In this technical guide, you’ll learn everything there is to know about electric scooter batteries including battery types, watt hours, how to prolong their life, and proper use and storage.
- Electric scooter batteries
- Frequently Asked Questions
Electric scooter batteries
The battery is your electric scooter’s fuel tank. It stores the energy that is consumed by the DC motor, lights, controller, and other accessories.
Most electric scooters will have some type of lithium ion-based battery pack due to their excellent energy density and longevity. Many kids electric scooters and other inexpensive ones actually contain lead-acid batteries. The battery pack is made of individual cells and electronics called a battery management system which keeps it operating safely.
Bigger battery packs have more capacity, measured in watt hours, and will let an electric scooter travel further. However, they also increase the size and weight of the scooter — making it less portable.
E-scooter battery packs are made of many individual battery cells. More specifically, they are made of 18650 cells, a size classification for lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries with 18 mm x 65 mm cylindrical dimensions.
Each 18650 cell in a battery pack is fairly unimpressive — generating an electric potential of only 3.5 volts and having a capacity of 3 amp hours (or about 10 watt hours).
To build a battery pack with hundreds or thousands of watt hours of capacity, many individual 18650 lithium ion cells are assembled together into a brick-like structure. The brick-like battery pack is monitored and regulated by an electronic circuit called a battery management system (BMS), which controls the flow of electricity into the out of the battery.
Li-ion batteries have excellent energy density (amount of energy stored per their physical weight). They also have excellent longevity meaning that they can be discharged and recharged or cycled many times and still maintain their storage capacity.
Lithium-ion actually refers to may battery chemistries that involve the lithium ion. Here is a short list below:
- Lithium maganese oxide (LiMN2O4); aka: IMR, LMO, Li-maganese
- Lithium maganese nickel (LiNiMnCoO2); aka INR, NMC
- Lithium nicked cobalt aluminum oxide (LiNiCoAlO2); aka NCA, Li-aluminum
- Lithium nickel cobalt oxide (LiCoO2); aka NCO
- Lithium cobalt oxide (LiCoO2); aka ICR, LCO, Li-cobalt
- Lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4); aka IFR, LFP, LI-phosphate
Each of these battery chemistries represents a trade-off between safety, longevity, capacity, and current output.
Lithium maganese - INR - NMC
Fortunately, many quality electric scooters are using the INR battery chemistry — one of the safest chemistries. This battery chemistry gives high capacity and output current. The presence of maganese drops the internal resistance of the battery, allowing high current output while maintaining low temperatures. Consequently, this reduces the chances of thermal runaway and fire.
Lead-acid is a very old battery chemistry that is commonly found in cars and some larger electric vehicles like golf carts. They are also found in some electric scooters, most notably, inexpensive children’s scooters from companies like Razor.
Lead acid batteries have the benefit of being inexpensive, but suffer from having very poor energy density meaning that they weight a lot compared to the amount of energy they store. In comparison, Li-ion batteries have about 10X energy density compared to lead acid batteries.
Escooter battery capacity is rated in units of watt hours (abbreviated Wh), a measure of energy. This unit is quite easy to understand. For example, a battery with a 1 Wh rating stores energy sufficient to supply 1 watt of power for 1 hour.
More energy capacity i.e. higher battery watt hours will translate to longer electric scooter range, for a given motor size.
An average scooter will have a capacity of around 250 watt hours and be able to travel about 10 miles (16 km). Whereas extreme performance scooters can have capacity reaching into the thousands of watt hours and ranges of up to 60 miles (96 km).
Individual lithium ion cells in an e-scooter battery pack are made by just a handful of different internationally-known companies. The highest quality cells are made by LG, Samsung, Panasonic, and Sanyo. These types of cells tend to be found only in battery packs of higher-end scooters.
Most budget and mid-priced electric scooters have packs made from generic Chinese-manufactured cells. There are some very good Chinese cells and some very poor ones.
The difference between these branded cells and generic Chinese ones are greater guarantee of quality control if you get a scooter with the branded cells. If that is not within your budget, then make sure you are buying a scooter from a reputable manufacturer who is using quality parts and has good quality control measures in place.
Some examples of companies that are likely to have good QC are Xiaomi and Segway Ninebot.
Battery management system
Though Li-ion 18650 cells have amazing benefits, they are less forgiving than other battery technologies and can explode if used improperly. It is for this reason that they are nearly always assembled into battery packs that have a battery management system.
The battery management system is an electronic component that monitors the battery pack and controls charging and discharging. Lithium ion batteries are designed to operate between about 2.5 volts and 4.0 volts. Over charging or discharging them too deeply can shorten their life or trigger dangerous thermal runaway conditions.
More sophisticated battery management systems will also monitor the temperature of the pack and trigger a cutoff if overheating occurs.
A typical Li-ion battery will be able to handle 300 to 500 charge/discharge cycles before diminishing in capacity. For an average electric scooter, this is 3,000 to 10,000 miles! Modern battery management systems help to prolong the life of the battery and you shouldn’t worry too much about babying the battery.
However, if you’re keen on stretching the battery life out as much as possible, there are some things you can do go beyond 500 cycles. These are:
- Don’t store fully charged or with the charger plugged in for prolonged periods. Keeping the battery topped off at its max voltage will diminish its life.
- Don’t store the electric scooter fully discharged. Li-ion batteries degrade when they drop below 2.5 V. Most manufacturers recommend to store between 30-50% charged and top them up to this level periodically for very long term storage.
- Don’t operate the battery below 32 F (0 C) or above 113 F (45C).
- Charging at a lower C-rate. Between 0.5 A to 2A is optimal. Some of the fancier chargers let you control this.
The main takeaway here is don’t abuse the battery and it will last the useful life of the scooter. We hear from all kinds of people about their broken electric scooters and it’s rarely a battery problem!
Frequently asked questions
How long do electric scooter batteries last?
Electric scooter batteries will last between 2 to 4 years and between 3,000 to 5,000 miles depending on storage, use conditions and capacity. If you use your scooter more or store it improperly, the battery life will be shorter.
How many times can you charge an electric scooter battery?
Electric scooters can go through between 300 to 500 charging cycles before starting to lose battery capacity.
What type of batteries do electric scooters have?
How can you maximize electric scooter battery life?
You can prolong battery life by storing the scooter fully discharged, charging it with a current of under 2 amps, and not operating the scooter when it is too cold (below 32 F) or too hot (above 114 F).
How to store electric scooter batteries?
It is best to store electric scooters with their batteries fully discharged and in temperatures above 32 F but below 114 F.