Power or electric wheelchairs run on lithium ion batteries, which usually take about 6 – 8 hours to charge fully. It can take slightly longer if you are charging them for the very first time.
While some wheelchairs have only one large battery with the provision of attaching one more battery, most of the products in the market come with 2 lithium ion batteries of 6 AH (ampere hour) each. In this article, we answer the question, how to charge a dead wheelchair battery.
How to Charge a Dead Electric Wheelchair Battery
If you want to charge your dead electric wheelchair battery, there are multiple ways of doing so. You can charge it using another battery or using a pulse charger or avail of professional services.
At the same time, it is very important to know the best practices of using and charging a battery. We will also talk about that. Proper wheelchair battery care can enable you to extend the useful life of your batteries by, at times, by a couple of years. If you are looking for good wheelchair replacement batteries, you can have a look at this article.
Tips for good battery care
Most wheelchair batteries will have a warranty period of 1 year. Tips for good battery care are as follows:
- Read your user manual. It should contain tips on battery care and things you need to do to ensure that you can operate your wheelchair (including battery maintenance) safely.
- Before first use, you should fully charge your new batteries, which may take up to 10 – 12 hours. Consider charging the battery overnight but do not forget to unplug it after 12 hours of charging.
- In the initial 2 weeks of usage, you should take care to not discharge your batteries by more than thirty to forty per cent. This may restrict your activities, especially if you are using your wheelchair for daily commute to work. and do not have a car; however, you may have to take a call vis-a-vis having a long battery life
- It is better to charge batteries every night for long periods (6 hours at least), even if they have not been used much during the day.
- It is advisable to always use the charger which has come with your device. If you have to use a replacement charger because the one that came with your wheelchair is not working, try sticking to the same manufacturer’s original charger.
- You should not deplete your batteries by more than eighty per cent. Deep discharging can reduce your battery life. Lithium ion batteries do not have a charge memory so you do not need to fully discharge them and recharge them, unlike nickel-cadmium batteries.
- You should store your batteries at room temperature. Both, extreme heat and extreme cold can reduce a battery’s life.
Despite our best efforts, it may often be the case that due to long idle periods (you should ideally remove your battery from the wheelchair in the event of long periods of non-use) or complete depletion during usage, wheelchair batteries may become completely dead.
Batteries may also deplete gradually on becoming deeply discharged on numerous occasions. In these cases, it is not possible to recharge your batteries using your conventional charger that had come with your device. You would be lucky if your batteries are within their warranty periods, in which case you would be able to get them replaced. However, if the warranty is not available or has lapsed, you may want to use the following methods to charge your dead wheelchair battery.
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Charging a Dead Wheelchair Battery – Do It Yourself Method
The idea of this method is to trick your device charger into charging the fully depleted battery. You will be needing the following equipment which is either easily available online or at a store or you will already have these in your loft.
- The dead battery
- A working battery of sufficient voltage capacity and preferably similar to the dead battery in technology. The best choice will be a second battery of exactly same specifications. This may be your backup battery for the wheelchair. However, if you have been using both batteries together, chances are both batteries would be dead.
- Jumper cables to connect the batteries to charger
- Voltmeter to measure the voltage
- Timer (found on most mobile phones)
- The charger which came with your device
The first step is to connect the working battery (charged) and the dead battery in parallel – which means positive end connected to positive end and the negative end connected to the negative end. It is important to note that the charger should not be connected to the batteries at this stage. There may be sparking if the charger is connected and turned on. However, sparking can be avoided if you attach the positive cable first.
The second step is to connect the charger to the good battery. At this point, the dead battery will slowly start charging through the good battery. You should ideally supervise the process continuously, to avoid any unwanted surprises. After about an hour and as frequently as possible, you should check to see if the depleted battery is heating up. In case the battery is heating up or if there is a hissing sound, it is recommended that you stop the process at once. Heating up means that something else may be wrong with the battery or it is not possible to revive the battery.
You should also continue to use your voltage meter frequently to measure the voltage of the depleted battery to check if the voltage has reached at least 10.5 volts. This should ideally take between one and two hours. When this has happened, it is advisable to disconnect the good battery from the apparatus.
You should properly disconnect the charger and remove the good battery, following which only the dead battery should be connected to the charger. After this, you should continue charging till the dead battery is charged to full. If your charger indicates full charge, follow the indicator, or else you should ideally keep checking the voltage with the voltage meter and the process of full charge should be over in about three to five hours.
While the above is a neat way of reviving your completely depleted battery, it is highly recommended that if you are the user of the wheelchair, you should be performing this activity under supervision or you should have help from family members.
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Avail of Professional Service to Charge a Dead Wheelchair Battery
The other option is to avail of professional technicians with battery know how, who may be able to resuscitate your dead battery for a small cost. However, in this case, often you will have to take the depleted battery to their service centers.
This may not be always possible and the wheelchair user may need some help in taking the battery to the store. You should also be aware that if the store sells new batteries as well, due to business considerations, technicians may not always provide you with a revival solution even when one exists.
Buy a Pulse Charger
In case the above processes are not possible for you, you may invest in a pulse charger or a desulfator charger which has the capability to bring batteries ‘back from the dead’. The formation of lead sulphate on the electrodes is the principle reason for dead batteries. Pulse chargers can reduce the size of sulphate crystals formed on the electrodes or thin out sulphate layers on them.
You might want to pick one from the following pulse chargers.
The NOCO Genius 10 Charger
This is a 10 ampere fully automatic smart charger. It may be a value buy in case you have multiple battery powered gadgets at home, operating at different voltages. The device can charge dead batteries which have been discharged up to a level of 1 volt and has numerous indicators to make the charging process risk-free and highly convenient.
- Works with 2 voltage capacities of 6 volt and 12 volt
- Fully automatic and easy to use
- Capable of reviving very low voltage dead batteries
- The product comes with a 3 year limited warranty
- Backed with a good customer support team.
- Can be used to restore lost battery performance as well, in working batteries
- Slightly on the expensive side as it operates on dual voltage mode
- Works with only clamp type connectors
Here is a Youtube video giving more info about NOCO Genius 10 Charger.
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Pulsetech Xtreme Charger
This pulse charger can revive a wide range of 12 volt batteries and comes with both clamp and lug type cable connectors. Apart from reviving your dead battery, this device can be connected continuously to your batteries in order to prevent the process of sulfation, thereby, increasing battery life. The charger pays for itself once it revives a single battery.
- Has overcharge protection
- Works with both clamp and lug type connectors
- Can be used to maintain batteries as welL.
- May require a surge protector to use it with
- Works with only one voltage configuration (12V)
If you find that your electric wheelchair battery is fully depleted and would not charge with your device charger, you need not panic. Depending on the condition of your battery, instead of replacing your battery with a new one, you, or a qualified technician may choose to revive your battery using a pulse charger.
Finally, in the event that you have decided to buy a new battery and dispose of the dead battery, it is extremely important to dispose it off correctly. Carelessly disposed off batteries have negative environmental impact due to lead discharge. Do check with your city or municipality if they have a program to dispose of used batteries. You can also look for designated recycling centers for battery disposal. There are also stores that specialize in batteries and may pay you a small amount for a dead battery due to parts which they can salvage out of it.
Thank you for reading the article. We hope that we have been able to answer your question – how to charge a dead wheelchair battery. If you are looking for more wheelchair accessories, you can read our articles on best seat belts for wheelchairs and best gloves for wheelchair users. We wish your electric wheelchair battery a long life!
For more articles on wheelchair maintenance, read how to put brakes on a wheelchair, and how to clean a power wheelchair.