poor connection of the charger to power wheelchair batteries. It can result in either no charging or slow and improper charging of these devices, which reduces their lifespan; because of this reason, you should regularly check terminals for cleanliness and corrosion caused by moisture.

Avoid Overheating The Power Wheelchair Batteries When Charging

Overheating is another issue that shortens battery life, so always remember not to charge your electric wheelchairs’ batteries over 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 Celsius). It will reduce the cycle-life too quickly, resulting in reduced efficiency.

Charge before Battery Reaches 0% Charging level

According to the experts, you should charge your electric wheelchair’s batteries before they reach zero level because charging at this point damages them and reduces their lifespan. For example, if your power wheelchair battery is discharged by 20%, it can be charged without any problems, but it will reduce its life if it reaches 0%. The chances of damaging its components increase significantly.

Charging batteries after complete discharge may cause damage to internal components such as circuit boards resulting in high repair bills or total replacement depending upon the extent of malfunction caused by the deep release of ions. It also causes permanent loss of capacity, so avoid taking this risk as much as possible, especially when using expensive electric wheelchairs that are not affordable for replacing frequently.

Avoid Using Extension Cables To Charge Batteries

Experts also advise not to use extension cables while charging the batteries of electric wheelchairs. Extension cable increases the chances of short-circuiting, resulting in leakage, severe damage, and high repair bills.

Avoid Pulling Cables for Disconnecting Your Electric Wheelchair From Wall Outlet

It is also advisable to avoid pulling cables for disconnecting your electric wheelchair from the wall outlet so that the sockets get damaged. It may result in increased repair bills. To disconnect the Battery’s charger, pull on the connectors.

Disconnect the Batteries When Not Using Power Wheelchair for 15 Days

It would be best to remember that you should disconnect the power wheelchair batteries when not using them for 15 days. Not doing so may cause sulfation which reduces their lifespan and makes them inefficient over time.

Avoid Charging Batteries in Extremely Humid Conditions

Charging batteries in highly humid conditions may also damage their components resulting in short-circuiting, which causes leakage, etc. Charging batteries in a highly humid atmosphere may also make them lose capacity, which reduces their lifespan.

Regularly Check Battery Voltage

It is advisable to check the voltage of electric wheelchair batteries regularly. Do not use them if voltage falls below 12.85 volts because chances are more that they will damage its components resulting in expensive repairs or complete replacement depending upon the extent of malfunction caused by the low battery voltage.

Regularly Checking Specific Gravity of Electrolyte Solution

You should regularly check the specific gravity of electrolyte solution in power wheelchair batteries by using a hydrometer or refractometer to check the strength of these electrical devices.

Smooth Driving and Handling of Electric Wheelchairs

The driving patterns of the user also affect the power wheelchair battery. It is advisable that while driving the power wheelchair, you should maintain smooth and regular handling because jerking or sudden acceleration may damage its components resulting in expensive repairs or complete replacement.

Final Words

No doubt, a power wheelchair is an incredible electric device that is essential for people with disabilities. These electric wheelchairs are in great demand because they provide a higher level of independence to wheelchair users who cannot perform some tasks on their own. However, maintaining their batteries may require some effort by owners, but it’s worth doing. So to get efficient performance from a power wheelchair over the long term, take a little extra care of its batteries.

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