Mobility Aids

4 Electric Wheelchair Battery Types? [+ Pros & Cons]

Written by Dayna C
Last Updated :
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Are you looking for new wheelchair batteries? I had to learn about the electric wheelchair battery types when looking for new batteries for a wheelchair my grandma had used for a long time.

Each battery type works differently, so I couldn’t get any.

I’ll share my discoveries about the types of wheelchair batteries with you. Read along!

4 Types of Wheelchair Batteries

Different types of wheelchairs use different types of rechargeable batteries. But all types of batteries do the same work: provide power for personal wheelchairs.

Take a quick look at this table of the four types of wheelchair batteries.

Battery TypeMain AdvantageMain Disadvantage
AGM BatteryAffordablePretty heavy
Lithium-ionLight and long-lastingPretty expensive
Spillable WetLong-lastingThey’re a nightmare to transport
GelSlow discharge over an extended periodPretty expensive

1. Absorbed Glass Mat Batteries

AGM batteries are non-spillable wet-cell batteries with an immobile electrolyte. The electrolyte probably won’t leak out of its secure casing, even being damp.

AGM batteries are excellent at charge storage and charging speed (2). That’s what puts them ahead of most other wheelchair batteries.

Check other benefits of absorbed glass mat batteries in the video below.

2. Gel Batteries

Gel batteries are sealed lead-acid batteries. They discharge slowly, even if you don’t use them for a long time, which makes them perfect.

The silica in the battery transforms battery acid into a thick liquid that looks like a gel.

This type of battery became popular with wheelchair manufacturers because they are easy to maintain or transport (1).

The main disadvantage of gel batteries is that they’re pretty expensive.

3. Lithium-ion Batteries

Battery advancements raised the popularity of lithium-ion batteries. You can find them in various gadgets from smartphones to power wheelchairs.

These are the longest-lasting option among wheelchair batteries. Their advanced battery technology also makes them lighter than the average wheelchair battery.

4. Spillable Wet Wheelchair Batteries

With spillable wet batteries, you need to pour in the electrolyte through openings on the top of the battery. Then, you just need to connect the battery terminals.

The spillable electrolyte makes these batteries hard to transport, so they aren’t popular.

But they are longer-lasting than gel batteries, as explained in this video.

AGM Batteries vs. Electric Wheelchair Lithium Battery: What To Choose?

Both AGM and lithium-ion are fantastic wheelchair battery recommendations. But if I were to pick one, I’d choose the lithium battery. I chose them after finding the answers to some questions.

How long do wheelchair batteries last? Do any of these two have a high battery capacity? What kind of battery service do I expect from them?

Well, AGM batteries are considerably cheaper and safer to use than lithium-ion batteries.

But they are quite heavy, so you can’t move that fast in your wheelchair with a battery pack of AGM batteries.

Them being heavy also means the battery strain on your maintenance capacity will be high. They can last you about 16 kilometers on a single charge.

Once the charge starts running out, the wheelchair slows till it finally stops. AGM batteries aren’t the most charge-efficient, thanks to a low charge storage capacity.

If you don’t have a wheelchair battery charger, you risk grounding your wheelchair.

Lithium-ion batteries offer considerable more on a single charge. They can last about 33 kilometers before you need to charge them.

These kinds of batteries are also lighter and smaller than AGM batteries. That key difference makes lithium-ion batteries the better option of the two.

Lithium-ion batteries enable the wheelchair to run at a constant speed until the battery runs out.

Despite all these benefits and their popularity with consumer electronics manufacturers, lithium iron phosphate batteries aren’t that common in battery-powered wheelchairs.

If you can afford it, choose lithium-ion batteries for your wheelchair. They are better than AGM batteries.

FAQs

Are wheelchair batteries interchangeable?

Yes, wheelchair batteries are interchangeable. All wheelchair batteries are usually 12-volt batteries, though you need two of them to power a wheelchair fully. So it’s possible to interchange wheelchair batteries.

Can you use a lawn mower battery in a wheelchair?

Lawn mower batteries can’t work for a power wheelchair or other mobility devices. They might seem interchangeable, but they’re not.

Is charging wheelchair batteries with a car charger possible?

Although possible, but charging wheelchair batteries with car charger isn’t advisable. The car charger isn’t suitable for the deep cycle battery of the wheelchair and could damage it.

Conclusion

Now you can select the best electric wheelchair battery types.

Wheelchairs mainly work on three types of non-spillable batteries. How long they last depend on how you use your wheelchair, among other factors. It all begins with getting the perfect battery.

senior using an Electric Wheelchair

What other advice would you give to someone looking for a battery for their wheelchair? Please share below in the comments.

References

  • 1. Fisher W, Garret R, Seeger B. Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development. Google Books [Internet]. Veterans Administration, Department of Medicine and Surgery, Rehabilitation R & D Service; 1988 [cited 2022 Aug 23];25. Available from: https://books.google.co.ke/books?id=A2WQLfeo-UUC&dq=types%20of%20wheelchair%20batteries&lr&pg=PA27#v=onepage&q&f=false
  • 2. AGM Batteries vs. Gel Batteries | VARTA® Automotive Batteries | Clarios [Internet]. www.varta-automotive.com. [cited 2022 Aug 23]. Available from: https://www.varta-automotive.com/en-nz/varta-battery-support/battery-basics/agm-batteries-vs-gel-batteries

About Author

Dayna C
Dayna has an incredible passion for helping others and a background as an in-home caregiver for the elderly. She left the field temporarily three years ago to stay at home with her twins, but found that she really missed working with senior citizens. She launched LoAids as a way to help not just her own loved ones and former clients, but ALL seniors live life to the fullest in their golden years.  Follow her on LINKEDIN and TWITTER. Read her LATEST POSTS. Learn more about her HERE.

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