Just like a car would be nothing without fuel, an electric scooter runs because of its batteries.
While we often credit the electric motor for all the impressive power and speed an electric scooter is capable of, it’s really the batteries that keep things going.
Understanding how electric scooter batteries work can be really helpful as an electric scooter owner and rider. You’ll understand charge cycles, battery life and will inform your decisions when shopping for electric scooters. You can even attempt an electric scooter battery aftermarket modification once you understand the basics (and if you’re a little mechanically savvy).
In this guide, we’ll give you a well-rounded explanation to how electric scooter batteries work. Check out our guide on the best electric scooters for climbing hills — each one of the scooters on the list has a powerful battery capable of carrying heavy weights up steep hills.
What are Electric scooter batteries?
The Electric scooter battery is the fuel tank of your vehicle. It is essentially a power unit that provides energy to the DC motor, as well as the lights, control board, and all other accessories.
Electric scooter batteries are commonly either lithium-ion batteries or lead-acid battery packs. In the next section, we’ll look at the unique advantages of both these kinds of batteries. Lithium-ion batteries are expensive (it’s partly why Tesla’s are priced the way they are), and are one of the biggest components in the price of the scooter.
Batteries don’t last forever and start deteriorating as you use them. The higher the quality electric scooter you purchase, the longer the battery will last. Many riders have to replace the battery in order to extend their scooter life. The battery is most commonly located under the panel on the deck of the scooter.
Escooter battery packs are actually multiple individual battery cells put together, which is why it’s called a pack. The average e scooter battery pack is made from 18650 cells that generate a potential 3.6 volts each.
Battery technology has come a long way as electric scooters surge in popularity. High-end scooters in the market offer a long ride of 90 miles on full charge cycles, which is far higher battery performance than what you’d find in a rental e scooter battery.
Let’s find out more about the kinds of batteries in electric scooters.
Different Kinds of Electric Scooter Batteries
Not every electric scooter battery is created equal. You’ll find a few different kinds of batteries when shopping for electric scooters, so it helps to know the difference between them.
Lithium-ion battery pack
Most electric scooters have lithium-ion batteries installed. They are so popularly used for their sheer battery capacities, as well as battery life. Lithium batteries can pack in a lot of power in a compact space, making it ideal for electric scooters. There’s not much room on an electric scooter, and the battery pack has to fit under the deck or elsewhere without being exposed to natural elements.
Apart from multiple cells stacked together, a lithium battery pack also has temperature sensors, a voltage tap and a battery management system that oversee these individual cells.
Lithium cells function much like a regular electric cell, with a positive electrode called the cathode, a negative electrode called the anode, and an electrolyte which carried the ions from one end to the other.
There’s more than one kind of lithium battery. Many packs have lithium battery chemistries with completely different usages.
- Lithium manganese oxide (LiMn2O4) and Lithium manganese nickel (LiNiMnCoO2)
These batteries are primary used in medical devices and other power tools. These are the safest kinds of batteries since the manganese lowers internal battery resistance, thereby reducing the temperature. These lithium batteries are at a lower risk of thermal runaway. You’ll often find these batteries called NMCs. However, they’re expensive. Dualtron, a premium electric scooter brand, uses these batteries in their models.
- Lithium nickel cobalt aluminum oxide (LiNiCoAlO2)
Popularly called NCAs, these batteries are mostly used for Tesla electric cars and Panasonic, Sony and Samsung electronics. That’s because these batteries have remarkably low self-discharging, meaning they retain battery even when not operational. They’re also high on energy and power density. NCA Batteries can also charge faster than NMC batteries.
- Lithium Titanate (Li2TiO3)
Here’s another type of lithium battery. These batteries aren’t used often for electric scooters, but in the electric powertrain for cars like the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and Honda Fit EV.
Pros of Lithium Ion Batteries
- High density: They pack in high power in smaller spaces, making it ideal to be placed on an electric scooter
- Low self-discharging: These batteries don’t drain quickly on electric scooters when they’re not being used. A normal scooter battery drains if you leave it off for a while, and you’ll find a lithium battery close to the power level it was at when you left it.
- Low maintenance: Other batteries often require scheduled cycling to prolong battery life, but lithium ion does not.
- Higher voltage: Lithium based batteries have around three times the power that nickel battery packs offer.
- No memory effect: Many older batteries suffer from the memory effect — which is when battery voltage dips over time as a result of not charging to 100%. Lithium-based batteries are not subject to this phenomenon.
- Priming isn’t necessary: You probably remember hearing that it’s good to drain your phone battery to zero, recharge fully, and drain again in order to improve battery health. This is called Priming — and lithium technology doesn’t require it. That’s a great thing, because we all like riding our scooters the second they’re out of the box.
