How to Charge an Electric Scooter: According to Science

Steps for charging an electric scooter | Credit: Richard S. / ESG

Congratulations! You just bought a scooter and are probably worrying about how to charge the battery to keep your expensive investment in tip top shape. 

Don’t fret — this article teaches you the myths and truths of how to charge an electric scooter and how to prolong battery longevity — ensuring you get the most life (and miles) out of your battery.

Time needed: 5 minutes.

How to Charge An Electric Scooter

  1. Plug the charger into the wall first

    Unless the manual states otherwise, plug the charger into the wall first, before plugging into the scooter. This is the safest bet for protecting the charger and its output capacitors.

    The charger will get hot during the charging process, which is completely normal. 

    Place your charger on edge, uncovered, on a non-flammable surface that will get plenty of airflow. Man plugging charger into AC wall outlet

  2. Connect the charger plug to the scooter’s charging port

    Power your scooter down and remove the protective cover on the charging port.

    Make sure both the port and connector are dust free and blow out if necessary.

    Pay careful attention to orient the charger correctly. Most chargers are keyed so they will only go in one way, but some are poorly designed and you can still short the connector.

    Plug the charger into the port on your electric scooter.Man connecting DC charger to electric scooter

  3. Wait for scooter to charge

    Charge until the indicator light on the charger turns green and promptly disconnect.

    For most chargers, the light will turn green before fully charged. If your scooter has a built-in voltmeter or battery display you will notice you’re not quite at 100%.  

    If you need maximum distance, you can continue to charge until you hit 100% or use as-is.

    Use our charging time table to estimate charging time.

    Pro Tip: Operating your battery between 30% and 80% of full charge will greatly increase your battery life (see tip #2).DC electric scooter power brick with red charging indicator

  4. Promptly disconnect the scooter when charged (don’t leave plugged in)

    Disconnect the scooter from the charger first, then unplug the charger from the wall outlet.

    Charge as often as needed.

    These tips to max out your battery life.Disconnected electric scooter charging port

Tips For Max Battery Longevity

These are the most important tips to prolong battery life, ordered from most to least important. 

We’ve noted which recommendations are helpful, but impractical and excessive.

1. When storing for long periods, keep your scooter at 40% charge in a cool, dry place

Storing lithium ion batteries fully discharged is absolutely terrible for their longevity and #1 killer of good batteries.

Storing fully charged or discharged will accelerate battery degradation

For longer-term storage, like during winter months, store at 40% charge.  Due to self-discharge, you’ll need to check and top up the battery every 4 to 8 weeks to keep it at this level. 

Store your scooter in a cool and dry place.  Storing above 30 C / 86 F will decrease life. storing fully charged at elevated temperatures is especially bad. 

2. Operate your scooter within 30% to 80% of its battery capacity

You can prolong the battery life by operating it between 30% to 80% of its capacity.  This is called the sweet zone and can increase battery life up to 4X.

For individual cells, this ends up being between 3.36 volts (30% of capacity) and 3.96 volts per cell (80% of capacity) is optimal.

We’ve produced a chart below that shows what the final voltage will be on a given scooter at optimal charge.

Optimal Voltage Charging Chart

Voltage
(Nom)
Voltage
(Max)
# Cells
In Series
Optimal (30%)
Discharge
Optimal (80%)
Charge
36 V42 V1033.6 V39.2 V
48 V54.6 V1343.7 V52.3 V
52 V58.8 V1447.0 V56.6 V
60 V67.2 V1653.8 V65.3 V
72 V84.0 V2067.2 V78.4 V

3. Charge when the battery is between 32 F and 113 F (0 C to 45 C)

Absolutely do not charge your scooter when the battery might be below freezing temperature.  For example, if you’ve been storing your scooter in a garage or outside where it is below freezing.

Wait until the battery has warmed up above freezing to charge.

Charging the battery at elevated temperatures ( 113 F / 45 C) can shorten its life, but is not as damaging.

4. Don’t leave your charger plugged in after charging

Disconnect your charger once your scooter is fully charged (or charged up to 80% from tip #2). 

Leaving it plugged in after it has finished charging will result in corrosion of the cathode and decreased capacity.

5. Don’t fully discharge your scooter in less than an hour

If you have a fast scooter and want to go fast, discharging the battery quickly will be unavoidable. 

However, if you’re really concerned, you basically don’t want to discharge the battery at a rate that will entirely deplete it in less than one hour (this is referred to as a C-Rate of 1.0). 

On sustained high speed runs or under heavy torque loads like accelerating up a steep hill, you are likely, if not momentarily, going above this ideal discharge rate.

Our recommendation is to enjoy your scooter and not worry about this too much. 

6. Don’t fully charge your scooter in less than an hour

Lithium ion batteries will last more cycles if you charge them more slowly (known as C-rate in technical battery terms). 

For optimal battery longevity, it is best to fully charge a battery in not less than 1 hour.

For most scooter and charger configurations, you won’t be able to exceed the charging rate — even with dual quick chargers. 

How to Use a Quick Charger

Quick chargers give you greater control and feedback for charging your scooter. They allow you to control the charging rate and amount of charge to prolong battery life.

  1. If your fast charger has a wall voltage adjustment toggle, set it appropriately (110 V or 220 V).
  2. Plug the quicker charger into the wall
  3. Adjust the charge rate setting, typically from 1 A to 5 A.
  4. Adjust the charge depth setting from 80% to 100%.
  5. If the charger has a switch, turn it on.
  6. Plug the connector into the charging port of your scooter.
  7. Charge until the quick charger display reads the target voltage. 

Dual Charging

Typically, higher performance scooters with larger batteries will have two charging ports. This allows the addition of a second charger for even faster charging. 

Charging using a second charger will follow the same steps as above, but for the second charger.

