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new UK user

PostPosted: 31 Oct 2017, 13:46
by arikimau
I am in the UK and am a new user. So I am pleased to have found this site and hope it will be mutually fruitful.

At Easter I was fine since when i have developed a rapidly degenerating neurological problem that has resulted in muscle wasting in both thighs and right hand and is still progressing.
Given the rapidity of the situation I am having to look into things I have no experience of and plan ahead (for the worst).
I live in the UK and have applied to join the motability scheme which faciltates a 3 year lease of some new vehicles. If I am accepted I will need to consider hand control, swivel seat and power chair transport options, however, that is for the future.

Each Christmas/New year I spend time with my family in Chile, where steps and rougher terrain are more commonplace. I have therefore bought a 4x4 power chair to take with me and use on my return (indoor and outdoor).
The power chair has a (presumably standard) gel lead acid battery - it is currently in the workshop having a seat adapted.
Use in Chile will be different insofar as I will be travelling a great deal so I am wondering about the battery and have started reading about liFePO4 batteries/systems. Originally I was wondering if it was better to carry a second similar battery in the car and in the event I run out of power then switch batteries. Seems more cost effective perhaps, not sure how easy to swap batteries mind. Is it practical to carry a second battery on the rear of the powerchair, for example ?
Early days, but I hope o get in a bit or practice before I leave in early December.

I could keep a diary/video record of using the powerchair in Chile if anyone would find it useful seeing it operating in rural / country town locations.

I have much to learn so would like to spend time reading through posts here and particularly thank the host and contributors for their work and input, much appreciated.

Re: new UK user

PostPosted: 31 Oct 2017, 14:02
by arikimau
I tried adding/editing but couldn't do so once posted.

My name is Stephen. I live in Northampton (in the middle of England)

My powerchair is an A4W Observer bought second-hand.

I am 64, 5'11" / 1.82 and 14 stone / 89 kg

Ariki Mau is my cat's name and is taken from the Pascuense langauge word for King, on Easter Island (an autonomous part of Chile)

Re: new UK user

PostPosted: 31 Oct 2017, 15:02
by Burgerman
Tell me, after seeing how slow those go online and at a couple of mobility shows, at around 2.8mph? Which is unfortunately a requirement to get adequate torque for skid steer and good climbing ability, I have to ask? Doesent it drive you a bit nuts? Most of us are annoyed by 6mph chairs and many use 7 or 8 mph ones. Or even faster.

And its really an outdoor only buggy rather than a wheelchair. Wher you need a bit more speed. And because skid steer tears up even well stuck down carpets in a few months and leaves them a bit destroyed. Tested by myself! So its really an outdoor only scooter, a 4x4 skid steer device. I presume you dont need a wheelchair indoors? Or in pubs etc?

Re: new UK user

PostPosted: 31 Oct 2017, 18:57
If you go to the "parent" WheelchairDriver pages you will find a description of how to quickly charge a chair from your car. You will need to wire in some Anderson connectors and a shunt connector so that you can safely and easily switch the batteries from series (24V) to parallel (12V) and a fused connection form your car's battery to another SB50 to charge the chair. In other words, you don't need to carry extra batteries if you have a car.

Re: new UK user

PostPosted: 31 Oct 2017, 21:41
by arikimau
Thank you for the commentary.

My principal consideration in choosing this model (having come across it for sale second hand and never seen anything similar, nor this site) is using it in Chile. There I live in a rural community with most houses with steps and large gardens. peed, in this context is not a key consideration. Indeed being accompanied by my wife (retirement age) it permits me (in the summer there) to be both in the garden and in the house with my circle of close friends. Also, each trip takes in a couple of weeks holidays, his trip will be going to the island of Chiloe - with hills, kerbs, broken ground etc aplenty.

Insofar as the carpet churn (tank turning format) there is an optional use of a rear caster which takes the load as a three wheeler with the drive being the front two wheels. This is designed for internal use to address the issue.

As such this is the best universal option in that environment.


Back in the UK, to go into town independently would mean using a "class 3" 8 mph scooter. Here pavements, malls and shopping baskets mean 2 wheel drive is sufficient. The speed element applies insofar as it is a 5 mile drive to the town centre.


I would look to spend up to a month in France where I usually stay in a hilltop village and/or a chalet with a steepish earthen path of about 25 metres. So again traction rather than speed applies.