Cons of Lithium-based Batteries
- Should not be drained: Apart from not wanting to get stranded, there are more reasons why you wouldn’t want your electric scooter battery level to hit 0. Lithium-ion batteries deteriorate faster over time when they are completely drained. In case you’re wondering, this also holds true for most laptops and computers!
- Negative effect on multiple charge cycles: Lithium batteries are not affected by mileage and usage, but they are affected by charging cycles.
Suppose you have two electric scooter riders. Rider A uses his scooter for a mileage for 60,000 miles, charging his scooter battery 1,000 times in the process. Rider B uses his scooter for a mileage of only 20,000 miles, and also charges his scooter battery 1,000 times during these months. Both Rider A and Rider B will have similar wear-and-tear on their scooters’ lithium batteries, irrespective of usage.
- Flight transport is difficult: Most airlines prohibit carrying an electric scooter onboard with you, and this is because of the safety hazard that batteries pose. There are a select few airlines that allow carrying your electric scooter, but they tend to mandate that the battery in question does not exceed more than 160watt-hours.
- Prone to fire hazards: Lithium ion batteries are very low on heat-resistance. If exposed to high temperatures or pressures, they won’t just fail, they’ll burst into fire. This usually happens due to design flaws, when poor quality lithium battery packs have been made too compact without any ventilation or cooling technology.
- Expensive to replace: Replacing an electric scooter battery is always a tough call. A Lithium scooter battery isn’t cheap, and it’s important to consider whether buying a new scooter altogether would be more bang for your buck. Furthermore, batteries are not universal, and it’s critical to find the exact battery pack from your brand and a reputable manufacturer.
Lead Acid Battery Pack
Lead acid battery packs are often found on older electric scooters or children’s scooters. That’s because lead acid batteries have much lesser battery capacity and battery voltage when compared to a Lithium Ion Battery. They take up more space with a much lower power output.
Modern electric scooters very rarely use lead acid battery packs even though they are much more affordable. Since lithium-based batteries can widely differ in quality, you’ll find battery different standards on differently priced scooters.
Lead acid batteries are most commonly used in golf carts and mobility scooters that don’t need to go very fast or for a long ride. However, you’ll also find lead acid batteries on old-school electric scooters. The Razor E-3oos scooter’s battery is lead acid, and can only go about 40 minutes, best suited for young riders.
If you’ve ever wondered why the average adult scooter is priced above $1000, and most electric scooters for children go for around $100, this is one of the major reasons why. Lead acid batteries are much cheaper, with lower battery performance. They also lack battery management systems, and voltage indicators.
Some scooters have nickel-metal-hydride batteries as well, which is a small step up from a lead acid battery pack.
Pros of sealed lead acid battery pack
- Affordable: These batteries are much more affordable than their lithium counterpart, making them ideal for low-performance scooters like ones made for children or senior citizens.
- Don’t need to be vented: Sealed Lead Acid batteries or Valve Regulated Lead Acid (VRLA) batteries are sealed, which means they don’t vent hydrogen and oxygen back into the air when they’re being charged as regular batteries do. SLA batteries also do not have distilled water added to them and gasses recombine during the charging process. This reduces the fire hazard and maintenance.
Cons of sealed lead acid battery pack
- Low energy output: Sealed lead acid battery packs have much lower energy output than lithium counterparts. They take up more space and are much less energy-efficient as well. Electric scooters are designed to be greener alternatives to traditional transport, which is why this isn’t ideal.
- Lower life cycle: The average lithium-based ion battery will last around 1000 cycles (with higher quality options lasting far longer), but an average Sealed Acid Battery pack rarely lives to see the day of its 301st charging cycle! This is also why kids’ electric scooters need to be replaced ever so often.
Electric Scooter Battery Specifications and Components
Now that you understand the different kinds of electric scooter batteries, it’s important to be able to identify battery capabilities by looking at its specifications. There are three main components that determine battery performance:
- Voltage: measured in Volts (v)
- Battery Charge Capacity: measured in Ampere hour (Ah)
- Energy Capacity: measure in Watt hours (Wh)
It’s nearly impossible to live in this day and age and go without hearing the word ‘voltage’. We’re surrounded by electronics and we know that high voltage = more power. Whether its a safety hazard or charger adapter you’re searching for, we consider the voltage of a battery often.
We know that electrons move from one end of a battery to another to create electric current. Voltage is the underlying force that gets these electrons to move. The higher voltage a battery has, the faster the electrons travel in the battery.
