Take it offline!
This Education in Motion resource is also available as a printable PDF.
Over the past few years, battery technology has come a long way. However, some of the advice provided regarding the maintenance of electric wheelchair batteries has not made great progress. This has led to a series of confusing and sometimes contradictory instructions about the "best" way to take care of batteries. In this article we will clear up some of these myths and legends and give you 5 tips for you to follow. During holidays we do not make intensive use of the chairs (always when you are using you manual wheelchair for travel), so it is essential to take proper care of the batteries to prevent them from becoming damaged by disuse.
Discover your wheelchair batteries
The batteries used in mobility products are very different from the batteries used in a car, for example. Car batteries are designed to release a large amount of energy in a short period of time, whereas batteries used in mobility products such as electric wheelchairs (commonly called long-lasting cycle batteries) release energy uniformly over a long period of time.
Sunrise Medical wheelchairs use "maintenance-free" batteries only.
These batteries make use of an electrolyte transport method commonly called "gel", which is totally sealed inside the outer shell of the battery. As the name implies, no maintenance is required except for regular recharging.
Since the battery cover is sealed, acid cannot be spilled and therefore it can be transported in complete safety, even on a plane if they are IATA approved. Please double check that the individual chair battery is IATA approved before taking it on an plane, as this does not apply to every single chair
5 essential tips for battery care
- Recharge the batteries of your electric wheelchair every night, regardless of how much you have used it and even if you haven't used it at all during that day.
- Never interrupt the charging cycle. Wait until night to proceed with a full recharge. As a general rule, the maintenance-free batteries of our chairs take longer to fully recharge than the acid led batteries of other products so please bear this is mind.
- If you are not going to use the chair, it’s better to leave it plugged into the charger until you are ready to use it. This will not harm the batteries as long as the charger is connected to the power. If the charger is not connected to the power, the batteries may run down.
- If you only use your electric wheelchair to go outside and you are not using it during these days of holidays for more than 15 days, you should disconnect the cable that connects both batteries. Make sure you fully charge the batteries at least once a week.
- You should regularly check if the battery terminals show any sign of corrosion. If there is corrosion, clean the terminals completely (a wire brush is ideal for this cleaning) and re-grease the terminal with petroleum jelly (not with ordinary oil). Make sure that the terminal nuts and screws, the wire clip and the wire are completely covered in petroleum jelly.
If you follow all these basic tips during these days you will contribute to the batteries not falling into a deep discharge, which would render them useless.
Other basic tips that you should not miss
When you disconnect the charger, pull on the connector (not the cable). Make sure that the cable is placed in such a way that nobody trips or steps on it and make sure it is not subject to damage or tension of any other kind.
You should not use extension cords unless strictly necessary. Using an unsuitable extension cord could cause a fire or an electric shock. If you have no choice but to use an extension cord, make sure that the extension cord is correctly connected and in good electrical condition.
If you found this article interesting, don’t miss our article about the maintenance of a manual wheelchair where you will find some basic tips for the daily care of your manual wheelchair and all the details about what items you should check more frequently.
And if you don't want to miss any of our content, don't forget to subscribe to the newsletter.