My illness has been sudden, rapid and severe - and progressive. So mentally I am minded to travel as much as possible sooner rather than later.

My regular car is a 4x4 van bodied MPV, ideal in many ways except it is now TOO high off the ground for ease of access (maybe an electric caravan step may suit here but it means I cannot be independent.

If I get a motability allowance I may opt for a new car, something like a Peugeot Tepee for the load space (only 2 seats needed) or maybe a 5008 as the seat height is better for entry/exit - but this is for further consideration in the future

The power wheelchair offers some possibility of independent travel, which is important.

I understand the point about width. In my case the rear doorway to the garden now had wide doors and a ramp to ground level. There has been so much to consider and arrange including a stair lift. And a third mattress and bed rail.

Its a learning experience and a bit trial and error, c'est la vie.


In the UK I will be more aware of distance and topography whereas travelling to remote unknown regions of Chile represents a risk of limited operational duration.

In this regard I understand a lithium type battery is advantageous (including faster charging including by in car 12v converter on journeys)

I have looked at the British Airways site and it appears lithium batteries are acceptable insofar as they are fixtures in a non-collapsible motabilty vehicle)

Re: new UK user

PostPosted: 31 Oct 2017, 23:37
Lithium has many advantages, but there's a very long pinned thread here about how to do it right. There is no drop-in lithium battery that's worth having, and building and maintaining a properly built pack with a properly configurable charger is not trivial - you have to know what you are doing or you will just be wasting (a lot of) money. Several people here have done this successfully, with fantastic improvement in range, so I'm not trying to discourage you, but you really need to do a lot of study first.

Re: new UK user

PostPosted: 01 Nov 2017, 11:00
by arikimau
Thanks again for your kind and welcome advice on matters of electrickery

- Lithium -

Reading the text on batteries it is clear its not as simple as I had imagined. The UK distributor of my model provides lihium batteries and set up I understand and they report no residual problems. I will see how it goes.

- in car charging -

Tomorrow I will be at the auto electricians on another matter it is also a few hundred metres from electrical retailer Maplins) so I hope to resolve the question of in car charging that you referred to

Again, as a non techie, I had otherwise assumed a plug in inverter into the 12v socket and connect it to the wheelchair charger would suffice.

Should I rely on either of these two "suppliers" to install the necessary or should I go in with a list of bits (such as you indicated in passing earlier)

If so, assuming it is standard and straightforward, could I ask what bits I should be getting ?

- charging frequency -

I am advised that a lithium battery will take about 2000 charges (much more than lead acid ones)

Taking this literally, should the battery be run down as far as possible before charging, or (eg) could I plug it in the car 12v socket each day I am travelling regardless of the extent of previous day useage (within reason)

Does it take longer to recharge a lithium battery using the in car socket compared to a mains supply ? and if so is there any rough and ready comparative time scale) ?

- as you may appreciate I am wholly new to battery technology and use -

Re: new UK user

PostPosted: 01 Nov 2017, 11:28
Your questions are sensible, but instead of asking them one after another you will be better off studying the lithium replacement thread at the top of the "everything powerchair" section:

These questions have been asked by many, and answered repeatedly, so that thread is very long, but you'll find that well-reasoned replies to these questions and more are all there. As a start, you might want to read the first 5 pages and the last 5 pages, but eventually you'll be finding great tidbits throughout. As Burgerman says "knowledge is power".

Re: new UK user

PostPosted: 01 Nov 2017, 19:19
by arikimau
thanks once again for your guidance on electrickery, appreciated

observation, rhetorically

If I understand correctly my A4W powerchair is considered slow, relatively poor on battery power and problematical indoors (tank turning)

I plan to post a video record of it being used in Chile in the near future in particular looking at those issues

however, I have no comparable performance info - other than in commentary by Burgerman

in my case I felt fortunate to find my powerchair as I had not seen anything like it; of course, now I know there are other manufacturers

I am not as yet aware of cost and availability of competing models - is there a ready source of such information ?

given Burgermans experience I can't help wondering why a manufacturer hasn't partnered up to produce something for commercial production

also, btw, my model was originally specced to have a second rear seat for a carer/driver - can I ask given your experience whether this unique to my model or is this a readily available option for other makers ?