A higher voltage battery can also provide more electric power to the electric scooter, which fires up a powerful electric motor and gets it moving. Rental scooters often use a battery pack with 24 V, while a high-end electric scooter battery can be around 96V.
Voltage Sag is a short-duration decrease in voltage magnitude. In simple terms: your electric scooter battery experiences a dip in voltage (around 10%) the moment a load (you, the rider) is added to it. This voltage will come back up to normal after the battery rests for a while.
The same Voltage Sag occurs on a long ride with load as well. You will notice a dip in battery performance (external of battery charge level) towards the end of a long journey because the voltage has dipped.
All batteries, no matter the voltage and quality build, go through a voltage sag. Always crack open the voltmeter when the battery has rested for a while and overcome the Voltage Sag, or when fully discharged.
Battery Charge Capacity (Ampere hours)
The most simple explanation for Ampere hours is that it is the measure of how many amps the battery can perform in one hour. Ampere, or amp, is a unit of electric current.
The higher the Amp-hour rating, the more power it can deliver to the electric motor in a standard unit of time. You’ll commonly see battery pack ratings of either 10Ah or 12Ah, though premium electric scooters even offer 50Ah. In the case of 50Ah, it means the battery can deliver 50 Amps to the scooter for an hour.
Energy Capacity (Wh)
The Energy Capacity is essentially the voltage multiplied by the charge capacity.
The battery capacity directly relates to the range that your electric scooter is capable of on a fully charged battery. The average e scooter battery has an energy capacity of 200Wh, which means it can provide 200 watts in one hour. However, this energy capacity rating can go up to 3000wh depending on how premium and high-end the electric scooter is.
How to Charge an Electric Scooter Battery
Here are some basic steps to safely charging your electric scooter battery:
Step one: Make sure to use the official charger for your electric scooter battery. It’s important to use the same manufacturer-made charger as well as the same brand since it reduces risks of a voltage mismatch or overheating.
Step two: Insert your charger into a power outlet. Insert the other end of the charger into the charging port of the scooter. Some electric scooter designs allow you to dismantle the battery and then charge it (typically replaceable charger designs), but many scooters need you to directly charge the scooter itself. Do not try to take out the battery to charge it if this isn’t the intended charging design.
Step three: Charge until the battery is full. Even though lithium-composition batteries do not suffer from partial charges, charging the battery fully promotes long-term battery health.
Most electric scooters come with a manual that details the same charging process, though some brands might have a slightly different process.
All electric scooter batteries differ in their charging time. Many powerful scooter battery management systems require a charging time of around 17 hours, while some scooters are fully charged in 5 hours. Additionally, some electric scooter brands have a ‘fast charger’ alternative that can be purchased separately. Never use a fast charger on an electric scooter battery that does not support fast charging — this could lead to short-circuiting.
Check out our detailed guide on how to charge your electric scooter battery.
FAQs about your Electric Scooter Battery
Are electric scooter batteries safe?
A lithium ion scooter battery can sound scary, but you use these batteries in your daily life, including on the device you’re reading this on. Of course, the battery on your electric scooter can be much more powerful and does pose a fire hazard if exposed to high temperatures or high electric currents. Every scooter battery has been tested and approved for usage. There is also a battery management system that prevents overheating and incorrect charging.
How long do electric scooter batteries last?
Your electric scooter battery will last upward of 1000 miles, with an average of 3000-5000 miles. This greatly depends on the quality of battery installed in your vehicle, and your storage and use conditions can also affect battery life.
How do I maximise electric scooter battery life?
Make sure to always charge batteries in the optimal temperature and storage conditions. Overheating is a big problem for lithium-composition batteries, as well as any water contact. Store your electric scooter in a cool and dry place and charge it here too.
Charge your electric scooter battery till it’s 100% (no partial charging), and don’t leave it fully discharged for too long. Even if you’re not planning to ride your electric scooter for a while, charging it once in a while can give you the longest life on your battery.
The next time you see the specifications on an electric scooter, you won’t overlook the battery charging rate and energy capacity! The batteries fundamentally influence your electric scooter riding experience and deserved due credit.
A great rule of thumb to follow is to look at the battery voltage and electric motor watt hours. This should tell you all you need to know about how powerful the vehicle is.
And while batteries might sound delicate, they usually outlive the electric scooter they’re fitted on to. As long as you don’t mistreat your electric scooter battery by using the wrong charger or placing it in extreme temperatures, you’re good to go!
And for the rare situation when you’ve found yourself without a charger, check out our guide on charging your electric scooter without a charger.Scootermap may collect a commission if you make a purchase after clicking on one of its links to an external website like Amazon. Please see our affiliate disclosure for further information.