...is a very common question asked to our BBL Battery Experts. Below we intend to help to answer this question by providing a background into the life of a mobility battery.
The simple answer to this question depends on a number of different circumstances. There are many different factors that will influence the lifespan of mobility batteries. Below we will cover off some of these factors, look at the key considerations and offer tips on how to maximise output and extend their lifespan.
There are generally three different types / technologies of mobility scooter batteries, GEL, AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat) and Lithium Iron. GEL and AGM are what are termed as ‘lead acid batteries’. Both of these types are essentially composed of lead plates which are suspended in electrolyte (acid). Where they differ, is the electrolyte in the GEL batteries is in the form of a semi-solid GEL block, and with the AGM batteries, the electrolyte is absorbed into a ‘Glass Mat’ material. The third type is Lithium Iron (LiFePO4) which contains completely different components all together; the Lithium Iron (LiFePO4) being the cathode and a graphitic carbon electrode with a metallic backing as the anode. These three types of battery technologies each have their own positives and negatives to be considered when purchasing.
- GEL – Typically produces more cycles than AGM and therefore can last a lot longer, so it’s recommended for regular, daily users. This battery is considered to be the best performing ‘lead acid’ type mobility scooter battery with fantastic performance, but is the more expensive lead acid option.
- AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat) – Produces fewer cycles than a GEL battery and is therefore recommended for occasional users. However, they are also the most cost effective option of all three and therefore represent excellent value for money with good performance.
- Lithium Iron – This option is the most recent addition to the mobility battery offering, and considerably outstrips the lead acid options from a performance point of view. Where a well maintained AGM battery will perform up to 700 – 800 cycles in a life time at 50% depth of discharge (using half the amount of power the battery hold per use) an equivalent Lifos Lithium Iron technology battery will perform 5000 cycles, well over 5 times as many. The two larger types, Lifos 68 and Lifos 105 both also communicate directly with any smart device via a Bluetooth app ensuring key performance indicators such as state of charge, output and input are readily available to any user. These batteries are more expensive to purchase but when you consider the cost per cycle (long term) they are much more cost effective.
The charging of your mobility scooter batteries is an often-contentious subject with a wide range of differing opinions regarding how and when to charge in order to maximise the battery’s performance and lifespan.
To ensure clarity, we recommend adhering to these four key pieces of advice:
- Where possible, charge after each trip as well as overnight.
- Never allow the batteries to be fully discharged, and do not drive when only red LEDs are lit on the battery gauge on your scooter. Certainly with the lead acid options you would deep discharge your batteries, and this would dramatically decrease life span and capacity of the batteries. With the Lithium Iron option you can deep discharge the batteries to a much lower level without detriment to the batteries.
- In cases where the scooter is not regularly used, it must be charged once per month as a minimum.
- Alternatively, the batteries can be left connected. They will not overcharge if you are using the original and dedicated charger which comes with your scooter.
The way you charge your mobility scooter batteries is not the only way you can get the most out of it in the way of performance and lifespan. Almost as important is the correct way, and place, to store the mobility scooter, along with its batteries.
- Try storing your mobility scooter in a cool and dry place. Overheating and extreme cold can reduce effectiveness, output, longevity and delay recharging process.
- Always store your mobility scooter fully charged when not being used.
Warranty & range
Although most manufacturers generally offer a 12-month warranty on batteries, lead acid mobility scooter batteries should deliver an average lifespan of up to 18 months depending on usage. Lithium Iron batteries will give a much extended lifespan, up to five times as long if cared for and well maintained.
If charged and stored correctly, as the above suggestions, the lead acid mobility scooter battery options, depending on type and capacity (size), can provide anywhere from 20 to 45 kilometres of travel per charge. Again this range would be dramatically increased with the use of the Lithium Iron option as the battery can be discharged to a much lower level giving an increased ‘useable’ range per charge. It is, of course, essential that you check this with the manufacturer, as this will be individual to the specific mobility scooter.
It is worth noting here is that the overall range is dependent on a number of factors, including how the scooter is driven – for example, bursts of acceleration will drain the batteries quicker. Size and weight of load, including driver and luggage / shopping are also an important factor, as is the terrain where the scooter will be operating – uneven ground and driving at an incline will also wear the batteries quicker.
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