If you’ve recently acquired a powered wheelchair, one of the big things you’ll need to know to get the most out of your new chair is exactly how to charge the batteries. Every electric wheelchair on the market today uses deep cycle batteries, and if you don’t charge them properly, you’ll wear them out much more quickly than you usually would.
1) First and foremost, you should always use the charger that came with your wheelchair. It’s designed to optimize the performance of your batteries.
2) Second, when you get your new chair (or battery), although your batteries won’t be completely dead, they also won’t be fully charged. Before you do anything else, you should give them a full charge, which will, in most cases, will take 8 to 14 hours (your best bet is to simply plug the batteries into the charger overnight).
Once the batteries are fully charged, they’ll be operating at about 90% of peak performance, and it will take a few charging cycles to bring that to 100%. Start by using the wheelchair for short distances until you are completely familiar and comfortable with the controls.
The thing with deep cycle batteries is, you don’t want to charge them too often. You want to let them run almost, but not completely down because running out completely will shorten their useful life, and replacement batteries is an expensive proposition.
You’re going to want to lean heavily on the documentation that came with your chair, but as a general rule, don’t let your charge fall much below 20%. When you start getting close to that, get your batteries back on the charger as soon as you can.
If you stick to that basic paradigm, you’ll optimize the performance of your batteries and maximize their useful life, allowing you to do more with your chair.