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How to Charge a Dead Wheelchair Battery (3 Options to Try)

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Charging dead batteries on an electric wheelchair may seem like a daunting task, but with the right instructions, it can be done in no time.

Learn the process of how to charge a dead wheelchair battery by using the best methods in using battery chargers and some tips on prolonging the life of your battery.

So read on for a complete explanation to get your chair up and running again!

Check: The Best Wheelchair Batteries

How Do I Know if My Wheelchair Battery is Dead?

To know if your wheelchair battery is dead, I outlined some simple steps for you to follow.

man in his power chair walking his dog at the park

On a daily basis, the average wheelchair user spends [1] roughly 10 hours in their chair. Under perfect conditions, most power wheelchairs can travel over 10 kilometers [2] before the battery runs out.

So, if your wheelchair is not turning on, it can be difficult to determine if you have dead batteries or if there’s an issue with another part of the chair.

Step-by-Step Guide I Use to Know if Your Wheelchair Battery is Dead

Step 1: Test the battery performance

To conduct a test on my battery performance, I usually check the wheelchair battery life and charge the battery completely before taking it for a ride.

Step 2: Check for the battery indicator

If you see a sudden dip in the battery indicator, this means that a cell has died, and the battery has to be replaced.

Step 3: Check if any of the battery has blown

If the battery does not charge, it is possible that the fuse near the charging port has blown, depriving the batteries of charge.

Step 4: Test the battery’s effectivity through a multimeter

Finally, your charger may be defective; to determine this, I use a multimeter to measure the DC voltage with the charger turned on (it should read between 26 and 29 average battery volts).

READ MORE: Lightweight Folding Power Wheelchair Reviews

How to Charge a Dead Wheelchair Battery

Though many people create different methods to charge a dead wheelchair battery, fortunately, I found the easiest methods to do so! Here are some of them.

OPTION 1: Do it Yourself

If you opt to try and revive your wheelchair battery on your own, keep in mind that you are conducting an experiment, and the results may not be as expected.

It’s possible that any action you try to do to revive your dead battery can instead diminish its lifespan, no matter if you use a smart charger or what quality battery you are using.

Quick Note: if you’re charging a battery without using a pulse charger, you’ll still need a voltage meter to check the voltage.

The most common issue I see with these machines is that people never allow them to fully charge.

So follow these steps to make sure that your wheelchair battery cycle is at full capacity before unplugging it out!

Step 1: Turn Off the Wheelchair Charger

Dr. R. Lee Kirby, who directs the Wheelchair Research Team at Dalhousie University and authored the textbook Wheelchair Assessment Skills and Training, suggests [3] that both the wheelchair and the charger be turned off first.

This is especially important when connecting the wheelchair and the charger to each other and the power source.

Step 2: Supply the Depleted Battery

You’ll need a pulse charger as a power supply to recharge a depleted battery. A pulse charger works similarly to a battery defibrillator because it jolts the battery back to life.

Pulse chargers (also known as desulfator chargers) break the lead sulfate crystals and the sulfate layer on lithium-ion batteries that accumulates on the battery electrodes, causing the battery to die.

Remember to not leave it for an extended period as it may cause extreme heat and make it become a bad battery.

Step 3: Charge the Battery With the Manufacturer’s Battery Charger

A study by David Bouquain shows that a pulse original charger should not be used to charge up your batteries in wheelchairs.

This is a common mistake that I see people are doing. So rather, I utilized it to charge the battery sufficiently for the manufacturer’s battery charger to recognize it and fully charge it.

Step 4: Make Sure the Voltage is Correct

You’ll need to check the volt battery while the pulse charger replenishes your dead battery so you can stop when the battery reaches a safe, normal level (usually 10 or 12V battery voltage).

I always use a voltmeter to check the voltage. Some pulse chargers come with a built-in voltmeter, so you won’t have to buy one separately.

Step 5: Put the Battery Back in the Box

Place the battery back in the battery box unit or the battery terminal and charge it as usual.

You may immediately return the electric wheelchair battery to its casing and charge it as usual once your dead battery has been returned to a normal voltage.

To also give you a visual tutorial, I included a video below that shows how to charge up your wheelchair battery with a secondary external charger.

Likewise, this video shows a man charging up a dead power wheelchair battery by using the same charger.

Alternatively, a separate external charger and replacement battery can be used to recharge your wheelchair battery.

RELATED: How Much Does a Wheelchair Weigh?

