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John Williamson

Powerchair and Scooter "Range" Most powerchairs have a specification sheet. On it will be range. This figure is all but meaningless.

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Range depends on a large large number of variables. A normal figure quoted will be 20 or 25 miles. In the real world that figure will only ever be achievable by a 5 stone weakling on a levelled smooth surface on a warm day in absolute straight line like a runway. 

Actually that's not quite true, but it may as well be. There is a standardised system in place to measure it here  The REAL test is actually in a big circle, on a flat floor. And much of it is calculated from a full speed few laps. And then the actual range is calculated from the discharge Ah measured. But still for a number of reasons its meaningless.

The meaningless tests ignore the following:   Hills, some turning left and right, and a few street ramps and road cambers and a normal weight human and expect about half of that quoted range. And remember as your batteries age capacity reduces slowly after about the first two weeks until it starts to bother you after a good few months. For the first two weeks capacity will increase by around 6 to 10 percent as the battery gets "run in" or its plates "formed".

And even that figure will vary enormously.
And remember that an average discharge level of 50 percent is preferred if you want your batteries to last more than a year and you begin to see the problem. Their "test" presumes a 100 percent discharge. As it is WITHOUT adding any off road use I run out of range and kill a set of batteries every 10 to 12 months. 

The best way to evaluate and make a "guestimated" real range figure on a powerchair is to look at the following:

a) its top speed. Speed means taller gearing which murders batteries! With 70Ah group 24 "big" full sized batteries and a normal human being, 6mph is a sensible maximum.  4 mph if you are fat takeaway eating slob like me, 8 mph is ok if you are built like a 13 year old ballerina.  Sorry to be blunt. But this is the REALITY if you expect all or most of a days use.

b) user weight. A skinny young girl will go twice as far on a charge as an average guy. A fat person will go HALF as far. Its all about power to weight. Double the weight? You need double the batteries. Or a chair with half the speed.

c) battery size. In Ah (Amp Hours) A 100Ah (Amp Hour) battery has twice the energy of a 50 Ah battery. (But not all of it is always usable) And a double capacity battery is double the weight too - see user weight! In real terms you want the BIGGEST Ah battery you can get.

d) usage. All day? Hills? Many miles? Sat at home? Thick carpets/grass? Of road? Ramps, or flat shopping centres?  HUGE differences in the amount of power used up here. Travelling fast on the flat uses about 1/4 of the power that turning on a carpet, or climbing a small hill does.

So the ultimate bad case? Fat guy with attitude that goes miles everyday and goes off road or on grass walking the dog, uphill, and to the pub/club at night (me!) with small 50Ah batteries in an 8mph powerchair.50Ah batteries under these conditions will  get about 3 or 4 hours heavy use at very best.

So the ultimate good case scenario? Batteries like huge 100Ah, slow 4mph wheelchair, skinny 7 stone ballerina, lives in a flat smooth area, doesn't have a dog, doesn't go far, stays in at night, no off-road, sits at home most of the time. Her powerchair will go all day long (or two) without problems and batteries will last 3 or more years easily if she charges them every other night.

Even tyre pressures (and type) effect range. Correct Powerchair Tire (Tyre) pressures?

What this all amounts to is that you need to understand Powerchair dynamics and batteries gearing (speed) and assess what you need based on usage/environment and user weight.

Don't expect the "pros" to do it for you, because mostly they are VERY clueless about these things.  And salesmen the same. Plus they just want to sell you something to make a dollar.

And absolutely ignore the wheelchair services in the UK since I have yet to speak to anyone there in 12 years with any remote clue about Powerchairs whatsoever!  Same with all the OT's I ever met though.

If you REALLY want all day range, and some speed as well as a few takeaway's then learn to fast charge your powerchair during the day to top up!  It helps your batteries live longer too.

Batteries for Both Vans & Power Wheelchairs

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fast charge your powerchair
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After reading this page you probably already know these are a bad idea!

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