Charging Myths

Myth 1: It is necessary to charge the scooter after every ride 

It is not necessary to charge your scooter everyday or charge after every ride. The best practice is to keep the battery between 30% to 80%.

However, if you’re going on a long ride then give the scooter a full charge.

Myth 2: You should fully charge a scooter before riding and fully discharge before charging 

You do not need to fully or charge or charge at all before riding. 

You should charge when you need the range for a ride and not for any ritual reason.

You do not need to fully discharge your scooter before charging. Li-ion batteries don’t have “memory” like NiCd or NiMH batteries that would require full charge/discharge to maintain capacity

How Long Does It Take To Charge An Electric Scooter?

Wall with hanging electric scooter chargers
The ESG wall of chargers | Credit: Richard S. / ESG

It takes between 4 and 20 hours to charge an electric scooter, but charge time greatly depends on battery capacity and chargers used.

You can use the charging time table to estimate how long a battery will take to charge from 0% to 100%. To use the table find your battery capacity (in Ah) and the current output on your charger (from 1 Amp to 5 Amps). Most smaller scooter chargers are 1 A to 2 A while bigger scooters (or dual chargers) will be 2.5 A to 5.0 A.

Charging Time Table

Battery
(Ah)
1 A2 A3 A4 A5 A
2.6 Ah2.6 hr1.3 hr0.9 hr0.7 hr0.5 hr
5.2 Ah5.2 hr2.6 hr1.7 hr1.3 hr1.0 hr
7.8 Ah7.8 hr3.9 hr2.6 hr2.0 hr1.6 hr
10.4 Ah10.4 hr5.2 hr3.5 hr2.6 hr2.1 hr
13 Ah13.0 hr6.5 hr4.3 hr3.3 hr2.6 hr
15.6 Ah15.6 hr7.8 hr5.2 hr3.9 hr3.1 hr
18.2 Ah18.2 hr9.1 hr6.1 hr4.6 hr3.6 hr
20.8 Ah20.8 hr10.4 hr6.9 hr5.2 hr4.2 hr
23.4 Ah23.4 hr11.7 hr7.8 hr5.9 hr4.7 hr
26 Ah26.0 hr13.0 hr8.7 hr6.5 hr5.2 hr
28.6 Ah28.6 hr14.3 hr9.5 hr7.2 hr5.7 hr
Use this table to estimate how long it will take to charge your battery from 0  to 100%.

How Long Does An Electric Scooter Battery Last?

An electric scooter battery will last 300 to 500 cycles or 3,000 mi to 25,000 mi of range before losing a significant capacity.

Charger Types and How To Make Sure You Have The Right One

Verifying Charger

If you lost your charger, need to replace it, or not sure if you have the right one, then follow the tips below.

Check the connector to make sure it is the appropriate type of fit into your scooter’s charging port. 

Verify voltage and current by reading the print on the charger.  It will say something like DC Output and give a voltage and max output current.

Connector Types

DC coaxial power plug

DC electric scooter power plug
DC barrel-style connector on GOTRAX charger | Richard S. / ESG
  • DC coaxial, barrel-style charging connector
  • Comes in a variety of lengths and diameters
  • Common on smaller, less powerful scooters, including: GOTRAX, Xiaomi, TurboAnt, Segway Ninebot

USB power connector

Yellow-tipped USB power connector
USB power connector on Unagi charger | Richard S. / ESG

XT60

Unagi USB Power Connector
XT-60 power connector from Widewheel charger | Richard S. / ESG

XLR

Three prong SLR power connector
SLR power connector | Credit: Richard S. / ESG
  • Circular, three pin connector often used in audio applications
  • Common
  • Used on some Inokim scooters

GX16-3P

GXP16-3 connector from Kaabo scooter charger
GX13-3P power connector is the most common | Credit: Richard S. / ESG
  • Circular, three pin connector with threaded collar
  • Very common in mid-range to larger scooters
  • Used on Apollo, Kaabo, Zero lineups

The Science Behind Charging Your Scooter

Learn all about the technical aspects of electric scooter batteries in our complete guide.

How do your scooter’s batteries age?

Lithium ion batteries age when internal corrosion occurs within individual battery cells. This is a normal process that occurs during charging and discharging but can also be accelerated through improper care. 

During charging, lithium ion is shuttled onto the graphite anode. During discharging, the lithium ion is released from the anode.

However, in time, the lithium ion will begin to plate onto the anode and forms a solid electrolyte interface that grows and diminishes the capacity of the battery.

Over charging, completely discharging, and extreme temperatures accelerate the plating of the lithium ion to anode, degrading it.

Why is it important to store partially charged?

During storage battery cells will continue to lose charge. Below 2.7 volts/cell the battery seriously degrades and can even become unstable and potentially hazardous.

Why is plugging the charger into the wall first the best practice?

Plugging your charger  into the wall first, before plugging it into the scooter is the safest bet for charging if you don’t have reliable instructions.

The charger has an output capacitor that is sitting 0 volts of potential when not plugged in.

If you connect the unpowered charger to your scooters battery, which is typically at 36 V up to 84 V (depending on scooter) it will discharge a huge amount of current into the 0 V capacitor.  This can result in sparking and cause damage to the charger.

By plugging the charger in first, you are bringing the output capacitor voltage much closer to that of the battery.  When you plug it in, the voltage difference will be much smaller and you shouldn’t get a current spike.

Why shouldn’t you leave the scooter plugged in after charging?

Once fully charged, the extra charge will cause plating of metallic lithium onto the anode in the battery. This metallic lithium will accumulate in time and degrade the battery capacity by blocking the flow of lithium ions and consequently electrons.

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About the Author

Justin

Justin is a cofounder of ESG and has a degree in engineering. He writes about the science and technology of electric scooters.

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