Independence is a human trait we all expect and take for granted. Unfortunately, this can be taken away from us at any time, causing dramatic life-changing consequences, but it doesn’t have to be this way; collectively, we must support others and remain determined to maintain our own.
At Capital Rehabilitation Supplies, we stock a range of electric mobility scooters to assist everyone, as independence is our priority!
What is an electric mobility scooter?
Electric mobility scooters are powered by batteries, generally requiring low maintenance due to few moving parts. Mobility scooters come in three or four-wheel versions, which can be used on footpaths, residential homes, businesses, airports (depending on battery type), and shopping malls. The three-wheel models are more suited to indoor use because of their manoeuvrability. Four-wheeled models are preferred for outside due to their stability.
Generally, mobility scooters have a maximum speed of less than ten kph. A fingertip throttle (lever) activates them, either by the left hand or right hand, forward and backward, which controls acceleration and braking; this is recommended for people with limited strength or dexterity of the hands. Steering is via various handlebars that operate like push bikes or the more common and popular ergonomic delta tiller handles. They come with single to twin headlights, blinkers, “bull bars,” even independent suspension, to basic models. Most electric mobility scooters have pneumatic “air tyres” for a softer ride or foam filled.
What types of batteries are used to power an Electric Mobility Scooter?
Electric mobility scooters are powered by 2 x 12 volt lead-acid (AGM and gel ) or Li-on (lithium-ion) batteries, ranging in different sizes to suit the terrain, user weight, required travel distance, and surface, plus the age of the storm.
AGM and gel are both types of lead-acid. They work the same: a liquid electrolyte between plates of lead. The AGM battery has liquid infused in mats and gel; it’s in gel form. Gel batteries are more expensive than AGM batteries but have a better range and lifespan.
Li-ion batteries are lighter and smaller (about a third of the weight and size), even with the same power rating, and are made up of an anode, cathode, separator, electrolyte, and two current collectors (positive and negative). The electrolyte carries positively charged lithium ions from the anode to the cathode and vice versa through the separator. The movement of the lithium ions creates free electrons in the anode, which creates a charge at the positive current collector. The electrical current flows from the current collector through a device powered to the negative current collector. They last longer than lead-acid batteries – up to 4 years. But they can be more than double the price of lead-acid batteries. Because of these factors, Li-ion batteries are most commonly found on travel scooters.
Mobility scooters’ batteries are different from car batteries; they are deep cycle batteries rated in Amp Hours, i.e., how many hours a battery will run when one amp is drawn in power. This rating will determine (along with the motor’s efficiency) the distance a mobility scooter will travel between charges. The higher the rating, the longer the scooter will run (given similar conditions).
Most electric mobility scooters use either 12 volt or 24-volt motors. If there are two motors, they are 12 volts in series; if there is one motor, it will be 24 volts. There are different ways of rating the power of an engine. Most manufacturers place their motors in continuous watts – usually over 30 minutes. Most scooters generally draw between 300 and 600 watts of constant power. One horsepower is 745 watts. The more watts drawn – i.e., energy used – the less distance the scooter will travel on a given battery rating.
The actual pulling power of a mobility scooter is determined by the motor’s administration and the type and control of the electronic controller.
The electronic controller is the “brain” of the scooter and, as the name suggests, controls the electronic functions of the scooter.
Most standard electric mobility scooters use gearbox differentials to get the power from the motor to the wheels. These are the most reliable drive, and most resemble a motor car.
There are three central braking systems on a modern mobility scooter:
- Regenerative. All modern mobility scooters use this as their primary method of slowing down or holding a speed on a downhill slope. Here, the motor turns into a generator and recharges the batteries at about 20% of the rate it uses when on a flat. This generating function turns the motor into a brake simultaneously. This is what most mobility scooter manufacturers refer to as “automatic braking.”
- Electromagnetic. This refers to the parking brake automatically engaged when the scooter is stopped or nearly stopped. It works by preventing the motor from turning. This brake must be disengaged to freewheel a scooter, usually by activating a lever on the scooter’s rear.
- Manual. Some scooters have a third braking system -a manually operated brake; it’s a more sophisticated system that works on the axle – e.g., drum brakes or disc brakes.
Electric Mobility Scooters are battery-powered. Most mobility scooters have a separate charger. Separate chargers have the advantage of keeping the scooter’s weight down (over onboard chargers) are less likely to break down because they are not subject to vibration. If they fail, the scooter doesn’t have to be immobilized while the charger is repaired – a new charger can be quickly supplied.
