The Lithium Battery Mobility Scooter 🔋
The lithium battery mobility scooter, while seemingly being the perfect solution, in fact offers up a few unexpected predicaments.
At the most fundamental level there is the question of the range of a lithium battery mobility scooter and if you can reliably estimate it.
When a lithium battery gets low, the power available from the battery will drop off dramatically, potentially leaving you stranded. The effect on high draw devices, like your scooter’s motors will be pronounced, and the very nature of these high draw components will compound the rapid drain of the lithium power cell.
Lead acid batteries will give you much more warning they are nearing depletion giving you a reasonable chance of getting to a charging point. Furthermore, unlike lead acid batteries, there is no self-regeneration of charge when a lithium battery becomes depleted. This ability of the lead acid battery to “rejuvenate” itself, if left for a while, could well allow you to get the scooter to a power source to recharge in an emergency.
The most likely reason you may be looking at a lithium battery mobility scooter is you want to use it for travel.
Firstly, your chosen airline may refuse to transport a lithium battery mobility scooter as this unfortunate tourist found out.
“I recently booked a foreign holiday. At time of booking I made everybody aware of my mobility issues and that I would need to take my mobility scooter. The airline requested details of my scooter then said they would not take it owing to it having a lithium battery. Where do I go for help with this?”
This tourist was unlucky but, even if your airline will transport your lithium battery mobility scooter, the rules in place will be complex, and may even vary, as you travel through different regions.
So, before you book your flight be absolutely sure you are not going to be left with no way to get about when you reach your destination.
The lead acid batteries in our Quingo 5 wheels scooters are all certified for transport in the cargo holds of aeroplanes so, the scooter can be loaded in to the hold and forgotten about until you reach your destination.
Even though our scooters are perfectly safe with the batteries connected during flight, some airlines will disconnect the batteries of your scooter as an extra precaution. So, if your scooter is not working when you get to your destination check the battery cables are attached.
In contrast, lithium batteries should preferably not be transported in the unpressurized part of the plane as they can explode. Any lithium battery to be taken on a plane must be certified for flight and, if they are, it is strongly advised that they be carried in the pressurised cabin with the passengers.
It is mandatory that the pilot in command is notified of the location of mobility aids with installed batteries, the location of any removed batteries and the location of spare batteries, either in the cargo compartment, or for lithium batteries in the passenger cabin.
Lithium batteries in particular must be properly packaged to avoid damage or short circuit as the result of improper handling can be a fire that can be very hard to extinguish.
Every airline may have its own rules about the exact limits of a Li Ion battery’s capacity however, the IATA states a single Li Ion battery must not surpass 300Wh and two batteries must not exceed 160Wh each.
These limitations will also mean your average travel scooter will either have a very restricted range or be so small and cramped as to offer little in the way of practicality or comfort.
The size and weight of batteries required to power any reasonable size lithium battery mobility scooter, and provide a useable range, is likely to be high, making them impractical to carry and likely to be over the respective capacity limits of the airline.
Scooters that are able to travel by plane will either require you to lift a heavy pack and loose carry-on baggage allowance, or if it weighs more than your allotted weight allowance, may incur considerable costs (though this is at the discretion of the individual airline).
Then we have to consider the operating temperature range of batteries.
In exceptionally cold or warm temperatures lithium batteries simply do not work while lead acid batteries, with their much broader operable range, will continue to work, with albeit reduced efficiency, over a much wider range of ambient temperatures.
If you don’t make sure to charge a lithium battery on a regular basis they will lose their ability to hold a full charge. You are far more likely to forget to undertake this maintenance with a lithium battery mobility scooter that you only use when you travel, unless of course you travel a great deal. The final problem is that, if for any reason you allow your lithium battery to become fully discharged, you will never be able to get it to take a charge again.
Which leads to the price of replacing your batteries.
Like any battery, lithium batteries have a limited lifespan, even if you follow a strict maintenance regime. When your batteries do eventually need replacing you may be faced with a prohibitively large bill, particularly as the capacity of the battery increases. This unexpected expense will come with very little warning that you will be needing to replace your batteries as, unlike lead acid batteries, the performance of a lithium battery will drop off very quickly indeed.
Finally, in these greener times, the lithium battery mobility scooter presents us with a moral dilemma. In general, a maximum of 5% of a lithium battery can be recycled so, every time they need to be changed, they are likely to end up in landfill.
The lead acid battery is 99% recyclable and therefore, in the long term, is a greener alternative.