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What’s your battery supplier not telling you?

Are you getting the most out of your mobility scooter battery? A must read article whether you already own a scooter or in the market for a new one.

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OVERVIEW

Generally, for electric mobility equipment (electric wheelchairs or mobility scooters) there are two types of Battery, either lithium or deep cycle.

The way that your batteries need to be cared for depends on what type of battery you have!

Always, refer to your product’s manual to identify the type of batteries your Mobility Scooter or Electric Wheelchair has, as well as the correct way of caring for them. Correct caring for your batteries will promote, and increase the likelihood of  you in getting the longest possible lifespan.

By taking a few preventative steps, you will in the long term save money, and minimise downtime.

Battery cases must be regularly inspected to ensure that they are clean, and that there is no visible damage.  As a rule, the life span of a battery depends on the below 2 things:-

  1.  The quality of the battery purchased. (Be aware of cheap, low quality batteries available in the market place.  Dealers often use cheap low quality batteries to increase their profit margin, or so they can discount to obtain a sale.)
  2. The care you provide for your batteries.  (The general rule is  Charge, Charge, Charge.)  Maintaining a fully charged battery extends its life cycle.
  3. Maintenance of your scooter and regular servicing.  It is essential that the motor be cleaned out, and if appropriate, that old brushes are replaced every 6 months with new authentic manufacturer brushes. It is also especially important that all tyres are maintained at their recommended pressure.

LITHIUM BATTERIES

“Lithium Batteries” are usually found in “Portable Travel Mobility Scooters and Electric Wheelchairs”.  Be aware not all “Lithium Batteries” are “Plane Safe” and that you will need to obtain a certificate for your battery to fly called the “MSDS”.  Be aware that no dealer can guarantee your battery will be accepted on each airline worldwide and that airlines have the right to change their policies. Airlines are individually owned, and as such, they can decide what they set as Battery requirements for travel on their planes.  Best practice is to check with the airline that you are traveling on to insure the batteries will be accepted for your travel needs before turning up at the airport.

It is recommended that you charge the batteries up after each time that you use your machine,or if multipule uses within a day, at the end of a day. If you are not going to be using your product for a while, it is important that you still charge the batteries every week to maintain quality battery life. Always note that batteries should be charged overnight with a battery charger designed for those batteries, and one that has an auto switch off system.

It should be noted that whilst Lithium Batteries in general love a full charge and discharge, discharging below the discharge level will destroy your battery and void your warranty.  Make sure you check with your supplier the best way to care for your batteries.  In general where possible

  1.  Make sure the set up for your lithium battery has a computer chip technology to protect it from being damaged. See Heartway Australia products for scooter models with this technology https://heartwayaustralia.com.au/product_cat/portable-mobility-scooters/ or their electric travel wheelchair models https://heartwayaustralia.com.au/product_cat/travel-wheelchairs/
  2. Recharge your battery as soon as it has been used.   If you discharge your battery and do not recharge straight away, it will continue to discharge naturally leading to a discharge that is unable to be recovered over time – voiding your warranty. 
  3. If you are out and your battery is discharged completely, do not turn it off and on again to drive a few more meters.  Doing so will discharge your battery beyond recovery mode.
  4. Never test your battery to see how far it will go, as this will lead to a discharge level damaging your battery.  (Battery distances are not perfect science as customers weights vary and where they drive their products vary).  Always stop using your Scooter/Wheelchair when the battery gauge drops to the last 2 bars.

“Heartway Australia” www.heartwayaustralia.com.au carry a full range of products with Lithium technology and computer chip protection.  Visit their website for a full range of products.

DEEP CYCLE BATTERIES

Lead acid batteries respond well to being charged and maintained at full charge when not in use.  It important to maintain their charge more regularly than lithium batteries. This type of battery should be charged each time that your mobility scooter or wheelchair is used and try not to have continuous heavy discharges.  Maintain your batteries at 100% charge level when not in usage.  Unlike “Lithium batteries” deep cycle style batteries cannot be discharged completely without damaging the battery (Always remain a 30% charge in your batteries and never go below this.  In general, keep at least 2 battery indicator bars on your scooter).  If you are not going to be using the product for a period of time, it is recommended that you still charge the batteries weekly, with a charger designed for your batteries that has an auto switch off system when the batteries reach full charge.  Best Practice is to disconnect the battery from the machine if unable to do a weekly charge.  You should always leave the batteries charging until the indicator shows that they are full.

SAFETY FIRST

Over the past few years there have been reports of Mobility Scooters catching on fire, and in one case in Australia, of an incident leading to the death of the owner https://www.news.com.au/national/western-australia/mobility-scooter-bursts-into-flames-killing-a-man/news-story/5a9b495fbc590c61d3ef2d6e230b7f40.

