An Electric Scooter uses a powerful electric motor to propel the rider forward. This electric motor is powered by either a sealed lead acid battery (SLA Battery), a Nickel Metal Hydride Battery (NiMH) or by a Lithium-Ion Battery (LIB). These batteries all have their quirks and problems that you should get to know, and you should be careful with how you recharge them.
Just like the comic book hero says, “with great power comes great responsibility” and powerful batteries can cause fires, explode or melt if mistreated. They’ll very rarely have such a catastrophic failure but mistreating a battery will drastically shorten its lifespan, leaving you with a hefty replacement bill you didn’t hope to get.
To learn how to charge a battery, we must first know what kinds of batteries are used in electric scooters.
Easy Page Navigation
Sealed Lead Acid Battery (SLA), the One Used in Cars
Most people know these batteries because you’ll find one in any car or truck. It’s funny that the acronym SLA Battery can be shortened into SLAB, which describes this type of battery well. They’re big, rugged, reliable, cheap and can generate a very high starting current. The first electric scooters on the market utilized these batteries, but they have big drawbacks; the size, the weight, the constant toxic fumes they let off in small amounts, and their sensitivity to extreme heat or cold.
Most new buyers should steer clear of these batteries. Charging one incorrectly may cause it to explode or melt, releasing toxic acid fumes around the battery and damaging whatever the acid leaks on. Please check your battery case often, and if you notice cracks or other damage, change the SLA battery ASAP!
Nickel Metal Hydride Battery (NiMH), the Middle Point between LIBs and SLA, and the Safest Option
NiMHs have been around since the 1970s, and they quickly found their way into electric scooters. Before their debut into the electric scooter market, they were used in hybrid cars and satellites. NiMHs are much lighter than SLA batteries but they are also much more expensive. These batteries are great and often come with their own fail-safes on the battery that can prevent overcharge.
An interesting fact is that NiMH batteries can be punctured and not explode or leak toxic acid, which is great in the rare case of the battery being damaged by a catastrophic failure like the electric scooter snapping in two. Be careful with the battery’s polarity, don’t replace single batteries in a pack; doing a bit of DIY is tempting to do, but will most likely destroy your battery. Always use a smart charger that has a temperature sensor to prevent accidents.
Lithium-Ion Battery (Li-Ion, or LIB), the Most Expensive Battery That’s in Every Smartphone and Laptop
Lithium-ion Batteries are the most expensive batteries for a reason; they’re advanced, can store a lot of energy in a very small space and are very light compared to other types of batteries. They also last up to three times as long as SLA batteries. LIBs require less maintenance than any other battery, and you can leave them sitting on a shelf (or in the garage) for up to 3 years. Be advised that they last for a maximum of around 5 years, no matter how well you treat them.
Lithium-ion batteries are the world’s most popular battery but this doesn’t mean they’re perfect. There are a few serious drawbacks with LIBs and the biggest drawback is that if punctured, they will violently explode or melt, potentially harming a person or property. We’ve all seen headlines where smartphones, or even Tesla Roadsters caught fire due to a faulty LIB. The second biggest drawback is that if a LIB is completely discharged, it becomes unusable; smartphones, laptops and even electric scooters will always shut down at 20% battery capacity (even if your screen says the battery is at 0%).
Last but not least, the LIB is sensitive to extreme heat and extreme cold. Extreme heat makes it discharge faster, and shortens the battery’s lifespan, while extreme cold freezes the battery. A frozen battery simply won’t work, and will be shown as 0% full on the screen. Do not attempt to charge a frozen or cold battery, because it will become unusable. Bring it inside, let it warm up gradually, and it will work again.
General Battery Charging Advice
Now that we’ve done the science homework, let’s go through some general, universal tips for all batteries. Remember to always read the manual before charging (and even using) your electric scooter.
- Always charge the battery one hour after the ride. The battery will be hot and letting it cool before recharging will greatly increase its lifespan over time.
- Please don’t forget to recharge your battery after every ride! Don’t leave the battery partially charged for days because this will decrease the battery’s longevity.
- Be mindful of your charging device and always use a certified, proven smart charger. If possible, with a temperature sensor. Batteries will heat up while they’re charging, and a smart, temperature sensing charger will know when to stop the process, and possibly save your battery and your property from a potential fire.
- Don’t use the wrong type of charger because it can damage the battery. A slow rate of charging will wear out the battery less, don’t just grab the strongest, fastest charger you can. Always consult the manual and the manufacturer before trying something out.
- Monitor the charging process when you can, especially if you’re using a new charger or a new battery.
- The place where the electric scooter charges should be free of flammable materials like curtains or rugs, or explosive chemicals. There is a very small chance that a battery will fail catastrophically, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. A fire extinguisher should be in the room, if possible.
- If the scooter needs to be stored for several months, make sure it’s fully charged before storage. Please recharge the scooter once a month while it’s in storage.
- If a charger doesn’t work, replace it as soon as possible. Take it to an electric scooter shop, or an electronics shop. Sometimes the fail-safe system turns on because your battery is defective, not your charger. Replace the battery ASAP if this is the case.