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Charging a power wheelchair DIRECTLY from a car or van fast, while out or whilst driving is easy...

There are time when you are out in your car/van that you may NEED a quick charge to get you through the day. A FAST charge when at an air show, or while out investigating a new town for the day is sometimes essential.    This has now been improved see here!

More Charging Methods  |  Full PowerChair Related Menu

I am always busy. This happens to me all the time. But there is a simple and cheap solution. But you need a little knowledge and understanding to do this.

A power wheelchair or scooter uses a pair of 12v lead acid (Gel Deep Cycle) batteries. These are wired together in "series" to give you 24v to propel your Scooter or Powerchair.

You car or van however has a 12v electrical system meaning you cant just connect it up and benefit from your cars automatic charging system directly. (its Alternator is 12v). This is a shame!  Because the cars alternator can charge one, two or half a dozen 12v batteries quite safely and very quickly if connected up in parallel. That means all the positive terminals connected to together and all the negative terminals connected together. 

But you can connect ONE of your powerchairs batteries to the cars electrical system at a time and still benefit from the powerful alternators fast charging capability! It can (and will) charge your powerchairs batteries at up to 100 amps (typically) if really discharged deeply.

And do so very safely, just as it does with the cars own battery. As long as 14.4v is not exceeded no harm will come to any 12v car or wheelchair deep cycle battery, and the cars charging system takes care of all that for you.

But you have to remember that you need to connect both batteries separately and for the same length of time each.  So with the engine running you would connect first one battery to the car for say 30 mins. And then do the same with the other one. One at a time. You cannot charge both together

And at the end of the day - overnight, you will then need to FULLY CHARGE EACH BATTERY SEPARATELY - with a modern 12v multi stage charger. So that both batteries are in the same "fully charged" state. Then you can just return to using your old existing 24v wheelchair charger via the standard charge port as normal. 

Important! You cannot just re-charge them later with your stock 24v wheelchair or scooter charger. Because each battery will not be in the exact same state of charge.

Doing so would inevitably overcharge one battery and undercharge the other since the stock charger treats them as one single 24v battery string and simply monitors the total voltage while charging.  Or just use one of these.

So how to go about this in practical terms:

a) fit a "Anderson" connector to each battery individually on your powerchair or scooter.

b) fit an "Anderson" connector to your vehicle. Mine has one fitted to the inside below the dash. And another one fitted as shown below to the wheel arch. This way I can charge the batteries on my powerchair from both inside and outside the Van (car) as I feel fit!  Both have their uses... Both were simple to fit.

Here is an Anderson connector (50 amp) connector, already soldered to some cables. The cables are 6mm square (area) and covered in heat shrink tube for extra protection.  I make two of these for every powerchair.  One for each battery. The other ends of the cables have soldered bolt terminal rings (8mm holes) ready for the battery connections. If you worry about safety, fit the positive leads with a 100 amp fuse in line. An alternator on a car can charge at 100 amps...  The cables bolt to each battery, the black connector bolts to the powerchairs seat frame. One each side, or one behind the other. You choose! Each one is a 12v heavy duty connector.   I also made one for my van... See photos.

Front wheel arch - with a connector visible. This connects directly to the vans battery. It must be well insulated and not rub or chafe on anything! If this cable shorts out it could start a\ fire! Again if this worries you fit a 100 amp fuse in line as I have. It normally has a plastic cover over it to keep road muck out. These are available on eBay. Or just use an unused extra connector.

Closer! I plug my wheelchair batteries in here with the motor running for ten minutes each, up to around half an hour each battery (one at a time}. Should I need a fast boost charge while out and about. I have a second connector inside the van so I can do the same thing when driving or if its cold outside! See later pictures. Contrary to the opinion of many so called experts this does no damage to your powerchairs batteries provided that you CORRECTLY charge them at the end of the day as mentioned above! Or use a better dual 12v charger like this every night as I do.