It needs to be stressed that the batteries you buy/supplied with, need to be of the highest quality, and the servicing of your product needs to also be completed under a qualified servicing technician who does a full and complete service , and supplies a detailed and concise report.  Be wary of people who have a home run business and only come out to you.  If possible, a printed battery analyst should be supplied after a full battery test is completed as part of the service.  This in reality can only be completed by a high quality battery testing analyzing machine and usually takes time – completed at the servicing center (Cannot be completed in a home service, as it requires time to complete properly).  Be aware that a multi meter is not a deep cycle analyzing machine to elevate the amp age of your batteries.  A general rule is – buying cheap is often not the best deal when it comes to safety, servicing or batteries.  Make sure the batteries you are supplied with, meet both Australian/New Zealand and International standards for safety.

STORMS AND ELECTRICAL SURGES

Did you know that storms and electrical surges are able to damage both your batteries and your charger? In some cases, a power surge can actually damage the scooter/wheelchair.  In order to prevent this kind of damage, it is recommended that you always use a dedicated surge protector when charging your mobility scooter or wheelchair.  House surge protectors do not protect your scooter from surcharge damage.  Always purchase a protector that plugs directly into the power point of your home.

IMPORTANTS OF REGULAR SERVICING FOR BATTERY QUALITY!

Why is it important to have a regular service of your product for maintenance of batteries?  Firstly, flat or deflated tyres cause excess drain leading to extra drain on your batteries.  Therefore causing your batteries to not perform as well and lead to battery damage.  Secondly, if your product is not serviced correctly, had all the carbon build up in the motor removed and new manufacture brushes put in, this then will lead to a buildup of carbon in your motor.  This causes excess drain on the Batteries and again leads to battery damage.  It is vital that your Mobility Scooter is serviced regularly (Each 6 months) to maintain a safe and cost effective machine.

WHAT IF MY BATTERY IS NOT HOLDING A CHARGE?

What if my battery is not holding charge and discharging quickly? This is common when people do not apply proper care to their batteries. This happens when a battery has not been maintained in good charge, by being left for periods of time without use and then recharged.  The rule of thumb is that if one battery dies, or loses charge, it may be claimed under warranty. If both batteries die or lose charge simultaneously, it is generally due to user neglect or a surcharge. If you are over discharging your batteries, or you are not charging them for sufficient lengths of time, it will damage your batteries ability to recharge fully in the future. 

WHY ARE MY BATTERY CASES SWELLING?

When deep cycle batteries start to swell, it is evidence that the Batteries have been left unused or drained too low.  After time the Calcium in the battery can build up.  When you charge your batteries after this has occurred, the charger cannot read the battery is full, due to carbon build up.  Therefore, it keeps putting more power into the battery.  Eventually causing it to swell and bust.   This is evidence of neglect and automatically voids the warranty.  IT IS IMPORTANT YOU DO NOT USE YOUR MOBILITY SCOOTER OR WHEELCHAIR IF THE BATTERIES SHOW SIGNS OF SWELLING.  REPLACE STRAIGHT AWAY!

CAN I INTERCHANGE CHARGERS?

Can I interchange my chargers to charge different batteries for different machines?  The general rule is no, as you may be using a charger that is not designed for the battery you are charging. You should always check with your dealer before interchanging chargers.

DO BATTERIES LOSE THEIR CHARGE HOLD ABILITY?

Do batteries lose the ability to hold charge over time? Yes they do! It is not unusual for a battery to lose 20-25% of its capacity within 6 months. The best way to maintain good battery life and cycle is to charge, charge, and charge!  Always buy a product that will travel much further then you need it to.  By doing this you will get better life from your batteries.

Important Note: If you are out and your mobility scooter or wheelchair runs out of charge, do not turn it off and then on again and then drive. If you do this, you will damage your battery to the point of it not being able to recover.  Yes, I state this again, as this is the major reason people find they have battery issues.

HOW MUCH DOES A BATTERY COST?

This question is like asking, “How long is a piece of string”.   Remember, batteries are different and costs vary depending on many factors.  General rule, just because they are expensive does not make them good!  In addition, cheap general is not quality!  In the end, you need to ask yourself a question.  Do I believe that the supplier knows what they are talking about and do I trust them”?  How long have they been in business, and what genuine reviews do they have?  Remember, it is easy for businesses to set up their own reviews, so you should ask yourself if the reviews look genuine.

There are a few common mistakes that people make in regards to batteries:

  1. Interrupting charge before the battery has finished charging
  2. Not completing charges
  3. Discharging too far
  4. Using an incorrect charger or not connecting the charger correctly
  5. Not charging their product each time they use it.
  6. Letting their batteries sit for long periods of time without charge or usage.  (Periods more than 2 weeks at a time.  Best practice is “Charge each week if not using the product and charge before use and after use each time you go to use it”.
  7. Fail to have regular 6 monthly servicing that checks your tyres and makes sure your motor is cleaned out, and new genuine manufacturer brushes are replacing the old brushes.  Never use generic brushes in your machine.  Always check with your dealer to insure the brushes you are using to replace old brushes will give you the best performance and maintain your product at the highest level of performance.

If you feel that your batteries are not holding charge, or charging correctly, you should contact Out and About Healthcare on 1300 366 545.

We hope to be able to welcome you to the Out And About Healthcare family!

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