How to Charge a Dead Wheelchair Battery

Power or electric wheelchairs run on lithium ion batteries, which usually take about 6 – 8 hours to charge fully. This charge time can be slightly longer if you are charging them for the very first time.

While some models of powered wheelchair or mobility scooter 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.

While lithium ion batteries in wheelchairs typically last a long time given their rechargeable nature, the battery still has the potential to fail over time. In this article, we look at how to charge a dead wheelchair battery.

 

 

How to Charge a Dead Electric Wheelchair Battery

If you have wondered how to charge a dead wheelchair battery, you can do so by using another battery or using a pulse charger or avail of professional services

To charge your wheelchair’s dead battery, you may try multiple routes. You can charge it by using another battery pack, by using a pulse charger, or by seeing our a professional service.

It is important to learn and use the best practices of charging a wheelchair battery, as proper wheelchair battery care can enable you to extend the useful life of your wheelchair battery pack by as much as a couple of years.

If you are looking for good wheelchair replacement batteries, you can have a look at our article about this.

Tips for Good Battery Care

Most wheelchair batteries will have a warranty period of 1 year, so it may not cover the lifetime of your battery. Tips for good battery care are as follows:

  1. Read your wheelchair’s user manual. It should contain tips on battery care and things you can do to ensure that you can operate your wheelchair (including battery maintenance) safely.
  2. Before first use, fully charge your new wheelchair, 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.
  3. In the initial 2 weeks of usage, you should take care to not discharge your batteries by more than thirty to forty percent. This may restrict your activities, especially if you are using your wheelchair for daily commute to work and do not have a car; however, doing so can help to promote the health of your wheelchair’s battery over the long term. 
  4. 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.
  5. It is advisable to always use the battery charger that came with your device. If you have to use a replacement battery charger because the one that came with your wheelchair is not working, try to find the manufacturer’s original charger for sale.
  6. 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 battery charge memory so you do not need to fully discharge them and recharge them, unlike nickel-cadmium batteries.
  7. 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 occasions. In these cases, it is not possible to recharge your batteries using your conventional charger that came 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 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 are either available online or in-store, or you will already have these in your home.

  • The dead lithium battery
  • A working lithium 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 that 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 watch for any undesirable incidents. 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, after which only the dead battery should be connected to the charger. After this, you should continue charging until the dead battery is charged to full. If your charger indicates a 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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Make Use of a Professional Service

The other option is to seek the service of a professional technician who may be able to resuscitate your dead battery for a small cost. However, in this case, you will likely need 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.

Buy a Pulse Charger

In case the above methods are not possible for you, you may invest in a pulse charger or a desulfator charger that has the capability to revive batteries.  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.

#1 – 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 convenient.

Pros

  • Works with 2 voltage capacities of 6 volts and 12 volts
  • 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

Cons

  • Slightly on the expensive side as it operates on dual voltage mode
  • Works with only clamp type connectors

Here is a Youtube video with more info about the NOCO Genius 10 Charger:

NOCO GENIUS10 Battery Charger Review, In Depth

 

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#2 – 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.

Pros

  • Has overcharge protection
  • Works with both clamp and lug type connectors
  • Can be used to maintain batteries as well

Cons 

  • May require a surge protector to use it with
  • Works with only one voltage configuration (12V)

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How can I tell if my wheelchair battery is dead?

A wheelchair with a dead or bad battery may be indicated by your wheelchair’s battery gauge, as well as your inability to move your wheelchair. A dead battery may fail to charge or may charge significantly slower than before if you attempt to charge it using your provided charger or power supply. See your wheelchair’s manual for details about how to detect a dead battery.

Once a wheelchair’s battery dies, you have the options of either attempting to revive the battery using the methods as described above, or purchasing a new replacement battery. Note that if you are able to revive your wheelchair’s battery, it may not hold charge as well as it did prior. 

Q. How do I know if my wheelchair battery needs replacement?

A wheelchair battery needs replacement if it has died and methods to revive it have failed. To determine if the battery has died, see the question above.

Q. How much does wheelchair battery charging or replacement cost?

A replacement wheelchair battery can vary in price anywhere from $20 to over $200, depending on the model and size of your wheelchair. Note that a professional battery replacement service will likely cost more a bit more for labor. 

Q. How long does a wheelchair battery last?

A wheelchair rechargeable battery‘s capacity is typically around 8 hours or 10 to 20 miles on a single charge. The lifetime of a wheelchair battery used daily is generally up to 2 years.

Q. Can I make my wheelchair battery last longer?

A rechargeable battery will only last for a certain number of cycles, but good care practices can be taken to help you maximize the life of your wheelchair’s battery. See the section “Tips for Good Battery Care” above for details.

Q. Is a wheelchair battery covered by my wheelchair’s warranty?

A wheelchair’s battery is often covered for one year from the date of purchase by the manufacturer.

 

Parting Words – Get Your Electric Wheelchair Running Close to New

If you find that your electric wheelchair battery is fully depleted and does 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 be able 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 of it correctly. Carelessly disposed off batteries have negative environmental impact due to lead discharge. Do check with your city or municipality to see 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 that they can salvage from it.

We hope that this article may guide you towards charging your 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 about how to put brakes on a wheelchair, and how to clean a power wheelchair.

About Estephanie Jill

Estephanie Jill (EJBP, BSPT, PTRP) is a licensed physiotherapist. She is a home health care provider, laboratory technician for physical therapy students, medical transcriptionist, and an advocate of the physiotherapy profession. Apart from that, she loves writing. Playing to her strengths, she mainly writes around health and fitness, She has been commended for her writing in the past. Her other passions include commenting on societal changes and writing life reflective pieces. She enjoys meaningful conversations, and detaching from the digital world to do yoga and meditation. She is a self-confessed foodie who enjoys eating for the experience and then burning it all off through exercise.