There's one inside too! In the centre console. I connect while I drive.

Pretty unobtrusive... Light circle shows the Anderson connector. But 100 amps on demand! Not just for charging but I can even jump start my van by plugging my wheelchair in here...

Here I am driving my van from a wheelchair, and charging as I go!  (red cable, with a clamp Ammeter to show charge current. After 5 to 15 mins it drops from 80+ (or so) Amps, down to low 20s Amps as the battery charges... Depending how discharged it is. Once it drops to say 10 amps its about 80 percent full and I swap the plug to the other battery. When that battery is down to the same 10 amps charge level I disconnect.  Since both are about equally charged. Or just keep charging both up (one at a time) until its 3 amps or less.  Eventually it would be almost zero. But a 80 or 95+ percent charged is good enough. And its seriously fast! They get a full individual balance charge every night anyway. 

Down to 15 amps...

Now 12...  When I am about half way to my destination I mentally note the charge rate. It falls as they become charged. So here I am about halfway to the beach with the dog. So now I swap the charge lead to the other battery, and as I see 12.7 amps appear on that battery (as I arrive) I unplug that too. So while they are not fully charged, they have a great big dollop of electrons put back... They are also at about the same charge state each.  See State Of Charge to see how to gauge the ACTUAL charge level.


The other end The wires just go directly to the battery. They MUST be heavy cable. 6 square mm is the very bare minimum. 8 sq mm would be better still.  As shown 2 photos down...   Mine has a 100 amp fuse in line in the cable just in case.

30 Amp Anderson Charging Plug Power Wheelchair

A pair of connectors, ready wired up with 8 gauge cable and fitted to a metal plate for easy mounting...

Bolting that plate to the seat frame.  Then just connect to each SEPARATE battery...  Ask an adult!  And don't blame me if you get it wrong!  Works great for me but I understand what I am doing. Any questions? See Message Board

Same style connector on my powerchair. Except its a white one. This connects to ONE battery. There is another identical one on the other side. Or as shown in the picture above on a common metal plate. (I have many chairs!) Each connector connects ONLY to ONE battery.  A 2 meter long "connecting" extension cable allows me to connect my chairs battery (one at a time)  to my van.

This allows the vans alternator to charge each battery in turn.  As the battery becomes charged the current falls away to almost zero. I have a clamp "Ammeter" that I use to see this happening. Battery voltage never exceeds 14.4v which makes it completely safe for all lead acid/gel/AGM/deep cycle battery types.

Charging from your cars alternator is fast. Typically half an hour for a 90 percent charge per battery. AGM batteries charge much faster than Gel batteries due to superior lower internal resistance. But both types work fine though if you are stuck with Gel batteries...

If this is too complex for you then there are easier but slower ways to charge your powerchair from your car! But all are slower and more expensive. Especially where small 2.5 or 5 amp chargers are concerned. These take overnight or even twice that long in the case of the weedy 2.5 amp ones!  Pride mobility offer a 2.5 amp one. It can just connect to a cigar lighter. But it will take around 24 hours solid to charge a powerchair so is pretty useless

Doing it "directly" from your cars alternator means an almost full charge in well under an hour with decent batteries. Far more useful to those of us with a life to lead!

Questions or want to share?  Message Board


49 Amps, --- SIX TIMES FASTER than your mobility charger!



Related Pages

This method has now been drastically improved see here! Part 2...


Anderson Style connectors and why you need them

Fast Charge YOUR Powerchair in Around 1 Hour

Inverters & Chargers

Batteries for Both Vans & Power Wheelchairs

Which Batteries to Buy

Very Flexible Charger!


Lithium Ion Batteries for Powerchairs and Scooters

My Power Wheelchair or Scooter Will Not Charge

BCI Battery Sizes, Group 22, 24, 34, 27 etc

Drive Your Powerchair by Radio Control

A Superior Powerchair overnight charger

Battery Planning How to organise yourself for every eventuality!


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