Most dry cell batteries need a more accurate charger and traditionally come in a 24 volt 4 amp configuration. A 6-8 amp charger is advisable when higher amp hour batteries are used. Most “smart” chargers are automatic and either cut out altogether when the battery is charged or drop to a “trickle” or “float” charge (about 200-300 milliamps). It is always recommended to place your electric mobility scooter on the charger every night to maintain the battery.
All mobility scooters have a sophisticated electronic controller. These control the speed of the scooter (no matter how heavy the payload), the acceleration and braking, stopping rates, and apply the parking brake. Two identical motors can perform very differently when controlled by different electronic controllers.
There are a small number of significant controller manufacturers in the world – Curtis (made in the U.S.A.), Dynamic (made in N.Z.), P&G (UK) are three of the more well-known. Most well-known controllers are programmable to alter the speed, acceleration, deceleration rates, and slow down, stopping rates. Some controller types also turn the scooter off, referred to as sleep mode, when left unattended.
All-electric mobility scooters use some form of finger accelerator to start and stop the motor and brakes. These controls work a potentiometer that provides infinitely variable speed. These are referred to as the Wig-Wag style, where the forward and reverse function is operated by the one lever driven by either hand – older electric mobility scooters use a switch to determine forward and reverse and operate the accelerator with the same action by the same hand. There can also be a “cruise control” knob and sometimes a rabbit or turtle knob or push button switch that helps set the maximum speed that the accelerator can activate.
Some key points to consider when choosing the right type of scooter.
- Your physical build. A heavier person will require a larger scooter.
- The distances you intend to travel. A more powerful scooter with larger batteries may be the better option for long distances.
- The terrain you will be driving on. If there are rough or uneven surfaces or large curb crossings, consider the scooter’s ground clearance. Scooters with suspension will also greatly enhance driving comfort and ease of handling on rough ground.
- Where do you want to go with your scooter? If you intend to take it into shopping malls and shops, a more petite scooter may be more suitable as it can easily maneuver in aisles and between displays. These types of electric mobility scooters are taken in the boot of your car.
- Where will you be storing and charging your scooter? A larger scooter may not cause any difficulties if you have a garage, shed, or secure covered area, or you may have to consider a purpose-built mobility scooter shed or outside cover. However, if you intend to take the scooter into your house, a more petite scooter will be easier to manage.
- Do you want to take your scooter to a shopping mall or on holiday, that is a long way from home? In this instance, a small, easy to dismantle scooter that can be transported in a car may be a good option. A medium or large scooter will require an SUV type vehicle or trailer for ease of transport
- Do you require additional equipment such as a large bag for shopping, a walking stick/crutch, or an oxygen bottle holder? When looking at scooter options, ask if you may purchase accessories and the extra costs.
- Is there a 24/7 roadside care breakdown membership available? These memberships offer peace of mind when out on your scooter and will get you and your scooter home so your mobility scooter supplier can achieve repairs.
- Does your mobility scooter come with a safety flag and vest?
Ten reasons why you should consider an Electric Mobility Scooter from Capital Rehabilitation Supplies
- They are cheaper to run than a car—no registration or warrant of fitness.
- Gives you independence.
- Smaller than a car, some can fit into the boot of your vehicle.
- It can be driven on footpaths and into large stores.
- Simple to operate.
- They’re colourful and fun to use.
- They can carry your shopping.
- No driver’s license is required to use one. (Some states may be considering licenses)
- You can take them almost anywhere.
- They don’t need petrol and only use a little electricity.
Electric Mobility Scooter Safety Tips
- Do not mount or dismount your mobility scooter unless the key is turned off.
- Do not drink alcohol before riding your mobility scooter, be careful of your medication?
- Do not wash your scooter with your garden hose; the water may affect the electrics.
- Do not turn suddenly at high speed; this may cause the mobility scooter to topple.
- Always check both ways before crossing the road.
- Do not climb or drop off curbs.
- Watch out for people stepping out of shop doorways.
- Watch for cars backing out of driveways.
- Do not ride your scooter through long wet grass or puddles.
- Do not take your scooter out during heavy rain.
- To minimize possible tipping, always approach curbs straight on.
- Do not climb hills that exceed your scooters capabilities.
- Always charge your scooter batteries after use.
- Although tempting, do not carry passengers.
- Always travel at a walking pace on footpaths.
- Watch out for children on bikes.