OPTION 2: Hire a Professional

If you don’t have the time, patience or knowledge to handle a dead battery, it might be worth it to hire professional in-service centers to do it for you.

Working with a professional is generally the best option since an incorrectly charged or discharged wheelchair battery can result in significant injury or worse.

Just make sure to assess the advantages and disadvantages of hiring a professional against buying a new battery.

Option 3: Use Power Chair Batteries

The amount of time [4] to charge the batteries in your electric wheelchair is determined by the charger’s amps.

Amp-hours are commonly used to determine a battery’s capacity (Ah). Smart chargers and power wheelchair batteries have more amps that can charge more quickly.

However, before connecting your battery to a powered wheelchair to something that didn’t come with it, double-check the specifications and charging requirements.

Things To Consider For a Wheelchair Battery’s Long Life

old wheelchair battery

There are a lot of factors to consider to prolong your battery’s life span. Here are some things I recommend.

Charge Your Battery on a Flat Surface, Without Any Obstructing Objects in the Way

Most wheelchair batteries take around 8 hours to reach full charge; if you cannot charge it up entirely, try turning off the breakers for 5 minutes before plugging back in.

Charge When the Batteries are Still Inside the Chair

If you plan on charging the wheelchair with the batteries left inside, make sure to turn the chair off.

Turn Off Any Breakers or Disconnects to Save Energy and Ensure Safety

Not only will this reduce power usage, but it also allows you to charge the battery without having to worry about draining other components of your chair.

Causes That Lead to a Dead Wheelchair Battery

If you have tried all the tips listed in this article and your battery is still dead, here are a few possible reasons why.

  1. The most common reason for a dead wheelchair battery is extended disuse [5].
  2. If you are not using your chair, it is advised to store the batteries in a cool, dry location.
  3. If you are charging your batteries and they don’t take a charge, it is possible that the charger is at fault.

FAQs

How long should a wheelchair battery last?

There are many factors that contribute to the longevity of your battery, but you can plan on a lifespan of up to 3 years.

Can you recondition wheelchair batteries?

Yes, you can recondition your wheelchair battery if it has stopped taking a full charge. To start, you can use an external charger to bring the chair up to speed and leave it charging overnight.

Why won’t my battery charger charge a dead battery?

Defective wiring connections or a blown fuse can cause a charger not to charge.
If you are not able to fix the problem yourself, consider taking your wheelchair battery to an authorized dealer or mechanic.

Conclusion

If you follow this guide on how to charge up your dead batteries and it still doesn’t work, there may be something else wrong with your electric wheelchair batteries.

Contact an authorized dealer or mechanic to help you with any issues you may have.

dead wheelchair battery

How do you charge a dead wheelchair battery? Please share below!

References

  • 1. PE SES PhD; Stephen H. Sprigle, PhD, PT; James S. Martin, MS,. Everyday sitting behavior of full-time wheelchair users [Internet]. www.rehab.research.va.gov. 2016 [cited 2022 Feb 22]. Available from: https://www.rehab.research.va.gov/jour/2016/535/jrrd-2015-07-0130.html
  • 2. Hubbard SL, Fitzgerald SG, Vogel B, Reker DM, Cooper RA, Boninger ML. Distribution and cost of wheelchairs and scooters provided by Veterans Health Administration. The Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development. 2007;44:581.
  • 3. Rural Transit Assistance Program. Current: Wheelchair Charging [Internet]. www.nationalrtap.org. 2019 [cited 2022 Feb 22]. Available from: https://www.nationalrtap.org/Resources/Best-Practices-Spotlight/Archive-Wheelchair-Charging
  • 4. How Long Does a Power Wheelchair Take to Charge? [Internet]. www.mkbattery.com. [cited 2022 Feb 22]. Available from: https://www.mkbattery.com/blog/how-long-does-power-wheelchair-take-charge
  • 5. BatteryGuy. How long should an electric wheelchair/scooter battery last? – BatteryGuy.com Knowledge Base [Internet]. The Battery Guy. 2019 [cited 2022 Feb 22]. Available from: https://batteryguy.com/kb/knowledge-base/how-long-should-an-electric-wheelchairscooter-battery-last/
About Claire Bonneau

Claire is a registered nurse with experience in freelance medical writing. She is very passionate about geriatric nursing and seniors care and education (it is her favorite area of nursing). She worked with many seniors in a variety of medical settings to provide high-quality education and instructions about medical conditions and proper self-care. Follow her on LINKEDIN. Read her LATEST POSTS. Learn more about her HERE.

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